Vinyl Liners and Fiberglass Steps
INSTALLATION OF VINYL LINERS IN POOLS WITH FIBERGLASS STEPS WHICH ARE "OUTSIDE THE POOL" (LINER DOES NOT FIT OVER STEPS).
It is important to understand that the ultimate goal is to prepare the step area in such a manner that, when it is time to install the liner, the step area has been temporarily "bypassed" allowing the liner to be installed as though the wall in the step area is continuous and the steps do not exist. In other words, the step area is "blanked off".
Lay a piece of 3/8 inch plywood, with the top of the plywood at the same elevation as the liner track, against the face of the step area. Have one person hold the plywood in place while the second person scribes the opening of the step area on the inside of the plywood (see dotted line on FRONT VIEW).
Shape the plywood in accordance with your markings. You will need a saber saw. Undercut very slightly.
Lay the shaped piece of plywood in place to insure that it will fit comfortably in the area you are blanking off. Exact fit is not necessary (see step 9), but it should fit reasonably close.
With the shaped piece in place, lay a 2 X 4 on the bottom tread of the steps (approx. 18 inches long) and mark the top of the 2 X 4 on the inside of the shaped plywood (see side view).
Screw the 18 inch 2 X 4 to the inside of the shaped plywood with the top of the 2 X 4 flush to the line you have previously scribed. This piece is to act as a cleat to hold the plywood in place vertically once set in position. (side view).
Screw a second 2 X 4 all the way across and flush to the top of the plywood. If the plywood has been shaped correctly, the top of this 2 X 4 should be at the same elevation as the liner track in your pool wall (side view).
Mount liner track (to be ordered with your liner) all the way across the top 2 X 4 (side view).
Place an eyebolt in the center of the top 2 X 4.
Set the assembled blank-off into place. Using duct tape, tape the outer edge of the plywood to the edge of the fiberglass stairs to seal the edges and to prevent any air loss when vacuuming the liner into place. Be careful to not tape over the screw holes for the face plates. The tape is for an air seal only and is not intended to hold the plywood in place.
Utilizing the eyebolt and rope, tie the top of the assembly off to anything that is stationary (tree, stake in the ground, etc.). The idea here is to keep the plywood from pulling down or forward once the liner is hung and the pool is filling.
You have now prepared the step area for installation of the liner. Again, the idea is to make the pool wall continuous past the step area. The liner will have to "jump across" from the track in the pool wall to the track on the 2 X 4 but that is OK. After you have "set" the liner and before you vacuum the liner into place, use more duct tape to plug the gaps at the two transition points.
CUTTING IN LINER AT STEPS
DO NOT cut in the liner prematurely!! All stretch must be out of the liner prior to replacing the face plates surrounding the steps. This means that you will most likely need 12 to 18 inches of water in the shallow end. Standing in the pool (yes, we know its cold) you must be able to press against the liner at the base of the wall below the steps and know that the liner is seated in and making contact with both the floor of the pool and the wall of the pool where the two intersect. In other words, all stretch is out of the liner.
Because the bottom (horizontal) face plate will most likely have to be installed under water, we recommend installation of the two vertical face plates first. Using a ballpoint pen, mark the vertical screw holes to insure alignment. Secure the gaskets to the face plates and screw the two vertical face plates into place. Once all screws are in place, re-tighten all screws working from the middle outward, up and down.
At this time you are ready to install the bottom, horizontal face plate. If you there is any doubt about all the stretch being out of the liner it is OK to make a horizontal slice in the liner against the plywood and about 18 inches up from the bottom. This will allow the liner to sag and bottom out at the base of the wall. Repeat the procedure used in step 2 above and install the horizontal face plate. DO NOT SLICE THE LINER UNLESS YOU FEEL IT ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. With the two vertical face plates in place, installing the bottom face plate is easy even under water as alignment of the screws is pretty much automatic.
Only after you are confident that all screws and gaskets are securely in place are you to proceed. NOW IS YOUR LAST OPPORTUNITY to double check your work.
Using a razor knife, carefully cut the liner out from around the inside of the face plates thus exposing the plywood behind the liner. Leave extra material and beading at the top momentarily.
Carefully cut the top portion of the liner bead to where it is at the proper length to tuck the ends of the bead into the liner track where the pool wall joins the fiberglass steps at the top.
Get out of the pool, warm your feet. Put on socks if necessary. Remove the plywood assembly and save for future use. Carefully trim any remaining exposed duct tape with razor knife.