How To: Install a Pool Liner

Over the weekend, something exciting happened.  If you follow us on Instagram, you may have seen that Ben and I installed our pool liner.  Several weeks ago, I shared work we’d done to get ready for the pool liner, which included hanging the standard bead track.


In order to prevent the screws rubbing against the future liner, Ben applied a few layers of Gorilla Tape to soften the screw heads.


With the track ready, we measured the pool.  Different sites have slightly different measurements, so we measured according to the company we planned to order from and filled out the paper.


After sending that form in, they sent us a drawing detailing the dimensions we gave to them, asking us to confirm the sizes were correct.


After looking over dozens of liner pattern and color options, I chose Crystal Quartz, a white, gray, and blue terrazzo pattern.  In the Swim was quick and sent our liner out within a week of placing the order.  A big, 140 pound box arrived with a list of instructions printed on the outside of the box.  The box was to be placed at the deep end, centered on the width with the arrows facing the shallow end.


The pool liner has a thicker ‘bead’ along the top, with an angle cut back.


The angle of the bead grips the track, with the weight of the liner pulling it down, keeping it tucked in place.


Although the directions said it works best to have four people, Ben and I unfurled the package, bringing the marked corners toward the shallow end.  Each corner had a blue Sharpie arrow on the back to indicate the corner, which we placed near the center of the radius corner.


It wasn’t perfect, one side just a little off-center, giving a bit more material to one side.  With the liner still in the track, we pulled a little toward the deep end, slowly scooting it along the track.  After that, the corners all lined up nicely, and Ben brought up our two shop vacs.



One hose went into the skimmer, the other tucked behind the corner of the liner.  Both sealed with Gorilla Tape to keep the suction as tight as possible.


Without the vacuums on, the liner hangs loosely off the track.


Within a few minutes of turning the two vacuums on, the liner stretched and sucked into the walls and floor.  But not tightly into the seams where the different planes meet.


Up until this point, everything went better than anticipated, taking about an hour total.  We both hopped online in search of answers.  I saw several forums that said liners stretch about 300 percent.  Not wanting to risk harming the $1300 liner, we got a more powerful carpet cleaning vacuum, with three different suction levels.  Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to make much of a difference.

At that point, Ben and I both worried that the liner was too small.  Nothing in the instructions said the liner would be slightly small, but I thought the weight of water would stretch everything in place.  After a discussion, Ben agreed we should give it a try and brought in the hoses.


As the pool fills, the vacuums have to stay on to keep the liner sucked tightly into place.


Sure enough, as the water level rose, the previously rounded corners became more defined.


Whew, it was all okay and now a waiting game.  Over on Instagram, a few people messaged me to ask why we didn’t get a water truck delivery.  Mostly because we’d never installed a liner before and didn’t know how it would go/when we would be ready.  Also, deliveries aren’t available on Sundays.  Either way, we knew it would eventually fill up, and the hardest part was behind us.  Stay tuned for the full reveal!


Fall Plantings

Several years ago, a native pine tree grew in a planter that divides the top, flat part of our driveway from the steep slope coming up from the road.  The planter was cobbled together, made with various rocks the previous owner had left over.


When the pine tree died from boring beetles and we cut it down, it made the tight turn at the top of our driveway feel so much more open.  However, the steep grande change required something to divide the two levels, so Ben and I agreed on a 6 foot diameter culvert turned planter.


Though 6 feet isn’t small, it was about half the size of the previous rock planter, giving more space to make the turn.  In June, Ben got the planter in place, but I waited to buy plants because I didn’t want to plant in the heat of summer.


With cooler fall temperatures, the new plants can start to establish roots before winter hits and hopefully bounce right back with warm spring temps.  As per my plan, I bought an Ivory Silk Lilac, placing it in the center of the planter.  It maxes out around 20 feet tall, which will stay compact in this tight space.


Around the tree, I added four Black Eyed Susans. In part because the do well in our conditions, but also because I couldn’t find lavender locally this time of year.


Between the culvert planter and the wooden beam walkway, we added large stones to divide planter space from driveway.


In that section, I dotted Angelina Stonecrop plants, which should fill in to form a low lying green rug.


Currently, the tree looks a bit puny, like something Charlie Brown would rescue.  Once established, I hope it fills out and dazzles us with white flower clusters.


In the steep grade change, I nestled a few Hens and Chicks succulents in to help soften all of the rocks.


Patience is always the name of the game when dealing with plants.  It looks sparse now, but in a few short years, it should look lush and full.


Navigating the driveway is easier now, thanks to the extra 6 or so feet cut off from the old planter size.  Next spring, I will add sweet potato vines (an annual in our zone) to the tall front edge to drape over the front.


And now the waiting on plants to grow game begins, which feels like an eternity.  Taking pictures along the way helps, because it shows the slow progress that is otherwise hard to notice on a daily basis.

Hot Tub Shopping

When we bought our house six years ago, the pool house had a large, broken built-in hot tub.  Years previously, it stopped working, but couldn’t easily be fixed because it was in the ground.


Ben cut apart the old tub with a saw, leaving a huge hole behind.


We filled it with dirt, followed by a layer with crushed gravel at the top before pouring a layer of concrete.




With the concrete done, we took several days to tile the floor throughout the pool house.  Finally, we created board and batten walls, painting everything clean white.


While all of those steps are exciting in their own right, none of it made the space function as it is intended: as a pool and hot tub hang out.  Though we do have the pool liner and the supplies necessary to complete it, time is in short supply lately, so it hasn’t been finished.  However, we do now have water in here other than the bathroom and kitchen sink.

After months of research of different brands of hot tubs, we pulled the trigger and bought a spa over the weekend.  Before getting the spa in place, Ben installed an outdoor rated connection box.


Earlier than we expected, four guys and a hot tub showed up.  They put the hot tub on a special cart, pushing it up the hill, with a few Catmint plants getting pushed down in the process.  Luckily, they’ll grow back just fine.


Ben pulled out both panels of the back sliding door, giving them a 6 foot wide opening to get it inside.


Once inside, they tipped the cart to the side, setting the tub on the floor, easily sliding it into place.  Ben hooked up the electrical connection while their installer put the lift and cover in place.


As previously mentioned, Ben had been researching options for months.  Our biggest requirement was a tub small enough to fit in our 6 foot deep by 7.5 foot wide space (before the back angled walls begin).  From there, we found three tubs locally available.

First, the Jacuzzi J-315 2/3 seater with the shell in Silver Pearl and Brazilian Teak for the cabinet.  $6,300, including a cover, cover lift, and delivery.  This one measures 76″ by 66″ by 32″, has 21 jets, and 2 filters.


Next, the Dover from Sundance Spas (Sundance is a sister company of Jacuzzi) with the shell in Platinum and an Autumn Walnut cabinet for $6,000, including delivery.  Measuring 60″ by 84″ by 29.5″, it has 22 jets, and 1 filter.



Finally, the Nashville from Marquis with a Glacier shell and Slate cabinet surround.  This one was $5,800 including a cover, cover lift, and delivery.  This one is 69″ by 82″ by 30.5″, has 23 jets, and 1 filter.



Based on looks alone, I preferred the Jacuzzi interior and the way the Sundance cabinet goes to the floor.  Being the cheapest, the Marquis also looked the cheapest to me.  From a maintenance/function stand point, Ben liked the Jacuzzi jets and filters.  Another main selling point came down to the warranty.  Jacuzzi and Sundance, being sister companies offer the same warranty.


Marquis offers a 5 year warranty on the shell structure, 3 years on plumbing and equipment, 2 years on the shell surface, 1 year on the cabinet, components, and parts.  We ruled out the Marquis pretty quickly.


With the Jacuzzi and Sundance being sister companies, the tubs are pretty similar.  The biggest tipping point for one over the other was the jet construction, so Jacuzzi won.


Unfortunately, due to the way the cover lift works, the tub couldn’t be placed with the longer side along the back wall.  Well, technically, it would work, but would have to be pulled out from the wall about 16 inches to allow the cover when open.  Instead, we rotated it 90 degrees and it sits about 4 inches away from the wall.


The tub came with a Prolast fabric cover in Sienna, but I’d like to get a gray cover down the road.


At the original fill level, just below the headrests, the water level was too high for me.  I scooped out a few buckets of water and now it is the perfect way to relax.

An Awkward Alaska Kitchen

This summer, Ben and I started our own remodeling and design company.  For obvious reasons, Ben’s building skills are put to use locally.  However, I love working on designs of all kinds, from all places.  Recently, I was asked to help create a layout for an awkward, angle filled kitchen.  The space has been demolished, with new windows, and is a blank slate.


To start, the owner sent a roughly to scale floor plan, with measurements listed.


Of course, a floor plan is the simplified version of the space.  Without knowing how tall the windows are, it’s hard to create a kitchen layout.  Luckily, I was provided plenty of photos from various angles, giving a full perspective of the adjoining rooms.  The house was built-in the 80’s, when architecture got kind of weird and experimental.


Above, looking from the dining room windows toward the half octagon shaped kitchen.


The kitchen location has five different angled walls, with a door to the laundry room and a hall coming in.  The longest edge opens to the dining room, with the ceiling going from 8 feet in the kitchen to 10 foot ceilings in the dining room.


Below is the view from the hall entrance, with the laundry room door to the right.


Straddling the kitchen and dining room is a 4 foot deep by 9 foot wide bump out.  Currently, it has a door out to a small deck, but the owner wants to do away with it.


We talked over what they want and need in the space.  On their list is a generous sink, refrigerator, dishwasher, trash pull out drawer, two ovens, and either a 36 or 48 inch range.  They do a lot of entertaining, so if there was a way to add a closet to store folding chairs, that was a bonus.  Here’s what I came up with:

Kitchen Layout

With each angle, the front of the cabinet is narrower than the back wall, creating wasted space.  To keep the plan as open as possible, I put the refrigerator along the bumped out nook, creating a closet behind it.  The refrigerator is the biggest, bulkiest piece, so placing it on the end, recessing it back will keep it from feeling too heavy.

Kitchen Layout2

The owners want two ovens, but double stacked ovens near the laundry room could feel too closed off.  By placing a 36 inch gas range with vent hood above, that gives them one oven.  Another electric oven could easily go in the island, with a 5 foot wide walkway rather than a 4 foot walkway.  The island is still generous, at 5 feet wide by 8.5 feet long.  A row of 12 inch deep floor to ceiling cabinets to serve as a pantry space will make up for the lack of lower cabinetry in the main area of the kitchen.

Railing Redo Complete

After discussing railing options with our friend/client, Ben got to work ordering the various pieces and installing the new railing.  Before installing any new parts, he secured the wobbly newel post, making it solid.Railing-Redo-Finished-Overa

With the 1 1/4 inch balusters spaced into groups of three, each 1 1/4 inches apart, then 3 1/2 inches from the next group, he started building.


The top rail is made 3 1/2 inch wide by 2 inch thick red oak, stained to blend better with the wood in the house.


On the other side, a square handrail follows the slope of the stairs.


Keeping the base simple and painting it white makes it look like a complete system, rather than separate rail and floor.


Before, the posts looked too thick and heavy for the skinny, detailed balusters.  Now, the trio of thick baulsters are similar in width to the post.


At the bottom of the stairs, the angled rail system blends nicely with the existing molding.


Before, the railing felt off-balance and disjointed, with thick white posts and skinny dark wood.


Now, rather than looking overly traditional and dated, it looks fresh and simple.


For a relatively small project, the update has made a big impact.


Style wise, it blends seamlessly with the traditional trim throughout, and the owner’s transitional style furnishings and decor.