Having a swimming pool in your backyard is a dream for many homeowners. There’s nothing quite like taking a dip on a hot summer day or doing some laps for exercise. But like anything, pools require regular maintenance to keep them looking pristine. The pool liner is one component that can fade, stain, and show wear over time. Replacing the entire liner is costly, so many people wonder if painting it is an option to restore the appearance.
The good news is that yes, you can paint vinyl pool liners to change the color or cover up unsightly fading and stains. With the right prep work, paints, and application technique, you can extend the life of your liner and avoid the expense of a full replacement. This guide will overview everything you need to know about painting pool liners.
Key Takeaways on Painting Pool Liners
- Painting vinyl liners rather than full replacement provides major cost savings.
- Proper prep work like cleaning, sanding, and priming is crucial for paint adhesion.
- Use quality epoxy or acrylic latex paints designed specifically for pool use.
- Careful application in thin coats allows paint to last longer before needing redone.
- Painting just the most faded areas can work, but coating the entire liner looks best.
- DIY liner painting is doable but professionals achieve superior results.
- Regular maintenance helps maximize the lifespan of a painted pool liner.
Benefits of Painting a Pool Liner
There are several advantages to painting versus completely replacing your vinyl pool liner:
Cost savings – A new liner can run $2,000 to $5,000 installed. Painting costs a fraction in comparison.
Change color – Paint allows you to transform the look with a brand new color.
Cover fading/stains – Paint can mask and hide faded or stained areas.
Extend liner lifespan – Prepping and painting an older liner can add years of use before needing replacement.
DIY project – Painting is something handy homeowners can tackle themselves much easier than replacing an entire liner.
Quicker turnaround – Painting takes days versus the weeks needed for liner replacement. Get your pool back in use faster.
So if your liner is still in overall good condition but has persistent stains, is faded in areas, or you’re just tired of the color, painting can be an ideal solution.
What Kind of Paint Works on Pool Liners?
You can’t just use any old house paint on a pool liner. The paint needs to bond properly and also withstand constant immersion in chemically treated water. Here are some good options:
Acrylic latex paint – Water-based acrylic latex paint is a popular choice for painting vinyl liners. Be sure to use one formulated for pool use. Add a flex agent additive to allow stretching without cracking.
Epoxy pool paint – Two-part epoxy paint provides a durable and waterproof coating. Epoxy works well for concrete pools but is less flexible for vinyl liner applications.
Rubber coating paint – Specialty vinyl paints like RubberizeIt are thicker coatings that adhere well to vinyl while still allowing stretching and flexibility.
Chlorinated rubber paint – These pool paints stand up well to chemicals but are less flexible. Best suited to concrete pools.
Always choose paints designed specifically for pool use as they handle water, chemicals, and sun exposure much better than standard house paints. Oil-based enamels, in particular, should always be avoided as they can leach chemicals into the water over time.
Prep Work is Crucial for Proper Paint Adhesion
Before starting any painting project, proper preparation of the surface is key to getting the paint to adhere correctly. With pool liners, here are some important steps:
Drain and clean the liner – Paint will not stick well to a dirty surface. Drain the pool and use a pH-neutral cleaner to thoroughly clean the liner of any oil, dirt, or other residues.
Remove loose paint – If there is any pre-existing paint that is flaked or peeling, scrape or sand it off to get down to the bare vinyl.
Rough up surface – Use 320 grit sandpaper to lightly scuff up the entire vinyl liner. This helps the paint bind better.
Spot patch holes – Repair any tiny holes, tears, or cracks with a vinyl patch kit.
Prime the surface – Use a primer specifically made for vinyl to help the paint stick. Allow it to dry fully, per the manufacturer’s instructions, before painting.
Proper prep gives the paint something to “grip” onto. Rushing this step can lead to the paint eventually peeling or flaking off, which requires redoing the project sooner.
Tips for Applying Paint to Vinyl Pool Liners
Once you’ve properly prepped the liner, you’re ready to start painting. Here are some tips:
Use thin coats – Apply the paint in thin, even layers and allow each coat to fully dry before adding another. Thick coats are more prone to cracking or peeling.
Add flex agent – When using acrylic paints, add a flex agent additive to make the paint more flexible and prevent cracking from liner movement.
Use low pressure – If spraying the paint, use low pressure and keep the nozzle close to the surface to prevent bubbles. Roller application works better for DIYers.
Blend edges – When touching up fading or stains, feather out the paint to blend the edges into the surrounding liner for a seamless look.
Maintain texture – Some vinyl liners have patterns like tile imprints. Apply lighter coats over these areas to maintain the textured look.
Work in sections – Painting in smaller sections makes overlap and consistency easier, especially for first-timers.
Patience! – Allow ample drying time between coats. Rushing the project leads to unsightly cracks and peeling. The patience for proper drying results in a lasting finish.
It takes some finesse to get an even coat across the entire liner surface. Expect the project to take 2-3 full days allowing for primer and multiple paint layers.
Can You Paint Over an Existing Painted Liner?
If you are repainting an already painted pool liner, you must be sure to prep the surface properly:
- Drain, clean, and let dry fully
- Sand to rough up existing paint and improve adhesion
- Patch any major cracks or holes
- Apply suitable primer before new paint
The key is getting down to a sound layer by sanding off any loose or peeling previous paint. If you paint over failing old paint, the new coating will soon peel as well. Proper prep and priming allows painting over an already painted liner to renew the color and finish.
Should You Completely Paint the Liner or Just High-Wear Areas?
When planning a DIY pool liner painting project, one option is to just paint the most visible/faded areas like the waterline instead of the entire liner. The waterline area in particular takes abuse from constant splashing and chemical-laced water. Just painting this band can help restore appearance.
Other approaches are:
- Use stencils to paint a fun pattern only along the waterline
- Freehand paint simple designs or shapes over stained/faded spots
- Carefully paint faded steps and floor sections while avoiding unaffected walls
The advantage to these partial approaches is it takes less time, effort, and paint compared to coating the entire liner. It also avoids the risk of ending up with a splotchy overall look from lap marks and overlap errors. Focusing just on high-wear areas or artsy designs can still yield big visual improvement.
Inground vs. Above Ground Liner Painting
Inground and above ground pools have different types of liners that factor into painting projects.
For inground vinyl liners:
- Use flexible epoxy or acrylic latex paints to allow stretching
- Sand and use primer for strong adhesion
- Work in sections; paint entire liner for best results
For above ground pool vinyl liners:
- Specialty paints like RubberizeIt bond better than regular acrylic paints
- Consider leaving bottom panels unpainted since they don’t fade as quickly
- Reinforce seams with primer before painting for strength
- A partial coat just along faded waterline areas can work well
Inflatable liners like Intex pools are the most challenging to paint evenly without cracking. Limiting paint to high wear areas and using flexible additives provide the best results.
Using Epoxy Pool Paint to Change Liner Color
For inground pools, another option beyond painting just the vinyl liner is to use a pool resurfacing epoxy paint on the entire pool shell. This provides a protective coating over plaster, concrete, or bare liner substrate. Epoxy pool paint is a two-part product that mixes together before rolling on.
Benefits of epoxy pool paint include:
- Provides fresh appearance for old pool surfaces
- More durable than paint on just a liner
- Can change the entire look and color of the pool, not just the liner
- Lasts longer than acrylic paints – up to 6 years before reapplying
- Bonds well to bare concrete, plaster, and gunite pool shells
- Can cover cracks, pitting, and other imperfections in the underlying finish
- Epoxy is waterproof to prevent water seeping and damage
- Wide range of color options from bright colors to natural stone looks
The process involves thoroughly cleaning and etching the pool surface, then rolling on 2-3 thin coats of the activated epoxy paint. A primer coat is often used as well. Allowing adequate drying time between coats is critical.
Hiring a Professional Painter vs. DIY Liner Painting
While it is possible for a dedicated DIYer to paint their own vinyl pool liner, hiring a professional painter experienced with pools does offer some advantages:
Better finish – Professionals have the right tools and expertise to achieve a smooth, consistent coat from edge to edge.
Perfect color matching – They can expertly mix custom colors to match your specific desired shade.
Faster application – Professional spray equipment can coat the entire liner much faster than rolling.
Neater job – Experts take precautions to keep overspray at a minimum compared to do-it-yourselfers.
Longer lasting results – Their superior prep work and paint application provides a finish that lasts longer before needing redone.
Warranty – Many professional painters offer warranties of 2-3 years on liner painting jobs.
However, hiring out does come at a higher cost. Professional liner painting services can run anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 depending on the size of the pool and scope of the project.
Maintaining a Painted Pool Liner
Once the liner painting project is complete, you’ll want to take steps to make the finish last as long as possible:
- Hand wash the liner every 2-3 months with mild soap and water using a soft brush or sponge. Avoid abrasive cleaners.
- Check for any scratches or cracks in the paint every season and touch up as needed.
- Consider using a solar cover to limit sun exposure and protect from chemical damage.
- Drain and clean the liner thoroughly before closing the pool for winter.
- Plan on re-painting every 2-3 years as needed to maintain appearance. Spot paint as soon as you notice any significant fading or peeling.
With proper care and maintenance, a well-prepped and painted liner can continue to look vibrant for years before needing a full replacement.