Black Swimming Pool Liners
If you are considering a black swimming pool liner for your pool then this article will help you to understand the advantages and disadvantages of this uncommon liner color. Black pool liners are something that a lot of pool owners ask about but not all that many get installed. The reason for this is that a black pool liner has some safety concerns, but more importantly (at least to most pool owners considering one) they do not really look black once you fill them with water.
Most pool owners asking about a black pool liner are probably picturing something along the lines of a reflecting pool - something where the surface of the water pretty much looks like a mirror reflection. The problem with this picture that most pool owners have, is that this is not what a vinyl pool with a black liner will look like. In order for a reflecting pool to have that totally black look and mirror reflective surface it is usually only about a foot deep or so.
Already the magic of a black pool liner is starting to fade, since it will not really look black once it is full of water, but also consider that any black liner above the waterline that is in direct sunlight can become uncomfortably hot to the touch. There is a place in some stark designs for black vinyl liners, however you need to consider the downsides first.
What Does A Black Pool Liner Look Like?
A black pool liner comes out of the box from the manufacturer printed on fully black stock vinyl. Usually a pattern such as waves or pebbles is printed over the solid black stock. For all intents and purposes the liner itself is totally black. Even once you have installed the liner in the pool it will appear to be totally black, but as soon as you start filling up the pool the color will start to change.
People often make the mistake of thinking that a swimming pool is blue because it is reflecting the color of the sky. Another common misconception is that a blue perimeter tile border will influence the pool water to take on a blue hue...but neither of these assumptions are true. If these were true, then why would a pool with white tile and all white plaster interior surface look blue? Even if the pool is located inside a building that is painted all white, and there is no outside light or sun in the room, the water would still appear to be blue. This is because the blue tint to pool water is a result of the way water absorbs different spectrums of light.
Light Spectrums - Visible light comes in seven spectrums, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. Indigo is commonly excluded from modern explanations of the light spectrum divisions. The different colors of visible light are all based on the wavelength and frequency of the light energy. Water, in particular, absorbs light more readily from both ends of the visible light spectrum (red/orange and indigo/violet) where as light from the middle of the spectrum (green/blue) penetrates more deeply into water.
White light contains light from all visible light spectrums at equal intensity. When this light reaches water the longer wavelength red and orange lights are absorbed by the water. This leaves a surplus of green and blue light in the water compared to white light which had an equal value of each light color. If you had white light and blocked (or absorbed) all other colors than red, then the light would appear to be red.
Water, and swimming pools, absorb all colors other than blue, and so they appear to be blue. The deeper the water gets, the more blue it will appear to be. It does not matter if you have a black pool liner, a yellow pool liner or a white pool liner...once you add water it will look blue in color.
Light Scattering - When white light enters pool water the red and orange spectrums are absorbed at a rate of 100 times what blue and green spectrum light is absorbed. In order to see this from the surface, looking into the pool, some of the light that is going into the water needs to be reflected back up towards the surface. This light scattering effect happens when light bounces off of particles or contaminants in the water. Blue light which has been reflected by particulate tends to shift the spectrum towards the green spectrum versus the blue spectrum. For this reason, bodies of water with high TDS or mineral content such as calcium or magnesium can appear more vividly blue and green. This effect is often seen in mountain lakes with high mineral content which often appear emerald green in color.
Pool liner replacement contractors tend to shy away from black pool liners in general. The biggest reason is simply that they typically do not live up to pool owners expectations of 100% light refraction on the surface of the water, and a jet black pool. Obviously your installer wants you to be happy with the finished product, and that is probably why they are trying to steer you towards something a little more mainstream in terms of liner colors. In addition to black liners still looking blue once you fill them up, there is also the discussion of safety. Are black pool liners dangerous? Maybe a little bit, yes.
Black Pool Liner Pros And Cons
When it comes to swimming pools there simply is no such thing as overkill when it comes to safety...or at least that is how I view swimming pools. One of the biggest problems that I have with endorsing black pool liners is that the dark coloring makes it very difficult for swimmers (and divers) to note the depth, slope or curves. Without clearly marked and defined edges to the contours of the pool interior you have an increased potential for an accident versus a pool where you can clearly see the sides and bottom.
For many years it was difficult, if not impossible, to find main drain covers in black. Most manufacturers offered gray as the darkest color option, assuming they made anything other than white in the first place. Black PVC is much less common than white, but swimming pool white goods manufacturers were slow to answer the market demand call for black faceplates. Most cited the safety of clearly visible pool drains as the reason they were not available. Now it is much easier to find black "white goods" for pools such as this black main drain cover from Hayward. Part of this change has to do with pool lights now being considered part of the minimum safety equipment that all newly constructed pools should have. If you want more ideas about how you can make a pool safer then you can also read this article on essential safety items every pool should have to see what else you can have in terms of pool safety equipment.
One of the main pros of black pool liners is that the darker color will help to increase the ambient water temperature by absorbing more heat from the sun. This is something that I have been hearing talked about for over 25 years, and as such I always ask liner manufacturers what they think about dark print liners and water temperature. Most liner manufacturers that I have talked to say that there is no difference in pool temperature from light print liners to dark print liners. I suspect that this is simply because they do not want to be liable for a pool that "didn't get warm enough" after a customer was told how much warmer their water will be. In reality, a black liner will have little overall impact on your water temperature versus a darker print blue liner. In the most optimal sense, a black liner versus a white liner, in an area that is exposed to a lot of sun might realize a maximum difference of seven degrees Fahrenheit. Most pools will not notice a difference in temperature between a black liner and a dark blue liner. If you want your pool to be warmer, then use a solar blanket and choose a blue liner.
One final note on black liners is something that a pool owner might not think of. In the world of swimming pools you always want to match the pool to the house and the real estate. This is why you see a lot of expensive concrete pools on expensive properties, and why you would not typically see an above ground pool on an expensive house. Having a black pool might be "super cool" to your tastes...but one day when you want to sell your home you absolutely do not want to be known as the house with the "death pool". Good luck getting maximum asking price for your house if other people think the black liner makes your pool look dark and scary - especially if the new owners have small children!
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