Choosing the Right Surround for Your Pool
The swimming pool surround has become a design factor that can alter the look of any pool area.
Not so long ago, many pool builders offered a standard meter of brick paving with any in-ground pool; and that was what you got, unless you wanted a larger paved area for entertaining, in which case you paid proportionately more.
Homeowners who could afford it started a trend for tiled surrounds which were admired and aspired to in some circles. The more expensive natural stone surfaces, like marble, travertine and granite, can look magnificent, but are expensive and should not be polished or it may become slippery and potentially dangerous.
Over the years, other popular types of tile have included terrazzo, slasto and both cement-based tiles and clay quarry tiles.
As environmental issues have been aligned with daily living, there has been a growing tendency to build pools that look more natural. Simulated stone tiles quickly made their mark and have been popular ever since. Manufactured in molds taken from stone, tiles, pavers and flagstones are available in a huge range of colors from unpolished grey granite to yellow mountain sandstone, all with the texture and feel of the real material.
As the demand for lookalike stone surrounds has grown, manufacturers have responded by producing copings and bull-nosed tiles specifically for pool edges. These edgings may also be used for patios and steps adjacent to the pool.
Rocks, both natural and man-made, are included in many contemporary pool designs, in the form of features and rockeries along the water’s edge. Real rock is often mixed with fake materials, to create a unique and interesting picture.
Wood is another natural material favored around the pool. Timber decking is particularly popular and practical when building on a slope in the garden, and may be used to align the pool deck with the level of the floor of the house. It may also be used with great success in conjunction with other materials including tiles, brick pavers and rocks. Various timber types may be used, but hardwoods will last longer, and wear better, than most softwoods, including ordinary pine.
Some 21st century, cement-based products may also be used successfully around swimming pools. For instance, a proprietary color hardener which is floated into wet concrete, may be used together with a color release agent to imprint various patterns into the pool surround. Another colored, cement-based product, which dries rock-hard and does not shrink, may be plastered thickly and used in conjunction with these products, made by some companies.
It is clear that traditional brick-paved and tiled pools have remained popular over the decades. This is not surprising since they are stylish and amply suitable for the full range of pool types. Both materials are ideal for adjacent patios and may be used right up to the edge of the water.
There appears to be a current trend for pools which are raised just above ground level, rather than vein completely in-ground, or above-ground, as a pond or fountain feature might be. The raised section is often tiled to form a surround which can double as a seat. This is attractive and practical, cutting down on excavation.
Another trend is planting grass right up to the edge of the coping. Sometimes a very narrow surround is included in the design.
Timber decks remain trendy, although a more sophisticated option it to combine the lumber with other materials.