Trendy Pools

Interested in constructing or renovating a pool at your home? Geoff Seffer has some aesthetic advice.

“Glass tile, pool plaster with a pebble finish and LED lighting – that’s the newest trend people are going with,” said Seffer, the director of a Virgin Gorda-based pool construction and renovation company called Mermaid Pools Ltd.

Glass tiles will visually give the pool a “good pop,” the director explained, and can be purchased for anywhere from $6-$10 a square foot up to $30-$50 a square foot, depending on a homeowner’s taste and budget.

“All of them have a nice look and a more updated look,” he said.

Plaster-wise, Mermaid Pools tends to push an exposed aggregate, natural pebble brand of finish called SGM River Rok – a popular choice for customers across the British Virgin Islands, according to Seffer. It comes in a wide variety of colours and tends to hide blemishes better than a smooth finish.

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“The pebble has a better look at nighttime with lights on it, and also people tend to like the textured feel over the smooth feel,” he added.

If a client is set on a smooth finish for their pool, Seffer notes they tend to use another SGM product called Diamond Brite, a blend of selected quartz aggregates and fortified white portland cement.

In terms of lighting, many pool owners are getting away from incandescent lights.

“Everyone’s switching over to LEDs,” he explained. “It’s more efficient, the light is brighter and looks overall better in the pool. For a lot of the new pools and even if we’re doing a heavy remodel job, we’re changing over to some of the smaller-style LEDs that are only about three inches in diameter, rather than the old-school 12-inch giant lights. They just look classy.”

If a client chooses a darker finish, Mermaid professionals suggest they pair that with white lights to show off the plaster’s colours, Seffer noted.

“In my opinion, I think a dark pool with white lights is the way to go,” he said. “It’s the most popular these days as well.”

For those clients who do want a coloured light show at night, Seffer recommends a white plaster to complement it.

With all the elevated properties and panoramic ocean views, the Mermaid director also noted that at least 85 percent of his clients opt for an “infinity edge” on their pools. Infinity edges have overflowing water, producing a horizon-like visual effect on one side of the pool.

Tech

In the last 18 months, Mermaid has spent a significant amount of time changing out pool equipment that got fried from the saltwater intrusion in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

When replace or installing tech, the company suggests clients choose Pentair products.

“We’re a big fan and push Pentair,” Seffer said. “We like their pumps, we like their filters, we like their controllers.”

Mermaid professionals also suggest clients install a “variable-speed” pump.

“They save a lot of money because you can really turn down the RPMs – you’re not stuck with a conventional single-speed pump,” the director said. “They’re also a lot less noisy, and they filter the pool better. You’re pushing the water through the pipes and the filters slower, and that allows for better filtration.”

Variable-speed pumps can also be linked to the other pool technology.

“We would push a Pentair ‘EasyTouch’ System,” Seffer explained, “and what that would do is it integrates everything into the controller so you can tie in all your pool lights, your heater, your pool pump, say you have an infinity edge, you may have a secondary pump – it all ties into that EasyTouch controller, and then you can have a wall-mounted screen inside your house, and you can control everything from that.”

If you want to take it one step further, he added, you can tie that system into a downloadable app that gives you the ability to control your pool’s pump, heating, lights and infinity edge from anywhere in the world.

“They also tie in the chlorine generators and your acid feeds, so you can pull up on your phone and see how much chlorine and what your PH is doing in your pool, and you can adjust it,” Seffer said.

All of these developments make much pool systems a more manageable enterprise for the average homeowner.

“They’re pretty smart these days,” the Mermaid director said. “They’re easy to use, they’re convenient, they’re easy to install, and we service them and manage them if there are any issues.”

Cleaning

Thanks to new technology, there’s also been developments in “in-floor” automatic pool cleaning systems – though Seffer said they can often be more trouble than they’re worth.

Sometimes, he noted, simpler is better.

“Hiring a maintenance company and doing your once-a-week cleaning routine is your best bet down here [in the BVI],” he said. “And stay on top of them. Learn how to use a test kit and check your own water.”

Doing it right the first time

Overall, when it comes to constructing or renovating a pool for your home, Seffer stresses the importance of doing it right the first time.

“Budget’s always a concern with everyone, isn’t it?” Seffer says. “But at some points, not spending the few extra grand to put on new tile or not spending that little bit more to get the heater or to put in an efficient auto-fill device or getting it online, it’s going to cost more in the long run with adding it in later. Sometimes, you’ve got to spend that little extra and get it done right.”

Conor King Devitt

Conor King Devitt

Conor King Devitt

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