Tara's SureStep Elevates User Safety, Expands Vinyl-Liner Options

Tara's SureStep Elevates User Safety, Expands Vinyl-Liner Options

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Pool owners’ tastes are changing, and vinyl-liner installers can change right along with them — thanks to Tara Pool & Outdoor Products

Renowned for its reliable products, friendly and fast customer service, easy measurements and industry innovations, the Alabama-based supplier of vinyl liners and safety covers has consistently found ways for pool professionals to keep pace with trends and provide solutions to pool owners’ needs.

Take the increased interest in upgrading older pools with new steps and sundecks. Tara works with installers to build a liner that will fit these new features perfectly. They also offer SureStep — a thick, sturdy 27 mil vinyl that features a unique textured surface to avoid slips and falls in high-traffic areas. Vinyl-liner pools have the unique ability to be updated and modified easily to adapt to the changing needs of pool owners, and SureStep provides an opportunity for installers to re-engage with existing customers to offer vinyl-covered features that enhance the pool and make it safer and more enjoyable.

“Tara does a lot of things that are a few steps ahead of other liner companies,” says Bill Teague, owner of Bill’s Pools LLC, a vinyl-liner specialist in Lillian, Ala. “They’re pretty innovative, and that’s why I’ve stuck with them for so many years.”

All photos courtesy Tara Pool & Outdoor Products

Indeed, Teague’s work in the industry dates back to 1990, and the scope of his projects has evolved as Tara has evolved. Today, he is one of the few vinyl-liner installers in the southern Alabama and northern Florida market known for his skill at installing liners over steps and sundecks in existing pools. He completes about 125 liner installs per year, and every single one of them is a Tara liner.

What’s more, if any of those projects involve steps, sundecks or benches — “anything people are going to be sitting on or standing on as a way to get in and out of the pool,” he says — Teague automatically specs Tara’s SureStep material into his job estimate.

“I feel better knowing that my customers will have the safety that product provides,” he explains. “So it’s not even an option. It’s just automatically included on all liner installs.”

The SureStep texture, which is available for all 26 of Tara’s liner patterns, is embossed into the material when it is produced by the company that manufactures the vinyl for Tara. Specifically designed for areas like stairs and sundecks, the embossed texture enhances traction when entering and exiting the pool. 

Tara also offers three SureStep accent patterns that can be used to complement or differentiate steps and similar features in the pool. For example, a pool owner might opt to have accent patterns installed for safety (to call attention to the steps) or to create a distinct look.

“As soon as it was introduced to me, I tried it,” Teague says about SureStep. “I was concerned that it was not going to stretch and go into place properly, but it does exactly what it’s supposed to. A lot of customers have crystal-clear water, and surfaces can get a little slimy, pre-algae, with low chlorine. SureStep, even with that factor, gives people the confidence to enter their pool.”

Teague says new and existing customers have welcomed the opportunity for a SureStep upgrade.

“I’ve got a customer right now with a pool that’s about three years old, and we’re adding some corner benches in the deep end,” he says. “It already has a wall-to-wall tanning ledge that’s about 8 feet by 14 feet. I asked him how he felt about the slippery liner on that ledge, and he said, ‘You know, I broke my back two weeks after we got the pool, because I slipped and fell.’ I said, ‘Well, I’ve got the solution.’ I told him it was going to cost a little more, and he was completely fine with that.”


Teague can tell several stories similar to that one, all of which end with the installation of SureStep.

There’s the retired Florida couple that owns a pool equipped with old-fashioned, stainless-steel ladders at either end. They hadn’t even used the three-decade-old pool in recent years, but when they discovered Teague’s Facebook page, the couple invited him out to take a look and suggest how the pool could be updated.

“I offered to install steps and told them how much it was going to cost,” Teague recalls. “The wife said, ‘We’re doing this. I’m going to the bank and getting the money.’”

To make a long story short, the SureStep-covered steps were added, and the pool is now used frequently by the couple and their grandchildren, because getting in and out of the water is easier (and safer) than ever. “It’s given that customer a whole new perspective of their pool,” he says. “I can take a vinyl pool that’s 30 years old and turn it into something spectacular with feature upgrades.”

For another Florida customer, this one with an older pool featuring white plastic entry steps at the shallow end and a stainless-steel ladder at the deep end, Teague replaced the outdated steps with new ones that connect to a new bench stretching the length of the shallow end.  Then he covered them with SureStep. He also added a SureStep-covered corner bench in the deep end.

“They couldn’t be happier,” he says of that customer, who lives in Destin. “They find the pool more functionable and more entertaining. Plus, they have the ability to just sit and relax. They’ve had that pool for 20 years, and now they wish they would have done this earlier.”

From an installation perspective, SureStep fits and forms like standard liner material, according to Teague, whose Tara sales representative is a former vinyl-liner installer himself who understands the challenges liner installers face these days. “If you have any experience installing liner overs, there will be no difference from what you’re used to.”

Tara’s not just looking out for humans, though. The company recently began offering Paddling Paws, a pet-friendly liner option for walls and stairs that provides added protection against damage caused by scratching dog paws in the pool. The 30 mil vinyl features a specially formulated, scratch-hiding topcoat that adds extra thickness to the material.

Teague intends to introduce Paddling Paws to potential, new and existing customers who own pets, and he predicts it will be an easy sell to pool owners whose dogs enjoy being in the water just as much as they do.

He also says Tara’s Shimmertone patterns — liner patterns introduced in 2021 that add an iridescent sparkle to the water — have been a major hit with pool owners, especially those inspired by gorgeous pool images posted on Instagram or Pinterest.

That kind of innovation, as well as the company’s entire product line and commitment to customer service, keeps Teague coming back.

“Tara has always taken care of me,” he concludes. “And they’ve always taken care of my customers. That’s why, for the rest of my days, they’ve got my business. I have no desire to deviate from what works.”