How to Choose a Vinyl Pool Liner

Written by Pool Research Team
August 16, 2023

vinyl pool liner

Vinyl liner swimming pools have evolved over recent years. They have risen in popularity because they are much more affordable and customizable than gunite or fiberglass pools. However, this has also caused a rise in the number of liners available, making the task of finding “the one” a bit overwhelming.

In this article, I will go over a few key points to help you narrow down your option for a vinyl liner for your inground swimming pool.

Main Takeaways

  • Vinyl liners rarely come in a solid print. Instead, they typically mimic a tile or marble design.
  • It’s always a good idea to upgrade your vinyl liner to a thicker option, as it will last longer and need fewer repairs.
  • Darker liner colors fade easier in the sun, so for the sake of longevity, you may want to choose a light color.


Choosing your liner starts with knowing what you want your pool to look like. Sounds easy, but take the time to visualize your dream. What color is the water? Sure, 99% of pool owners say “Blue,” but there are many different shades of blue and knowing what you want the result to be is the fastest way to cut out liners that won’t achieve your desired look.

There are four main color groups for vinyl liners: Deep Blue, Light Blue, Vivid Blue, and Aqua. While there are black, grey or even purple liners out there, the bulk of what is presented will fall into one of these four shades.

Deep Blue

Deep blue liners give a sense of luxury. They are on the darker side so dirt and small debris are less noticeable. They also absorb heat from the sun helping to make your pool a little warmer. However, they do tend to fade more over time than lighter liners.

Light Blue

Light blue liners are the traditional favorite. They are less susceptible to fading but will have to be cleaned more since it will be easier to see imperfections in the water.


Aqua liners achieve a lagoon look with tan or sandy pattern colors. As all pools reflect the sky, the combination with the natural stone color of the liner will give you a more natural-looking oasis, especially if paired with a freeform-shaped pool.

Vivid Blue

Vivid blue liners draw the eye with their vibrant blue tone and are very complimentary to most patio set-ups. This is considered to be a trendy liner color for new pool owners.

Keep in mind, that no matter what color you choose, natural lighting will have a huge effect on the result. Just like a cloudy day will make your pool seem darker, shadows from surrounding trees or even your house will do the same thing. Take a look at your yard at multiple times of the day to get a good idea of what to expect when it comes to how lighting will affect your pool’s color.

Pool depth and sunlight affect your vinyl color


Just as it was important to visualize the color of your pool, knowing what your ideal pattern is will also help you trim many liners off of the consideration list. It’s extremely rare for a liner to come in a solid color. Instead, you typically find everything from ceramic tile prints to marble, from sand to natural stone. If you’ve got a real taste for something different, you can even find jewel or swimming fish patterns. Some liners are now being made using shimmering or metallic inks which gives your pool extra sparkle and luster instantly.

The easiest thing to decide on with the pattern is if you want a tile or no-tile look. Tile is a decorative design boarding the edge of your liner and is seen above the waterline on a swimming pool.

Keep the surrounding area of your pool in mind when choosing this. You want to choose a pattern or tile that compliments your patio. If you’re seeking sleek and simple it’s best to go with a no-tile pattern. Tile borders can be removed from almost any liner pattern so even if you find something you love with a tile, you can most likely get the underneath pattern solo.

The last thing to keep in mind when deciding if you want a tile or not is if you’re going to have vinyl over steps.

Here’s a quote from my Royal Swimming Pool’s blog that says it best:

Vinyl liners are kind of like magic. There’s almost nothing that they can’t cover in your pool in order to create a seamless appearance. You can cover a number of stair types and other built-in features in your liner of choice: Swim-outs, sundecks, benches, tanning ledges, in-pool bar stools… if it’s under your pool’s water, ask if it can be covered!

Vinyl over steps are gorgeous in a vinyl pool and give you a much higher-end look than the classic white bolt-on step. If you have vinyl over features, especially steps, it’s highly recommended to go with a no tile pattern since the tile could be long and end up down the pool wall and actually onto your step.

If you do decide to go with vinyl over steps, you’ll have another consideration to make when picking out your pattern…


Textured vinyl is just what it sounds like. It’s an embossed surface area that not only feels good underfoot but provides additional grip while getting in and out of your swimming pool. It’s an incredible added safety feature that can be applied to the entire liner surface, like faux grout lines, or just to the high traffic areas on your steps.


Last and honestly least of your concerns should be the liner thickness. A good liner brand will make a high-quality liner regardless of its thickness, so if you’re going with a brand name such as GLI, Merlin, or Tara Liners to name a few, your best bet is to go with the color and pattern of choice first and consider liner thickness afterward. If your liner ends up being available in multiple thicknesses, yes, it’s always a good idea to upgrade to a thicker material if it’s in your budget to do so. A thicker liner will usually last longer and is less likely to be accidentally punctured. But don’t let a slightly thinner material keep you from reaching your pool dreams.

Final Thoughts

There you have it! Choosing the liner that will complete your backyard goals starts with getting the ideal watercolor, your preferred pattern, potentially sprinkling some texture here or there, and then seeing what thickness options are left! You’ll have the perfect liner picked out and will be swimming in no time!

We appreciate the folks over at Royal Swimming Pools for helping me out with this article. They have a ton of expertise in vinyl liners, so if you’re in the market for one, be sure to check them out. If you need to replace your liner, be sure to read my guide on how to replace your inground pool liner as well.

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