It’s summertime in Charleston, and that can mean a lot of things. Some people imagine a day at Sullivan’s Island and a dip in the ocean. Some see themselves at a RiverDogs baseball game with a cold beer in hand. Others dream of tall poolside lemonades. One thing’s for sure: every scenario involves cooling off from rising Lowcountry temperatures.
Now that the hot days are in full swing, with no end in sight, those poolside fantasies may be close to becoming a reality. We asked Clint Fore, vice president of Aqua Blue Pools, to outline the types of pools and features available to homeowners no matter their budget. Here’s what we learned:
The moderately priced pool is usually smaller in size and is made of gunite or fiberglass. While fiberglass can be a great alternative, there are fewer design and customization options. “Although a moderately priced pool may not include all the bells and whistles, it will be a great product and something the family can enjoy, including ample deck area around the pool for entertaining and lounging. Devising a great plan and design helps us to stay within a customer’s budget and still give them what they want and need,” Fore explains.
With a medium budget, there are more options for materials and features. For instance, a customer might choose concrete or travertine pavers for their deck area, a step up from a poured concrete deck. “Pavers come in a range of colors and varying sizes and patterns,” Fore says. “As for interior finishes, consumers can choose from a variety of options, like quartz aggregate or pebble. Adding a spa or water feature can be an option too.”
Folks with larger budgets tend to upgrade from a manual operating system to an automated one. A touchpad to turn on the pool lights is just the start. Products like Pentair’s Screen Logic allow pool owners to program in custom settings. With one swipe of your smart device, for example, you can simultaneously turn on a water feature, a pool/spa heater, lights and more.
“Another useful system is Pentair’s IntelliChem chemical controller,” Fore says. “This is a chemical management system that automatically monitors the levels of pH and ORP in the pool, and it knows when to make the proper adjustments. It’s ideal for the homeowner who travels or owns a rental. But it doesn’t do all the work. You still need to take proper care of your pool chemistry.”
And what about sanitizing? Most consumers have turned to salt systems. These systems don’t produce the chlorine odor, and the water, as a result, is much softer than pools using manmade chlorine. “It’s gentler to swim in,” Fore tells us. “People really like the idea of not having to store chlorine at their house, and salt is much less expensive to purchase.”
Now, what people actually do with all of that sparkling clean water is where the fun begins. Water features, with all their variations, are what consumers turn to these days. One option is the weeping waterfall, where the wall is raised and finished with stacked stones. As water trickles over the stones, it produces a very relaxing sound.
Splash pads are fun additions, too, usually separate from the pool. A splash pad functions like the iconic pineapple fountain in downtown Charleston’s Waterfront Park. “Streams of water come out of the floor and are designed to be interactive, like a play fountain,” says Fore. “There can be numerous water streams for kids to run through. Splash pads are aesthetically pleasing and easily incorporated into any pool design.”
More impressive, high-end pool ideas include elaborate beach-entry pools, which make descending into a pool as easy as walking into the ocean (but a bit more glamorous).
Another luxurious option is the Hydrofloors pool. Yes, the floor physically moves. One minute it’s a shallow pool for kids, the next it’s deep enough to dive into. Moreover, the pool can seamlessly transition to a floor that obscures the pool and provides a place to dance. Finally, there’s the wellknown infinity pool, where water falls over the edge of the pool, creating the illusion of water extending to the horizon.
Overall, Fore says, the demand for beautiful, high-end pools has resulted in unlimited styles and options. “It’s all about aesthetics,” he says. “People’s tastes change and so do trends. Landscape architectural design in the area has typically been traditional. However, some projects here are now shifting toward incorporating modern, linear designs and more unusual materials.”
Aqua Blue Pools was, in fact, part of the team that recently completed the first Hydrofloors pool in North America. And it was done right in our own backyard on Kiawah Island. It’s nice to know that one of the most progressive pool companies around is one of Charleston’s own.
Kelly Rae Smith is a freelance writer and editor based in Charleston’s Avondale neighborhood. She can be reached at email@example.com.