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Swimming with Possibilities

Choosing an inground pool that suits your lifestyle, while adding beauty and fun to your backyard.

By Patti Plummer

Inground pool with perimeter overflow
Photo courtesy of Alka Pools 
Adding an inground swimming pool to your backyard reaps numerous benefits—from swimming to lounging to family fun—while also transforming your backyard into a beautiful showpiece. So what kind of inground pool should you get? Since three basic kinds are most common—concrete, fiberglass, and vinyl-lined—the best way to make up your mind is to study how each will impact you and your family.

Think about the accessories you’d like to personalize your inground pool. Believe it or not, some of the enhancements you want could dictate what kind of inground pool you should build. Would you like glass tile? A waterfall grotto? How about a custom-made waterslide? Also consider the landscaping surrounding the deck. Think about how each type of inground pool works within the setting you choose, the environment that borders your home, and any special construction requirements that could influence the outcome of your project. Remember, in order to achieve your desired result, you must first develop a well-thought-out plan that covers every possible scenario. 

Concrete Pools

Homeowners looking for a custom-designed inground pool often opt for concrete because just about any shape, size, and style can be accommodated. From vanishing edges, beach entries, and lap pools to tropical lagoons and contemporary masterpieces, concrete’s compliant nature makes it the go-to material for those who desire a swimming pool that is truly one-of-a-kind. 

Concrete pools need to be finished with plaster, tile, or stone aggregate, which adds to the customization. Ideal for any climate, most concrete pools can be completed in about six to 12 weeks, although complex designs can take longer. Normally, homeowners can expect to pay anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000, but size and customizing can drive the price much higher. 

Fiberglass Pools

Inground fiberglass pools consist of one-piece shells crafted from a mold. They come in a wide variety of models, including vanishing edges and perimeter overflows, that can be enhanced with accessories such as factory-installed ceramic tile, custom jets, mosaics, and water features. For years fiberglass pools have been common in warm climates, but they’re gaining popularity in colder climates due to the material’s extremely flexible and adaptable nature. Additionally, the smooth surface of fiberglass acts as a first line of defense against algae and other swimming pool contaminants, decreasing the amount of chemicals needed to keep the swimming pool clean. Installed in a matter of days, the shell is brought to a site from the factory and is usually lifted into place by a crane. Fiberglass pools generally cost between $25,000 and $40,000, but can be more depending on which accessories you choose.

Vinyl-lined Pools

Vinyl-lined pools began with little flexibility in both look and design, but tremendous advancements in the use of this smooth material have made it easier to configure all types of shapes and styles into a design. In addition, vinyl-lined pools can incorporate previously unheard-of extras like waterfalls and in-pool barstools, while remaining budget-friendly. Most vinyl-lined pools can be built for between $30,000 and $35,000. Naturally, if you’d ­­like a few extras, the price will increase. Vinyl-lined pools flex with temperature drops and are ideal for freeze/thaw climates. Most new inground pools are swim-ready in just a few weeks, and renovations are fairly simple as well—just have your builder change the liner and your swimming pool will have a new look.

Coping: The Finishing Touch

Whether constructed from concrete, fiberglass, or vinyl, pool coping is the one feature a homeowner should not skimp on because it’s an important detail that can easily elevate the look and feel of an inground pool. Covering the edge of where the pool wall and deck meet, pool coping is commonly made of pavers, stone, granite, wood, or an aluminum extrusion product. There are a number of different styles, but many builders choose one of the four types below. Most styles can be applied to any kind of inground pool, but designers typically pick one that best complements both the swimming pool and the surrounding hardscape.  

Bull-nosed coping is one of the more popular choices because it can be used with just about any design. Made from stone, cast-stone, or cast-concrete, this pool coping is rounded to the touch. 

Rolled-edge coping is usually crafted from a smooth material that can be manipulated upward, such as granite. It is frequently used in exercise pools because its sleek, upturned design gives swimmers something to grab onto. 

Cantilevered coping is best for modern, free-floating designs and is typically made from a paver material, like flagstone, stamped concrete, or even wood. Cantilevered pool coping extends over the edge of the swimming pool and creates a seamless look from deck to pool.

Rough-cut coping has a rugged appearance, making it ideal for natural-looking inground pools and homes that incorporate stone in their facades. Designers will then match that material with the pool coping for a harmonious look.


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