Do your homework before you dive into making a hot summer's daydream come true. Our team recently interviewed top-rated pool pros and gathered the following trends and tips to help your project go swimmingly:
Cost: The average starting price for installing a pool made of concrete or similar materials, such as shotcrete or gunite, is $50,000. The cost of additional pool components can range from $20,000 to more than $100,000.
Finishes: A pool's interior finish material will make the biggest design statement. Popular choices include basic white plaster or quartz. Other options include pebbles and crushed abalone shells. The pool finish alone can cost $8,000 to $10,000.
Features: Options include sun decks, tanning ledges, waterfalls, bubblers, fountains, water arcs and zero-entry. When it comes to the pump, which can cost $1,000 or more, consider a variable-speed type that you can program.
Shape: At a 5 percent to 10 percent increase in cost, a pool can be custom-shaped to reflect your property and lifestyle.
Automation: Systems are available that automatically provide water-chemistry readouts and control temperature, lights, music, the pool cover and more. Automation features cost from $500 to several thousand dollars.
Lighting: LED lights in white or other colors are popular. They cost more initially than other bulb types, but can last at least six times longer.
Decking: The material surrounding the pool can be as simple as brushed concrete, at an average cost of $5.50 per square foot installed, to something more upscale, such as flagstone, which averages $26 a square foot.
Travertine tiles, at $8 to $11 a square foot, resist mold and heat and are slip-resistant. But because they're soft, they need to be sealed annually if you have a saltwater pool.
Saltwater: Saltwater pools are popular because they offer high water quality and are relatively gentle on eyes, skin and hair. But be aware that saltwater can damage softer decking materials. If you want a sandstone pool surround, for instance, it will need to be sealed.
The cost to convert an existing system to saltwater ranges from $1,500 to $2,000, about the same price as including a saltwater system with a new pool. Be aware that the quality of a saltwater system's cell, which converts salt to chlorine, can vary. The metallic coating on some cells may erode, requiring replacement that can cost about $900.
Angie Hicks is the founder of Angie's List, a resource for local consumer reviews at www.angieslist.com.
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