Pool Options Materials
AeratorProvides a spray of water into the pool, typically in a fan pattern, as opposed to a straight line of water. In hot climates, aerators will help to cool the water a little. Children love to play in and around aerators.
Aggregate InteriorA new, longer-lasting interior finish that is comprised of pebbles (or other carefully selected aggregates) that are partially exposed in the process of installation, produc- ing a super-hard and beautiful finish. The manufacturers of aggregate interiors are able to provide a stunning array of colors, due to the many different variables they can work with, such as the:
- Pebble color(s) (almost always a blend of multiple colors)
- Pebble size
- Mortar color/pigment
- Degree of polishing of the exposed surface
Note that its almost impossible to determine the color of your pool water by looking at a dry aggregate sample. Be sure to look at underwater samples before making your final decision.
All-TileRefers to the interior of a swimming pool that is 100% glass or ceramic tile, as opposed to the more popular plaster finishes or aggregate finishes.
BathhouseTypically a fully enclosed, standalone structure located somewhere near a swimming pool, to offer a restroom and a changing area as a minimum. A bathhouse can also have its own kitchen, living area, game room, and more. (See also Cabana.)
Baja BenchSee Tanning Ledge.
Beach EntryA gently sloping transition from your deck into the water, very similar to a real beach. Materials vary, but it is usually either the same as the decking/coping material, or the same as the interior finish of the pool. A beach entry is great for toddlers, and also makes a great tanning ledge.
Bubble JetThis is essentially a fountain (normally a few inches below the surface of the wa- ter) that provides a soft, bubbly stream of water, typically 6 to 24 inches tall. An excellent feature for very young children to play with.
Built-In SpaA spa (sometimes also referred to as a hot tub) can be added to any style of in-ground pool, adding yet another level of beauty and excitement to the backyard. On a fiberglass or vinyl-liner pool, a spillover spa is the most likely option. (The spa is placed at the edge of the pool, with essentially a waterfall that allows any excess water to spillover directly into the swimming pool.) With concrete pools, on the other hand, youre not limited to a spillover configuration. Your spot can be above the pool, below the pool, inside the pool, completely separate and outside of the pool, etc. It can be simple and basic, or built with a vanishing edge or perimeter overflow. With concrete, the options and styles for a spa are as limitless as the styles and options for the pool.
Bull-Nosed CopingThis somewhat unflattering name refers to the quarter-rounding or half-rounding of the edge of the coping, so that it provides a smooth, soft, and safe edge for swimmers. The bull nose concept is also sometimes applied to steps, ledges, and other Hardscapes surfaces. Most precast coping (such as brick or cement) is manufactured with the bull-nose feature built-in. With natural stone, the installer has to hand carve the bull-nose on site; thus the phrase hand-carved bull nose.
CabanaThis word is a Spanish translation of cabin or hut. It originally referred to a small, lightweight living structure that was frequently set up on the beach, typically with one side open to the ocean. Nowadays, when you build a cabana near your pool, its typically more of a relaxing/party area than a living structure. Ideally, your cabana would include a bar that looks out to the pool area, perhaps a table with chairs or a couch, plus a sink, a refrigerator, etc. More or less, a cabana could be considered a small cozy combination of an outdoor kitchen and outdoor living area, designed with a little bit more of a bar theme overall.
CopingThe material that surrounds the perimeter of your swimming pool and/or spa. On a Gunite or cement pool, the coping is typically about 12 inches wide, and usually made out of brick, paving stones, natural stone, or a precast cement material. On a vinyl-liner pool, the coping may be only one or two inches wide, and made of plastic, vinyl, or aluminum. Coping can be made completely obsolete with the construction technique known as cantilevered deck, in which the decking material extends over the edge of the pool and becomes a substitute for actual coping material.
DeckRefers to the hard surface around the swimming pool. Decks can be built from a variety of materials, including:
- Wood (and wood alternatives such as Trex)
- Broom-finished concrete
- Stained and/or stamped/patterned concrete
- Acrylic-finish spray deck (sometimes referred to by their brand names such as Kool-Deck or Sundek)
- Exposed aggregate
- Bricks or pavers
- Tiles (stone, ceramic, etc.)
- Flagstone or other natural stone
Your choice of deck material will probably have the single greatest impact on the overall look of your swimming area, because it covers so much surface area.
Deck Jet / Laminar/Water ArchAn attractive feature that can be hidden almost anywhere, such as in the pool Arch deck or in the landscaping. Arranged in a row, they will give you a formal, elegant look. If youre thinking about this feature, then be sure to take a look at the LED/fiber optics lighting options to go with your laminar jet/deck jet.
Faux RockSeveral manufacturers have found ways to create realistic-looking rock out of man-made materials. Typically made from a special formulation of cement, faux rocks may be molded after actual rock formations found in nature, or they may be hand-sculpted by a faux rock expert onsite. While faux rock may not fool everyone, it has advantages, including (usually) lower cost. It also tends to be more chemical-resistant (especially when compared to sandstone or limestone), and can produce more predictable results, as compared to the use of natural stone.
Fire Bowl / Fire WokOffers a stunning flame effect, which is nice in the daytime, but even more impressive at night. Fire bowls are typically 2 feet or larger in diameter, and can be made from any number of materials, including stone, metal, concrete, ceramic, and more. The fire bowl is normally filled with crushed glass, lava rock, or some other fireproof material, to hide the gas fixture inside the bowl. The ideal fire bowl is automated, and can be lit instantly with a touch of a remote control. A fire wok is essentially a fire bowl built on top of a water wok. (See Water Wok.)
Fire PitA great option to consider adding to the area near your swimming pool. Not only will a fire pit take the chill out of the evening air, but it will also create a wonderful place to congregate and chat after a busy day of work or fun. A fire pit may be wood-fired or plumbed with natural gas or propane. (And much like a fire wok, you may have the option of adding a remote-control starter to your fire pit.)
Formal PoolSometimes referred to as classic or traditional pool, this refers to a design style that usually includes one or more of the following elements:
- Clean, straight lines (usually a rectangle) and/or geometric shapes
- Brick coping or paving tiles around the perimeter
- Brick or tiled decking, or stamped concrete with a brick or paver pattern
The more of the above features you use, the more formal your swimming pool will look. (See also Grecian/Roman Pool.)
Fountain JetA simple yet pleasing feature that can be placed almost anywhere, including in the pool, in the spa, on steps, ledges or a beach entry, or in a pond or catch basin next to the pool. Fountains can also be hidden in the deck or other areas. Fountains can be small or large, playful or elegant.
Free-Form PoolSometimes referred to as a lagoon-style or natural pool, this refers to a design style that avoids straight lines, using sweeping curves and nontraditional shapes instead. If you want a natural-looking swimming pool, then you will want to combine a free-form shape with any or all of the following elements:
- Natural rock or stone built-in at various places around the pool
- A natural rock or flagstone perimeter/coping
- A rock or flagstone deck, or stamped concrete with a natural rock pattern.
- Extensive use of plants around the pool.
Grottos and jump-rocks are natural additions to a natural/free-form pool.
GazeboTypically a standalone structure made of wood, designed to provide a shady sitting area. Similar to pergolas and arbors, a gazebo is uniquely recognizable because of its domed or turreted roof. (See also Pergola.)
Grecian / Roman PoolThis type of pool could be considered the original classic/formal/traditional pool. Its a rectangle-shaped pool with a semicircle at each end. (A rectangular pool with the corners cut is also sometimes referred to as a Grecian pool.)
GrottoThis is essentially a cave (or something similar to a cave) built into or con- nected to the pool, typically with a sitting area. It is common to build waterfalls or weeping walls on the outside of the grotto, and/or a rain wall at the entrance. Youngsters love it when a slide is built in to (on top of or to the side of) the grotto. If you build it large enough, you can actually put your spa inside the grotto, to offer extra privacy, and a more romantic mood. Grottos can be quite striking and beautiful, but frankly speaking, they can also be rather ugly if done by an amateur. A trained professional will design and build the grotto to fit in with the style of the rest of the pool and the yard. Like most any complicated feature, its smart to take a look at a builders previous work before making a final purchase decision.
In-Water Tables and ChairsThese features provide a wonderful resting spot for reading, snacking, enjoying beverages, or even playing land games. The table may be removable, and/or have a fitting that allows the homeowner to add or remove a desirable umbrella over the table. Its also popular to build the table into the perimeter of the pool, with a sunken bar on the other side. Perfect if you really want to show off to your guests with poolside service.
Jump RockConsidered safer than a diving board, this is a large, natural-looking rock placed at the edge of the pool, allowing many hours of entertainment for the kids.
Lap PoolTypically a long, narrow pool designed primarily for swimming laps. A standalone lap pool tends to have a somewhat formal, elegant look. However, a lap pool feature can be incorporated into other pool designs as well. You can also add a built-in spa to a lap pool, so that you always have a choice between exercising and relaxing.
LED Lighting /Fiber-Optic LightingThis feature has replaced most of the old halogen and incandescent light fixtures, both in the water and around your swimming pool, for two reasons: First, they are much more energy-efficient, using only a tiny fraction of the electricity of the old-style lights. Second, they last significantly longer than simple incandescent bulbs. An especially popular use of LED lights (sometimes using fiber optics also) is to incorporate the lights with your deck jets or water arches, thus creating the illusion of a stream of colored water. With most advanced lighting systems, the colors can be changed automatically, in an ongoing sequence, giving you an entertaining light show at night.
Love Seat / Swim OutAlso referred to as a swim out, this feature serves multiple purposes. It can be a great place to relax while watching others in the pool. It might also be considered something of a safety feature, as its an extremely convenient exit point or resting point, especially for anyone swimming in the deep end.
MosaicsA Tile Mosaic will put a true signature design on your pool or spa. From artistic designs to playful creatures to company logos to names or clever sayings the possibilities are endless.
Natural PoolWhile natural sometimes refers to a free-form or lagoon-shape pool, the term natural pool now more commonly refers to a swimming vessel that uses no chemicals, but instead is filtered and sanitized naturally through a natural pond or bog. Natural filter media such as sphagnum moss has recently become popular as another way to create a natural pool with no chemicals.
Outdoor KitchenNothing completes your outdoor area like the ability to cook without having to run in and out of the house all the time. To determine how much space you should devote to outdoor culinary endeavors, consider what is the maximum number of people you might want to entertain on any particular occasion.
Outdoor LivingThis can be something as simple as a small deck or patio with a couple of chairs in just the right spot. On the other hand, it can be a large living room with comfortable all-weather couches, a roof, ceiling fans, a large stone fireplace, and a large-screen television to watch your favorite events. Of course, if youre going to have that many people sitting around in an outdoor living area, you probably also want to consider the addition of an outdoor kitchen.
PalapaThis feature is instantly recognizable as the classic thatched hut. Originating in Malaysia and now wildly popular throughout Central America, a Palapa will undoubtedly add a Caribbean feel to any backyard pool design.
Pebble FinishSee Aggregate Interior.
PergolaA shady area, built with vertical support posts and rafters running across the top. The roof of a pergola is usually semi-open and flat, allowing partial sunshine and daylight to shine through. Pergolas are often confused with arbors and gazebos, as they all usually offer some combination of open sides and/or a semi-open roof and/or plants growing on it. The unique differences are these:
- A Pergola normally has a flat but semi-open roof, designed to offer partial shade. It may or may not have plants growing on it.
- An Arbor is designed specifically to allow plants (typically vines and climbing flowers) to grow on it. It may or may not have a flat roof.
- A Gazebo is almost always characterized by a domed or turreted roof. It may or may not have plants growing on it.