"How To Select A Swimming Pool"
Aaaahhh... Your very own backyard
oasis. Fun in the sun with your family and friends. Sounds great,
doesn't it? You bet it does.
But there are so many great choices out there.
Above-ground. Inground. Aluminum. Steel. Fiberglass. Concrete.
What's a poor pool buyer to do?
Well, first of all, a little research. And
that's exactly what we've done. We've put together some valuable
information designed to help you make the decision as to what might
be the best pool for you and your family.
There are many factors to consider, including:
your budget; the size of your lot; how much time and money you want
to spend on maintenance; and even what part of the country you live
in. Be sure to remember to ask the following key questions for each
type of pool you might be interested in:
- PRICE ... or ... What's it actually going
to cost me, including decking, landscaping and options?
- MAINTENANCE REQUIREMENTS ... or ... How
much work do I have to do to keep it clean, and what types and
quantities of chemicals do I need to buy?
- INSTALLATION ... or ... How soon can I
really go swimming?
- SERVICE ... or ... Do you take care of what
So if you're ready to take the plunge, read
on. And just imagine coming home to your very own vacation hideaway
- right in your own back yard!
kind of pool is right for my family?
Above-ground pools are typically the least
expensive types you can purchase. They are the summer-fun answer for
those who don't want to make the larger commitment of an in-ground
pool. If you're ready for a ton of backyard fun, but aren't quite
ready for a permanent structure in your yard, then an above-ground
may be the way to go.
Points to Ponder
- Inexpensive: Above-grounds are
great for those looking for a relatively inexpensive way to
provide years of backyard family entertainment.
- Moveable: If you move, you can
take your pool with you, give it to a friend or even sell it. Or
you can leave it as a benefit for the next owner of your home.
- Quick to install: Grab a couple of
handy neighbors and you can be hosting a pool party in just a
couple of days.
- Choices: You can choose from
aluminum, resin or steel sidings. All three types have various
benefits, ranging from rust-resistance to average life-span.
Your local dealer can help you weigh the pros and cons of each
- Variety: Above-grounds come in
several sizes and shapes, and a variety of decorative wall
patterns and decking options.
- Good for Small Lots: If getting a
back-hoe into your yard would be next-to-impossible, an
above-ground can generally be carried in a kit to your yard and
In-ground pools typically come in three
varieties: concrete (with various finishes); vinyl-liner; and
In-ground pools are more
expensive than above-ground, but they are also a permanent home
improvement. They add aesthetic, as well as intrinsic, value to your
home. And when it comes time to sell your house, an inground pool is
generally more appealing to potential buyers.
Ingrounds range from play pools with depths of
3-to-5 feet to diving pools with deeper depths appropriate for the
divers in your family. Before you purchase an inground pool, you
need to think about how your family will use it. Do they like to
play a lot of water sports? Then maybe a play pool with sports
set-ups is the answer. Do they like to swim laps? Perhaps a
rectangular design is best for you. Or do you have a combination of
swimmers and splashers? How about an L-shaped pool so everyone is
happy? Thinking about usage and then designing with those needs in
mind is the key to building a pool that your entire family will be
happy with for years to come.
Okay, let's assume you've decided how your
family will use the pool and what your approximate budget is. Now,
let's talk about your primary options in an inground pool.
Fiberglass Inground Pools
A fiberglass pool is factory-manufactured and
then installed in one piece in your back yard when your excavation
is completed. Basically, a fiberglass pool resembles a giant
Points to Ponder:
- Price: Fiberglass pools are
generally more expensive to purchase than concrete inground
pools, but can save you money over the life of the pool. This is
because they typically will require fewer chemicals than
concrete pools. You also avoid future replastering and liner
- Maintenance: Unlike a plaster
finish, a fiberglass shell does not change the chemistry of the
water, so you often will use less acid. Because of the
non-porous surface, you don't need to brush the pool nearly as
often as a plaster-finished concrete pool. However, you
typically do not need to brush a pebble-finish concrete pool as
often as a plaster-finish pool, so when discussing this option
with a dealer, be sure you are comparing apples to apples.
- Installation: Once your yard has
been excavated, the pool is delivered in one piece and
installed. Construction time is generally about two weeks.
- Shock absorbent: What happens if
the earth moves? Fiberglass has a shock-absorbing ability that
allows it to flex up to 2 feet. However, there also are new
concrete construction techniques that allow concrete to flex.
So, it's important to remember that if you live in an
earthquake-prone area, be sure to have your dealer explain the
features and benefits of fiberglass and concrete construction.
Concrete Inground Pools
A concrete pool is custom-built to your
specifications by the pool-builder you choose. It is the most common
type of in-ground pool, and the initial installation generally costs
less than a fiberglass pool. Concrete pools are constructed in
stages, including pool layout and excavation; steel installation;
plumbing installation; equipment set; gunnite or shotcrete
application; tile and coping installation; and interior finish
installation. Although they take longer than fiberglass pools to
construct, they have the advantage of virtually unlimited shapes,
sizes and designs. The construction time on a concrete pool is
generally three to 12 weeks.
Points to Ponder
- Price: The initial installation of
a concrete pool is generally less than a fiberglass inground
pool. So, if you want an in-ground, but the total up-front
outlay is of concern to you, a concrete pool might best fit your
- Variety of Finishes: A variety of
interior finishes is available, including plaster, paint or
pebbles. These provide you with several options to best suit
your budget and desired design.
- Weather Resistant: Some industry
specialists believe that concrete pools are well-suited to parts
of the country that have extremely high summer-time
temperatures. Concrete also is perceived by some to function
better in areas where the soil is very expansive.
- Strength: Both fiberglass and
concrete are materials of great strength. Talk to your dealer or
builder about the implications of your soil type and weather on
both types of materials.
Vinyl-Liner Inground Pools
A vinyl-liner pool is furnished to the
installer in kit form. After excavation, the panel walls are bolted
or fastened together and supported at the bottom by a concrete
footing. The vinyl liner is spread over the interior of the pool and
covers the excavated floor and paneled walls. It is connected to the
top of the panel walls by a vinyl rib at the outside edge of the
liner. Be sure to ask your liners generally have to be replaced in
your area of the country. Construction time for vinyl-liner pools is
typically one to three weeks.
Points to Ponder
- Weather: Vinyl-liner pools are
popular in cold-weather areas of the country. These pools can be
easily winterized by draining them down and covering them until
- Smooth Surface: The vinyl liner is
smooth and nonporous, making stain removal easy if stains are
Other Things To Think About
Important laws regarding safety must be
considered before choosing your new pool. Specific regulations vary
with each community, so be sure you are clear about the letter of
the law before installation begins.
There are myriad other options and accessories
available to complete your backyard retreat. Once you've decided on
the pool type and style best suited to your needs, be sure to ask
about the following:
- Covers: A pool cover can be a
wonderful addition to your pool and/or spa area, and one of
their main benefits can be increased safety. Covers come in many
varieties and can extend the swimming season of your pool by
several weeks by retaining the solar heat that is generated each
day. Also, if you live in a highly wooded area, they can be used
to keep leaves and other debris out of your pool. Many covers
come in automatic or manual versions.
- Heaters: Pool heaters come in many
shapes and sizes. In milder climes, you can enjoy year-round
swimming by adding a heater to your pool set-up.
- Filters: There also are many types
of pool filters designed to meet the particular needs of your
pool. Your dealer or builder can help you choose the one right
- Cleaners and Water Levelers: From
automatic inground cleaning systems that you just "set and
forget" to jazzy, high-tech pool vacs that literally climb
your pool walls, there are a variety of systems available to
help you keep your pool sparkling clean. If you're the type who
likes to splash and dash, you'll certainly be interested in
learning more about automatic water levelers that keep the water
level in your pool at just the right setting.
Landscape And Design Options
What's Your Pleasure?
Always wanted an oasis-like lagoon in your
back yard? Or perhaps an elegant, serene setting is more to your
liking. The use of water features and other design enhancements is a
perfect way to integrate your pool into your overall design concept.
Water features run the gamut from simple
fountains that provide a relaxing environment to intimate, cave-like
waterfalls. Rolled bond beam is an oh-so-cool, tuck-and-roll method
of edging that allows concrete to be ribboned around your pool to
soften the perimeter and give the pool a tropical effect. And for
that "how'd they do that?" result, sophisticated negative
edges are a state-of-the-art way to incorporate the view beyond the
horizon right into your own back yard.
Finally, for a truly dramatic look, fiber
optic lighting can be installed using multi-hued color wheels. When
the neon-like lights are turned on, you're guaranteed to add
drop-dead drama to the nighttime look of your pool. And you can even
integrate the lighting into your landscape design for just that much
more of a dazzling effect.
So, as you can see, there are nearly as many
choices and options for your pool as there are as many types and
styles. So take a deep breath and dive right in - you'll be glad you
Questions to ask any dealer
or builder you visit
- What's their percentage of on-time
- How do they resolve complaints?
- Do they belong to your local Better
Business Bureau or the National Spa and Pool Institute? Have
they had an excessive number of complaints lodged against them?
Have they satisfactorily resolved most of the complaints? (And
call the BBB to verify!)
- What percentage of their work is done by
in-house crews vs. sub-contractors?
- How long have their crews been working for
- What kind of crew turnover do they have?
- What kind of financing options (if any) do
- What kind of warranty do they provide and
what does it cover?
- And of course, ask for references.
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