Whether you want a new aesthetic, a replacement, or it’s your first time, buying a pool liner can be overwhelming with the plethora of choices out there. There’s a lot to consider beyond color; how good the warranty is, what pattern you want, if you like or hate embossment, and even how much sparkle you want, the list could go on. Knowing that choosing a new vinyl liner can be difficult at times, we put together your go-to guide for all you need to know when shopping for a pool liner, whether you’re a seasoned pool pro or your pool just started construction.

Before you can choose the right liner for your pool, you need to ask yourself what kind of liner your pool needs and what liner you want to see. Bringing these two answers together is key to manifesting the right pool line for your outdoor oasis. Taking note of where your pool is positioned, whether it’s in the sun most of the day or the shade, along with how much debris ends up in your pool on a daily basis, are essential pieces of buying the right liner. Plus, your personal tastes are important; what kind of pool decor you’re dreaming of and the kind of water color you’re looking for are two great places to start.

Once you have the answers to the above questions, you can start seriously shopping for the perfect pool liner. First things first, you want to make sure you’re dealing with the right companies. LOOP-LOC’s 20-year prorated warranty is unbeatable, especially for the high-quality liner you’re going to fall in love with. While some websites tell you different things about vinyl thickness, there is not a significant difference in liner lifespan overall. As long as the vinyl is high-quality, well-installed, and well-maintained, your liner should last you quite a number of years.

When it comes to color, it’s essential to know the inspiration for your pool style. If you want classic sapphire blue water, you’re going to look into deep blueliners. If your pool is in a sunny spot, your water will be naturally warmer from the dark liner, but you may also notice some fading of the vibrant blue over time. If a Caribbean ocean is closer to your mental image, then a lighter, teal liner is perfect for you. The glistening waters are an open invitation to jump in, plus, you won’t notice as much sun or chlorine bleaching. On the other hand, if you get a lot of fall leave debris, your liner is a bit more susceptible to staining.

The pattern is another huge factor in your pool’s appearance. Deciding between a tile, stone, wave, or palm leaf pattern is just the beginning–whether you want an embossed pattern or a sparkling pattern is a serious decision you have to make. More involved patterns will hide any imperfections, while water-inspired patterns tend to portray a more natural appearance. Solid patterns allow debris and liner seams to be more visible, but also tend to be at a lower price point. A border pattern on top of your liner can add another layer to your pool’s inspiration, whether it’s a Greek pattern or Aztec inspired tiling.

Adding texture to your liner is a personal choice. Some liners have embossed patterns that add a lovely texture to the walls, and many companies add a slip-resistant tread pattern on the vinyl liner for the pool stairs.

Buying a vinyl pool liner is a process, but it can be turned into a fun one. Imagining your ideal outdoor oasis is a part of the fun that goes into building and having a pool, so embrace it fully and dive into your dream destination or feeling of inspiration. The most important opinion is your own, so as long as you’re in love with your liner, then your pool is perfect.