If you’re installing a new pool or smartening up the area around your existing one, grab this ideal opportunity to add a stylish surround.
What works where?
The surround you choose should suit your pool, garden and personal needs. The Victorian Cobble Co. offers these useful guidelines:
• A contemporary pool looks best with larger paving stones, a wooden deck or a seamless concrete surround. Choose stone in a lighter colour with white grouting.
• Rustic pools and homes call for a more informal feel with pavers in different sizes and a variety of sandstone colours, finished off with a border of cobblestones and soft plantings.
• Rough bricks are unsuitable for pools used by children as shins are easily grazed, the surfaces are tough on sensitive little feet, and bathing costumes can get snagged on the bricks.
• Tiles become very hot in full sun and can easily burn your feet. Untreated, wet tiles can also result in nasty falls.
Leave at least 500mm around your pool for the surround. If you have a lawn, pave an area of at least 1 – 1.5m between the lawn and the pool, otherwise you’ll have to contend with a pool full of grass cuttings.
Paving and coping
Paving needn’t consist solely of ordinary bricks – a wide variety of pavers are suitable for pool surrounds.
• Cement tiles, available in a number of sizes and finishes, are one of the most popular surrounds – not only because they’re affordable, but also because they’re less porous than natural products and are virtually maintenance free.
• Natural or manmade sandstone pavers are a popular choice, particularly in the larger 600x600mm size because of the even colour and cleaner lines. But they take longer to lay neatly and the synthetic versions are not durable.
• Coping stones are pavers with a rounded edge, used at the edge of the pool to make getting in and out safer and easier. These often form part of a range of pavers so they perfectly match the rest of the surrounds.
Tiles also come in a variety of natural or manmade materials.
• Sandstone and slate tiles are nonslip and durable, but fairly pricy. As they are natural products, they’ll need to be thoroughly sealed because the tiles are porous and can stain.
• Conventional ceramic or porcelain tiles are an affordable option available in a wide range of colours and designs.
• An innovative new alternative is glazed porcelain tiles that look like wood. Unlike real wood, this product is waterproof, scratch-resistant, and needs virtually no maintenance. ‘If the tiles are laid properly, it’s almost impossible to tell the difference between these tiles and real wood,’ says Jasmin Kraneveldt of Bathroom Bizarre. Their slight unevenness give the tiles a non-slip quality – and ideal for pool surrounds.
Wooden decks remain one of the most popular pool surrounds, but they’re not cheap, at about R1 000 to R2 200m2, and require regular maintenance. However, this is the ideal solution if your property slopes and you want to line up your pool with your entertainment area. Make sure the timber you select is a dense hardwood that is water-resistant such as balau, garapa and Zimbabwean kiaat, which are all available in standard length timbers. Avoid planks that are too wide as they are more likely to warp. If you want to retain the colour of the wood, your hardware store will be able to recommend the best waterproof sealant for your area. But if you seal the deck once, you’ll have to maintain the finish – and varnished wood can be slippery. Oil is often recommended for harder woods, while softer ones such as saligna and meranti are varnished. Oil is easier to apply, but has to be applied more regularly. But if you like the natural colour of weathered wood, simply let nature do its thing.
You can now also use artificial grass around your pool. Duraturf from Belgotex Floorcoverings looks and feels just like the real thing, but never needs watering, mowing or weeding. UV-protected against sun damage, the colour won’t fade and it’s perfectly safe for children and animals to play on. On top of that, it’s easy to install. Although the range includes eight styles, Ayden Shrives of Belgotex Floorcoverings recommends, ‘Augusta, Bermuda, Oval or Meadow as they don’t require a sand base, which can become muddy if it’s continually exposed to water.’ If you opt for a pool surround of synthetic lawn, make sure that water drains away from the pool.