Savvy consumers are driving the evolution of swimming pool products and trends. Seasoned pool pros are busy finding solutions for every aspect from design to safety. Spas are lifted by cranes onto high-rise condo balconies. Owners of small, urban lots enjoy the luxury of swimming laps, thanks to grotto garden pools with counter current jets.
Counter current pool by BonaVista Pools
Whether it’s all about play or fitness, the ultimate goal is the same. Pool experts say clients want their backyards transformed into enchanting retreats. For some, this means a rustic, Muskoka feel with rocky waterfalls. Marc Luff, of Betz Pools, says he’s seeing a trend away from cottage country towards clean, modern designs with flat, smooth, materials and sheer descent water features.
Pool designed by BonaVista Pools
Atmospheric lighting is requisite and LED is the top pick with its improved glow and longevity. Four to six watt LED bulbs are replacing 50 to 500 watt halogen bulbs and “the difference in energy consumption,” Luff says, “is unbelievable.”
Night Pool designed by Betz Pools
Gurgling water is peaceful and muffles the sound of nearby traffic. Outdoor fireplaces and a single, well placed, mesmerizing flame are trends that are gaining momentum. The ambiance only intensifies when fire and water are combined in striking bowls and urns. The hand-cast, concrete vessels cause water to cascade into the pool while flames dance from the center. Because they are equipped with propane tanks and pumps, they can be moved to a different location as desired.
Fire Urn by Diplomat Pools
Green-minded consumers are turning to automated solar blankets and panels inside the home to reduce energy consumption. Besides convenience, automation ensures equipment runs at optimum times, maintaining water balance and temperature. UV filters and ozonators kill bacteria on contact and reduce chemical usage.
What’s making a splash in backyard havens:
- Pool & hot tub combos and spill over spas are still on the wish list
- Infinity edges (a.k.a. negative, zero, disappearing, or vanishing edge)
- Tanning shelves for lounging, conversation, and child’s play
- Minimalist designs with clean lines and simple, smooth finishes
- Waterfalls and fire features – or a creative combination of both
- Fitness: smaller pools with counter current jets for swimming laps
- Greener choices in design, lighting, equipment, and automation
Pool designed by Betz Pools
- Saltwater pools are still popular but Ed Siciliano, of Coles and Orland Pools, anticipates municipalities will adopt Toronto bylaws, which forbid discharge of saline water, except when routed through the home’s septic system. This complicates winterization and pool opening routines.
- A decline in diving boards and deep ends has emerged as consumers move towards diving rocks on the pool’s edge. Luff, a father of five, feels diving boards (on the right pool) are fine as long as they’re properly installed used, and maintained. He does note that deeper pools equate to more water consumption and thus more chlorine.
Oasis Pool designed by Diplomat Pools
Just add water…
At the heart of every sublime refuge is the pool - and the ultimate decision for consumers. While choice may be dictated by budget and space, it’s worth considering the pros and cons for each type of pool, and the latest innovations.
“Concrete pools are considered the crème de la crème of pools,” says Jennifer Gannon, of BonaVista Pools, “– the first choice for luxury homes. Look no further than the Roman Baths,” she says, “for their reputation as a durable choice.”
The ultimate in customization can be had in terms of size, shape, and lavish finishes. Siciliano says today’s pool is likely to be created with Gunite or Shotcrete, decreasing installation time. Marbelite coating is replacing paint, which required regular exfoliation and reapplication. A Marbelite finish is porous. It can be refreshed with an acid wash after 10-15 years. This process is compared to having one’s teeth whitened.
Concrete pools tend to involve longer installation times, higher costs, and higher maintenance.
The smooth, seamless gel coat surface shouldn’t require refinishing or replacement and equates to less sanitizing chemicals. Shape, size, depth, and colour are limited to what factory designs offer. Proper installation should help prevent cracking and can be completed within three to five days. The pool is basically a finished, fibreglass shell positioned into a prepared site. Coping and finishes around the pool are customized to suit the client. Pricing falls between concrete and vinyl liner pools. Shell warrantees are good for 35 years, less for colour fading or cracking.
Vinyl liner pools
This option is less expensive than fibreglass and concrete, with an installation time of about three weeks. It’s flexibility holds up well against frost and ground water issues. Standard shapes and sizes are popular, but Liz Opashinov of Diplomat Pools, says, "The sky is the limit. We can create figure eights, extra wide stairs, seats, an island…"
Liners can be damaged by sharp objects and poor maintenance. "The biggest driver in terms of liner longevity is water chemistry,” says Craig Walters of Seaway Pools & Hot Tubs. "When neglect results in acidic water it eventually takes its toll on the liner, the heater, the pump and everything else the water touches." He says with proper care a vinyl liner will last about 15 years and he installs some with 25-year warrantees.
Above ground pools
The solution for swimmers with tight budgets, an above ground pool kit poses no issues with access and installation can be as quick as a day’s work. Size and shape are limited and shallow depths preclude diving.
They may not be considered as durable or aesthetic as inground pools, but their portability makes them ideal for people who tend to move a lot. Walters supplies many of his Newmarket customers with this solution. He says, “Young parents who grew up with pools want their kids to have that same experience.”
Sources for this story are award-winning members of the Pool and Hot Tub Council of Canada
Images have been provided by Betz Pools, Diplomat Pools and BonaVista Pools.
Article provided by: Patti Newman
Patti Newman is a freelance writer and multimedia journalist with a marketing and design background.
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