If a new pool is on your wish list, you'll find plenty of choices. Companies today offer a variety of pool shapes?some have up to 38 varieties to choose from. And when it comes to a customer's specific needs, most pool companies can accommodate just about any shape or size, whether it's a custom design, classic figure eight or kidney shape. The options for in-ground pools do not end with shapes. You'll also need to decide on the material for your pool, whether it's gunite, fiberglass or vinyl. Each material has its own set of unique advantages and disadvantages and your decision will be affected by several factors including the weather in your region, cost, maintenance and how creative you get with your design.
Going With GuniteGunite is formed primarily from concrete, and for many years it was the only option for folks in search of an in-ground pool.
Typical cost: $30,000.
Pros - Permanent and luxurious. - Virtually infinite options for sizes and shapes. - Variety of options for adding personal touches, such as custom-designed tile mosaics at the bottom or around the pool.
Cons - Installation takes eight to 12 weeks. - Does not adjust well to temperature extremes of hot and cold months, and cracks may occur; repairs can be costly. - Algae can form in gunite pores, so regular cleaning is necessary.
Fixed on FiberglassFiberglass pools are a newer breed of in-ground pools made from the same reinforced plastic used to make boats and airplanes.
High-end cost: as high as $40,000.
Pros - Durable and flexible; can withstand freezing temperatures and exposure to ultraviolet light. - Installation can be completed in about a week. - Smooth surface is easy to clean, and eliminates scraped knees and toes. - Require fewer pool chemicals.
Cons - Most come ready-made, so a custom-designed pool shape is not an option.
Valid VinylThe biggest advantage of vinyl-lined pools is the cost: they average one-half to two-thirds the cost of gunite or fiberglass.
Average cost: $15,000 to $20,000.
Pros - Available in a wide range of shapes and sizes. - Install in about a week. - Easy to clean and maintain. - Require fewer pool chemicals. - Cracking and breaks due to weather conditions are unlikely.
Cons - Soft surface might prove a bit harder to clean than a fiberglass pool. - Liners will have to be replaced. (For a well-maintained pool in northern regions, the liner can last 12 to 15 years. However, longer exposure to ultraviolet rays in southern areas can make it necessary to replace it sooner.)
Add AccessoriesToday's dealers can give your pool waterfalls, boulders, natural and simulated rock, bridges, islands, slides, fountains, "beach" entrances and colored lighting. Another popular add-on is a customized deck or patio. Whether you decide on a multi-level wooden deck or ground-level stone patio, both can be incorporated into your landscape design and are natural transitions from the house to the pool.
Which Pool Is Right for You?For more help, check the Pool & Spa News web site at www.poolspanews.com. They have a comprehensive list of pool and spa dealers.
Wyatt Myers is a professional craft editor and freelance writer.