A wrinkled liner is a costly but often rare problem. Vinyl manufacturers in the U.S and Canada produce a very durable product. Their products are designed to take a little abuse without showing signs of stress. However, a problem is beginning to emerge in the vinyl liner industry. There are increasing reports of wrinkles developing in liners that are just a few years old. Not only are there more pools experiencing wrinkles but the wrinkles are also more severe. What is the reason for this and where are these wrinkles coming from? New research is shining some light on this subject and the evidence suggests that off-shore material is the likely culprit.
When a liner becomes wrinkled after it is installed, it is a major problem. If it is not too severe, the liner can be repositioned to remove the wrinkle. However, in the current cases the pool has multiple liner wrinkles that can’t be removed. The only solution is to replace the liner. Low pH will cause a liner to develop wrinkles. When the pH drops below 7 the water becomes acidic and vinyl starts to absorb water and expand, causing wrinkles. Low pH alone doesn’t explain why the wrinkling problem is increasing, though. Recently, investigation into the cause has revealed a common source, off-shore vinyl. This low cost alternative to domestically produced material looks and handles very much the same. However, it isn’t the same. Analysis shows that it contains high levels of a filler ingredient that domestically produced vinyl doesn’t contain. The ingredient, calcium carbonate, adds no value to the vinyl but does make it cheaper to produce. Essentially, off-shore manufacturers are using chalk in place of plasticizers and resins in their vinyl.
The main problem with using calcium carbonate as an ingredient, is that it absorbs water easily. Samples of the off-shore vinyl expanded by as much as 25% when placed in a low pH environment. On the other hand, samples of domestic material placed in the same solution expanded by less than 3%, if at all. That means, not only is the off-shore material more likely to wrinkle but the wrinkling will be far more severe. Some of the off-shore vinyl samples contained over 20% calcium carbonate and none had less than 18%.
Vinyl liners are not the first item to be imported that later was found to have formulation issues. The gypsum sheetrock and more recently the vinyl flooring recalls that cost builders millions in replacements and repairs are a harbinger of what you get when you don’t require materials manufactured in a regulated environment.
The winking is the main problem with this vinyl but there are others as well. Testing revealed that the off-shore material fell short in almost every category. Abrasion testing of the off-shore vinyl produced significant scuff marks and ink loss. Domestic material put through the same test showed almost no signs of scuffing and no ink loss at all. Another test, that replicates sun exposure, revealed a dramatic shift in color. Again, domestic vinyl subjected to the same test experienced hardly any shift in color. These are just a few examples but the evidence is clear, the off-shore vinyl is not comparable to vinyl manufactured in the U.S and Canada.
Tara is committed to using only vinyl manufactured in North America. All 18 of our liner patterns are produced in the United States. In addition to better quality, designs and support, choosing domestic suppliers allows us to respond quickly to changing demand. Most importantly, our investment in American made vinyl supports the growth of local communities, which is a key to Tara’s overall mission.