To give your pool a whole new look, one of the fastest and most affordable options may be adding a LED fixture to your pool. LEDs are more energy-efficient, and some can change color from basic white to red, blue, green and magenta. Depending on the model, LEDs can create light shows in your pool. For example, for July Fourth, you could switch on a red, white and blue light show. One LED pool light, installed, can cost about $700-$800.
Skip Harwood, owner of Polar Pools and Spas in Mesa, says he installs powder-coated handrails rather than shiny metal rails that can burn hands in triple-digit temperatures. This add-on costs about $700 installed, he says. It’s a good feature for older homeowners or anyone trying to make the pool safer or more accessible.
New waterline tile can dramatically change the look of your pool. Ceramic waterline tile starts at about $600-$800 for an average pool; glass and other decorative tiles are more expensive. Pool remodelers say they’re adding waterline tiles to pools that previously had pebble or stone finishes on or above the waterline. Otherwise, it’s rare to change the waterline tile without also resurfacing the pool in either plaster or an upgraded pebble or stone surface.
Newer pools typically have an automatic leveler that fills or levels off the pool after evaporation causes the water level to drop. If your pool doesn’t have one, it can be installed. A pool contractor will have to run a new line underground and tap into your outdoor spigot, so the cost is in the $700-$800 range.
Steve O’Hanlon, owner of Immediate Pool Builders in Phoenix, says a small fire pit with stacked stone, installed, starts at about $500.
Also called a Baja shelf or tanning ledge, a Baja step is a large, flat, shallow surface in the pool, typically about 6 inches deep. This feature is popular in resort pools, because it provides a cool spot to place a lounge chair. Harwood, owner of Polar Pools and Spas in Mesa, says Baja steps are easy to add and cost about $2,200 and up. However, he adds that a Baja step really shouldn’t be added without resurfacing the entire pool. This way, the step matches perfectly and looks planned.
If you simply want to update your concrete pool deck, many remodelers are offering a coating called acrylic lace that costs about $750-$1,000 for an average-size deck. The coating comes in several colors, protects the concrete and often contains a little sand so poolgoers won’t slip.
Efficient pool pump
New equipment may not be exciting to look at, but it could save you money in the long run, with the benefit of being much less noisy. Experts say a variable-speed pump that costs about $1,000 installed can pay for itself in energy savings within one to three years.
Pool remodelers are also getting into the barbecue and outdoor-kitchen business. Prices quoted in this category varied wildly for a built-in barbecue, from about $800 to $4,500. For a true gourmet outdoor kitchen, the sky is the limit if homeowners want to go all out on fancy appliances.
Smooth pool plaster — available in many colors — is the most affordable surface, starting at about $2,600-$2,700 for an average-size pool, O’Hanlon says. Even more popular now, however, are the upgraded pool surfaces with smooth pebbles, stones, shells and even glass beads. The small-pebble surfaces start at $3,500 for an average-size pool, and premium surfaces with glass beads and other features can cost $5,000 or more.
Salt-water pools — very popular during the housing boom for luxury homes — are still a trend in the Valley. A regular pool uses chlorine tabs; a salt-water pool has a salt-cell system that must be filled with salt. When water passes through a salt cell, electrolysis releases chlorine from the salt, keeping the pool sanitary. Salt-water pools are said to be more gentle on skin and hair and less abrasive than regular chlorinated water. Harwood says salt systems start at about $1,250 installed. That price doesn’t include periodically cleaning the steel plates, which get caked with calcium and must be cleaned in acid. Salt cells also must be replaced about every five years.
Smith of California Pools says water features with more modern lines, such as pillars with stone or metal bowls or scuppers, are increasingly popular. A rock waterfall or several stone pillars with scuppers or bowls can cost about $2,500-$5,000.
Splurge: Stone pool decking
Travertine or natural stone tiles or concrete pavers are increasingly popular for pool decking, remodelers say. These surfaces aren’t cheap, however. They start at about $3,500-$5,000.
Splurge: Covered ramada
For a true outdoor room, homeowners can create an open-air ramada with all the indoor conveniences, such as electricity for TVs and stereo equipment, plus comfortable outdoor seating, etc. Smith says an unfurnished 15-foot square ramada with electrical and speaker wiring with a tile roof can run between $15,000 and $20,000.