Choose the Perfect Surround For Your Pool
The materials used as the surround for your pool affect not only what the pool area as a whole looks like, but also how the area may be used. For instance, if you plan to entertain around the pool, you will want a hard surface which is large enough for chairs and tables. If not, you may decide to combine hard and soft landscaping materials to create an aesthetically pleasing visual ambiance.
There are a host of options for the surround for any pool, from timber to marble, tiles to brick, each of which should be carefully considered before the pool is built. In many instances, the surround incorporates the coping around the edge of the pool, with brick paving, tiles and wooden decking extending right to the water’s edge. However, standard precast concrete and terrazzo coping is still available and some brick and simulated stone manufactures also make copings.
Many professional pool builders will include a surround for your pool of brick or some other type of paving in their quotation. If you want a paved or tiled area that is bigger than this, it is best to budget for it when you build. Adding on hard surfaces later often looks like an afterthought.
Important considerations include the need for any surround to be non-slip and for materials to complement those that have been used to build the house or landscape the garden. Also bear in mind that pale colours will tend to create a glare, while dark colours will absorb the heat.
Most commonly used in the form of decking (see picture above), wood is practical and looks attractive. It is particularly useful when building on a slope. When building on flat ground, it is essential to leave a gap between the decking and the earth so that air may circulate.
Various timber types are suitable for decking, although your choice is likely to be determined by availability and possibly by cost. Pine is reasonably priced and widely available, but it is a soft wood and long lengths tend to warp. Balau, a fine-textured wood noted for its strength and durability in hot, humid countries; karri, a tough Australian eucalyptus; and meranti, a versatile Malaysian wood, are all more expensive than pine but well suited for decking. In the USA redwood and Douglas fir are also used, along with a variety of tropical hardwoods. Composite decking (which is of course fake) is becoming increasingly popular.
Wooden railway sleepers may also be used alongside pools to create an on-ground deck, although they are becoming increasingly scarce.
More on timber decking can be found on Wikipedia here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timber_decking
A natural effect can be created if grass is allowed to grow right up to the edge of the pool, especially around a beach pool. A popular trend is to use a single row of tiles or slabs as a coping around the perimetre and then grow grass from this point. This will prevent sand and mud from washing into the water and make it easier to maintain the pool.
Grass around a pool should be mowed regularly and any grass cuttings which blow into the water should be skimmed off the surface before they sink to the bottom.
A practical hardwearing and goodlooking surface, brick paving has established itself as a popular material for pool surrounds. Experts recommend that the ground is thoroughly compacted in 150 mm/6 in layers prior to paving and that the bricks are laid on a base with a minimum of six parts river sand to one part cement. Both concrete and clay bricks may be used, but make sure the colour chosen blends well with existing surfaces including walls, paths and the walls of your house.
Expansion joints should be incorporated where paving exceeds one metre or where it butts up against an existing structure or wall. It is recommended that an expansion joint be provided between the paving and the coping.
Simulated Stone Slabs
There is a wide range of tiles, flagstones and even kerbstones available for use around pools. Popular around natural pools with rockeries and waterfalls, they are manufactured in various colours and finishes from unpolished grey granite to yellow mountain sandstone. They are all manufactured in moulds taken from stone, so have the texture and finish of the real material.
The options in this category are vast and varied and may be used to create just about any effect required, from rural and rustic to sleek and sophisticated. The only issue is that tiles used around a swimming pool should not be glazed or polished or they will become highly dangerous when wet.
Popular types include terracotta quarry tiles made from baked clay; natural slate tiles; fine concrete tiles made to look like terracotta; and marble tiles which, although expensive, are exceptionally hard-wearing and can look magnificent.