The role of the swimming pool lining
Some, such as fiberglass-reinforced polyester or liner, have a dual role; they ensure the finish and watertightness of the pool. Others, such as tile or stone, are only decorative elements.
But the lining also plays an important role in the colour of the water in a swimming pool. The sun reflects off the pool water and the ambient colour is added to the colour of the liner to create the final colour of the water. The lighter the colour of the liner, the brighter the water looks.
Polyester swimming pool linings and other waterproof linings
The main advantage of these coverings is that they can be laid on any pool structure, even if it is not watertight: hollow blocks, reinforced concrete blocks. On wood, aluminium or polystyrene, for example, there is usually a liner because it can be laid by the customer, so it fits in well with the logic of the kit. Here is, therefore, from the cheapest to the most expensive, a description of these various coatings.
It is undoubtedly the best known and most used in France: it is the coating for all kit pools and above ground pools. Produced in the factory, it is a flexible PVC or Vinyl bag shaped to the exact dimensions of the pool. Its thickness is from 0.75 to 0.85 mm; you will often see 75/100 or 85/100 mentioned. It is fixed at the top of the wall in a hanging profile fixed under the coping. Its low price and ease of installation means that it is now used in almost 40% of all pools. The choice of colours continues to grow, but the most popular colours are blue, beige and light grey.
Pros and cons of the liner :
Its cost is its first asset. It is between 20 and 40 € per m2 depending on the colour and thickness.
Easy to install, it can be set up by a careful handyman.
On the other hand, it is the most fragile covering. Its life span is about 10 years but can be reduced in case of repeated overchlorination or too high water temperature.
The reinforced membrane
Also called “Renolit by Arkoplan”, it is placed directly in the pool. It consists of a polyester mesh sandwiched between 2 membranes of 0.75 mm, resulting in a total thickness of 1.50 mm. It is delivered in rolls and the sheets are welded on site. The installation of this covering requires the intervention of a specialist.
Advantages and disadvantages of the reinforced membrane:
Installed on site, it can fit any shape of pool, including free-form pools.
Due to its thickness, it is more resistant than the classic liner. Its lifespan is about 20 years.
Its main disadvantage is its price between 50 and 80 € /m2 depending on the colour. Some people are put off by the plastic aspect of the finish and prefer to opt for a polyester pool lining for example.
The waterproofing plaster
It is used as the lining for a concrete swimming pool and can be left untreated or used as a base for the subsequent laying of tiles. One of the best known is the silico-marble plaster made up of cement, marble dust and additives.
Advantages and disadvantages of this coating
Its rough side can be appreciated but its slightly irregular finish disgusts some people.
It is waterproof but adheres totally to the structure. This means that if the pool moves, it will crack and the pool will leak.
Its price is between 30 and 40 €/m².
Polyester with fiberglass finishing
The technique used is a lamination of resin on glass mat (fibreglass rolls). A finishing layer called gelcoat is finally applied and this is what will give the final colour. This coating is obviously reminiscent of boat hull coatings. The application is done on site by professionals.
Advantages and disadvantages
It’s a custom-made coating that adapts to all shapes, even the most complex ones.
It ensures perfect waterproofing; moreover, its relative elasticity and semi-adherent nature offers resistance to micromovements of the structure.
The colours available are almost infinite and their choice will depend on the atmosphere desired for the project. See below how the luminosity and the lining affect the color of the water.
Its major disadvantage is its price, which varies between 60 and 120 €/m2.
Non-waterproof pool linings
They must imperatively be installed on a solid structure that is already watertight or made watertight by applying a specific coating, based on epoxy resin for example.
It is applied in several layers. On a concrete construction, a paint containing epoxy or polyurethane is applied as a sealant coating.
Although easy to use, pool paint is less and less sold. Its lifespan is often limited to 5 years.
It is undoubtedly the most widely used surfacing in the world, and in many countries it is the only one. There are many different shapes and colours.
The mosaics, also called glass pastes, are small tiles of 20×20 mm or 15×15 mm pre-assembled on paper or PVC supports of about 30cm x 30cm. They are easy to lay and are available in a multitude of colours. It is possible to add a matching frieze at the waterline for skimmer pools.
Ceramics are glazed tiles that are reasonably priced, although the variety of colours is less, but the variety of sizes is great.
Glazes comparable to glass mosaics, but covered with a layer of enamel, hence their name, have a remarkable satin effect, but their price is the highest. As with the glass mosaics, there are models with a mixture of colours.
The advantages and disadvantages of tiling
It is surely the most resistant material both to disinfectants and to high temperatures.
The same cannot be said of gaskets, which, even of good quality, must be replaced at least every 10 years. Water with a pH value that is too low is detrimental to their longevity.
Natural stone is not only used for coping stones, but can also be laid in the pool after a waterproofing coating. Thanks to new processes, it is possible to find stones glued on a composite support with a thickness of ± 2mm. When covering the submerged beach or free-form walls, the effect is stunning.
There are stones from exotic places, for example Bali, which completely transform even the most ordinary swimming pool.
Why choose stone?
When laid in a straight line, it will sublimate a rectangular pool. For a more rustic atmosphere, we prefer an opus incertum installation. In any case, it will not go unnoticed.
Its use is fairly recent and its resistance to time, chemical treatment or frost is not yet known.
How to choose a pool lining
Several criteria are, of course, to be taken into account:
The budget: if we are talking about a tight budget, we will undoubtedly go for the liner, which is the most economical solution; in the case of a concrete structure, we can opt for tiling on waterproof coating, which allows us to achieve great things with a limited budget.
The pool structure: The liner, PVC membrane or glass fibre reinforced polyester can be installed on any pool. For marble-silicate plaster, tiles or stone, it is essential that the structure is made of concrete. A swimming pool built with reinforced concrete blocks will accept all types of coverings; on the other hand, on a swimming pool made of follow blocks, a watertight covering must be laid.
The shape of the pool: The liner is preferred for rectangular shapes; manufactured in the factory, it is often difficult to install it on other shapes. For free-form pools, the fin is made of glass-fibre reinforced polyester or marble-silicate coating.
Aesthetics: this is often a matter of préférence, but it is safe to say that enamels, natural stone and fibreglass-reinforced polyester are the most beautiful and durable.
Which coatings for the renovation or repair of a swimming pool
A polyester-based material can be painted on a shell pool. For a kit pool, all you have to do is replace the liner; there are many manufacturers.
A concrete pool can crack over time, in which case the best solution is a glass-fibre reinforced polyester pool liner.
Please note that there are coloured sealing pieces available to better integrate them into a coloured liner; unfortunately they were not available in Mauritania where this renovation was carried out.
Asking for advice
Remember that the choice of the swimming pool lining depends on the construction system. A professional will be able to guide you to the most suitable liner.