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July 2, 2012

Swimming Pools: Everything You Need to Know From Style, Safety & Cost

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An in-ground pool is the ultimate in backyard upgrades. If you've always wanted one, now may be the time. Prices have fallen during the recession by up to 30 percent. Nevertheless, it remains a big investment, so it's important to make smart choices with regard to size, shape, site selection, and type.

Size and shape depend upon your needs, budget, available area, and design wishes. Swim spas are small pools (some only 10 to 14 feet long) that produce a manmade current against which you can swim in place. Lap pools are typically narrow but require a sizeable yard. Some are as long as an Olympic pool (25 meters) and are meant for training or exercise. Recreational pools are usually shallow at one end and deep enough for diving (9 to 11 ft.) at the other. Typically rectangular, they come in many sizes. Freeform shapes are also available and are often preferred because they blend well into the backyard landscape.

Many pool owners prefer to install their pool close to the kitchen or family room. That provides ready access to the house and makes it easier to bring food and drinks out and to clean up afterwards. It's also easier to keep an eye on the pool from the house. That said, a somewhat secluded pool has the feel of a vacation getaway - without ever pulling out of the driveway. As long as the pool is connected to the house with a smooth, well-lit path and has a sizable pool deck around it for outdoor furniture and a grill, no one will complain. A pool cabana, of course, allows for nearby dressing and showering.

Pool Construction Methods

The majority of today's pools are built of vinyl, fiberglass, or concrete (called either wet shotcrete or Gunite, depending upon how it's mixed and applied). Poured concrete pools and concrete block pools have fallen out of favor. A plaster finish is troweled over shotcrete or Gunite surfaces.

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