Does a thicker liner last longer?
Updated: Feb 18, 2022
A question that gets asked often by people looking for a replacement liner is "Should I get a thick liner? Don't they hold up better?"
Well, yes, and no.
For comparison, we'll use a 27 mil and 20 mil thickness. Oh... gauge? Well, gauge isn't a regulated unit of measurement, it's more of an estimate. A mil is a regulated thickness (think thousandths of inches, rather than "its about this size"). It just helps keep the pool industry standardized.
For installation, a 20 mil liner is going to be easier to maneuver, as they have a little more elasticity, and weigh less! If you are installing the liner yourself (preferably with others), 20 mil liners are going to be much less of a headache. You'll also notice that they tend to "fit better". A 27 mil liner may end up with a few wrinkles in the corners if not properly installed (although the same could be said about an improper fitting 20 mil liner).
However, it isn't impossible to DIY with a thicker liner, such as the 27 mil; it just requires a little more patience in achieving the proper fit!
A major consideration during installation is how much is the liner being stretched. Much like your favorite t-shirt, the more strain it endures, the more likely it will deteriorate.
Keep in mind, a proper-fitting 20 mil liner will outlast an improperly-fitting 27 mil liner. Air gaps in corners or overstretched material can lead to dry rot and premature failure of your liner!
Water Chemistry and Fading
A thicker liner does not mean better if your pH levels, alkalinity, calcium hardness, water temperature, and other factors aren't suitable! In fact, there is no thickness of liner that will last longer, (well, realistically) if you ignore your water!
Fading is caused by several factors, including chemical imbalance, exposure to the sun, and over-stretching during installation. The most common reason for fading is over-chlorination. Remember to dilute chemicals before distributing them in the water, and avoid high concentrations in smaller areas!
Check out more liner care information on Elite's Pool Liner Care page!
Finally, the part where thickness matters! Right?
Thicker liners can help protect against abrasive surfaces and punctures from claws, tree branches, glass, and finger and toenails, amongst other things.
The major consideration here; who is using the pool? If you have children who play with toys, dogs who love to swim, guests who enjoy roughhousing, and trees shedding around your pool, you may want to consider purchasing a thicker liner.
However, a 20 mil liner can withstand some thorough use! Don't be fooled by seven-thousandths of an inch. Sharp objects can penetrate any surface.
PRO TIP: Train your guests, children, and pets to use the plastic stairs for entry and exit, if you have them! If not, embossed steps is a must for safety and durability!
Where do you live? What weather do you experience the most? Extremes in weather either way can affect your liner's lifetime. Ice damage, high temperatures, and UV rays all play a factor!
20 and 27 are not the only inground pool liner thicknesses out there. Most suppliers offer up to 30 mil (wow, that's hefty.) on their premium selections! That added weight and durability may be best suited for your needs, but as thickness increases, so does the price... and not always equally. You'd also want to have that professionally installed!
STILL NOT SURE WHICH THICKNESS YOU NEED?
The factor that matters the most is "do you like how it looks?"
Looks matter. If you aren't happy with what you see, you won't want to look at it.
Does it complement the concrete/aggregate/wood around it? Does it play well off of the shutters? Does it highlight a color on your house you don't like?
My favorite question to ask customers is "What's your favorite vacation spot?". Do you want a sandy beach with aqua colors, a deep blue ocean vibe, or do you enjoy the mountains?
Hopefully you have been guided towards making a decision! It's not a light decision, but get what makes you happy! A piece of mind in durability, a color scheme that makes your oasis sparkle, or... both!
Have questions? Contact us here at Elite Pool Liners!