You have two options when buying a pool: above ground or in-ground. The cost for an in-ground pool starts at about $20,000, and varies depending on the size of the pool and degree of customization. Other details, such as decking, landscaping, safety equipment, automated maintenance and heating systems cost extra. If selecting an in-ground pool, you’ll first need to decide on a liner. There’s a variety to choose from. Your pool professional should direct you to which model is best for you and your yard’s shape and size.
Do Your Homework
Make sure the builder is following your town’s codes. Check with the zoning board to find out what kind of permits and fees are involved with building a pool. Check several sources of financing to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Dealers and builders can often assist with identifying financing options. Be sure to include in your budget the costs for any landscaping or lighting, water and safety features and audio systems. You can save additional money by building a pool in the off-season. Make sure you understand all the specifics before signing a contract. Get everything included in the purchase price in writing. Ascertain whether the total cost includes delivery and installation. The pool and its equipment should come with a warranty. Know what is covered in the warranty and what is not.
When pool shopping, consult independent rating services, such as Consumer’s Digest, at the Web site: www.consumersdigest.com , which evaluates a variety of models and manufacturers. Only educated consumers can properly determine which water escapes-above ground or in-ground pools-best suit their individual needs and are worth the investment. Also contact the Better Business Bureau to check out the track record of any pool builder. Don’t forget to ask about warranties, and make sure there are no hidden costs in your contract. The builder or contractor should include all required permits and electrical hookups. Finally, research the company to ensure your family time isn’t spent trying to fix what you should be enjoying. The history of the manufacturer and the pool company is important. Also for your own safety, try to avoid buying a pool from a company without a storefront. Pool companies come and go, so make sure the one you choose is committed to being there for you for years to come.
Dark versus light Pools with dark liners tend to be warmer. Lighter colors tend to look less faded as the liner ages. Dark colors printed on white background will show the most fade and may scratch easier. Liners with multiple colors will fade the fastest and scratch the easiest, especially if they are printed on white background.
Small Tears and holes can be patched without compromising the liner life and performance. If a small tear or hole is noticed during liner installation most pool contractors should repair it on the field unless they feel that it will compromise the liner’s performance or is readily visible, in which case it should be replaced.
Water chemistry is critical for liner longevity just like it is for fiberglass and concrete pools. It is very important that pool owners follow guidelines for correct water chemistry and correct use of cleaning chemicals and equipment. A liner can fail prematurely because of incorrect use of chemicals and off balance water and such damage is not covered under any warranty.
Cover and Winterizing
Balancing, winterizing and covering your pool during the winter months is recommended. Equipment and plumbing can freeze and break if not properly winterized. A small submersible pump is very useful to have as your pool or cover will need to be pumped out occasionally during the winter.
All covers that overlap on the pool decking may cause deck color variation because of covering part of the deck for a few months every year and causing that part of the deck to weather differently from the rest of the deck.
Safety mesh covers Great for safety and convenience. They last longer than other covers and are easy to clean. They are great when there are a lot of trees near the pool. They do, though, allow rain and fine debris through so expect your pool to be dirty upon spring opening. Must occasionally pump water out of the pool. They come in various colors but black or green last longer as these colors are more resistant to UV radiation. Drilling the anchors into the concrete deck could cause chipping. Also under windy conditions and especially if the cover is not tight, flapping of the cover may scar coping and deck.
Solid strapped covers Although most don’t qualify as safety covers because they accumulate water, they are much safer than water-bag covers. They don’t allow water through so they keep the pool clean. However they are more difficult to clean (especially with leaves), heavier and more difficult to handle and don’t last as long as the mesh covers. They must be pumped out often. Black or green are the longest lasting colors. Installation is similar to mesh covers so chipping of the deck may occur. It may also scar coping or deck.
Water-bag covers Water-bag covers are basically tarps of various thickness and quality that are laid over the pool and held in place by tubes filled with water. They are unsafe, don’t look great and are difficult to clean, but they are inexpensive and keep your pool clean.
Automatic covers Automatic covers are very convenient, reduce maintenance, reduce heat loss (great for indoor heated pools) and they are great for safety because whenever the pool is not in use, it can be covered. They do, though, have to be kept pumped out and free of debris and leaves. (Reduced maintenance for the pool, added maintenance for the cover). They are very expensive and require servicing very often. These covers are also available without the automatic function, requiring manual opening and closing.
Aluminum coping This is the standard coping that comes with most pools. It is made out of aluminum and it’s colored white. It can be repainted if it is scratched or faded. It is relatively smooth and easy on skin and bathing suits.
Cantilever coping (About 50% thicker concrete over the pool wall compared to aluminum coping) The concrete is formed at the edge with special forms that are removed after the concrete hardens. It gives the pool a more custom look and it is an option. It is rougher than the aluminum coping. (The most common complaint is that it feels a little rough). It looks great with freeform pools or pools with stamped concrete deck.
Brick or other masonry type coping A huge selection of bull-nose bricks and coping stones are available to please the most discriminating tastes, but these types of coping are very expensive. Their main advantage is their beauty. They may come loose through the years as the grout weakens, but it can be easily repaired
Spill – Over – SPA
The spill-over-spa is designed to sit flush with the deck at the edge of the pool with the water “spilling over” into the pool, making it a spa and a waterfall all-in-one. The spa is made of durable Luran Thermoplastic construction with foam insulation, measuring 78″ in diameter by 33″ deep and comes with slip resistant steps and a footwell. It seats 4-6 people and features 6 hydrotherapy jets, 2 air controls and suctions and is available in both white and gray colors. Conveniently positioned controls make it simple for you to just sit back and relax.
Automatic Pool Cleaners
A good automatic pool cleaner is very important in reducing the amount of time a pool owner spends in cleaning his/her pool. They are probably the single most popular option. Don’t expect them to do 100% of the job. They will vacuum the pool and stir up fine debris but they won’t brush the pool sufficiently. Use them to maintain a clean pool clean, not to clean a very dirty pool. They should be used only as needed, not continuously. They could scratch the liner under certain conditions or if overused. A scratched liner is usually not covered under warranty. Refrain from using your cleaner until the deck is done and your pool has gone through the final cleanup because a high concentration of debris may damage it.
Salt Generators make maintaining your pool water a lot easier. A lot of people think that salt systems avoid chlorine but that’s not the case. They are actually CHLORINE GENERATORS. They are expensive up front but may save you money and time over the long run as they reduce dramatically the amount of sanitizers that must be purchased. The cell must be replaced every 3-5 years which is very simple to do and can be done by the homeowner. The pool will taste a little salty because of the salt added to the pool water, but people don’t find this objectionable. They tend to be temperamental when the water is cold.
Mineralizers This greener approach creates a pool water environment where bacteria levels don’t grow very easily by putting silver and zinc in the pool; two minerals that are not only good for your skin, but inhibits bacteria from growing. The benefit of this is that the pool will require ten times less chlorine. This simple technology has been around for many years and you will enjoy the benefits of a clean pool with MUCH LESS CHLORINE.
Pool lights provide safety and create a nice atmosphere at night. They will show imperfections when on, especially with certain liners. (See “liners” above). Some complain about them attracting bugs but if that happens you can turn them off.
Standard white light This is your basic pool light and gives off the brightest light.
Color changing lights They can be set to continuously change colors or display one color according to the mood you want to create. They are great to have but are more expensive and are definitely not as bright as the standard white lights.
Fiber optics Fiber optics can be used to create custom effects and can change colors or stop at one color. They are much weaker for illumination purposes than other lights and they are very expensive. Their longevity is limited.
Gas heaters (Natural gas and propane) These are the most powerful heaters. They will heat the pool fast and to high temperatures. If you want to heat a pool during cold weather or be able to heat a pool on short notice this is the heater to have. They are, though, the most expensive heaters to run and, if used irresponsibly, they can be very expensive to run. Bad water chemistry can destroy a heat exchanger quickly, (something not covered under warranties), so keeping your chemistry right is very important.
Heat pumps These heaters require more of an initial investment than gas heaters but they are more economical to run. In most cases, the difference in price can be recouped within a couple of years. On the downside, they are not as fast as gas heaters and will not work when temperatures dip to 41°F or below. These heaters are great if you are interested in maintaining your pool water at a reasonable, constant temperature. It is a lot more resistant to high alkalinity than regular heaters.
Solar heat Expensive up front but runs virtually free. Limited on heating a pool especially if there is not enough sunshine. Installs on the roof and must face southward. Great if you are interested in maintaining your pool a little warmer than normal. Great in cases where the pool itself is not in the sun long enough to get warm. They will also cool the water if ran at night.
Solar covers These are bubble rap type covers that float on the pool and prevent heat from escaping from the surface of the water. They will also increase pool water temperature somewhat if left on the pool long enough (days) Inexpensive and good to have especially in conjunction with a heater but very troublesome to handle and store.
Broom finished concrete This is the decking that comes standard with our pools. As the name implies, it is normal gray concrete with a broom finish on it for slip resistance. This is the least expensive and most maintenance free option and is attractive and practical. Will stain easily and like any other concrete flat work can develop cracks, something that cannot be fixed and we do not guarantee against.
Textured concrete There are many types of textured concrete products. These are epoxy-based materials sprayed on top of existing concrete, and then textured and colored. Spraydeck®, Cooldeck®, Spraycrete® and Syntex® are some popular types. Can be applied on existing concrete. Tend to be cooler on bare feet than other products and depending on the texture can be more slip resistant. Requires various types of maintenance. Best for renovation of existing concrete.
Stamped concrete This is concrete with added colors, which is stamped to emulate different type stone or paved patios. It is sealed to lock in the colors and give it luster. It looks very beautiful and is very popular as an upgrade from standard concrete decking. It is more expensive, very slippery if not sealed with a sealer that includes anti-skid additives and does require occasional resealing. More resistant to staining but being concrete, it is also subject to cracking. Dark colors can get pretty hot on bare feet.
Always add anti skid additives to sealer as per manufacturer specifications before sealing.
Architectural Stamped Concrete It is a proprietary technique which is similar to standard stamped concrete, but the finish is comprised of a single color and is not sealed, giving it a less shiny appearance and a greater slip resistance surface.
Pavers This type of decking is very beautiful but ranges from expensive to very expensive. Dark pavers or stone can get pretty hot on bare feet. Also grass and weeds can grow in between the pavers as soil and dust collects there.
Waterfalls add an extra dimension to an inground pool and it can provide the final touch of a breathtaking backyard view. There are two kinds of waterfalls, Prefabricated and custom made with real boulders. Prefabricated waterfalls might eventually fade or crack but are less expensive than the real boulders, limestone rock or moss rock. Real boulder waterfalls tend to mesh very well with color concrete patios even though the colors are not the same.
The waterfall is simply connected to the pool pump and acts as another return to your pool. Your pool pump will have to be turned on when you want to run the waterfall, however, your pump should barely be heard at all. No specific electrical line will have to be added in order to run your waterfall. Additional features such as slides and hide-away coves can be incorporated into your waterfall as well.