Pool Deck and Patio Trends

Modern pool design has become somewhat of an artform. There was a time when all backyard pools looked basically the same, but that time is gone. Today’s pools incorporate a variety of materials and design techniques to make each creation as unique as each homeowner. If you’re planning to build a pool, here are some inspirational ideas based on some of this year’s most popular pool and patio design trends.

Vanishing edge: The latest craze in pool design is the vanishing edge (sometimes called an infinity edge or negative edge), which produces the visual effect of water extending to the horizon.

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Pool deck: Mirage® Quartziti porcelain pavers.

Fire features: There’s just something ethereal about combining the elements of fire and water that appeals to many people on a deep level. Fire bowls, fireplaces and fire pits make an excellent addition to a poolscape, both from visual and practical standpoints, as a fire feature provides a way to enjoy your pool deck during months when it’s too cold to swim.

Pool deck: Dublin Cobble. Fire pit: Countryside.
Pool deck: Dublin Cobble® pavers. Fire pit: Countryside Fire Pit Kit.

Water features: Water features come in a variety of styles, including waterfalls, fountains, spillways and more. The image below incorporates two different types of waterfalls: a natural stone waterfall and a spa waterfall.

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Pool deck: Mega Bergerac® pavers

Back to nature: Many homeowners choose a design that looks like it was carved out of nature. This can be achieved by incorporating natural stone, or as in the design below, concrete pavers that emulate the look at natural stone. There are a number of added benefits to choosing pavers over natural stone, including decreased materials costs, decreased installation costs and non-slip surfacing.

Pool deck: Mega-Arbel® pavers
Pool deck: Mega-Arbel® pavers

“Green” options: Eco-friendly design strategies are one of the top-growing trends in outdoor living. With a pool design, this can be achieve through the use of a geothermal or solar heater, as well as permeable paver decking. Permeable pavers allow rainwater to filter through the joints instead of running off into ditches and storm drains. A permeable system can even be designed to harvest and recycle rainwater.

Pool deck: Eco-Dublin® permeable pavers.
Pool deck: Eco-Dublin® permeable pavers. Patio terrace: Belair Wall®

Mixed materials: Eclectic designs are quite popular, achieved by mixing a variety of materials and styles together. The design below incorporates multiple styles of pavers, tiles and natural stone. Wood grained porcelain pavers also add the look of natural wood to the design, but offer added benefits that can’t be achieved with natural wood: durability, slip-resistance, fade-resistance and stain-resistance.

Pool deck: Catalina Stone pavers and Mirage® Sundeck porcelain pavers.
Pool deck: Catalina™ Stone pavers and Mirage® Sundeck (wood look) porcelain pavers.

Multiple elevations: Retaining walls can help control erosion, convert sloped terrain into usable space, and in the case of poolscape design below, build multi-level terraces for seating, gardens, dining areas, water features and more.

Pool deck: Mega-Lafitt® pavers. Walls and terraces: Country Manor retaining wall.
Pool deck: Mega-Lafitt® pavers. Garden walls and terraces: Country Manor® Wall.

Decorative edging: There was a time when your choices were limited to brick or bullnose coping. Keep in mind that both of those options are still popular choices. But now, creative  designs and alternate edging materials are becoming increasingly popular, as well.

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Edging: Aquastyl® coping. Decorative border: Dublin Cobble® pavers. Pool deck: Lafitt® Rustic Slab

Extended outdoor living areas: Modern poolscape design tends to expand beyond the water’s edge and into extended outdoor living areas, which are often designed and decorated to look like an outdoor version of an indoor space.

Outdoor fireplace: Bristol Belgard Elements. Pool deck and patio: Lafitt® Rustic Slab.
Outdoor fireplace: Belgard Elements Bristol Series. Pool deck: Lafitt® Rustic Slab.

Less is more: While some are drawn to expansive poolscapes, others are opting for a contemporary minimalist look. The design below evokes the timeless look of a classic pool with the contemporary twist of an additional modular stepping stone patio.

Pool deck and stepping stones: Mirage® Stones 2.0 porcelain pavers.
Pool deck and stepping stones: Mirage® Stones 2.0 porcelain pavers.

Lighting: One simple way to add ambiance of a pool design is to incorporate interesting lighting. This can be done throughout the landscaping and in the interior of pools and spas.

Pool deck: Dublin Cobble® pavers.
Pool deck: Dublin Cobble® pavers.

Beyond the Water’s Edge

Trends in Modern Poolscapes

To create a modern poolscape, not only must you think about the design of the pool itself, but the surrounding environment as a whole. Modern pool designs incorporate a cohesive look that flows through the entire back yard—from the back door to the outdoor kitchen, garden retaining wall, outdoor fireplace, pool and the surrounding patio.

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Celtik® Wall and Dublin Cobble® pull this multi-level poolscape together into one cohesive design. The Dublin Cobble extends from the pool deck into the outdoor kitchen and outdoor living room. Celtik Wall is used for the pool coping, steps and surrounding retaining walls.

“Countless pool designers and contractors prefer our paver products for pool decking because of the versatility and ability to create an entire environment that all works together as one unified and gorgeous design,” says Ken O’Neill, Executive Vice President of Belgard.

The options for creating a cohesive pool design scheme are endless. Gone are the days of the standard blue rectangle with a wrap-around concrete deck. “I grew up in the pool business, and concrete decking was always a necessary evil. But, the durability and look of pavers has revolutionized how we do business,” said Danton Townsend, designer with Leisure Pools in New Braunfels, Texas. “Almost 100 percent of our pools now use paver decking. Customers love the look, the warranty and the maintenance-free aspect.”

In addition, the versatility of Belgard products enables multi-dimensional designs that are as unique as the individual owner. “Belgard’s products allow us to build a pool with a lot of different elevations with walls, steps, raised decks and multi-level seating areas,” said Townsend.

The same products used to create the pool decking and coping can also be used in the surrounding poolscape design to create that cohesive look. “A multi-step water feature can be built right from the decking into the pool, a fire box can be added at the edge of the water feature, and the same products can be used to build a retaining or garden wall,” added Curt Mansfield, hardscape designer with Stone Deck in Austin, Texas, who has often worked with Townsend on hardscape installations for his pool designs.

To continue the cohesive design to the rest of the outdoor living area, the same hardscape products used in the poolscape can also be used to build an outdoor kitchen, a custom fireplace, seat walls, patios, walkways, column wraps, and more. The end result is an elegant resort-like environment that is an extension of the homeowner’s personal sense of style, whether a classic tailored look or a backyard oasis.

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This poolscape uses a variation in paver style to help define separate rooms. Mega-Bergerac® defines the pool deck, and Mega-Arbel® defines the outdoor living room, but is also used as accents throughout the design to tie everything together. Weston Stone® is also a cohesive design element with its use for the column wraps, outdoor kitchen and surrounding garden walls.

“Many people today are trending towards a very natural look,” said Mansfield. “Belgard offers a number of products that look so natural, you get the look and feel of a lagoon that was chiseled out of European stone, but with the benefit of a manufactured product that has a lifetime warranty. Natural stones can get brittle or crack and just don’t hold up to a salt water system.”

Although creating a cohesive outdoor living environment and poolscape from scratch is a simpler process, there are also a number of techniques that can be used to keep a pool renovation or addition from looking like an afterthought to an existing design.

“Once the poolscape is designed, you can easily work the new hardscapes into the pre-existing living areas in the form of seat walls, planter boxes, trim, and various embellishments,” says O’Neill. “We also offer a number of products that can install over an existing concrete deck, like Lafitt™ Rustic Slab, Lafitt™ Grana Slab or Mirage® Porcelain Pavers.”

Bullnose Coping and Mega-Arbel® pavers were used in unique ways for this modern poolscape. Instead of a traditional wooden porch, the design uses Mega-Arbel to create a raised paver porch, which is tied into the look of the pool by edging it with Bullnose Coping to mirror the pool edging. To expand the design, Weston Stone®, used to build an outdoor kitchen could be used as another design element elsewhere in the poolscape, for example a fire pit or seatwall.
Instead of a traditional wooden porch, this design uses Mega-Arbel® to create a raised paver porch, which is tied into the look of the pool by edging it with Bullnose Coping to mirror the pool edging. To expand the design, Weston Stone®, used to build the outdoor kitchen could be used as another design element elsewhere in the poolscape, for example a fire pit or seatwall.

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Click the video image below to watch a dramatic poolscape makeover using Lafitt Rustic Slab.

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Start Planning Your Pool Now

If you’re considering installing a new pool this year, now is the time to start the planning process. Depending on what type of pool you install, it can take up to six weeks for the installation alone — and that’s after you decide on a contractor, pick a design, choose tiles and coping, get permits, and so on.

There was a time when the pool planning process was a bit simpler. Your basic pool was generally a white concrete rectangle surrounded by four feet of additional concrete decking. Coping choices were limited to a couple of standard options, and the tile trim was typically some shade of blue. Although some homeowners still opt for the classic pool, the trend in modern poolscapes is to create an environment that is an extension of the overall outdoor living space. The outdoor kitchen connects to the outdoor living room that transitions to the pool deck…all as one continuous, flowing design. Design choices are as plentiful and unique as each individual homeowner, allowing for the creation of personalized poolscapes that are a reflection of the homeowner’s personality.

To begin planning your pool design, the first step is to decide on an overall design scheme. What’s your pool personality? Here are a few ideas to help jumpstart the planning process.

Classically Tailored

If you typically go for more traditional designs that you feel will stand the test of time, these pool designs offer a modern twist on the cobbled look of a bygone era.

The Natural Look

Perhaps you prefer for your pool to look as though it’s part of the natural landscape. These designs evoke the sense of a backyard oasis.

Ultra-Contemporary

Maybe you gravitate to the modular look or love clean, crisp lines. If so, then these modern pool designs will appeal to you.

To continue exploring your pool personality, visit our pool deck Pinterest board and Inspiration page. When you’re ready to go the the next step, visit our contractor locator to find a qualified Belgard authorized contractor near you.

Benefits of Pavers for Poolscapes

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Products: Arbel® and Mega-Lafitt™ pavers

When designing a pool, the options often seem endless. Pool decking can be done with any number of materials — poured slab, tile, natural stone, brick, wood — so why choose pavers?

Durability

There is no pool decking material that is more durable than pavers. Wood will fade and splinter, slabs will crack, brick will shift and crack, and natural stone can splinter or break. Belgard pavers have a lifetime warranty and are highly resistant to cracking or deterioration caused by exposure to foot traffic, sun, pool chemicals, or salt. On the odd chance that a paver does get damaged, it is easily replaced.

Safety

Bare feet on a wet surface can quickly become a dangerous scenario. Tile and natural stone often get slippery when wet. Belgard pavers have a slip-resistant surface, no matter how wet they get.

Products: Dublin Cobble® pavers, Celtik® Wall

Design Flexibility

Pavers are incredibly beautiful and allow for a variety of design options. Whether trying to create a natural look that blends into lush landscaping, or seeking a tailored look to coordinate with an ultra-modern architectural style, there is a paver to fit the bill. Pavers also work well with other hardscapes to develop a cohesive design. By blending pavers with retaining walls, a design can include steps, garden walls, and an outdoor kitchen that all blend together as one functional outdoor living design.

Overlay Options

Belgard offers a number of thinner profile pavers that can overlay an existing concrete pool deck to bring new life to an old pool for considerably less cost than removing and replacing the decking. Click on the image below to see how this rundown pool was transformed by overlaying the deck with Lafitt™ Rustic Slab.

PoolOverlayVideoFor more inspiration on paver poolscapes, visit our poolscape Pinterest board or the Belgard Design Studio. To find an authorized contractor or dealer near you, click here.

Time to Enjoy Your Pool!

Mega-Arbel Pavers
Mega-Arbel® Pavers

Where does your mind go when thinking about summer? Maybe you imagine relaxing on the beach or taking a trip to the nearest water park. Something about spending time outside in the water and sun just screams, “It’s summer!” However, thoughts of beaches and water parks also scream, “Time and money!!” This summer, try using a more convenient method for soaking up rays and hanging out in the water. The idea is very simple: put on your favorite bathing suit and then walk right into your backyard. Remember that giant and expensive hole in your yard that you filled with a large amount of water? Believe it or not, it’s not just a lovely water feature. You’re allowed to use it! Here’s the best part: you can use it whenever you want! Here are a few ideas to help you get the most from your pool this summer.

GAMES FOR THE KIDS

Most kids enjoy playing “Marco Polo” or “Sharks and Minnows” in the pool. While that’s all well and good, how about trying a few different games with the kids this summer. Just remember that all games should be supervised by an adult.

PingPongPing Pong Scramble: This is almost like the pool version of hungry hungry hippos. Have the kids form a large circle and then dump a container of ping balls in the middle of the circle. Kids can use socks, party cups, or even plastic bags to collect the balls. The player with the most balls wins.

WatermelonWatermelon Relay: You may not know this, but watermelons float. Split the group into relay teams. Have each contestant swim across the pool pushing a watermelon, handing it off to the next person in line. The team who finishes first wins. And when the game is over, carve up the “game balls” for a tasty poolside treat!

PaperBoatPaper Boat Races: Making a paper boat is simple, but if you don’t remember how, there are many instructional videos on YouTube. To stretch the time, you can first have the kids decorate their pieces of paper with crayons before folding the paper into boats. Once the boats are built, turn the pool pump on to create a current for racing the boats around the pool. For added fun, kids can create “wind” by blowing on the boats, or they can use their hands to create “waves” to propel the boats. Just remember that if the boats get too wet, they will sink or fall apart. But that’s ok, just make some more for the next race!

FUN WITH FAMILY & FRIENDS

VolleyballWater Volleyball: This activity is usually reserved for larger families or several guests who don’t mind getting a little physical. Pool nets and a volleyball are a relatively inexpensive purchase, and the setup is easy. Just pick your teams and try not to swallow too much water when grandma accidentally takes you out while diving for a loose ball. If you want to get really into it, and have the right amount of people for it, set up a tournament and go out and buy a cheap trophy to give to the winning team. This can easily become your next family or group tradition.

Cocktail CaddyFloating Cocktail Party (21+):  When the kids are away, the adults will play. Invite some friends over for an afternoon or evening of relaxing adult-filled activities. Open a nice bottle of wine, try that new martini recipe you found the other day, or simply bust out a few beers. Most importantly, do it from the comfort of your pool, floating on your favorite flotation device. You can even purchase a floating ice chest or cocktail caddy for your bar-tending convenience. For ambiance at evening gatherings, add some floating lights. For safety reasons, make sure to use only shatterproof glasses while around or in the pool.

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Believe It or Not,
It’s Pool Planning Time!

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With the polar vortex sending frigid weather throughout the country, it’s hard to think about swimming pools. However, now is the time to dive head first into planning mode if you want to have everything ready for that end-of-school pool party.

Step 1. Get inspired

Start thinking about what type of design you want. Gone are the days of the boring rectangle surrounded by a simple concrete pad. With all of the colors, textures, and multidimensional design elements available today, the possibilities are literally endless. So grab your mouse, head to our pool deck Pinterest board or the Belgard Design Studio, and start working on working on some ideas.

Step 2. Think long-term

Is the pool the only missing element in your long-term outdoor living plan for your home? If not, think ahead to save yourself some major headaches. For example, if you intend to add a cabana, outdoor fireplace, or outdoor kitchen later on, plan to discuss that with your contractor so you can address the need for future utilities or footings, which could save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

Step 3. Find a qualified contractor

This is definitely a situation when you do NOT want to make a choice solely on cost. There are a lot of bad pool contractors out there who can put in a cheap pool and disappear. Then, when it cracks and leaks into the yard or the pump dies due to faulty materials or wiring, you could find yourself in a remediation situation that’s much more costly than putting the pool in correctly the first time. Our contractor locator page is a good place to start. Many of our authorized hardscape contractors are also pool contractors. If the Belgard contractors in your area do not build pools, they can typically make good recommendations.

Step 4. Design phase

Now the fun part…making decisions. An experienced contractor will be able to guide you through this process. The most important thing to remember during the design phase is to pick what YOU like. Forget what Aunt Tilda and your carpool friends say. If you like it, do it. You’re the one paying for it and the one who will be swimming in it. Trust your contractor’s experience regarding what works well and what doesn’t. In the end, stick to your guns on a design feature that you really love, or you’ll regret it later.

Step 5. Develop a construction plan

Most of these details can be worked out with your contractor. Your start date will typically depend on mother nature and the permit office. The construction time can take anywhere from 3 to 8 weeks, depending on the type of pool, complexity of design, and weather. Be prepared for a muddy mess for a little while. You may need to make alternate parking arrangements for your family to avoid blocking construction access. You will also need to consider some type of bathroom access for the construction workers. Lastly, you may want to bring your neighbors some cookies and invite them to the pool christening party as a gesture of goodwill for all of the construction noise and traffic.