Can You Trim an Overlap Pool Liner?

Installing a pool liner is no easy feat, and it can become even more difficult when attempting to use an overlap pool liner. After years of working with pool installation, we know the tricks and trades for creating the picture-perfect pool setup- including when a pool liner overlaps.

An 0verlapped pool liner is unsightly and unnecessary, but it doesn’t have to stay there! If you have an overlap pool liner, you can cut it once it has had a chance to seal and expand. Never cut the overlap before the pool has been filled as the water can expand the liner and will thus be needed. 

You do not have to keep all the excess pool liner in clear sight. Cutting the liner is a quick and easy way to get your pool looking groomed and well maintained. If you are looking to cut the overlap in your pool’s liner, continue reading to figure out how to cut the liner while also looking at things to consider when cutting overlap. Let’s dive in.

How to Cut Overlap or Excess Pool Liner 

If you have more pool liner than you bargained for, it is likely that you want it gone. No one likes to look at an excess liner hanging over the sides, but this does not have to be your reality for much longer. You can cut it right off and within a few minutes can have a pool that looks like it could be in a magazine. All you need to add to the picture is you on a float with the sun on your face and a drink in your hand. 

  1. Find the right supplies. To remove the excess liner, all you need is a pair of good quality scissors and you. Fortunately, there is no need for two or more people or employing the entire neighborhood for help. This is a one-man job that can be done in a matter of about 30 minutes! 
  2. Using scissors, begin cutting the overlap pool liner ensuring at least 2 inches remain on the edge. Take the scissors and leave at least two inches of spare liner that remains over the edge. This part will not show and will be hidden under the metal top of your pool. If you are worried about it sticking out, it can be easily tucked in. 

Once you have your two inches, simply get your scissors and start to cut along the entirety of your pool. There is no need to be particular about how neat the cut is here. Cutting a straight line would be only for your own pleasure, a jagged cut will do just fine if you are one of those that struggle with straight cutting skills. 

  1. Remove the excess liner. Don’t stress, just get the excess out of there. Once you are done, the excess can be trashed and you can be on your merry way! Of course, you will want to monitor for a tight seal and to ensure that the pool liner is still correctly installed.  

What Happens if You Cut Too Much of Your Overlap Pool Liner?

Previously, I briefly mentioned leaving about two inches worth of liner before when cutting any excess away. You do not want to be the one to essentially scalp your pool of its liner. Why is this? 

A pool liner is going to expand and retract based on how much water is in the pool, how warm it is outside, or how cold it gets over the winter months. If you cut too much of your overlap, the liner could become too small for your pool’s dimensions rendering it ineffective.

Your liner is almost like a living thing in that it changes based on the environment around it, so you need to be able to compensate for the environmental changes that can have a prolonged effect on it. 

Think of how many times you are going to empty your pool, how many times water is going to get splashed out of it due to pool parties, how many time you are going to have to refill it due to water loss, and how many times you will have to drain it partially if any major water complications occur. 

All of this water in and water out causes your liner to expand and retract. With this happening, you need enough excess liner (consider the 2 inches that were previously recommended) to ensure the liner does not fall from the frame. 

By leaving a few inches, you have enough liner to compensate for any changes that may come due to heat, water loss, added water, or cool weather. If you are worried about the liner showing, all you need to do is neatly tuck it into the pool’s side and it will be out of sight and out of mind. If you want to leave a little more than two inches due to an expectation that you will be filling and draining often, a bit more should be no issue to tuck away. 

Should You Drain Your Pool to Trim an Overlap Pool Liner?

There are so many pool owners who think that it is a necessary step to drain their pool with the coming and going of seasons. I completely understand their sentiments – they see that the water has been cycled through all summer long. It has been played in, laid in, wrecked by summer storms, totaled by huge groups of teenagers, and has seen too many popsicles to count. 

If you have trimmed the overlap liner of your pool, you absolutely cannot drain your pool. When you remove all the water from the liner, not only does shrinkage occur, but a shrinking that you could never have anticipated. The liner dries out due to the lack of water and it loses a great amount of surface area.

Once you refill that same liner, there will be less surface for the water to go and the liner will end up ripping from the pool walls resulting in an over-watered yard. It is understandable that you would want fresh water, and the only seemingly possible way to accomplish that is to drain the pool. Really, even if you have not trimmed your overlap, draining your pool is usually a very unnecessary step and should only happen in the most extreme cases. 

So, instead of draining your pool to trim an overlap in your pool liner, you can invest in a higher quality pump or filtration system that can keep your water fresh and clean. Then, you will not have to worry about the issues that can come with draining your pool entirely.

How Can You Resolve an Overlap Pool Liner without Cutting it? 

If the thought of scissors at the very surface of your liner sends chills down your spine, there is another option for you. Not all of us have the guts or the will to start snipping away at a liner that costs as much as two months’ worth of groceries. Sharp objects and pool liners do not mix, and even if you have the strength to get to snipping, not everyone wants to risk cutting the liner too short and ending up with a pool in their grass rather than in the liner itself. 

Fortunately, you can choose to tuck your overlap pool liner to avoid the unsightly edge and to avoid taking scissors to it. To do this, you will need to ensure a neat tuck and leave about 2 extra inches on the edges as is recommended when trimming the overlap. 

If you are one of these people who does not want to trim their pool liner, forget cutting and tuck the overlap liner straight into the pool wall. Yep, you heard right, you do not have to cut! When you install the liner all you need to do is fold the excess amount right back into the pool. 

Once you have the excess in and tucked neatly, pull around two inches outside of the pool to help account for all of that expanding and shrinking I was talking about earlier. You then have enough outside to account for changes in the surface area of your liner, but also there is plenty of extra liner in case you need it. 

No guessing how much you need to cut, no worrying about there not being enough extra once the job is done, and there is plenty of excess to account for any dramatic changes in your pool liner’s surface area. If you want to play it safe and avoid any risk, simply tuck that liner away and think nothing more of it. 

What is also nice about this method is that you do not have to worry about puncturing essential parts of your liner with a sharp object like scissors. No matter how experienced you may be with cutting, accidents happen! And an accident like poking a hole in your liner can be one that majorly breaks the bank. Keep those scissors against paper and tuck your overlap pool liner to avoid any accidents that may cost you more than you were anticipating. 

Jed Arnold

Jed spent every year from the ages of 15 - 22 as a Lifeguard (Red Cross) and ages of 17 - 22 as a Certified Pool Operator (CPO). Between working for over a dozen facilities and owning a pool, he carries over a decade of pool experience.

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