The Different Types Of Swimming Pools

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Your backyard will be the favorite neighborhood destination this summer, when guests dive into the sparkling waters of your new swimming pool. With all the new pool styles and options available, you'll be able to install just the right pool to fit your lifestyle, taste and budget.

Swimming Pool Materials & Styles

If you've decided on a new swimming pool, your next decision is what type of pool structure to work with. You've got a number of basic options:

  • Above ground swimming pools: This is the most affordable and easy to install option. Although most people opt to have above ground pools professionally installed, most come as pre-fabricated kits that homeowners may opt to assemble themselves. Although above ground pools reduce the risk of someone accidentally falling in and can be relocated if necessary, they are less durable and often less attractive than in-ground pools.
  • Vinyl-lined in-ground pools: These pools are structurally similar to above ground pools, however they are installed in a hole in your yard. Vinyl-lined pools are the most affordable in-ground option, but you'll sacrifice some durability. Expect to replace your liner about every 10 years.
  • Fiberglass pools: Fiberglass pools are made from molded fiberglass-reinforced plastic. Professionals dig a hole, install the plumbing, pour in some sand filler and then bring in the preformed pool.
  • Poured concrete pools: Professionals dig out the area and pour concrete into prepared wooden forms to create this type of pool. This option has become less popular over the years, with the invention of easier to build gunite pools.
  • Gunite pools: Gunite is a mixture of cement and sand. After digging a hole, installing plumbing and assembling a rebar framework, professionals spray a mixture of gunite and water around the frame. Gunite pools are currently one of the most popular options for in-ground pools since they are very durable and can be built in any desired size or shape.

types of swimming pools ideal home garden 

Swimming Pool Shapes

Once you've decided on the type of pool construction you'd like, the next choice to consider is shape. Pools come in an almost endless variety of shapes including:

  • Classic Shapes: Traditional rectangle or square pools are perfect for swimming laps and almost any other water activities.
  • Curved: If you enjoy softer edges in your decorating, consider curved shapes such as round, oval or kidney shaped.
  • Angular: Some modern angular shapes that make a strong statement include L shaped, Lazy L (a softer bend than 90 degrees) and octagon.
  • Custom: Design a pool with a shape that says something about who you are. You can choose anything from your home state to your favorite fish or animal.

types of swimming pools ideal home garden

Understanding Your Options

Your choices don't end with basic pool shapes. Some of these interesting options may also interest you:

  • Lagoon pool: If you'd like a pool that blends well with the natural landscape, consider a lagoon pool. These pools take the shape of natural bodies of water and feature a slope rather than stairs to enter the water. Often they are surrounded with rock features and even waterfalls to give them the look of naturally occurring water wonders. For the most natural appearance, lagoon pools can feature a color gradient from tan to blue, mimicking the look of a sandy beach leading into the increasingly blue water.
  • Play pool: These pools are designed for relaxing and water play and are generally no deeper than five feet in any area.
  • Lap pool: To maximize swimming distance, lap pools are usually narrow and at least 50 feet long.
  • Negative edge pool: Also called an infinity edge pool, these swimming pools are designed to appear as if they extend all the way to the horizon. These pools are filled with water straight up to the edge, with a trough or grate just behind the edge to catch overspill. The lack of a raised edge makes the water appear to be endless. Because of their precise engineering and mechanics, negative edge pools should always be designed and installed by professionals.
  • Diving pool: Shallow water is dangerous to divers, so diving pools are usually at least eight and a half feet deep all around with a diving platform or board. These pools need to be built to specific NSPI (National Spa and Pool Institute), and ANSI (American National Standard Institute) standards to insure their safety.
  • Spool pool: A combination of a spa and a swimming pool, spools are usually about 12 by 14 feet, about the size of an oversized spa.
  • Slopes and ramps: Water exercise is great for almost everyone, however mobility issues prevent some people from getting in and out of a swimming pool with traditional stairs. Luckily the option of installing pool slopes and ramps instead of traditional steps allows people who can't climb, or even those in wheelchairs to be part of the water fun.

types of pools ideal home garden 

How To Pick The Right Pool For You

To make sure you end up with the pool that will make you and your family the happiest, consider what kinds of water activities you enjoy, and why you decided to purchase a swimming pool in the first place. Here are a few tips to help you pick the best pool to fit your needs:

  • If you'll mostly be using your pool for water games such as water volleyball, basketball or dodge ball, or you spend your pool time just relaxing rather than swimming or diving, a shallow play pool might be just right for you.
  • If you're a serious swimmer, a lap pool maximizes the efficiency of your workouts.
  • Pools with straight edges are generally more suited to lap swimming than those with a curved shape. They also fit better with very formal home and garden styles.
  • If you're primarily looking to enhance the look of your landscape and create a tropical backyard, consider a freeform pool or infinity edge pool.
  • Spools are excellent choices for those who want the benefits of a spa pool and also for families with yards too small for other types of pools.

types of pools ideal home garden

Taking a little extra time to find your perfect pool will pay off with years of fun, fitness and relaxation. Pick the right size, shape and material to best fit your existing yard style so your pool with become an asset in no time.

Last Updated: August 9, 2012
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About Roberta Pescow Roberta Pescow holds a bachelor's degree in communications from City University of New York, Queens College and is a freelance writer and editor in the NJ area. The author of "A Life In The Service" and "A Monster's Tears," she enjoys writing informative articles, personal essays, fiction and music.  Roberta is a proud mother of two. Her other interests include fitness, photography, sculpture and meditation. She is a voracious reader and holds a 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do. Roberta enjoys decorating her hectic, but happy home and garden in original and affordable ways.  

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