Small pools, also known as “Spools”, are becoming increasingly popular with homeowners that want to swim in their backyard but may not have the space to build a regular-sized pool. Small backyards used to be ideal candidates for hot tubs, not swimming pools; due to the limited space to build. Things are starting to look a little different as the demand for pools continues to rise. Builders have begun to come up with clever alternatives to help folks achieve their dream of owning a pool in smaller-sized backyards.
Homeowners that would have normally not chosen to build a pool are increasingly opting for smaller pools. Pool builders are able to integrate smaller-sized vessels effortlessly into outdoor areas without taking up the entire yard. Rather than the typical inground pools that dominate homes on larger lot sizes; these builders think outside the box in terms of materials and the type of pool they need to build.
It’s true that some are constrained by limited space in their backyard. However, others simply want a small and inexpensive option that adds value and fun to their outdoor living environment without the hassle and expense of installing and maintaining a full-sized pool.
“Spools” Are Ideal for Smaller Sized Backyards
When we discuss small pools, what we’re really talking about are “Spools,” or cocktail pools. These small swimming pools are also known as plunge pools and swim spas. Ultimately, the words and terms used to characterize smaller pools can vary as much as the actual products themselves. They are often up to fifteen feet or more in length or diameter and share one other thing in common. These types of pools are characterized by their ability to fit in a very small space.
What Spool Options are Available?
Spools can be made of concrete or fiberglass and can be found inground or above ground. Heck, there are even shipping container pools as an additional alternative. These pools are popular because they are cheaper to heat and chemically maintain. The idea of an abbreviated pool build with speedier installation time is also enticing to many homeowners.
Building a spool, however, doesn’t necessarily mean your pool will be cheaper says Tom Parrish of Parrish Pools. “Typically a small inground pool costs almost as much to build as a normal perimeter-sized pool,” explained Parrish, “The price break may be anywhere from 15-20% cheaper building a small inground pool versus a larger one.”
Building a Pool in a Small Backyard
Small pools and spas, according to Baton Rouge pool builder, Brandt Gibert of Windgate Custom Pools, have become as popular as their larger counterparts as a way to “deliver a premium pool experience in a smaller space.”
“There have been a ton of new innovations when it comes to building smaller-sized pools. I tell homeowners with small backyards about a spool and their eyes light up,” Gibert says.
“Let’s face it, people are not traveling yet and the options for having fun outdoors with your family are still kind of limited. The pool industry has exploded the last two years because homeowners are reinvesting those dollars in the backyard,” said Gibert, “When you look at the fun and value a pool adds to the backyard, it’s really a no-brainer for folks right now.”
Builders who have seen unprecedented demand for pools over the last two years are catering to the growing number of homeowners that want a pool but are concerned that their backyard might not be big enough to accommodate one.
Spools Allow You To Get Creative With Limited Space
“Backyards are getting smaller and smaller in most parts of the country,” explained Kelly Peel, of Lakeside Custom Pools a residential pool builder in Austin. “People have been moving to places like Texas because they want to build their dream home and backyard on a nice sized piece of property.”
Peel explained that part of the lifestyle in Austin means being outdoors. He feels a pool should blend in with, rather than dominate, the backyard. “Outdoor living is such an essential part of the culture in Austin,” said Peel, “even homeowners with small backyards want a pool. Quite often the only usable space to build one is on the side of the house. We’ve had to get pretty creative sometimes.”
Swim Spas – A Popular Small Pool Alternative
Ryan Baird of Beyond Blue Pools in Houston said that he’s built plenty of spools over the last two years. “Smart homeowners on smaller lots are building spools, plunge pools, and swim spas. They use them all year round because keeping it small means that they can afford to heat it. Spools heat up way faster than a normal pool.”
Exercising In a Small Pool
Many homeowners opt for a swim spa to enjoy the benefits of hydrotherapy. One usual complaint that small pools get is that they do not provide enough space to exercise. “The technology has come pretty far the last decade,” said Baird, “The swim spas these days act almost like a treadmill in the water to keep you swimming in place through the entire duration of your workout. We’ve seen an increase this year in homeowners that want one installed, in some cases inside their home instead of in their backyard.”
According to contractor Carlos Rincon of Phoenix Construction & Design, building “up” is also an option when going “small” with your swimming pool. His company, based in Houston, TX, has built numerous elevated decks to accommodate small pools. “These elevated pools are becoming more and more popular with folks who buy an above-ground pool and want the feel of an inground pool. We’ve done them in some pretty tight places where you wouldn’t expect to see a pool,” said Rincon.
Limited Inventory Means Scaling Down For Some
Michelle Lightle, an agent with Showcase Real Estate in Sacramento, says home buyers might have a pool on their wish list, as far as amenities go “It’s hot in Sacramento, and having a pool definitely makes a home more sellable,” said Lightle, “there is a limited inventory of homes on the market though.” she explained.
Consequently, finding a home with a big enough lot to build a large swimming pool is becoming increasingly difficult in some markets. For homeowners who are looking to build a swimming pool and don’t believe they have enough space to build one, “Spools” remain the best option available.
Optical Illusions – Mosaic Tile Seascapes
One of the great things we love about mosaic tile in luxury swimming pools is the artistic versatility of the material. It’s a notoriously difficult medium to work with, but artisans are able to design incredibly sophisticated optical illusions in the pool with tile mosaics.
Designing an artistic mosaic that utilizes the entire canvas of the swimming pool takes real skill. The elites of the industry are adept at using tile as their preferred medium to paint a portrait that tells a story. One industry-recognized tile artisan who has mastered the ability to do just that is Ray Corral of Mosaicist, Inc. The Miami-based firm has built a reputation for designing stunning mosaic tile pool interiors.
Using Tile To Create Optical Illusion Mosaics
Collaborating with high-end builders and designers like Brian Van Bower and Ryan Hughes, Corral is used to working on luxury custom pools that require his particular skillset. His ability to create transcendent designs that draw you into the pool interior is undeniable.
Creating optical illusions in the pool is something that’s second nature for Corral. “I’ve come to realize that a lot of the simple things we do grab attention and people are just taken back by it. We take it for granted because we’ve done so many designs. Sometimes what we think is amazing because of the complexity, people don’t always understand and appreciate,” said Corral.
While most of the mosaic tile interiors Corral designs these days are for modern geometric-shaped pools, he still does a fair amount of freeform pool interiors. In South Florida, mosaic seascapes are popular and Corral caters to that clientele looking to turn their pool interior into a tropical lagoon.
Designing Realistic Seascapes
This particular project showcases Corral’s abilities at creating optical illusions with mosaic tile. From the intricate waves in the sand to the ocean scene inside the pool, creating those types of visual effects is definitely something that not every tile firm can easily master.
“When we look at the sand it looks real,” said Corral, “These clients wanted a realistic environment. They have tropical landscaping, bridges, landscaping inside the pool that just creates this type of oasis. They want to look outside their window and see coral reefs, fish, and aquatic animals,” he explained.
“There are folks that are close to the ocean, or the ocean is in their hearts, or they’re into diving, whatever the case may be. A lot of these people want scenery in their pool and we just to try to create them something realistic,” said Corral.
“When we put a design together we take into account that the reality of that fact is that most of the time the homeowner will be looking at the pool and not necessarily swimming in it. We take into consideration how the design looks from the second floor, first floor and when you enter the pool,” Corral explained.
“We also take into account the depth of the pool and the transition from the shallow end to the deep end,” said Corral. It’s in the planning and design of the elements that will comprise the entire scene, that he spends an inordinate amount of time going over with customers who want a pool interior of this nature.
“Many times homeowners are looking through our Instagram or our website or the books we have in our office to help them pick out elements to add to their swimming pool,” said Corral.
Creating a Tropical Paradise in Mosaic Tile
Designing the client’s ideal tropical fantasy in mosaic tile can be difficult on freeform style pools. Corral indicated that the shape of these pools is extremely difficult to work with and requires a certain level of planning and dexterity to properly execute. It seems to be old hat for him though. Planning an all-mosaic tile beach entry pool that transforms into a tropical lagoon in this fashion is something his firm Mosacist, Inc. does at least several times a year.
“What’s difficult is on these designs is that the closer that you get to the walls, the more attention to detail you need to have. It’s very easy for a designer to do a circle and have that manufactured somewhere else, but it’s difficult to design a concept that hugs the walls this way and have it come out well.”
Aquatic Mosaic Art
Designing gorgeous seascape mosaics for the pool isn’t Corral’s only wheelhouse. He showed us other breathtaking examples including a mosaic tile aquarium he installed for one of his customers From the 3D rendering to the real-world product, it’s incredible the amount of detail that’s involved to achieve these types of optical illusions.
To plan, design, and install all of the unique elements that will comprise a total scene, you can easily see how many individual mosaics are required to create effects of this nature. It’s an old world artisan skill and one that Corral has honed over his years in the tile industry.
“We’re always looking for that one client that wants us to do something we’ve never tried before,” said Corral, “We get excited when clients allow us to do something different. It gives our portfolio diversity and keeps us at the top of the industry.”
Listen to our entire conversation with Ray Corral of Mosaicist, Inc.
Photo Credits: Mosaicist, Inc.
Pool Vinyl Liner Replacement – Give Your Pool a Makeover
Spring has sprung and that means it’s time to start thinking about opening your pool for the season. It’s also the ideal time to evaluate how your swimming pool’s interior is holding up. If you notice cracks, tearing, or separation occurring – it may be time to consider a vinyl liner replacement.
Replacing Your Swimming Pool’s Vinyl Liner
Choosing to replace your swimming pool’s liner provides an excellent opportunity to upgrade to a new pattern or thickness. During this timeframe, it’s advisable to consult with a pool contractor that can make recommendations on which liner brand to choose.
It makes sense that a thicker pool liner is able to withstand more impact. There are a wide variety of thick puncture-resistant liners on the market for homeowners to consider when replacing their liner.
Most swimming pool vinyl liners offer approximately 5-10 years of usage before they start to become faded or begin to deteriorate. Simple environmental stress coupled with the routine wear and tear of seasonal use can accelerate this process quicker in some areas of the country. Taking precautions to protect your swimming pool in the off-season with a pool cover, will certainly help prolong the life of your vinyl pool liner.
Signs Your Pool’s Vinyl Liner Needs To Be Replaced
Each year when you open your swimming pool, you should be checking for signs that your vinyl liner has successfully survived another winter. There are basically 6 surefire indications that your vinyl liner is on its way out.
The 6 Signs Your Swimming Pool’s Vinyl Liner Needs Replacement
- Fading in your pool’s vinyl liner
- Cracks and tears in the liner
- Wrinkling and deformities
- Problems with liner bead
- Discoloration and staining
- Water loss and leaks
How Long Do Vinyl Liners Last?
These days, the average shelf life of a vinyl pool liner is much shorter than in years past. “Vinyl pool liners used to last between 20 to 30 years in the average pool. Virtually everyone got more than 10 or 12 years even if you were terrible with your maintenance and water chemistry. The days of seeing this kind of longevity from a 30 mil inground pool liner are gone,” said Steven Goodale in an article he wrote on this very subject.
The Realistic Life Span of a Vinyl Liner
These days, you’re lucky to see 7-10 years of life out of a liner on the high-end, but the reality is probably going to be closer to 5 years before it starts to look really aged.
What Causes a Swimming Pool’s Vinyl Liner To Deteriorate?
A major problem that homeowners encounter with their vinyl pool liner has to do with mother nature and chemically treating their swimming pool. The Sun’s UV rays along with the harsh chemicals used to sanitize the water itself can cause a liner to fade over time.
There are other factors that can cause a vinyl liner to deteriorate quicker than expected. Chlorine is corrosive and can effectively bleach your pool liner. Failing to manage the pH can also cause the water to become acidic enough to chemically siphon the very plasticizers that keep your vinyl liner pliable.
“Over more time, a liner in a low pH ‘acid bath’ will become brittle, fade in color and eventually begin to literally fall apart,” said Arnold in his article – 5 Ways to Destroy a Vinyl Pool Liner
One of the biggest problems that vinyl liner pool owners tend to encounter is their liner slipping out of the coping track. This is caused very simply by the liner losing its elasticity with age and use. While there are ways to put a vinyl liner back on its track, this is a sign to look for when evaluating whether or not to replace your liner altogether.
Swimming Pool Vinyl Liner Replacement
If you notice signs your vinyl liner needs replacement, the best advice is to schedule an estimate with a pool contractor that specializes in vinyl liner swimming pools. Once they’re able to ascertain that the liner truly does need to be replaced, they can place an order for a replacement.
Last season it was very difficult for consumers to get their hands on vinyl liners in a timely fashion. Many orders were delayed for months due to a wide variety of logistical delays and manufacturing shortages. This year, many of the same conditions prevail so it’s advisable that consumers get their orders in as early in the season as they can. Doing so will ensure their liner can be scheduled for installation as quickly as possible.
An Expected Cost of Owning a Vinyl Liner Pool
“As far as construction costs are concerned, vinyl liner pools are certainly the more economic option when compared to high-end materials like gunite pools.” said San Diego Pool Builder – Bar Zakheim, “However, replacing your pool’s vinyl liner still has a pretty hefty price tag associated with it. While this is an anticipated cost for vinyl liner pool owners, it still remains one of the main drawbacks of building a vinyl liner pool. It’s definitely something I warn folks about ahead of time if they are considering buying a vinyl liner pool.”
When considering replacing your swimming pool’s vinyl liner, the time to act is before summer begins. Once the summer starts it becomes extremely difficult to get your liner as manufacturers are often backlogged with existing orders to fulfill.
Ordering your liner in the off-season is the best advice to ensure that your pool is swim-ready with a new liner installed in time for the upcoming swim season. If you’re trying to get your hands on the perfect vinyl liner, you may want to check the resource list of pool liner manufacturers below.
Pool Liner Manufacturers
Swimming pool company Tara Manufacturing in AL is a leading provider of vinyl swimming pool liners and winter pool safety covers for inground swimming pools.
Known for Safety Pool Covers strong and tough enough to support an elephant. Loop-Loc also makes a wide range of luxury pool liners.
Merlin Industries is a premier manufacturer of vinyl liners, safety covers, spa covers, steps, and safety fences.
A leading manufacturer of pool liners and cover products. Dover Vinyl Products has been manufacturing vinyl liners in the USA since 1971.
Garrett Liners is the longest-established vinyl swimming pool liner manufacturer in the world and a leading manufacturer of inground and above-ground liners as well as safety covers.
Since 1987 Precision Vinyl Corp has manufactured custom made 20 ml. vinyl pool liners, and a wide range of other vinyl products.
A Latham Pools brand, GLI Pool Products’ core offerings are inground and above-ground pool vinyl liners as well as custom pool safety covers.
Cardinal Liners has been making liners for 47 years, with a staff that has a combined 150 years of experience. Cardinal Systems, Inc. welcomed Pen Fabricators into the Cardinal family a number of years back.
McEwen Industries offers one of the finest selections of inground and above-ground vinyl liner patterns in the swimming pool industry. The company also manufactures an exclusive line of pool safety covers.
Pocono Pools Products specializes in manufacturing inground and above-ground pool liners. The firm has been manufacturing quality vinyl liners since 1981.
Founded in 1971, Swimline is one of the nation’s largest manufacturers of inground and above-ground pool liners as well as pool safety covers.
Based in Paterson, NJ – Kayden Manufacturing, Inc. is a family-owned business and manufacturer of pool liners and pool bladders.
Pegasus Products is a family-run business based in Branchburg, NJ and a manufacturer of inground and above ground pool liners and pool safety covers.
The most well-known manufacturer of inground and above-ground vinyl pool liners and safety covers, Latham Pools has a number of brands including CoverLogix, CoverStar, GLI Pool Products, Kafko Pool Products, Plastimayd and others.
Featured Photo Credit: Inyo Pools
National Pool Opening Day is April 30th
This year, National Pool Opening Day is April 30th and marks the official first day of the swim season across the country. Of course, not everyone opens their pool on the last Saturday of April. Many pools in the northeast will remain closed for a few more weeks. This weekend, however, is the ideal time to stock up on pool chemicals, supplies, or equipment for the summer season! From coast to coast homeowners are opening up their swimming pools and it’s an important time for pool companies as well.
Pool openings mark a critical point in the operational success of swimming pools. Failing to follow the right steps can cause costly damage. It is absolutely vital that homeowners in particular pay close attention to following the correct procedure when opening their inground or above-ground pool.
How Did National Pool Opening Day Get Started?
National Pool Opening Day comes on the last Saturday of April each year. Annually the day is celebrated to encourage pool owners to get their swimming pools ready for summer. The day itself was actually started back in 2016 by Leslie’s Pool Supply as a way to acknowledge the first swim day of the summer and get people thinking about cleaning their swimming pool.
We want to ensure that you start your swim season off the right way, here are some great resources you can use for making certain you open your pool correctly.
Resources For Opening Swimming Pools
Swim University is a robust knowledge base and video tutorial library that teaches homeowners the basics of proper pool care and maintenance. Aside from taking an entertaining approach to education, host Matt Giovanisci provides practical and straightforward tips and hints. You’ll find all of the basic information one would need to learn about opening a swimming pool on SwimUniversity.com
Leslie’s Pool Supplies has everything you’ll need in terms of chemicals and maintenance equipment. They can also provide great advice in-store about any products you’ll need for opening your swimming pool. With over 950 stores around the country, it isn’t very hard to find a Leslie’s near you. In fact, if you bring them a water sample from your pool, they’ll tell you exactly what chemicals you need to purchase in order to balance your water chemistry. An important resource for homeowners, and a great way to get exactly what you need for opening your pool correctly.
If you have concerns or any misgivings about how to open your swimming pool yourself, the best advice is to hire a professional pool contractor. With over 35,000 vetted pool service technicians in their directory, they provide a comprehensive list of pool builders and pool service companies around the nation. Whether you need to open your swimming pool, or have basic repairs or upgrades that need to be made; you’re sure to find a top-notch service provider in their directory.
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