Hello, I'm in the process of choosing a new pool liner. I called in some estimates and quickly realized I was getting a lot of contradictory information. First was thickness, 20 mil vs 27 mil vs 28 mil. Most advocated for thinner over thicker because it's easier to work with, "less likely to pop off the liner channel, less likely to wrinkle, and just "results in a nicer looking finished product". Most looked at my pool and saw a 8'+ deep end and recommended 20 mil for it. I showed the extra liner I had, which turned out to be 28 mil, and lasted for 20 years. There was severe discoloration largely due to low ph for a number of years.
The first question pool brand: Pool Liner Manufacturers List | SPP Inground Pool Kit Blog
This site answered most of my questions. The forum has some pictures of Latham Ultra seams, and they really look the best. Merlin calls it silk seam but the end result didn't appear as nice. I'm not sure if Loop Loc or other brands offer similar camouflaged seams.
From what I've gathered on the forum, 28 mil isn't more durable for a soft bottom pool. With padding that all installers are adding into their quotes, it doesn't even seem necessary. When feeling 20 mil vs 28 mil the different is significant to the touch and feel of the liner. Also the thicker liner should reveal imperfections in the sand troweling less than the thinner liner. I did also see some with 28 wall 20 bottoms say the 28 mil faded slower than the the 20 mil, even in places where both were at approximately the same height under water. In the end I don't think it is a big deal, the consensus seems to be liners are just as durable, patterns are less durable, due to EPA regulations on dyes. So are the claims of vinyl liners with special antifungul, antibacterial, antialgae, UV resistant coatings bogus? I don't think it's bogus, but I believe most manufacturers will be producing a similar material. The differences really do come down to pattern choices, and seam technology, dealers, and support. Finding actual pictures of installed liners is actually hard for some reason, I did see a video of loop loc liners rolled across a pool side by side, which is useful. Searching the Under Construction thread would be best for this, but probably very time consuming.
Warranty seems to be standard across different brands. I haven't gotten a break down with numbers for the pro rating, which I presume you can get from either the manufacturer as a percentage or as a dollar amount from your dealer. The pool builder might offer you a full warranty in the 3-6 year range which include labor, install, water, and chemicals.
Lop-Loc seems to be the dominant brand in NY, with dealers wanting little to do with any other brand. Their patterns are really nice, I'm unsure if their seams and dye's are as nice as some of the other brands.
I thought I would share this info, not to hurt any installers, but to help people make an informed decision quicker. Not wasting time saves everyone money, and gives them more pool time . I hope anyone can share their experience and thoughts about liner changes. I've got a pattern picked out not sure on the brand and company yet. Has anyone seen the Lop Loc seams?
TL;DR see the samples, seams, and patterns in person if possible. There are many liner manufacturers, your dealer should be able to accommodate your request (some offer consumer rebates). So basically I would recommend getting a quote from a Merlin dealer, Lop Loc dealer, Latham dealer etc. Ask the dealer for a full warranty to be listed on the contract. The thicker liners cost about 5-10% more despite most PB pricing things out to be the same across the board.