Have you dreamed of having a swimming pool in your backyard?

Backyard Swimming PoolCredit: globalpoolandpatio.com

When the hot weather season arrives, the thought of jumping in for a refreshing swim or just enjoying a glass of lemonade while watching the rippling tides and sloshing water in the backyard can be very appealing.  A backyard pool adds not only a higher resale value to the home, but also provides an opportunity for the family to spend more quality 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 when considering putting one in your backyard.  Knowing all of the available options and defining your family’s style are the first steps to planning the perfect pool and narrowing down the design decisions. 

Concrete wins the popularity contest in swimming pools.  Because of its adaptability and practicality, concrete pools are the most popular with most homeowners.  Concrete pools are available with gunite or shotcrete application; you will find they are sturdy, long lasting and well suited to high summer time temperatures.  Gunite is a mixture of cement and sand and is pumped into the steel frame dry, and then water is added during application.  Shotcrete, on the other hand, is premixed, wet concrete that is sprayed onto the steel frame of the pool. 

The customizable nature of concrete pools is what makes them so popular and desirable with homeowners.  The builder can construct the perfect pool based on the size of the lot, the desired shape and aesthetic design to will fit both the family’s desires and the backyard’s specifications.  Choosing a design the blends into the landscaping is a wonderful feature that homeowners enjoy with a concrete pool.  Once constructed, the homeowner can then select from a variety of different finishes.  You can choose everything from colored plaster or paint to pebbles or marble, which can be applied to match the landscaping décor.

Fiberglass can save money in the long run.  Fiberglass pools often cost more upon the initial installation, but because of the non-porous, fiberglass shell, they generally require less maintenance and fewer chemicals than a concrete over the life of the pool.  They are factory manufactured and then installed in one piece after ground has been excavated (the hole has been dug to the proper specifications).  Fiberglass pools come in pre-determined sizes and shapes and so this limits the customer the opportunity to customize beyond what is already offered.  While fiberglass does not have the wide range of finishes from which to choose, compared to the concrete finishes, you will find that the creamy coloration takes on the lovely hue of the water when it has been treated properly.

Will a vinyl-lined pool 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 offer more customization and come in a wide variety and range of shapes and patterns that almost anyone would like to custom design.

As the ideal pool type for cold-weather climates, vinyl-liner pools are perfect for homeowners who wish to drain their pool in the winter and cold months.  Vinyl-liners require the same amount of maintenance as most concrete pools, as well as needing extra attention to preserve the liner to insure that it is free of punctures.  The speed of installation, relatively low cost, and the opportunity for more customizable aspects make a vinyl-liner pool a nice but not as durable option for homeowners. 

There are drawbacks to each pool type and it is extremely important as the homeowner when speaking with builders to understand and know the drawbacks.  But, the more significant basis for pool planning decisions should come from the family’s needs and desires for the pool.  With the diverse backyard pool options available today, there’s no need to conform or compromise personal style to have a family pool.

The Athlete:  The best pool for swimming laps is a rectangular shape, being long and narrow, with a depth of four to five feet.  The depth allows for swimmers to safely turn at the end of each lap.  In order to mirror the professional grade pools, swimmers should opt for a pool length of at least 50 feet.  Concrete, fiberglass or vinyl-liner pools can all create an effective exercise space with these specifications.  If concrete is chosen, go with a smooth finish so that the turns do not rough up the swimmer’s feet.

Swim Team Child:  A backyard pool is perfect for families who have children that are interested in swimming competitions as it eliminates the need to make frequent visits to a community pool.  Young swimmers will want long pools to swim laps and 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.

Entertaining or Garden Décor:  There are some great options for those wishing to just enhance the aesthetics of the backyard.  Pools set a peaceful mood and create a space to relax.  Concrete pools are the clear choice for gardeners and others concerned with appearance, as they have the most options to customize the look of the pool.  Tiles or special paint finishes can bring in the theme of the backyard 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.

Toddlers Growing Up:  While having a swimming pool in the backyard can present a risk for toddlers and young children, wading pools will not satisfy them 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 family members should consider what they want in a backyard swimming pool and how they will all use it.  By having a family planning event to take everyone’s interests into consideration the homeowner can design a pool that will benefit everyone’s needs, budget and lifestyles.