ARRRGGGGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!! Now what do I have to decide on? I figured out I want a pool, I have an idea what pool I want. But there is so much noise out there about this pool option and that pool option…….Relax. a good inground pool designer can make it very simple and at least assist in answering the question: How do I choose the right options for my swimming pool in Indiana?
Tier 1 Options For Inground Pools in Central Indiana. These are the basics for an Indiana pool. The concrete—how much and what kind? Or do I move on to stone or pavers? The heater---do I get one and should it be a gas heater or a heat pump? The cover---what kind should I get? Just a winter cover or a fully automatic cover? If automatic, what upgrades are available?
These key choices, together with your pool choice, will determine much of the functionality, the look, and the maintenance level of your pool. Let’s take them one at a time.
Concrete. Your pool probably comes with some starter amount of regular gray concrete which is not enough. Your first decision here is quantity. Together with your pool professional, you need to decide about what amount of furniture your want your deck to accommodate and how luxuriously. I find that our deck sizes vary widly but the average is probably in the 800-1,100 SF range which will accommodate a table and chairs and some lounge chairs.
It would be my advice not to think about the type of decking until you decide how many square feet. In my opinion it is more important to have the right quantity of deck than to have a lesser size deck of an upgrade concrete. In fact, I would say don’t start thinking upgrade concrete until your landscape budget and pool furniture budgets are fully funded as these items add more in terms of color and design than upgrade concrete. More than half of our pool decks are regular concrete, the least expensive, and they look great!
But STAMPED concrete is just so cool… I agree but it comes down to where are you going to spend your money? Here are some estimates. Take a 1,000 SF deck @ 5.50/SF= $5,500 for regular concrete. Double that for stamped concrete. That being said, yes, stamped concrete is the king of concretes! There are so many patterns and colors and ideas in the hands of a real craftsman! Stamped concrete is necessary to turn your pool into a work of art.
Other concrete surfaces include exposed aggregate and textured overlays.
Other things you should know about concrete is that the talent of the finisher is king. Badly poured or thought out concrete can kill the look of a pool. Be sure to talk to your inground pool builder about his confidence level in his concrete crew. Also, ask about other concrete charges such as pump charges, wheeling concrete, steps, drains etc. Your square footage charge generally does not incude these items.
Other surfaces for pool decks include pavers and stone which can range in the $14-30/SF range. These can be very, very cool but at $20/SF that 1,000 SF deck just became $20,000. At this price, and if you are up for it, these surfaces deserve a lot of attention and thought by pool and other design professionals and more attention than I can give here.
The Heater. How would you like to spend $40,000 on a pool, Memorial Day rolls around, and no one in your family will get in the pool because the water is too cold? Contrast that scenario with 85 degree water on the 10th of May with your family happily flopping around the pool. Which is the better use of that $40,000? It gets cold in Indiana. It’s a fact. And it’s a fact that a heater can almost double your swimming season.
There are two types of heaters: gas (natural or propane) and electric heat pumps. Let’s take a look at each one.
Gas Heaters. This is the more common choice. They’re reliable and they heat the water fast, maybe even a degree an hour. You can turn them off when the weather is bad and get your water back to temperature overnight. They cost $1,900-3,000 plus your gas hook up. Of course, they are expensive to operate but what a pleasure not to have cold water. The cost to operate varies with the size of your pool and a solar blanket or automatic cover greatly reduces the operating costs. The heater is generally used in May, turned off for the summer and then used again after September 15 when it gets nippy again.
Heat Pumps. Electric heat pumps for pools are becoming common. While they cost $1,200-2,000 more than a gas heater, their operating costs are less than half. They are also built to last longer than gas heaters. Because of their reduced operating costs, a homeowner in Indiana will likely leave it on the entire month of May and then, in September, leave it on until the pool is closed. This means the pool is always at the right temperature which induces MORE SWIMMING. This is in contrast to a gas heater where you are tempted to turn it off during periods of bad weather or non use. A heat pump will not heat the pool quickly so it is generally not practical to turn it off as it might take you a couple of days to get the pool back to temperature. A heat pump is a higher quality piece of equipment and should last longer than a gas heater.
The Cover. We Hoosiers love our automatic covers! And what’s not to like? First, the State of Indiana excuses you from building a fence around your pool because you already have a great safety device—safety and saving the cost of a fence are a great combination. You also save the cost of buying a winter cover ($1-3,000??) if you don't do an automatic cover.
Second, the automatic cover gives you the control to keep debris out of your pool (as well as the ability to lock your kids and neighbors out). This means LESS MAINTENANCE! Third, the cover will save money by preventing most heat loss and by preventing premature sun burn off of expensive chemicals, especially chlorine. These automatic covers come at a high cost: $6,500-7,500 plus upgrade tracks will cost another $1,200-$2,000 if you want them but in my opinion the benefits are well worth it. Also, if you subtract your savings on a fence and a winter cover and rememember you savings from less heat and chemical loss, it is an easier price to swallow. These covers require maintenance and the vinyl part of the cover is replaced when it wears out at a cost of $1,700-2,400 depending on pool size.
If you do not purchase an automatic cover, you will need to purchase a winter cover ($500-2,500 depending on type), a solar blanket for heat retention during the pool season, and a fence. This alternative works best on smaller pools and for people who might already have a fence or who don’t like the looks of the automatic cover.
Well, those are the basic options that have to be considered. Let’s turn now to what I would describe as the Tier II options.
Tier II Options for Inground Pools in Indiana. These options include water features, other sanitation devices (including salt chlorine generators), upgrade lighting, basketball or volleyball sets, slides, ceramic tile, automatic cleaning systems, pool controllers, additional options for the auto cover, variable speed pumps, diving boards or anything else you might find on the internet or otherwise. Some of these options are described here. Your pool professional should have many suggestions on the types and costs of these items.