Reviewing Pond Liners: RPE vs HDPE

No matter what type of pond you're building, your first goal is to ensure it doesn't leak. Quality of installation and careful maintenance will all contribute to this goal, but in the end, it comes down to your liner choice. HDPE and RPE are today's most reputable and durable liners, but how do you ultimately choose between the two? Let's start with the pros and cons:


HDPE stands for High-Density Polyethylene and excels in specific properties that make it a reliable product for pond liners, with plenty of advantages over both PVC and EPDM:

  • High chemical resistance
  • Safe for fish and plants
  • UV stable
  • Weather and temperature resistant
  • Solid and durable, resistant to punctures
  • Can be welded
  • Long lifespan
  • Environmentally friendly

HDPE also has some inherent disadvantages, which may prove to be a disqualifier for your particular project.

  • HDPE's high density makes the material stiff and challenging to install.
  • Shipping is expensive due to the unwieldy nature and weight of HDPE
  • Frequently requires professional installation and on-site welding, which increases the project price.
  • Stress cracking can be caused over time by even minor pressure.


RPE (Reinforced Polyethylene) is a remarkable product that combines two specific polyethylenes and manages to produce the best of both worlds. RPE starts with a reinforcing woven core, which is tough, resistant to punctures, and flexible. Layers of LDPE surround the base material, contributing pliability and inherent UV protection. This unique combination makes a liner with an impressive list of advantages: review what layers are made of

  • Half the thickness and one-third the weight of comparable liner materials.
  • High chemical resistance
  • Safe for fish and plants
  • Most durable of any pond liner
  • Rarely requires underlayment
  • Produced in enormous single panels, reducing the need for seams
  • Can be customized in the factory and shipped, ready to install
  • RPE is easy to work with and doesn't require professional installers.
  • Weather and temperature resistant
  • Long lifespan, with warranties of up to 40 years.

RPE has all the advantages of HDPE while overcoming many of its weaknesses. Where HDPE alone is heavy, stiff, and vulnerable to stress cracks and tears over time, the remarkable characteristics of RPE make it easier to install, more resistant to damage of all types, and with a longer practical lifespan. RPE is a well-established, widely available, proven product. BTL Liners pioneered the development of RPE over 40 years ago and now ships millions of square feet around the world.


When making a final decision between HDPE and RPE, the sticking point is usually the price. According to Home Advisor, both products are in the same general price range, with RPE trending about 25% higher. Even EPDM and PVC don't currently have a price advantage over the polyethylene options. While there is a moderate price difference, this doesn't consider extra expenses related to the underlayment, shipping, and installation that come with HDPE. Take time to examine both options' total short- and long-term costs; given RPE's superior durability and longevity, there is no doubt which is the better choice.

Liners by BTL

AquaArmor Pond Liner

The most versatile liner on the market today, AquaArmor maximizes protection from harmful UV rays, tear resistance and punctures that cause leaks. Simply the best liner on the market.

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