by Dustin Jayroe // Photos courtesy of  Scott Girner, Elite Pools by Aloha

Deep into the heart of summer, we find ourselves hot, sweaty and craving the refuge of a swimming pool at most points throughout our days – especially those moments spent outside or getting into our scorched vehicles at the end of the day. 

If you do not have a backyard oasis of your own to splash into, then 2019 could be the year to make it happen. With a multitude of customization options available, it’s easy to make it the perfect fit for you and your loved ones. However, that literal endless ability to personalize every detail can be overwhelming. For that, we have you covered with some of 2019’s most popular swimming pool trends to draw from which to draw inspiration.

If you already have a swimming pool of your own, then consider these trendy options for future considerations, as an upgrade or for a new installation entirely.

Golf course facing stone pool with dark interior.

Pool Filtration

When it comes to the filtration method used to keep a swimming pool clean, alternatives to traditional chlorination have become very popular, including saltwater, ultraviolet (UV) and mineral systems. 

Saltwater chlorination is a method of swimming pool filtration in which salt is added to the pool, rather than chlorine liquid or tablets. A salt-chlorine generator then converts that salt to chlorine. So, despite some public misconceptions, saltwater pools are not free from chlorine, it just does not have to be added directly. Chlorine is produced in smaller amounts on a steady basis. 

Saltwater pools are generally less harsh on skin, eyes and clothing than traditional chlorine pools, and the salinity is so low it can’t be tasted. Additionally, saltwater pools require far less maintenance and upkeep, which means a significant amount of cost savings down the line. So, while a saltwater system may require more of an initial investment, it will eventually pay for itself over its lifespan.

One of the only major cons of saltwater systems is the corrosiveness of the saltwater, which will eventually eat away at anything metal in or near your pool or system; steps, ladders, railing and so on. However, there are ways to mitigate this, such as a sacrificial anode; an elegant phrasing to describe a piece of zinc, or metal, that “sacrifices” itself to keep the rest of the metals in the pool safe.

Mineral water systems are becoming more and more popular with each passing year. Similar to saltwater systems, mineral systems do not replace chlorine, but rather significantly reduce the need for it – by more than 50 percent in most cases. A mineral system works by introducing various minerals into the pool to protect it and keep it clean in conjunction with chlorine. The minerals are usually made up of magnesium chloride, sodium chloride and potassium chloride.

Stone pool with fire pit built-in.

Mineral systems are usually as cheap to install as standard chlorine, without much of the added expenses and maintenance. Generally speaking, the most you will ever need to do is add mineral packs to the pool to maintain the correct levels. There are a plethora of products available that make this as simple, or even more so, as adding chlorine or salt.

Mineral pools boast even more of the silky, soft water, like those with saltwater, without the drawbacks of metal corrosion.

Another popular filtration system involves ultraviolet (UV) light. UV filtration systems boast the ability to keep pools extremely clean while lowering chemical usage and potentially harmful by-products. UV pool sanitizers use a high-intensity light ray that destroys algae, bacteria and other organisms. 

According to Scott Girner, owner of Elite Pools by Aloha, a pool contractor in North Little Rock, these UV systems get the job done very well, but, unfortunately, do not have as long a lifespan as other options. 

Of the traditional chlorine alternatives, Girner says that saltwater chlorination is the most popular. 

Dark interior mixed with the natural setting makes for a “lagoon” like atmosphere.

Style & Design

After deciding between an in-ground or above-ground swimming pool and concrete or vinyl liner, comes the fun and exciting style and design choices at your disposal. The possibilities are endless, bounded only by your imagination.

Single-depth and shallow-depth pools have become increasingly popular, and both feature similar additives that help them stand out.

Single depth pools are, as the name suggests, pools with the same depth throughout, rather than segmented shallow and deep ends that most pools exhibit. Shallow depth pools are usually only about waist deep. Single and shallow-depth pools exude a sleek and modern aesthetic in minimalism. Both of these pool styles are great for exercising, either with lap swimming or in water sports. Additionally, these types of pools are usually less costly ventures, featuring lower construction and maintenance costs, as they require less excavation, water and chemicals.

Another design that is continuing to grow in popularity is infinity pools. Infinity pools feature wet edges, where the pool water rolls over the edges of the pool, creating a visual effect that the pool has no boundary. These designs are perfect when backed up to a beautiful landscape.

Following that same trend for “boundless” swimming pools is another popular trend – acrylic negative edges. With these designs, one or multiple pool walls are made up of transparent acrylic paneling. From the outside looking in, the acrylic paneling makes it look like the water is literally floating. These are also often backed up to a great view, or a glass wall inside of the home that provides a view into the pool, almost like an aquarium.  

One of the most popular trends across the board, no matter the constructive design of the pool, is coloring the pool’s walls and floor with a dark palette, rather than the previously popular white or light blue. With a dark interior pool, the color of the water takes on that same dark tint. This creates a pool that feels more like a natural body of water, like a lagoon, than just a backyard swimming pool. It is warm, inviting, and can even help to cover up minor blemishes, like dirt and debris. Dark interior pools also attract and retain heat more effectively, which means less work on the pool heater. These types of pools pair extremely well with rocks or stones outside of the pool, to help further that mystical, lagoon-like atmosphere.

Swim-up bar built-in with “barstool” pedastals.

Specialized Built-Ins

Once the overall, general design is established, some minor additions can take your swimming pool from just a backyard hangout to a true oasis.

Ledges and pedestals are extremely trendy right now, with each providing in-water seating so that you do not have to get out of the pool to “take a load off,” or sit on a makeshift seat, like an entry step or the side of the pool.

Some are taking it a step further by having swim-up bars built as extensions onto their pools, with “barstool” pedestals built in alongside them – molding taproom and pool together, right in the backyard.

Perhaps the most popular of these built-in options is sun, or tanning, shelves. These can either come as actual lounge chair-like structures built into the pool floor in a shallow area, or just a flat plateau built up below a couple of inches of water. With sun shelves, you can find the relaxation of lying back and adding a little color to your skin while actually being in the pool, avoiding the sweltering summer air. Many are also trending toward having vinyl liners installed on their sun shelves, which is much smoother and more comfortable than a concrete floor. 

“Just about every sun shelf [Elite Pools] installs is covered in liner,” Girner says. “And since we can model it to look like concrete, it is really hard to tell.” 

Stone pool with sun-shelf built-in.

Energy & Maintenance Reduction

As anyone with a pool will attest, it is not as easy as digging a hole, laying concrete and filling it up with water. Installing a pool comes with routine upkeep and maintenance that can often be very timely, costly and, in turn, frustrating.

As such, reducing the required maintenance through whatever means necessary, either at installation or as an upgrade, is becoming very common. In 2019, many are achieving this by switching from standard chlorination to one of the other alternatives.

Others are taking it even further than that.

In the digital age, almost everything can be automated, and swimming pools are no exception. Some of the automated pool maintenance systems of today allow control via a mobile device or computer. Depending on the pool systems makeup, you can adjust the water temperature, turn the filter on or off, check and manage chemical levels and even cover or uncover the pool, all from your mobile phone.

Some of the latest automations even include a freeze protection mode, where the heater will automatically kick on if the temperature drops below a certain degree, protecting the pool and the system’s piping from ice formations. Because this new feature is becoming so common, pool contractors rarely have to sell covers for concrete pools anymore, according to Girner. 

Further, the push for lessening one’s environmental footprint and becoming eco-friendly also continues to become more of a goal for households across the country and, aptly, the Natural State. Switching to one of these “smarter” systems allows accomplishment of that goal, by not only creating a pool system that operates more efficiently, but also with less chlorine, which can be extremely harmful on the environment in its manufacturing, use and waste. Even something as simple as ensuring the right pool pump is in place can make a world of difference in reducing energy production. 

Combined, new technologies and trends are turning backyard pools into resort-like escapes and giving owners more time to enjoy their pools with friends and loved ones.