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.

.  .  .

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.

Backyard Transformation

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With the help of Belgard, the Stolnacke family transformed both their backyard and their lives.
Stolnacke Before
The Stolnacke backyard before Belgard.

Jennifer and Carl Stolnacke lived on five acres of rugged terrain that sloped down to a pond on the back of the property. Their backyard was basically unusable, except for a small concrete patio. With this blank slate, they carved out their own personal backyard oasis. After living in their northern California home for a couple of years with their two dogs, Maverick and Goose, Jennifer and Carl were ready to create a permanent, more useable outdoor living space that fit with their lifestyle. They enjoyed walking the grounds and especially enjoyed looking at the pond, but with the exception of a couple of lawn chairs and a small concrete slab behind the house, their space was not ideal for backyard gatherings

“We love to barbecue with friends, but the dirt and leaves just were not conducive to that. When friends came over, it seemed more like a camp out,” Jennifer explained.

With the help of the experts at The Paver Company, the Stolnackes now have an expansive multi-level outdoor living space that incorporates multiple gathering areas – including a pool, outdoor fireplace, fire pit, and brick oven – that are all tied together with walkways and garden walls that work together to create a harmonious, cohesive look.

Working with the existing elements.

Outdoor enthusiasts, the Stolnackes wanted to keep the pond as the focal point of the yard, without blocking their scenic view, and incorporate natural design elements to keep the setting rustic and earthy. They also wanted to make use of the existing concrete slabs on the back porch and driveway, but desired a way tie everything together without having these elements clash with each other.

The final cohesive design flanked out to the sides with the fireplace and brick oven acting as visual anchors on either side, with a terraced patio that led down to the fire pit and pool in the center, overlooking the pond. The design incorporated natural boulders, as well as Belgard Hardscapes that mimic those natural textures. Patio areas were paved with Mega-Lafitt™ pavers, which offer the look and feel of natural cut flagstone, with Bergerac® pavers adding a hand-cobbled look to the borders and walkways. Garden walls were built with the Tandem™ Wall retaining wall system, which creates the appearance of large blocks of chiseled stone.

“By skirting the existing concrete pads and fire pit with the Bergerac pavers used in the walkway, we were able to tie the whole design together and make everything work,” said installation contractor John Brightenstine of The Paver Company.

How life has changed for the Stolnackes.

Jennifer loves the fact that she can now walk around the perimeter of her backyard barefoot or in slippers. Her favorite pastime is relaxing on the upper patio, just taking in the view. With their wonderful new entertaining space, the couple now regularly holds gatherings of all kinds.

“The multiple patio areas are great for entertaining; we have so many options,” Jennifer said. “We’ll have pizza parties by the brick oven, where everyone makes their own pizza, or we’ll sit around the fire pit or fireplace and roast marshmallows or just catch up and talk. We now use the outside of our house more than the inside of our house.”

To anyone contemplating their own backyard makeover, Jennifer says, “The most important thing is to know your space. Know how you use it now and how you envision using it afterwards.”

Watch the Backyard Transformation Video

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.

Pool lights

Product Highlight:
Permeable Pavers

One of the fastest growing trends in outdoor living, permeable pavers are an attractive way to improve drainage, recycle water, and help the environment. Built over a gradient bed of gravel, permeable pavers allow water to percolate down into the ground below, which not only reduces the amount of stormwater runoff, but cleans the water of pollutants in the process. A permeable pavement system can also be constructed to include a water harvesting system to recycle water for irrigation or other uses. Belgard offers a full line of permeable pavers ideal for a variety of outdoor living designs.

Eco Dublin®: With the smooth face of cut stone, Eco Dublin is a three-piece modular paver that supports both foot and vehicular traffic and adds a modular contemporary flair to outdoor living designs.

Subterra®Stone: Subterra Stone might very well be the most attractive, natural-looking permeable paver on the market. Featuring a false joint structure and a textured face, it offers the elegant look of chiseled stone and is ideal for homeowners who desire environmental stewardship without compromising beauty and style.

Aqua-Roc™: Offering the classic look of brick pavers, Aqua-Roc can be laid in a running bond, basket-weave, or herringbone patterns to create attractive and durable driveways, walkways, patios and poolscapes.

Aqua-Bric®: Aqua-Bric incorporates a notched edge to offer a modern twist on the classic brick paver. This versatile paver can be used for numerous applications and complements any architectural style.

Turfstone®:  Turfstone’s eco-friendly design reduces run-off and allows greenery to grow right through it, creating a highly unique hardscape design that works in harmony with nature and helps control and stabilize soil erosion.

Turfstone