Take The Plunge To Owning A Pool
With the hot summer months almost upon us, the thought of rippling tides and sloshing water in the backyard certainly has a refreshing appeal. Pools add not only a higher resale value to the home, but also an opportunity for the family to spend more time with one another.
There are a multitude of different pool types as well as a variety of sizes and shapes from which to choose. Knowing the available options and defining the family’s style are the first steps to planning the perfect pool and narrowing down the design decisions.
Concrete wins the popularity contest
Because of its adaptability and practicality, concrete pools are the most popular with homeowners. Available with gunite or shotcrete application, concrete pools are sturdy, long-lasting and well-suited to high summer-time temperatures. Gunite, a mixture of cement and sand, is pumped into the steel frame dry, and then water is added during application. Shotcrete, on the other hand, is pre-mixed, wet concrete sprayed onto the steel frame.
The customizable nature of concrete pools makes them especially desirable. The builder can construct the pool based on the lot size, desired shape and aesthetic design to fit both the family’s and the backyard’s specifications. Once constructed, the homeowner selects from an array of different finishes. Everything from colored plaster or paint to pebbles or marble can be applied to match the backyard’s landscaping and décor.
Fiberglass can save money
Fiberglass pools often cost more upon initial installation, but because of the non-porous, fiberglass shell, they generally require less maintenance and fewer chemicals than concrete over the life of the pool. Factory-manufactured and installed in one piece after excavation, fiberglass pools come in pre-determined sizes and shapes, limiting the opportunities for customization. While fiberglass does not have the wide range of finishes from which to choose, its creamy coloration takes on the lovely blue hue of the water when treated properly.
Does vinyl-lined get your vote?
An in-ground, vinyl-liner pool has a concrete base and reinforced steel walls that are covered in prefabricated vinyl. Like concrete pools, vinyl-liners come in such a wide range of shapes and patterns that almost any custom design can be achieved.
The ideal pool type for cold-weather climates, vinyl-liner pools are perfect for homeowners who wish to drain their pool in the winter. Requiring the same amount of maintenance as most concrete pools, vinyl-liners also require care and attention to preserve a liner free of punctures. The speed of installation, relatively low cost and customizable aspects make this a nice but not as durable option.
Being aware of the benefits and drawbacks of each pool type is extremely important when speaking with builders, but the more significant basis for pool planning decisions should stem from the family’s needs and desires for a pool. With the diverse pool options available today, there’s no need to conform or compromise personal style to have a pool.
For swimming laps, the best pool is a rectangular shape — long and narrow —with a depth of four to five feet. This depth allows for swimmers to safely turn at the end of each lap. To mirror professional-grade pools, swimmers should opt for a pool length of at least 50 feet. Concrete, fiberglass or vinyl-liner can all create an effective exercise space with these specifications. If concrete is chosen, go with a smooth finish so that turns do not rough up swimmer’s feet.
The swim team child
A backyard pool is perfect for families with children interested in swimming, as it eliminates the need to frequently visit a community pool. Young swimmers will want long pools to swim laps but don’t require a consistent depth throughout. Sloping the pool from a depth of 36 inches to one of up to 8 feet brings great flexibility and the opportunity for children to develop their diving skills as well. Curves are just fine, so long as there is a way to swim a straight line from one end to the other. Fiberglass might be ideal as it is virtually indestructible. Harsh use won’t tear linings or dislodge tiles, and the smooth surface reduces the possibility of injuries.
The gardener or entertainer
There are some great options for those wishing to enhance the aesthetics of the backyard. Pools set a peaceful mood, creating a space to relax and re-center. Concrete pools are the clear choice for gardeners and others concerned with appearance, as they have the most options to customize the pool’s look. Tiles or special paint finishes can bring in the backyard’s theme, and rocks and waterfalls can surround the pool to create a garden oasis. For homeowners that plan to look at their pool more than swim in it, a smaller, shallower pool will suffice.
The toddler who will grow up
While swimming pools can present a risk for toddlers and young children, wading pools will not satisfy once these children grow older. To construct a pool for now and later, builders often recommend sloping the pool from 36 inches to several feet. An alternative to steps that can also benefit young families is a sloped entrance into the pool, offering a beach-like, shallow shoreline. Whether concrete, fiberglass or vinyl-liner is selected, border the entire pool with a patio and a fence to ensure that toddlers do not find their own way to the pool’s edge without supervision.
Before taking the plunge, all members of the household should consider why they want a pool and how they intend to use it. By taking the entire family’s interests into account, homeowners can design a pool to fit their needs, budgets and lifestyles.
By Nicole Harkinson