Your guide to swimming pools

When the summer sun starts shining, little else beats taking a refreshing dip in a swimming pool

Story by: David Renwick
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When asked to jot down a list of dream home ‘must-haves’, there’s a good chance most people will put ‘swimming pool’ at or near the top. After all, could there be a more appealing outdoor feature or a better gathering place during the warmer parts of the year?

If you’re considering installing a swimming pool, or perhaps just interested in what goes into maintaining one, we’ve assembled this comprehensive guide.

Construction: Concrete and fibreglass

Unless you want an inflatable pool in the backyard, you’re going to have to choose between either concrete or fibreglass. So, what are the benefits of each?

Fibreglass

More common nowadays thanks to improved manufacturing processes, fibreglass pools have a lot to offer. For one, designers put a lot of work into the look and feel of fibreglass designs. What’s more, they’re easier to clean and maintain than their concrete counterparts.

If you’re not a fan of the cold, you’ll also appreciate that fibreglass pools take less time to warm up and they’ll stay warm for longer.

The limited shape and size options for fibreglass pools may be a turnoff for some.

Concrete

Unlike fibreglass, you can pick nearly any shape or design when working with concrete – quite useful if you’re working with a difficult site. These pools will also last for a long time if built properly.

However, they can take much longer to build and are likely to cost more. Maintenance can also be more troublesome, as the porous nature of concrete leaves it more susceptible to algae.

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Salt water vs chlorine

A debate as old as time itself. Well, not really, but it’s a fairly contentious one nonetheless. Here’s what you need to know.

Salt water pools

It’s important to note that salt water pools still include chlorine – it’s just that the level is usually lower and it’s added to the pool in a different way. Instead of managing the chemicals manually, a water chlorinator or salt water generator creates it.

Pros: No finicky chemical maintenance, plus your skin won't dry out as easily as there’s less chlorine.Cons: Higher upfront cost with the salt water generator. Draining and cleaning once per year.

Chlorine pools

Cheaper than a salt water pool (at least in terms of the upfront costs), chlorine pools may end up being more expensive in the long run thanks to maintenance requirements. You’ll need to constantly monitor the pH balance, alkalinity and calcium content.

In most cases, this means taking a sample of the water to your local pool supplier and asking them to recommend a list of chemicals.

Pros: Cheaper upfront – no need to purchase a salt water generator.

Cons: Constant chemical maintenance.

Understanding pool heating and heat retention

If you want to keep your pool at a comfortable temperature, there are two options. One is a Heat Pump Pool Heater (HPPH), which basically does what the name implies. You set the temperature, and the unit then turns on intermittently to manage this temperature.

For greater efficiency, you can use a solar heating system. While not as reliable as a HPPH in terms of heating consistency, you’ll definitely cut back on the power bill. You could also use these two systems side by side to get the best of both worlds.

Pool blankets are another useful addition, helping to prevent heat loss, evaporation and dirt or debris getting into the pool. There’s also another advantage to pool blankets – many blankets can actually support the weight of a child, helping to lower the chance of an accident by covering the surface of the water when it’s not in use.

Pool safety legislation

At the end of 2016, the New Zealand Parliament passed new, improved laws regarding pool safety. Along with a new compulsory requirement for all pools to be inspected and certified every three years, the laws adjusted fencing requirements.

So long as children can’t reasonably be expected to access a pool, there’s no need to fence every side. For example, an infinity pool or pool facing a cliff face won’t need to be fenced on the inaccessible side. What’s more, spa pools no longer need to be fenced as long as they include lockable, child resistant covers and are at least 760mm above ground.

Building and Housing Minister at the time, Dr Nick Smith, explained that the change was made to make the requirements “more practical and enforceable”.

For future pool owners, this means much more flexibility when it comes to design, layout and location.

Our pick of the top pool installers

Frontier PoolsFor all aspects of concrete swimming and spa pool construction, look no further than Frontier Pools. This company also specialises in pool renovation. More

Morgan Pools: Timeless, elegant and extremely strong reinforced concrete swimming pools, for people who demand the very best for their family home. More

Executive Pools: This is a company with three decades experience creating and servicing award winning, custom designed concrete pools and spas. More

Narellan Pools: Narellan Pools have 45 years experience supplying and installing high quality, in-ground fibreglass swimming pools. More

Auckland Inground Pools: Auckland Inground Pools offer a number of options for pool installation, whether it's residential or commercial. More

Need more project advice?

If you’re planning a home project, see what’s new in Trends Home, Kitchen and Bathroom. We’ve put together handy advice articles, projects with inspiring photos and much more. You can access these areas using the navigation bar at the top of the page.

Dec 06, 2017

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