Inground Pool Features

Inground Pool Features

water features
Water Features

Water features have an amazing ability to transform an already amazing pool. They give your pool a focal point, create or enhance ambiance, and can be built to suit any style — tropical resort, romantic oasis, elegant escape, or family fun zone.

Talk to your local builder about how water features fit into your dream pool plan. Together, you’ll work closely to design a water feature, or combination of features, that will take your pool theme to the next level.


Waterfalls add a touch of breathtaking mystery and romance — especially when they’re hiding a grotto.

Sheer Water Walls

Sheer water walls can give a sophisticated, modern edge to any poolscape.


Pool fountains give an elegant touch, whether they’re detached or splashing into your pool.

Jets and Bubblers

Deck jets and bubblers add a whimsical flair, making your pool even more fun.

Spillovers Spas and Hot Tubs

Spillover spas connect your hot tub and pool with drama and excitement.

Add a water feature (or two or three) to your pool and, suddenly, it becomes something more. More elegant. More exotic. More romantic. More fun. More than just a pool.

pool finishes
Pool Finishes

Today's pool owners have many reliable and beautiful swimming pool finish options available to them.  From the straightforward simplicity of standard white plaster to the rainbow of multi-colored pebble finishes, and a spectrum of options between, the choices can be exciting - and also somewhat intimidating without reliable information. Which finish you choose will depend on the look and feel that you want for your pool.

With so many finish options offered by today's quality pool-finish specialists, it's understandable that savvy customers should want to explore the specific benefits and drawbacks inherent in the various surface products.  

To help guide you through the process of choosing the best finish for your home's pool or spa, we'll cover some of the relevant information you should keep in mind as you discuss your choices with your designer or pool surface contractor. We have also made recommendations below regarding the various options available. 

What is important to remember is that your pool finish is constantly submerged in water - meaning that it will be exposed to varying water chemistry conditions over time, especially if the pool is maintained improperly. This constant exposure to pool water, treated with a variety of powerful chemicals, creates a dynamic environment where mineral content of the surface and water are constantly interacting.  This interaction between water and the surface is unavoidable and in many cases will cause the appearance of the surface to change, either slowly over time, or in some rare instances, far more rapidly.

Pool Tile

Swimming pool tile is made in a different process than the tile that you would use as flooring or roofing options. Pool tiles offer a customized look in an array of colors, designs, and textures. If pool tile is your choice in a pool finish for your design or remodel, you will be happy to know that in addition to a rainbow of color choices, you can expand your options even further with a pattern or design. The biggest advantages to pool tile are its durability and low maintenance. Aside from regular maintenance, this material is built to last with relatively little care. Mosaics are an option with swimming pool tile because of the materials versatility and durability. Some pool owners choose to enjoy mosaics with dolphins, turtles or tropical fish created with colored tiles to add aesthetic elements to the swimming pool. Pool tile allows the pool owner to customize their interior pool finish with very little maintenance and care.

Pool Liner

Vinyl swimming pool owners know that replacing the pool liner is part of ownership. Replacing the pool liner depends on the use of the swimming pool and how well it is maintained. Proper pool chemistry and maintenance can extend the life of your pool liner for many years. If you are considering a pool remodel, updating your liner is a great way to give your backyard a whole new look. Vinyl pool liners used to only come in a few different design and color options. Today, there is an extensive variety of colors and patterns for both inground and above ground pools. From the water line to the very bottom, liner designs can add texture, depth and personality to your pool.

Surface Finishes

From the days of the simplicity of standard white plaster to today with the array of multi-colored surface finishes, the choices can be exciting. With so many finish options offered, it is logical that pool owners should want to explore the specific benefits of each pool finish option.

Pool Plaster

Standard white plaster is the tried and true pool and hot tub surface finish. White plaster has been around as long as people have been building swimming pools. However, a myriad of pool plaster color and texture options that have come into the market in recent years. Pool plaster at its root is a simple combination of white cement, white marble aggregate and water. It makes for an economical choice that will give you that classic swimming pool look. However, you may want to reflect the colors of nature in your pool or hot tub with tinted pool plaster. With proper water care and maintenance, you can achieve beautiful, consistent, lasting colors with high quality pigments for a unique, enduring pool plaster finish.

Aggregate Effects

Pool plaster has evolved over time to include aggregates and other stones to add customizable effects, colors and textures. The highly innovative addition to the palette of surface options has been the use of special colored ceramic aggregate products. These aggregates are a very specialized form of ceramic-coated sand that comes in a variety of pre-mixed plaster products. Aggregates also offer the look of a myriad of pebbles worked into a pool surface. Over the past decade, pebble surfaces have increased dramatically in popularity and come in a broad range of colors and color combinations. One of the most popular reasons for this relatively low maintenance type of pool finish is the slight texture that makes for a slip-proof surface. With aggregate pool finish, your pool will be completely unique: the patterns of texture and color, the specific hue of your chosen color. Aggregate pool finishes are unique because the color of the finish becomes richer over time. Aggregate pool finishes are noted for striking beauty and long-lasting durability. With proper water chemistry and maintenance and aggregate pool finish will stay beautiful, sturdy and last for decades. 


If you’re building a vinyl or gunite inground pool, talk to your local builder about adding custom built-ins to your pool design. The flexibility of gunite pools gives you the most options for customization and creativity, so be sure to talk with your builder about your ideas early in the pool-planning process. Here are some ideas:

Custom Entry

If you’re looking for more oomph than standard steps and ladders can offer, you have a lot of options. Steps can be built into a corner, or can span a much larger area, creating a multi-tiered oasis for sitting and splashing. Another choice to consider is the beach entry — a gentle, sloping walk-in entry that feels like walking into the ocean. Beach entries can take up a lot of space, so, depending on the size of your pool, a combination of the two may be ideal.

In-Water Bench and Table

Built-in underwater benches and chairs offer a cool, relaxing spot to sit a while, and can be outfitted with hydrotherapy jets for added enjoyment. Pair with an in-water table, and you’ve got and ideal place for reading, snacking and playing games — just be sure to build a table that is umbrella-compatible so you can keep this area shady and comfortable.

Tanning Ledge

Tanning ledges are typically about 6 inches deep and built into the perimeter of your pool. Also called a “Baja Bench”, they provide a large, shallow area where toddlers can play, and where everyone else can relax or tan.


A grotto is an imitation cave built onto the side of your pool. They can be built out of natural boulders, but are usually created from artificial rock — and are at their best when tucked away behind a waterfall. When combined with an underwater bench, a grotto makes a magical water fort for kids — or a romantic hiding place for adults.

Swim-Up Bar

Swim-up bars are typically built with underwater seating, and are a popular addition with those who do a lot of entertaining. How you incorporate one depends a lot on your overall poolscape. You can build a swim-up bar that’s surrounded by water and strictly for swimmers. Or, you can build it along the pool edge to be used by people both in and out of the pool — these are usually built adjacent to, or in conjunction with, a sunken patio bar.

recreational add-ons
Recreational Add-Ons

If you live to entertain, imagine your pool area as a natural gathering place for friends and family: picture yourself barbecuing in a complete outdoor kitchen while the family plays a game of water volleyball in a beautiful backyard pool. Envision resort-like features such as a swim up bar with underwater stools or a beach area where one can tan or small children can play. The fun is just beginning when you add a few products to your backyard paradise!

Floaties — even giant pool noodles and inflatable islands — are just the beginning. Check with your local professional pool retailer and you’ll find a number of specially designed pool games that come equipped with balls, baskets, clubs, holes and nets. You’ll also find a variety of water exercise equipment options like kickboards, barbells and weight belts, as well as webbed hand and footwear for resistance.

But if you really want to take the fun up a notch, consider including these features in your pool design:


A swimming pool waterslide integrated into the pool landscape gives you the feel of a water park in your backyard! With endless fun for children and adults, a water slide is the ultimate addition to any pool. Modern swimming pool slides come in a variety of sizes. Some provide a straight, quick drop into the swimming pool, while others offer a gentle curve to the left or right. There are even slides that are longer and spin into corkscrew turns. It's possible to build slides into other pool features such as rocks and landscaping. Whether a gentle, sloping slide into your refreshing water retreat, or a twisting slide through a rocky mountainside, entering your swimming pool will be an experience in itself. Any pool slide must drop into water deep enough to be safe for the swimmer. Many waterslides require professional installation to meet safety guidelines established by municipal building codes.

Diving Boards

Diving Boards can be added in a variety of styles to complement your pool area. Diving boards have changed quite a bit since the first all-wood spring board over 75 years ago. Today a variety of beautiful, natural colors and unique board shapes that blend into your poolscape are available. Plus, cutting-edge concepts like two-for-one combination diving board and jump platforms are also available.

Splash Pads

Splash Pads are an interactive water playground, add a unique and fun twist to any poolscape and double as a backyard water feature. All you need is a small patch of space and you’re well on your way to being the envy of all the neighborhood kids.


Create a Mood and More

At its most basic, lighting is necessary to make your pool area safe when the sun goes down. But why stick to just basic? A well-designed lighting plan is more than illuminating — it’s inspired! Your local builder can help you choose the right lighting styles and colors to create a mood and showcase your entire poolscape design.

Inspired pool lighting can extend your poolside entertaining well into the evening. By using a combination of low-profile lights around the pool’s perimeter and colorful underwater and fiber optic lights in the pool, you can provide subtle poolside illumination for minglers and a dynamic display for swimmers. Here are some ideas for how you can light up your poolscape:

Low-profile Lights

Low-profile lights can accent paths and walkways while providing muted accent lighting.

Spotlights and Floodlights

Spotlights can be used to draw attention to specific pool, landscape or patio features. Floodlights are used for general lighting around common areas. Motion floodlights can be added for safety.


Up-lights highlight landscape or pool features from below.

Underwater Lighting

Underwater lights make night swimming safe and can create a colorful pool environment. Fiber optic lights add colorful, whimsical drama to your pool area.

pool heaters and heat pumps
Pool Heaters and Heat Pumps

The addition of a pool is accompanied with the expectation of added comfort in your backyard. However, we understand cooler weather can alter these results. Adding a heater to your pool can extend the swimming pool season past the typical summer months and into the cooler weather. If you live in a warmer climate, a pool heater can keep your pool running all year! By purchasing these top quality, certified heaters or heat pumps, you can create a resort-like pool just outside your door.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps require little installation and can save you money. Operating at 5 to 6 times the efficiency of a standard gas, oil or electric pool heater, a heat pump can show big monetary rewards in areas with high natural or propane gas costs. To run this efficiently, the heat pump extracts the heat from the air, intensifies the heat with a compressor, delivers the heat to the water, and exhausts the cooler air out the top of the unit. Because it uses the warm ambient air temperature to do the work, it is a very efficient way to heat water.

Rheem offers four heat pumps models. Choose from compact, classic, quiet, or specialty heat pumps differing with their unique features such as size, controls, CoP, heat exchangers, and compressors.

Gas Heaters

Gas heaters will require more initial labor, including running gas lines or installing a propane tank, but the system will heat your water within hours after turning on. This will have your pool up and running in no time where other systems could take days. Gas heaters pump water through a series of heated tubes, heating the water and passing back to the pool. The heat entering the water is produced by the gas burners and are not dependent on air temperature to function. These systems will continue to run properly instead of being disabled due to colder weather. Gas heaters will lower high electricity costs and save you money, especially where gas prices are low. 

When purchasing a gas heater, remember to research the difference in features including water connections, indoor or outdoor, natural or propane gas, and heat exchangers. From there, you will have three model options for your Rheem gas heater: digital, digital low NOx, and electric spa.

Talk to your local pool professional to determine which model is best for your home and needs. If you are unsure about installation, leave it to the professionals. If installed incorrectly, you may be looking at future repair expenses.

To view these products, visit our featured manufacturer, Rheem, for more details. 

energy efficiency
Energy Efficiency

Make Your Pool Green!

Pool owners LOVE green pools. Crazy statement if the “green” you're thinking about is unclean, algae-filled water. But when “green” means eco-friendly, a “green” pool is something homeowners should aspire to have in their yards.

Reduce Costs

You’ll save money. Energy-efficient pool appliances always pay for themselves in reduced electric bills, and then continue to save money for years to come. By choosing pool equipment such a variable speed pump or pool cover, and by establishing good habits like lowering the pool heater when not in use and proper preventative maintenance, costs to a pool owner can be greatly decreased.

Cuts down on energy waste and saves water

Almost all of a pool’s heat loss—about 95 percent—occurs at the surface, mostly through evaporation to the air and radiation to the sky. By using a pool cover to prevent heat and water loss, the amount of chemical water treatment will also be reduced. A multispeed or energy efficient pool pump can also significantly reduce the power consumption of a swimming pool by over 65%.

Tax incentives and rebates

Did you know that some states offer tax incentives and rebates for homeowners that purchase energy efficient pool appliances? Check to see what incentives and rebates are available in your state.

Energy Efficiency – How?

With a combination of pool products and good preventative maintenance habits, you can improve the heating and energy efficiency of your swimming pool. Variable drive pool pumps reduce utility costs.

Pump Efficiency

You can save energy and maintain a comfortable swimming pool temperature by using a smaller, higher efficiency pump and by operating it less. On average, an energy efficient pump will use 30-45% less energy than that of a standard pump. The difference over a season can be immense. Pumps now come in two-speed, four-speed, and variable-speed models, so you can turn the speed down for regular daily use saving a lot of energy, and use higher settings for more thorough, less frequent cleanings. New energy-efficient pumps also move the water more efficiently for further savings. Since pumps circulate the water to keep it clean, the better they work, the less a filter has to work.Visit to see how much money you could save by switching to an IntelliFlo variable speed pump.


Pentair Water Pool and Spa® was the first to introduce variable speed technology with their IntelliFlo® pumps over 5 years ago. Today, IntelliFlo continues to lead the way, out-selling all other variable speed brands combined. Their ultra-efficient permanent magnet motor design reduces noise and vibration for greater efficiency and longer pump life. 8 programmable speed settings ensure minimum flow requirements are being used for every pool task – filtering, heating, cleaning, spa-jets and more – to optimize performance and minimize energy use. In fact, with IntelliFlo technology, pool owners can save $620 to $1,360 each year compared to other pumps.

With the Hayward EcoStar family of pumps, money flows back into your pocket. EcoStar is the industry’s most energy efficient variable speed pump, thanks to a super-efficient permanent magnet, totally enclosed fan cooled (TEFC) motor and industry leading hydraulic design. Tests prove that EcoStar can save you up to 90% on energy costs compared to ordinary single speed pumps. EcoStar matches pump flow to a pool's needs, versus running at full power 100% of the time. It's fully programmable with a self-contained 24-hour clock and up to 8 custom speed and timer functions that allow EcoStar to manage flow throughout the day. Whether used in new construction or aftermarket applications, EcoStar is the perfect choice.

Solar Covers

A solar swimming pool cover, also known as a "solar blanket" or "pool blanket," does more than a standard pool cover. Not only does it keep evaporation to a minimum, keep out debris, and reduce chemical consumption; it also helps heat the water of your pool. You can swim in warmer water and extend your swimming season if you use a solar pool cover.

Solar pool covers can reduce pool heating costs 50 to 70 percent. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, they can also reduce the amount of water that needs to be added to a pool by 30 to 50 percent. They can reduce the pool's chemical use by 35 to 60 percent, and reduce the time and effort needed to keep a pool clean.

The POOLSTYLE solar cover is specifically designed to extend your swimming season while retaining heat and reducing chemical and water evaporation. They are available in multiple shapes and sizes to fit every type of swimming pool and most are backed with either a 4 or 6-year warranty. 

Water temperature efficiency

In addition to a pool cover, there are other ways to help keep the cost of heating your pool to a minimum while you still enjoy a comfortable water temperature. Make use of solar energy by locating your pool in the sunniest part of your yard. If possible, screen it from the cooling, prevailing wind with existing structures such as the house or garage, or add a solidly built fence as a windbreak. The water temperature you desire for your swimming pool not only affects the size of the pool's heater, but also your heating costs if use a gas or heat pump pool heater. Heating your pool with solar energy is by far the most energy-efficient method. If you buy a gas or electric heater, check the yellow-and-black Energy Guide label on the appliance. It shows relative energy-efficiency according to tests by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Pool water temperatures typically range from 78ºF to 82ºF. The energy consumption for each degree rise in temperature will cost 10%–30% more in energy costs, depending on your location. In warmer climates, this percentage is higher because of the relatively low cost of heating a pool at 78ºF.


Buy automatic timers for both your pool heater and pump. This will allow you to run them in several short cycles during the day, which is more effective than running them once continuously for several hours a day.

Preventative Maintenance

Maintain efficient daily operations. Turn down the pool heater when the pool is not in use and maintain appropriate water temperatures when in use (78°-80° for active swimming, 82°-84° for recreational use). Raising the water temperature just 1°F can costs an additional 10 - 30%, depending on your location. Keep a thermometer in the pool to help determine the temperature that is best for your pool and mark the "comfort settings" on the thermostat dial to avoid accidental overheating. Backwash the pool filter only as much as necessary to avoid wasting water and energy and be sure to keep drain systems clear to allow the free flow of water. By far, the most energy efficient lights you can get for the pool are LED or solar powered.

Energy Efficiency – Not just for pools!

It is also possible to make your hot tub energy efficient. Portable hot tubs are more energy efficient than in-the-ground hot tubs because they are better insulated and usually have covers. If you have a typical portable hot tub, your heater will heat water 10 degrees in about 8 hours. If you use your hot tub once a week, lowering the temperature 3 degrees when not in use will save you approximately 5-10% of your hot tub heating costs; if you use the hot tub less often, your savings could be even greater. Don't run the jets unless you are using your hot tub. The mixture of water and air is great for relaxing the muscles, but it cools the water quickly. hot tub covers are important. Be sure to leave the cover on until you are ready to use your hot tub and replace when you're finished. Remember that the heat that escapes is the heat you must pay to replace.

Energy Efficiency Quick Tips

To support your efforts to make your pool and hot tub as economical and eco-friendly as possible, below are some changes you can make that help conserve energy and water while reducing your operating costs.

  • Reduce heat loss by using a pool cover. Your energy savings can be 50-70%.
  • Fencing, hedges and landscaping that shelter your pool from prevailing winds will further reduce heat loss.
  • If you use your pool only on weekends, reduce your heater or heat pump thermostat settings by 8-10º during the week.
  • When leaving for vacation for more than a week, unless freezing temperatures are expected, turn off the pool heater or heat pump.
  • According to the American Red Cross, the most healthful swimming temperature is 78º F. Reducing your heater or heat pump thermostat to maintain a 78º or lower temperature will also help conserve energy.
  • Reduce pump speed to reduce energy use. A slower pump reduces power consumption.
  • For good water maintenance, circulate water through a filter only once per day. Additional cycles tend to waste energy.
  • Run your pool’s filtration system during off-peak hours when electricity demand is lower – generally between 8pm and 10am.
  • Keep intake grates clear of debris. Clogged drains require the pump to work harder.
  • To obtain maximum filtration and energy efficiency, clean your filter regularly.
  • New variable drive pool pumps slash utility costs.
saltwater chlorination
Saltwater Chlorination

Though traditional chlorine pools have been a suburban backyard staple for several decades, many homeowners are now deciding to switch to saltwater swimming pools. In addition to being a healthy alternative for your skin, salt water swimming pools have several advantages over chlorine pools, including fewer chemicals, lower cost of upkeep, and minimal maintenance.

How Saltwater Chlorination Works

Before we get to the advantages let's take a quick look at how a saltwater vs. chlorinated pool works.

First of all, you need to know that a saltwater pool actually has chlorine.  The key difference is that in a standard chlorinated pool, chlorine is added manually on an ongoing basis to dissolve in the water.  In a saltwater pool, a regenerative process creates the chlorine. A saltwater purification system provides on-site production of the sanitizer necessary to maintain water in a safe, healthy and algae-free condition. Sanitizer is produced automatically, within the water itself, and involves no handling, storage or adding of chemicals to the water.  A saltwater sanitizing system, properly sized for its application, will eliminate the need to purchase sanitizing chemicals such as pool chlorine.  

First, the water in the pool is converted to saltwater, creating a mild saline solution.  In fact, the concentration of salt in the water of a saltwater pool is about 1/10th to 1/12th as salty as the ocean, so it is very mild.  The salt used is standard sodium chloride.  That’s the same stuff you have in your salt shaker at home.

Next, a chlorine generator is added to the pool’s filtration system.  This is simply a device that the water passes through as it circulates throughout the day.  This is where the chlorination happens.  When pool salt is dissolved in pool water and then subjected to simple electrolysis the chloride portion of the salt (sodium chloride) is transformed into an effective sanitizer, which has the ability to oxidize (kill) bacteria, virus, algae and other such radicals which would otherwise flourish in the water. The chlorine generator actually uses the salt to produce a chlorine gas that dissolves into the water.  This is what keeps the water clean.  This process is reversible, so it does not consume the salt, which is simply used over and over again. However, if you don’t clean the cells in chlorine generators, those calcified and corroded cells will produce little chlorine. When that chlorine breaks down it turns into salt.  That’s the beauty of the system.  The process just keeps going in a cycle.

Advantages to Saltwater Pools

Saltwater pools are on the rise as an alternative to traditional chlorine-based pools. Aside from being a more natural option, saltwater pools have a number of advantages. They don't require you to buy, store, or handle a lot of chemicals. These pools also need less routine maintenance. Although they are more expensive upfront, they pay for themselves after a few years because of reduced running costs. If you are thinking about installing a pool in your home, you should consider getting a saltwater swimming pool.


One of the first advantages of saltwater swimming pools is the level of comfort you experience. Salt is softer on your skin than chlorine. Also, chlorine has the tendency to cause red eyes, itchy skin, and discolored hair. If you use plan to use your saltwater swimming pool on a regular basis, you won't have to suffer any of those symptoms of chlorine.


Another advantage of saltwater swimming pools is the lowered use of chemicals. People who own saltwater pools don't have to store and handle toxic chemicals on a regular basis. This means that a saltwater swimming pool is more environmentally safe. You also won't have to suffer the odor of chlorine anymore. The levels of chlorine in the water are low while still being effective. This also means that you won't have to deal with dry skin, green hair, and fading swimming suits.


Lower maintenance is also one of the advantages of saltwater swimming pools. They virtually clean themselves and require much less attention than pools that just use chlorine. The chlorine generator converts salt into chlorine, so you don't have to keep a constant check on the water sanitation. Algae does not grow as rapidly in saltwater pools because of the low stabilizer levels. Stabilizer is a chemical added to offset the harshness of chlorine. Because saltwater pools don't have the chemical chlorine, a stabilizer isn't required.


Over time, you will save money with a saltwater pool. While the best pool options are initially a lot more expensive to put in, they are a more cost-effective system in the end. Converting your traditional pool to a saltwater pool is not terribly expensive. Even with the extra expenses, you will make up for that loss after about two years. For many, this is one of the advantages. Chlorine is very expensive, and as compared, the amount of salt you'll use during a year is very inexpensive.

Health Benefits

Salt is a lot softer on skin, hair and eyes then chlorine. Chlorine as a chemical form consists of added chemicals to help stabilize the product, these additives cause irritation. This means there are many health benefits of a saltwater pool versus a chlorine pool, including: No red irritated eyes, no itchy, irritated skin, they are less harsh on your hair and they are far more suitable for asthma and allergy sufferers.


Saltwater systems can be used with any body of water-- whether it's a small hot tub for the home or a large commercial pool. In fact, saltwater purification systems are easy to install and can even be completed by the homeowner.