Swimming pools and summer are synonymous for many of us. With an ever-increasing number of options, in-ground pools are starting to have personality. From zero-entry slopes and sun shelves to infinity edges and waterfalls, custom pools are the new wave.

What’s Trending

For those seeking inspiration, there are plenty of exciting ideas. Zero-entry pools have a sloped entry without stairs, mimicking a beach shore. Sun shelves or tanning ledges provide a platform of shallow water perfect for setting lounge chairs and creating a resort-like ambiance. Vanishing edge pools or “infinity” edges are a great way to achieve the natural body of water look. Mike Rodes from PoolSide in Traverse City says they’re most adored on properties with a lake or overlooking a body of water, as they blend and give the illusion of a never-ending ocean horizon. Among other popular features are deck jet squirters, waterfalls, and, most recently, phone-controlled automation systems.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed? Jason Rekar of Custom Backyard Vacations in Waterford says there are just five things to decide when shopping for a pool. First, pick a pool shape, then select a pool material, a filter, a way to sanitize water, and a way to get inside.

Pool Material

There are three primary materials used to shape custom in-ground pools: gunite, fiberglass, and vinyl.

Gunite is the most malleable. There are no limits to what shape you can create with gunite, but it can also be the most expensive. Many choose gunite with a sand pebble finish for their zero-entry pools. Besides your custom shape, you can create a unique beach oasis, especially since there are hundreds of sediment blends to choose from.

Fiberglass is a middle-cost option and is great for a zero-entry, often giving the appearance of a pristine white sand beach. The installation process is the fastest, with some projects taking just a week.

Vinyl is the least expensive and most frequently used option. Though it has the shortest lifespan and can’t be used to create a zero-entry option, vinyl is increasingly customizable. An in-ground pool with a vinyl lining can be shaped into anything, even the state of Michigan!

Things to Consider

What are some things to be aware of when installing a custom-shaped pool? Well, the first is that the project may take several months, so you should consider autumn for construction. Custom pools can be very expensive, so be sure to have a set budget in mind. Take the time to think about who will be using the pool, as many people install features that they rarely end up using.

When considering a zero-entry pool, keep in mind how much space it will take to achieve a gradual slope. For every 7 feet in distance, it can only increase a foot in depth. A more space-conserving option that is rapidly growing in popularity is the shelf or tanning ledge.

Pool Care

How do you best maximize the longevity of your pool? Chlorine is the biggest cause of pool corrosion. Rekar recommends a mineral pool sanitizer that removes chlorine from the water. Vinyl can last up to 20 years with proper care. Fiberglass may need to be repainted after a decade, but some fiberglass pools last a lifetime. The pH for a gunite pool should be kept at 7.0 – 7.2, with an alkalinity of 100-120, says Michael Paré from Bluewater Pools of Grand Rapids.

The Sky’s the Limit

As mentioned earlier, gunite provides for almost limitless possibilities. Some of the most exotic amenities you could add to your paradise are cement slides, swim-in caves, and natural rock formation waterfalls. Allan Curtis from Legendary Escapes in Brighton reveals that when it comes to pools, atmosphere is everything. He specializes in custom-themed pools and will create any vision you have in mind, from Caribbean tropics to space and pirates. As people start to envision the possibilities, they reconnect with their inner child. “Once you start getting people to dream about things like that, they think, what would it look like? Why not surround yourself with things that make you happy?” Curtis explains.

With all the time spent at home this past year, we’ve learned the importance of creating a space that brings bliss. Make your backyard the place to be with a personalized pool suited for you.