Every man-made pond needs a liner to ensure the water doesn’t leak out into the surrounding soil. Shopping for the best pond liner online, however, can be somewhat challenging because there are so many options available at a wide range of prices. Pond liners come in several styles and can be made with a variety of materials. This article breaks down what to look for when shopping for the best pond liner and discusses the key considerations to keep in mind when pondering what’s perfect for your pond.
Keep reading for tips on choosing the best option and explore our curated picks for some of the best liners for a pond.
- BEST OVERALL: Firestone EPDM Rubber Pond Liner
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Beckett PVC Pond Liner
- BEST EPDM: Aquascape EPDM Boxed Pond Liner
- BEST HDPE: Growneer HDPE Pond Liner
- BEST PREFORMED: MacCourt Madeira 100-Gallon Pond Liner
- BEST LARGE PREFORMED: MacCourt Large Round 260-Gallon Pond Liner
How We Chose the Best Pond Liners
Years of experience covering home improvement as well as extensive product research went into creating this guide. We explored more than 25 pond liner options and weighed a number of practical considerations before making our recommendations.
- Material: The best material for a pond liner varies depending on different factors and consumer preferences, so we included products made of a host of materials among our recommendations.
- Thickness: Though thickness isn’t necessarily an indicator of quality when it comes to pond liners, we still opted to include only models with a minimum thickness of 14 mils.
- Flexible vs. preformed: Both flexible and preformed pond liners have their own advantages, so we included options for both types in this guide.
Our Top Picks
The following are our top picks for some of the best liners for your pond. These recommendations were selected because of their quality construction, excellent performance, and ease of installation.
This synthetic rubber pond liner from Firestone is a great all-around choice that’s suitable for most ponds. This sheet measures 10 feet by 15 feet, and because it’s made of EPDM, multiple sheets can be secured together using liner tape to create a larger pond. EPDM is a thicker material, and this model has a thickness of 45 mils while remaining stretchy. It’s also temperature-resistant and can withstand ultraviolet (UV) exposure without incurring damage.
EPDM is known for being somewhat prone to punctures, however, so an underlay may be needed to stave off tears. Fortunately, if a rip or puncture does occur, repairing or patching EPDM is an easy DIY task.
- Type: Flexible
- Material: EPDM
- Thickness: 45 mils
- Large sheet size covers a range of pond sizes
- Made with UV-resistant material; resists fading and weakening over time
- Punctures can be easily repaired in the flexible rubber fabric
- Separate purchase of an underlay is typically required for best results
Get the Firestone pond liner at Amazon.
Those building a pond for the first time will appreciate the affordable price of the Beckett Corporation PL810 Pond Liner. It’s made of flexible PVC, and while PVC is not generally considered an eco-friendly material, these sheets are designed specifically for ponds and are therefore formulated to avoid emitting potentially toxic chemicals. This liner is UV-resistant, though like all PVC, it may crack over time, especially when exposed to a good deal of direct sun.
The material is lightweight with a thickness of 20 mils, which makes it easy to mold into shape. There are several sheet sizes available, allowing shoppers to choose the size that best suits their pond’s design.
- Type: Flexible
- Material: PVC
- Thickness: 20 mils
- Multiple sheet sizes available; can suit most pond sizes
- UV-resistant material provides longer life expectancy
- Sheets can be taped together for even larger fish ponds
- PVC may begin to crack over time
Get the Beckett pond liner at Amazon, Lowe’s, The Home Depot, or Walmart.
EPDM is considered a great pond liner material because of its relatively affordable price and ease of use. This model from Aquascape is flexible and has a thickness of 45 mils. It’s resistant to UV rays, ozone, and oxidation, so it should last for many years before needing to be repaired or replaced.
Size options range from small single sheets that measure 10 feet long by 8 feet wide up to much larger 25-foot-long by 20-foot-wide options. Because it’s made of EPDM, however, multiple sheets can be easily attached together using liner tape. It’s important to note that the brand does recommend using an underlay with this liner.
- Type: Flexible
- Material: EPDM
- Thickness: 45 mils
- Easy to use; tool-free installation makes it quick and hassle-free
- UV- and ozone-resistant material
- Multiple sheets can be taped together for larger spaces
- Underlay recommended, at an additional cost
Get the Aquascape pond liner at Amazon (single size) or multiple size options at Aquascape or Walmart.
Although HDPE liners generally tend to be expensive, this Growneer product has a budget-friendly price and boasts big 13-foot by-20-foot sheets. It’s quite thin at 14.5 mils, but because HDPE is so durable and puncture-resistant, this thinness shouldn’t be a detractor. It’s resistant to both extremely high and low temperatures and won’t be negatively affected by UV rays. The color and finish of HDPE create a natural look at the bottom of a pond, making this a great aesthetic choice. Multiple sheets can be attached to one another using a heat gun for larger ponds.
- Type: Flexible
- Material: HDPE
- Thickness: 14.5 mils
- Affordable compared to similar options in the same size and material
- Large sheets can be easily trimmed to the perfect size
- Durable and puncture-resistant HDPE material
- A heat gun is required to affix multiple sheets together
Get the Growneer pond liner at Amazon.
A preformed pond liner is a great choice for first-time pond builders because it’s easy to install. In addition, preformed models can be installed partially or fully above-ground, allowing for more creative landscaping decisions. This Madeira model from MacCourt has these benefits as well as a natural irregular shape and a 100-gallon capacity, which is suitable for a small pond. It measures 6.5 feet long by 79 inches wide by 55 inches deep.
Many preformed pond liners are made of fiberglass, but this one is made of HDPE, making it durable and UV-resistant. It won’t crack, chip, or fade over time, even if exposed to extreme temperatures.
- Type: Preformed
- Material: HDPE
- Thickness: N/A
- Made with UV-resistant HDPE; won’t crack, chip, or fade
- Very simple to install; great for beginners with their first backyard pond
- Available in multiple natural shapes and sizes
- Predefined shape cannot be altered
Get the MacCourt Madeira pond liner at Lowe’s, The Home Depot, or Menards.
Those looking for a larger preformed pond should consider this model from MacCourt. With a 260-gallon capacity, it’s large enough to make a major statement. It has the round shape that’s ideal for more formal ornamental gardens, and the bottom is flat, making it easy to securely place a pump or filter. The liner is crafted of HDPE, which is strong, durable, and puncture-resistant. It’s also UV-resistant and an eco-friendly choice that’s safe for fish and other wildlife. It measures 6 feet in diameter and is 72 inches deep. Along with functioning as a pond liner, this product can also be used as the base of a fountain.
- Type: Preformed
- Material: HDPE
- Thickness: N/A
- Large size can accommodate plenty of aquatic life
- Made with UV-resistant material; safe for fish and plants
- Easy installation compared to traditional flexible pond liners
- Inflexible material limits any custom pond designs
Get the MacCourt large round pond liner at Lowe’s, The Home Depot, or Menards.
What to Consider When Choosing a Pond Liner
Though it’s easy to assume that all pond liners offer similar performance, a number of factors affect their functionality. Keep reading to learn about these important features to consider when choosing the best pond liner.
Types of Pond Liners
There are several types of pond liners made of a variety of materials, and they each have unique features and advantages.
Flexible vs. Preformed
The first decision homeowners need to make when choosing a pond liner is whether a flexible or preformed model is right for them.
- Flexible liners are made of thin material that can easily be cut down to fit the exact size and shape of a pond. They’re inexpensive but require more careful planning and installation than preformed liners because they must be cut precisely, and there’s no room for error.
- Preformed pond liners are made of a firmer material and are already shaped, so the size and shape of the liner dictate the size and shape of the pond. A preformed pond liner may be a little more expensive, but it’s a great choice for first-time pond owners because of the ease of installation.
Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) is a synthetic rubber that’s often used to manufacture flexible pond liners.
One of the primary advantages of EPDM liners is that individual sheets can be adhered together with liner tape, allowing users to worry less about making precise cuts. This also means that the pond can eventually be expanded without starting with a whole new liner.
On the downside, EPDM liners can be prone to punctures, so they must be paired with an underlay. The material is also quite heavy, making it slightly harder to work with than other flexible liner materials.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is one of the least expensive materials used to craft pond liners, and it has both advantages and disadvantages. It offers better puncture resistance than EPDM and is slightly more lightweight, making it easier to work with. Like EPDM, multiple sheets can be attached using liner tape.
There are, however, a few reasons PVC may not be ideal for ponds. It’s prone to cracking in cold weather or when exposed to direct sunlight. It’s also considered to be a poor choice for the environment because it emits chemicals that will enter both the pond’s water and the surrounding soil.
High-density polyethylene (HDPE) and reinforced polyethylene (RPE) are incredibly durable and puncture-resistant, making them some of the best materials for pond liners. They’re thin and lightweight, making them easy to form, yet they offer excellent puncture resistance. They’re suitable for cold climates and are safe for fish, wildlife, and the environment. Additionally, sheets can be welded with a heat gun, offering a superior seal compared to using liner tape. HDPE and RPE are both far more expensive than other pond-liner materials, making them inaccessible to those creating a pond on a budget. One additional downside is that if the material does become punctured, it can’t easily be fixed with a home repair kit.
Preformed pond liners are typically made with fiberglass, also known as glass-reinforced plastic (GRP). Fiberglass is firm and strong, so it doesn’t need to be supported by the surrounding soil. The material is designed to withstand extreme temperatures and can be exposed to direct sunlight without issue. It’s inexpensive, strong, and resistant to cracks and leaks, making it an ideal material for lining ponds.
All materials used for pond liners degrade slightly over time when exposed to direct UV rays, but some withstand sun exposure better than others. EPDM, HDPE, and fiberglass liners are the best choice when it comes to UV resistance as they can withstand sunny conditions without incurring significant damage. PVC liners, unfortunately, tend to crack over time under direct sunlight. Some PVC liners are treated for improved ability to withstand UV exposure, making them a better choice for ponds placed in sunny locations.
Adding a pond to a property creates an attractive landscaping feature, so aesthetics are an important consideration when choosing a pond liner. Preformed liners can be installed either partially or fully above-ground, allowing users to make raised ponds surrounded by rocks, stones, ornamental greenery, or water features.
Aesthetics are also a factor if the bottom of the pond will be visible. The best choice for mimicking the look of a natural pond is an HDPE liner, which is thin and resembles the color of earth most accurately.
Some pond liners also require an underlay, which protects the liner from punctures. Determining whether an underlay is necessary is dependent on several factors. First, the natural condition of the environment plays a role. In an area with lots of sharp rocks and stones, using an underlay is prudent. The material of the liner also plays a role. More durable liners probably don’t require an underlay, whereas puncture-prone materials are best paired with one. Some liners are sold with a matching underlay, but others must be purchased separately.
Tips for Installing Pond Liners
Once you’ve designed your pond, dug it out, and chosen a liner, it’s time for the installation process to begin. Here are some tips for installing pond liners:
- Place a layer of sand down before installing the liner to protect it from sharp rocks and roots.
- Consider using an underlay to add further cushioning.
- Drape the liner over the pond, ensuring an equal overhang on all sides before securing the edges with bricks, rocks, or other heavy materials.
- Fill the pond with water, allowing it to fill the contours of the shape dug for it naturally.
- Once the pond has been filled, trim the excess liner and anchor the edges by burying them or holding them down with stones.
Consumers now know more about choosing the best pond liner for their water garden, but they may still be looking for more information. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about pond liners.
Q. Does a pond need a liner?
Yes. Every man-made pond requires a liner to prevent the water from leaking into the surrounding soil and causing flooding into basements or backyards. Some areas may also have too much clay in their soil and need reinforcement to prevent leakage.
Q. How does a buyer choose a pond liner?
Choose a pond liner depending on the budget, the size and shape of the pond, and the aesthetic you’re trying to achieve. One that is easy to lay is also an important consideration for those who have mobility issues. When selecting a pond liner, ensure that you measure the space you are placing the pond to ensure that the liner is large enough to prevent any leakage into the soil.
Q. What thickness of pond liner is best?
The thickness of a pond liner is typically measured in mils, with 1 mil equivalent to 0.001 inches. The ideal pond-liner thickness is dependent on the type of material used and the amount of water you’re intending to put in the pond, though most will be safe to use if they are between 18 and 20 mils thick.
Q. How much pond liner is necessary?
That depends on the size of the pond the DIYer is creating. Pond-liner manufacturers will often include formulas to help calculate how much liner is required for pond dimensions. However, a simple rule of thumb is to calculate the length by adding the maximum length plus two times the maximum depth and an additional foot for safety. For the width, add the maximum width plus two times the maximum depth and, again, add an additional foot to be safe. Remember, you can measure multiple times; you can only cut once!
Q. Should sand be spread in the bottom of a pond?
Though sand is suitable for the bottom of a pond, gravel is a better choice because sand is more likely to clog filters or allow for leakage. However, in some ponds, sand can be one of the easiest materials to clean and maintain.
Q. What material can be used instead of a pond liner?
As an alternative to a pond liner, you can create a pond base using either concrete or clay. These options are more expensive but are ideal for a more permanent installation. For an affordable yet temporary alternative, a tarpaulin cover can also work for preventing leaks.
Q. What is the ideal size for a koi pond?
Koi are very large fish, so they need a lot more space compared to smaller pond fish. Those looking to install a koi pond will need considerable space to do so. An ideal size for a koi pond is around 25 feet long by 13 feet wide, and at least 3 feet deep. Smaller koi ponds can be as little as 8 feet long by 6 feet wide, but the koi may start to outgrow it over time.
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