Having a fish pond or water garden in your backyard is a fantastic way to enhance your landscape and transform it into a unique outdoor living space. Unfortunately, the chances of your property spontaneously developing a pond capable of supporting fish and aquatic plants is slim to none. If you want a water garden or koi pond, you’ll have to construct it using the best pond liner material.
A high-quality pond liner will help the pond retain its shape and prevent its water from leaking. A pond liner is a geomembrane with incredible puncture resistance. It acts as a barrier between the pond’s water and the soil beneath the structure that would otherwise absorb the water.
So, what is the best pond liner? Consult the guide below to learn more about the top materials for this backyard construction job.
What Should You Look For In The Best Pond Liner?
Plastics come in many varieties, but not all are suitable for ponds. These structures remain under constant exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, moisture, and temperature fluctuations. Some plastics aren’t appropriate pond liners because they would degrade over time.
The pond liner you choose for your pond must be fish and plant safe and resistant to UV radiation. Otherwise, the material could lose elasticity, develop tears, and leak. The best pond liner will also stretch to accommodate shifting weight if you drain water or reorganize the aquatic plants.
You should also consider the pond liner’s thickness because it will factor into how well the material molds into the desired shape for the water feature. Liner thickness is measurable in mils. One mil is one-thousandth of an inch.
Is a Pond Underlayment Necessary?
You might wonder if you need an underlayment with a pond liner instead of laying the liner directly on the soil. It’s possible to construct a koi pond without an underlayment because the best pond liners are durable enough to hold the water feature’s shape and not sustain damage from sun exposure.
However, the area where you dig your pond might expose the liner to sharp rocks that could puncture the material. Pond underlayment will give your water feature extra protection against damage without affecting durability and flexibility.
4 Best Pond Liner Materials to Consider
1. PVC or Polyvinyl Chloride Pond Liners
For years, the PVC pond liner has been the go-to choice for water feature construction, including above-ground swimming pools. As an affordable plastic, many budget pond kits include PVC liners. Most vinyl liners are reasonably thin at around 20 mils, making the material lightweight and easier to manipulate into the desired shape.
Despite the relative thinness of PVC pond liners, they offer more puncture resistance than EPDM liners. However, they are not as strong or durable as RPE liners.
Low cost and durability make PVC one of the best pond liner material options available, but it has drawbacks. For instance, it is not suitable for cold climates, and it usually includes plasticizers to increase the vinyl’s flexibility. The liners can sometimes have traces of toxins lethal to fish, and plasticizers can reduce the puncture resistance of PVC.
Some manufacturers incorporate a polyester weave into the PVC fabric for reinforcements. The liner becomes more robust and durable, but you could achieve a similar effect by installing a PVC pond liner with an underlayment.
2. EPDM or Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer Pond Liners
Another standard pond liner consists of EPDM, a synthetic rubber that folds easily around corners due to its flexibility. While pond underlayments are usually optional, using one with an EPDM pond liner is necessary. The underlayment is an essential feature of a rubber liner because the material is soft and highly flexible.
Unlike other materials, you cannot use heat to weld multiple EPDM sheets together, but you can use liner tape to attach them. One of the best pond liner materials available, this rubber liner has the least puncture resistance and the heaviest weight. However, EPDM is ultraviolet stabilized, so it will not dry out and become brittle with sun exposure.
3. RPE or Reinforced Polyethylene Pond Liners
One of the most durable pond liners is the RPE liner. These liners are half the thickness of PVC and EPDM liners, but RPE liners have reinforcements. As a result, they are stronger than the other two materials and have more puncture resistance, so you might not need to use a pond underlayment.
RPE pond liners are also smaller and lighter than other options. They are about a third of the weight of PVC and EPDM pond liners, making it easier to produce large sheets for extensive pond construction projects and install them. It’s also possible to use heat to weld two RPE sheets together to make a custom liner size and shape.
Because RPE liners have reinforcements, they don’t have as much elasticity as other materials. However, pond installers can fold RPE liners and sheets around corners to create a seamless pond design.
4. Preformed Pond Liners
Preformed liners usually consist of hardened fiberglass or plastic in a specific shape, like a circle, square, kidney bean, or freeform shape. Using a preformed liner is convenient because it is suitable for indoor or outdoor waterscapes without the fuss of digging a pond shape and wrestling with a flat liner to cover the pond’s floor perfectly.
Many people like preformed pond liners because they take the hassle out of creating a pond shape. However, a predetermined shape can also be a downside if you want your water feature to be unique.
Enhance Your Landscape with a Water Feature from Charlotte Backyard Ponds
At Charlotte Backyard Ponds, we understand how a well-constructed fish pond with the best pond liner material can transform a property into a personal oasis. As a leading pond construction and maintenance company serving Charlotte, NC, and the surrounding areas, we pride ourselves in creating artistic waterscapes where fish and plants can thrive while adding tranquility and value to a backyard.
We bring our expert craftsmanship to every fish pond design we create while maintaining a stress-free experience for every client. Contact us today to request a consultation.
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