When the weather is hot and beach crowds reach epic proportions, staying home is often the only logical option. Many don’t have the luxury of private beachfront property, so a dip in the pool is the next best thing.
According to Jim Vitelli of Sea Crystal Pools in Islandia, there are an increasing number of creative options to make the home pool experience worthy of foregoing the beach.
Chlorine has long been the standard for disinfecting pools and keeping water clean and safe, but homeowners are now trending toward saltwater systems. “They’ve been pretty popular over the last few years,” Vitelli said, explaining that saltwater chlorination is easier on eyes, hair and skin. Instead of adding chlorine directly to pool water, saltwater systems use a generator that breaks down salt to produce sanitizing agents. The result is not chlorine-free, but the water does not contain the irritants found in traditional pools. Whoever maintains the pool also does not have to buy or handle chlorine.
A second, less popular option is ozone sanitation, which utilizes injections of ozone gas to clean the pool and kill bacteria. This method is not nearly as popular as saltwater chlorination. Vitelli indicated he heard at a recent seminar that saltwater chlorination could become mandatory, but added, “I have to see that to believe it.”
Though sanitization method factors into construction, saltwater and ozone systems can be added to update standard chlorine pools. Ideally, a saltwater pool should be built with PVC light housings and bronze ladder cups, because standard metal could corrode, but replacing these elements is not necessary when switching to a newer method of sanitization.
As pool water becomes more like the ocean, so does overall pool design. Infinity pools (where water overflows into a trough and recirculates) are the hottest design trend, but Vitelli said he’s seeing more and more “beach entry” pools. Instead of using steps like most pools, beach entry pools have a slight decline, which gradually leads to deeper water, just like the beach giving way to the sea. These pools must be longer to accommodate the sloping entry and extended shallows. “You can put a lounge chair in there,” Vitelli said, pointing out that some pools take this a step further. Called “sundecks” or “beach landings,” these large 10-foot areas of six-inch deep water are perfect for lounge chairs, wetting only a person’s feet and butt to stay cool in the hot sun.
The average suburban pool is typically vinyl and in-ground, while higher-end homeowners choose the cement-like gunite construction. “It’s the strongest pool you can build,” Vitelli said, explaining that gunite is reinforced with steel rebar. It can be colored dark blue, gray or black, which attracts the sun’s heat and appears more natural than stark white or light gray. Black or dark gunite would be perfect, for example, in a lake-style pool, another gorgeous option, with rocks, waterfalls and grottos. Adding finishes like quartz and Pebble Tec to gunite can also dramatically enhance the look and durability of a pool.
For further customization, Vitelli said LED lighting is also quite popular. The energy efficient lights can change color randomly or be set to different hues. “It’s kind of a novelty, but cool for parties,” he added.