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October, 2015

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Which Pool Deck Material is Right for You?

modern pool

Installing a pool means more decisions than just the basin itself. People will spend as much time at the area around the pool as they will swimming in it. This means that choosing the right decking or patio material for your pool deck is a big decision. Here are some of the options that are available to you and the pros can cons for choosing them.

Concrete

Poured concrete is a traditional finish for many pool decks. It was inexpensive and relatively easy to maintain. Concrete has fallen out of favor recently, as it can be hot to walk on with bare feet and it also can crack when exposed to changing weather conditions. Still, it is an inexpensive option and can be tinted with many colors or even stamped or have accent bands added for an individual touch. 

Wood Decking

Wood is a popular decking choice for backyards with or without pools. Wood can be built up around your pool and can be made into any shape or size to fit your needs. It can get slippery when it gets wet, however, so swimmers will need to be careful. Wood is also rather high maintenance. It needs frequently restained and refinished. It can be bought in a variety of types, and many exotic hardwoods can add a unique look to your pool area.

Composite Decking

Composite decking gives you the look and feel of wood with much less maintenance. Composite decks are typically wooden boards wrapped in a coating that will stand up to the elements. It can be coated with gripping paint to hold on to wet feet and does not need to be constantly refinished. Composite decks can be expensive, however, and the color choices are limited unless you paint.

Paving Stones

Paving stones are large concrete slabs that come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. They are placed as individual pieces, so it gives them plenty of room to move around with the weather to prevent cracking. Pavers can be bought in most colors and give you the freedom to choose two or three different colors to create patterns of your choosing.

Unglazed Tile

Similar to paving stones, these small clay alternatives can give a unique southwestern look to your pool area. They are small and put down like any other tile, so some extra work to build a bed for them will be needed for stability. A similar effect can be created with thin stone.

Rubber

This may seem like an odd one, but if you think about it, rubber makes an ideal pool deck surface. Rubber is non-slip, durable and easy to clean up. A few companies are offering rubber pool decking materials that is similar to playground surfacing. It can be made in any design or pattern and comes in a variety of colors.

Whatever you choose, Tampa Bay Pools can help. Check out our different options for your new pool, including pool deck materials and contact us today!

5 Designs for Updating your Pool Area

firebowl pool

Eventually, even something as cool as a swimming pool can eventually lose its charm. When you get tired of the inside of your home, you can repaint the walls or move around the furniture, but what do you do when your pool and pool area have lost their charm? Here are some different pool update ideas to give your outdoor area a fresh look. 

Deck or Pool Resurfacing

Thinking about updating your pool? One of the best ways to do that is to replace that old plaster finish with an updated aggregate finish. Aggregate finishes come in a variety of colors as well as looks that can mimic tile, shells, stones or other materials. While not cheap, this can be a great way to update the look of the pool.

Another thing that can be resurfaced is the deck around the pool. Many different kinds of top coat and paints exist today that can give your old deck a brand new look. These can even help to fill in cracked or splitting boards.

Add Accent Lighting

Another great way to update the look of your pool is to add or update the lighting that is in it. Replace those old inefficient incandescent lights with updated LED lighting. LED lighting can create an entirely new pool atmosphere by adding different colors that accent the pool and the area surrounding it. You can even create color changing effects if you wish. 

Waterline Tile

If you are going to upgrade or resurface your pool deck, why not add a waterline tile to the pool? This can be a great way to change the entire look of the pool area and tie it all together. Use the idea above about LED lighting to add further accents to your waterline tile and customize it to your taste.

Salt Water System

One of the reasons that your pool may have lost its luster is how much time you have to spend treating the water. Traditional chemicals are harsh and expensive. That is why many people are moving away from those chemicals and installing a salt water system.

A salt water system uses the salt to create the chlorine in the water that keeps it clean. Chlorine created this way is much easier on the eyes and skin for swimmers and also means that you don’t have to buy, store and handle those pool chemicals anymore. As an added bonus, salt water pools are easier to maintain. 

Water Features

If you are looking to add something different to your pool area, why not add a water feature? Fountains, waterfalls, scuppers and sprayers are all easy additions to existing pools. They can add some excitement and life into an older pool area and can even be combined with music. They may increase the energy cost of your outdoor area, so be aware that this is not the most cost effective pool update idea.

Contact Tampa Bay Pools to have some life put back in to your pool by adding this or another upgrade today!

Fire Pit Safety Tips for the Whole Family

fire bowl water feature

Nothing beats chasing the chill away from a cool night outside with a fire. Fire pits are a great addition to any backyard or outdoor area. You must always remember that open flames are not something that should be taken lightly, even in a controlled area like a fire pit. Practicing proper fire pit safety can prevent expensive damages and injury. 

Choose Location Carefully

Choosing the location for your fire pit is the first step in making sure that you don’t accidentally have fire anywhere that you don’t want it. Some obvious things to remember are to keep your fire pit away from any structures. Between 10 and 25 feet is a good distance. Never put your fire pit underneath a porch or a deck, as the flames could get high enough to light these on fire. Also remember to keep some paving stones between your pit and the grass or ground that it is sitting on.

Prep the Area

Once you find the ideal location, you are going to want to prep the area for the fire. Clear out anything that might be flammable from the area around the pit. Using five feet as a rule of thumb will be good. This distance should prevent sparks or coals from lighting dry vegetation. If you want, you can pile up an area around the center of the fire with rocks or dirt to ensure that embers won’t be causing any issues.

Lighting the Fire

Put away the lighter fluid. You really don’t need it for lighting your fire pit, and using it can cause a multitude of issues. Keep the lighter fluid in the charcoal grill. Fire pits should be started using kindling and newspaper or one of the starter logs that you can purchase. If you choose to use paper, newspaper is best. You want to twist it up (like the wick of a candle) so you get the longest burn possible. Light it and place it at the bottom of the pile of kindling.

Always remember to check the wind speed and direction before you start your fire. If the wind kicks up, it can blow coals and embers unexpectedly away from your location. If there is some wind, make sure to check that the downwind direction is clear of anything that might catch fire.

Just like you want to stay away from lighter fluid, don’t be tempted to use gasoline or any other flammable liquids, either. Stick to kindling to start your fire. It is much safer in the confines of a fire pit.

Never Leave the Site

Don’t walk away from your fire once you have it going. If something does happen and nobody is there, fire can spread quickly and uncontrollably before you get to do anything about it. Make sure children understand that the fire pit can be dangerous, and ensure that they have adult assistance. Never leave them or your pets unattended near a fire.

A fire pit is a great way to complement a swimming pool. Contact Tampa Bay Pools today for more information about making this addition to your backyard.

4 Bright Ideas for Pool Lighting

pool lighting

While swimming during the day is fun, nothing beats a nice dip in the pool after dark. You may not want to have to light your pool with tiki-torches or flashlights, however. Here are some tips that you might want to consider if you are thinking of installing pool lighting.

Look at the Tile

The first thing you want to think about is matching the color of your lighting to the color of your pool tile. While you obviously want to keep things looking nice, you can actually pick colors that are absorbed by the tile in your pool and reduce the amount of light that it puts out.

On the other hand, choosing the right colors can help you to come up with some interesting and unique lighting effects. If you are unsure what you might be able to do with your pool tile colors, give the internet a search to see what others are doing. It might inspire you.

Keep it Soft

You and your guests want to enjoy your pool. Feeling like you are in the spotlight of a Broadway play is not the way to make people feel comfortable. Having several softer sources of light in your pool is a much better way to go than having one bright harsh source. Consider at least two sources (or more) to keep your pool lit at a comfortable level. 

Don’t Forget the Deck

You can spend all of your time looking for great pool lighting, but if people can’t see where the steps are, they may never get in. You have to keep the area around the pool well lit as well. Soft lighting around the deck and pathways will ensure you can find your way into the pool. You can also enhance the feel of the entire pool area by choosing lighting for your landscaping as well. Spreading the light around has the bonus effect of spreading out the insects, as there are more than one source of light to be attracted to.

LED or Incandescent?

What kind of lighting best fits your pool? The two main choices are LED and incandescent. Of course, LED lighting is much more expensive initially. It can offer several advantages over incandescent. First is the reduced cost of energy. LED lights are much more efficient and will consume less power as you operate them. They are also available in a much wider variety of colors than you can get with good old incandescent bulbs.

Take the time to consider the advantages and disadvantages of both before you make a final decision on what kind of lighting to go with. Don’t forget that while incandescent bulbs carry the lower up front cost, there may be much more on the back end than you are anticipating.

For help installing pool lighting, contact the experts at Tampa Bay Pools. We can get you up and running with pool lights in no time.