Swimming Pool Suggestions - What Do You Love, Hate, Wish You Had?

Updated on May 09, 2011
D.W. asks from Dallas, TX
22 answers

We are in all likelihood going to be building a pool in the next couple of months and I would love to have your input.

What do you love about your pool and/or pool area? (specific features, shape, etc)

What do you hate about your pool and/or pool area?

What do you wish was different about your pool?

BTW - not super interested in opinions about whether to have a pool or not, that decision has already been made. (We are buying a house and of course the one we like best doesn't currently have a pool.)


Edit: I just want to thank everyone for their thoughtful responses... this is REALLY helping us! Keep them coming... will probably be moving forward next week!

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answers from Dallas on

While I no longer have a pool, what I truly loved when I did was salt water. The system seems to be gentler to skin and eyes, I believe salt water systems have higher initial startup costs but lower maintenance costs.

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answers from Dallas on

I had to have a pool. We moved and there was a lovely in ground pool with a waterfall and I was so excited... that lasted for one season! At first we got in it all the time but intrest dwindled. The maintence is very exspensive if you are like us and don't know what you are doing. It slowly became a pain in my side and ill never have one again!

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answers from Dallas on

At first we had a chlorine pool. Then we converted it over to salt water. Love the salt water. you can open your eye underwater and not get the burning sensation from cholrine. However, the salt does not mix well with the flagstone around our pool. its starting to eat away at it and make the flagstone chip away. at some point we might have to get that replaced. i wish it would have know salt water would do that. so if you go the salt water route, make sure the border around your pool is not going to be eaten away by the salt water. I definitely think salt water is the way to go though. easier maintenance and cleaning.

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answers from St. Louis on

We have a water fall in ours and the kids love it. Also, we have steps that go into the shallow end (for dog to get out since he loves to go swimming too! LOL). The deck around our pool has a special treatment so it doesn't get too hot to walk on. As far as shape ours is an odd shape (paid extra) and it really isn't anything special now. Wish we would have just gone with the standard oval or rectangle pool. I would also suggest leaving enough room on one side for your patio furn.

D. B. Can it be a hot pool guy?

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answers from Chicago on

My sister has a pool, I do not, but what I LOVE about hers is that on the top step getting in she has an Umbrella ... she can put it in/take it out at any time. It is the type of umbrella you put in your patio/backyard table. I love the thing, it's great for when you just want to cool off your feet in the pool while the kids are napping to sit under, when the kids need a re-application of sunblock good place for them to sit under the shade and let them get their feet wet while it soaks in ... I just LOVE the umbrella in the top step. She wanted to have the same in the deep end but the opted for the slide/diving board instead for the kids, nice question good to learn from other's experince on this one. Hope it turns out GREAT!

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answers from Chattanooga on

I wish I HAD a pool!!! LOL!

I did have a friend with an in-ground pool, and they said that the one thing they wished they had done was to build a 'lip' around the pool. (you know, a shallow dip where the water still comes in, but debris can't get into the normal pool) They said that cleaning the pool got to be such an annoying chore that they couldn't enjoy the pool like they wanted. With the lip, you can rinse your feet off before getting in the water so you don't track in so much mess.

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answers from Dallas on

We had a pool once that had a lot of rock formations-- including one that was a huge fountain/waterfall. They looked cool and pretty, but they were a huge attractions for birds. We always had bird poop all over the place and ended up with a pigeon and dove infestation. It was horrible! Thankfully we were just renting the place and didn't have to worry about it long term, but I would not suggest anything that looks remotely like a real rock. Keep it simple and it will be easier to maintain.

One thing we had that we loved was a ledge in the pool that was large enough to sit on and had a hole for an umbrella. Very nice!



answers from Dallas on

I love my "kiddie area"/"tanning area" that has an umbrella stand built in (get lots of umbrella holes in it as you can't add them later and it's more convenient than the traditional kind). I have the flagstone around ours too and it's so rough, snags everything. I am not sure what else I would put instead but something SMOOTH around the edges would be much better, especially with kids. The main thing I HATE about ours is the old owners had it put way too close to the house imo. So it's gated separately then the rest of the yard but it's got one side that is not gated, I HATE that with the kids. And because it's so close to the house to put up a third fence side would look really bad. So my biggest fear, always, is someone drowning or a child going swimming later without permission or something. I know that's something we as parents have to instill but it's still really scary to have one and I never realized how much until I had my own. So definitely put it a little farther from the house and gate it completely separate...that's the biggest thing I would love to change!! Good luck!!



answers from Dallas on

I love my salt water swimming pool it is an easy system makes its own chlorine and doesn't discolor hair or dry out your skin. Clarity pools ( Jeff Moore) builder was excellent and does realistic stone work and waterfalls. We have had our pool for nearly 4 years now.
What I would do different is get a higher end pool cleaner with a reverse setting. Our polaris pool cleaner is working great now but it was getting stuck at an edge where our tanning ledge meets the wall. took several warranty calls to get the floats just right. Good luck.



answers from Boston on

Our pool is really old (installed maybe 30 years ago?) so it's the old-school chlorinated kind with vinyl siding, a big rectangle shape and a deep end, diving board and slide. I do like going to other people's houses and seeing the more natural shapes and colors (mine is screaming blue lol), underwater lighting and would love a heater but it's really not practical in New England to have a pool at all, never mind heat it! But where you are, it might make sense to be able to swim year round.

All that said, my kids definitely use the deep end - it's 10 feet so they can dive and jump off the diving board (very carefully and under tight supervision), pick up things off the bottom of the pool, etc. The rectangle shape is also nice for me for swimming laps - we have enough room for me to swim laps while the kids are jumping around and playing.

Definitely finish the area around the pool - we had one installed when we were kids and the patio wasn't in the original budget so my parents made do with some astro turf (hideous lol), gravel and some other things that were just ridiculously not practical until my dad could pour a concrete patio around the pool. So make sure you build that into your budget from the get-go.

The only thing I don't like about my pool is that our polaris broke so we have to vacuum by hand and that's a pain. Also, our neighbors have some ginormous trees and they block our afternoon sun.



answers from Dallas on

What I love: Convience - can take a quick dip anytime without having to go somewhere else. Modesty- I don't worry about my extra pounds when in my own pool. Togetherness - I loved spending the time with my daughter. (We did take her to swim lessons before the pool was built. I also had a few child size life jackets that I had any kids who were not very good swimmers wear.)

What I don't like so much: We have a plaster pool with a salt chlorine system (which is great because you don't have to add chlorine all the time). The problems are trying to keep the Ph levels right and the salt in the water causes anything metal that is close to the pool to rust quicker.

A couple of things to watch out for: We sometimes find critters in the pool so I try to look every morning especially when the weather is hot and dry. We sometimes have a problem with flying ants when they are swarming. These ants float in the pool but are not dead so can crawl on swimmers and bite. I try to check before we get in the pool and scoop out as many as I can.

I hope you love your pool as much as we do.



answers from Charlotte on

Hi from the other D.,

I don't have a pool, but I have to say that I'd definitely want a pool man to come and do ALL the work. I couldn't stand having to do all the work associated with having a pool. Hope you can do that.



answers from St. Louis on

Deep ends are useless. No one dives anymore and diving boards are too much of a liability. If you want to play games in the pool the deep end makes half the pool useless.

I have a friend that has a smaller pool with the system that drives the water so you can do laps without moving. Kinda cool if you plan on exercising in the pool. The other thing is the smaller the pool the easier it is to heat so you can use it more of the year.



answers from Dallas on

We have had a 26,000 gallon pool for quite some time (20 years maybe) , it is the best investment EVER! We have it in a heart shape with a huge tanning ledge where two people can lay side by side and dramatic stairs near the bottom shape of the right side of the heart shape , it was great for little ones to play in & mom to sit right by them. With a diving board & 8 ft deep end at the top of the right side heart curve. The left side of the heart shape was the shallow end with a seat right in the middle for someone to sit and face the dramatic stairs in the shallow end & converse. My three girls, now grown have enjoyed it throughly, the birthday parties were always at the house accomodated about 40- 60 kids plus we had a Volleyball net towards the back too behind the pool & a basketball court on the driveway in frt & they would hang out in either area. But the pool EVERYONE loved.
We used a company Blue Haven (hated them) to build it, they contracted EVERYTHING out, so if you "know" people or can look up people in the directory to find to handle the building of it yourself, your better off after you get the required permits of course.
On the pool equipment (pump, motor etc) make sure you do not place it near the house, but towards the back more & away from the pool as far as possible, you may have to run extra PVC pipes, but so worth it for quiet pool enjoyment. The tile, make sure you LOVE it and can live with it.
the floor bottom: I have a white bottom gunite, as the pool water makes it look so clean & relaxing shade of blue. I also had them place tiles on the dramatic stairs on top & sides lined up to bring it in together, less busy, but more of a touch, than just around the whole pool. The cost of having a pool company clean our chlorinated pool once a week is also worth it since it seemed like we spent more money on figuring out what was really needed to keep it looking good & being balanced all the time. Yes I would have loved to have it heated, but the cost from what I have heard is not feasable. We have a separate hot tub house so that works for me.
Good luck on your decision to come up with ideas prior to building it, look as several other people's pool built will help too!



answers from Phoenix on

Our pool is pebbletec which is great on the feet. I remember growing up without pebbletec and swimming for hours and the bottoms of my toes were completely raw. We do have some boulders coming out of the edges which look nice, but they are really a hazard whencoming out of the water. We have all hit our heads on them. If you want something fancy, I would limit it to one area. Also near our stairs we have one really large stair with an umbrella hole in it, so its great to sit under while the kids are swimming. Our pool cleaning guy said to steer clear of the salt for the same reason someone else had mentioned, it ruins the pool deck. Lastly, we have a mesh fence which I love. It is not as intrusive as an iron fence and it can easily be removed and put back up. Also, there is no way for the kids to climb the fence, there is no where to hold on with their feet. Plus it will never rust.



answers from Dallas on

We have a low-chlorine system, which is really nice, but I've heard that saltwater is great. A lot of people are converting their chlorine systems to saltwater these days.

You definitely should get a pool fence and an automatic cleaner. A spa is also really nice, because you can use it year-round. Nothing like being in the hot tub in the dead of winter, with steam rising off the water!

Ours is kind of a kidney shape, and is not deep enough for a diving board. So far, I don't care about not having a diving board, but our kids are only 3 and 5 - they just jump off the side.

One really trivial thing - I wish ours had colored plaster! You can get the plaster either colored or painted blue, and it looks SO gorgeous. It makes such a difference compared to white plaster. But like I said, that's pretty trivial!

Best of luck to you!



answers from Dallas on

We have a salt water pool and I LOVE it. It doesn't irritate your eyes when you swim and you skin feels really nice. Ours is an older pool so it is just white plaster. I have friends who have put pools in and I love the colored pebble type bottoms. The pool makes the water look so inviting. She also has the stone edge which I really like over my old style cement edge. The other thing I really like about her pool is the tanning ledge. If you have little ones it is a great place for them to walk around and you can lay in the water with them which helps you feel cooler as well. The other big issue would be to have a slide or a diving board. We have a slide and the kids love it, but they also like my friends diving board. Having a pool is my salvation in the summer when it is so hot.

The only bummer is the maintenance. I would highly recommend hiring a company to come out and do this for you.

Hope you are getting your questions answered.




answers from Dallas on

We have an in ground chlorine pool. We also have a child proof fence which I HIGHLY recommend. What do I hate? Maintenance and it is not heated. I like my water warm so it is usually July or August before I get in it. I have two children under two and it is hard for me to watch both of them in the pool because they have zero fear of the water. I keep puddle jumpers on them and it is still hard to manage them. You need a shaded area because even in the water in August it is hot. It also keeps the kids out of the sun a little if you can keep them in the shade. An auto vac is the way to go to keep it clean. I have heard that salt water is the way to go and we are thinking about it. Overall, I would not miss the pool if it were gone. It is nice to have, but with two kids I just dont have the time to enjoy it. Maybe when they are older we will enjoy it more.


answers from Jacksonville on

Depends on what you will mostly be using the pool for... but ours is smaller (so not so great for big pool parties, but just fine for one or two of the kids' friends to be here) and it's right off our covered patio. We had a screen installed that connects to the house, so when I go out the french doors from the family room I am "in the pool area". The screen is wonderful. Expensive, and more so the bigger you have to have (hence a smaller pool rather than a "pool party" size pool would work better for screening), but wonderful. Our friends' pool isn't screened, and while it is bigger and warms earlier in the season than ours (screens do filter out some of the sunlight/heat), the kids are constantly swatting at horseflies there. Here, they aren't an issue. It also keeps out falling leaves/pine straw, so cleaning is not a big deal. Also, with a screen, the kids hardly ever need to put on sun block. Which is great if you don't like putting all those chemicals on your kid, (and I don't) but it also cuts down on the work to keep the pool sparkling, because all that stuff (including sweat, lol) comes off in the water and has to be filtered out.
The polaris vacuum (love that) takes care of anything that does get in there (leaves from my potted plants, the occasional frog, pieces of foam off of old noodles, etc). As for a pool man... with a screen and auto-vacuum, it really isn't that much work. The vacuum has a tail with a scrubber, so I rarely even have to scrub with the brush. (only if I've been neglectful on keeping the chlorine feeder filled, lol). You just can't neglect it and do NOTHING. Once it "turns" then it is a TON of work to get it back to "normal". Once a week doses of pool shock and keeping the chorinator filled (automatic chlorine tablet feeder built into the filter system) is really all I have to do. Sometimes add a little baking soda (ph balance). That's pretty much it.

We don't have a deep end either. Both ends are shallow and it's deeper in the middle (only 6 feet). So the kids can be on either end and throw pool footballs back and forth or play volleyball or whatever.

What do I hate? That despite our backyard being REALLY shallow, we didn't go ahead and opt to make the pool just a tiny bit wider. (It runs lengthwise along the back of our home). When the kids jump in from the sides they look close to hitting sometimes (even though they really aren't--it is just an illusion b/c of the angles).. and it unnerves me sometimes. And when they want to race doing laps, if it were a bit wider, the pool vacuum hose wouldn't be as much of an issue.
I'd say, don't go narrower than 15 or 16 feet.


answers from Dallas on

My best friends pool is salt water - LOVE it - and it has a jacuzzi. The pool is a kidney bean shape and the jacuzzi is an oval that fits nicely in the curve. It's so great to go back and forth from the cold water of the pool into the hottub. She has blue lights all around the pool and it's great at night. The hot tub is big enough for 8 people, so the couples get in and she puts buckets of cold beer around it. It's very relaxing. She has an outdoor tv that you can see from the hottub, so, its everybodys favorite place to watch the Rangers and Mavs. If I were putting in a pool, that's what I would want.



answers from Dallas on

From all my experience with real estate appraisal and homeowners with pools, I suggest:

A gunite pool - stay away from vinyl. A spa attached to the pool is best if you can afford it.

Flagstone coping around the edge. Red brick or tile is so 1980's.

You might want to check with your city when you apply for the permit if they even allow diving pools. Also check with your homeowner's insurance how this will affect your premiums (and how they view diving pools).

When selecting the pool deck surround choose a material that does not absorb heat. Also, walk on it with your bare feet first before installing it. Some pebbles are sharp!

There is no difference between conventional and saltwater pools when it comes to appraised value.


answers from Dallas on

The house we bought a few years back had a pool and hot tub. While it's pretty to look at, I DO NOT like the Austin Stone that is on the edges of the pool. It scratches the kids legs and snags/tears swim suits.

Glen Bullard Pools built one for us in 1992 and a friend had one built by them in 1995. They did a terrific job on both pools. I'd recommend them anyday. We liked the inset benches in the deep end so that the kids could get out to dive but also we could sit on them on a hot day.

Enjoy you pool!

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