Pensacola Magazine

Making a Splash


Let’s face it: no matter what time of the year it is, Pensacola has notoriously warm weather. So, why wouldn’t you want the chance to take a refreshing dip at any time in the privacy of your own yard? To help bring your pool ideas to fruition, Pensacola Magazine asked some of our area’s pool professionals at Vaughn’s Pools, Parker Pools and Gulf Coast Pool and Spa about what’s hot and not in the pool world. They all had a lot of input regarding popular pool shapes and features: while straight-shaped pools are still high in demand, natural looking kidney and freeform shapes are in fashion and pool additions like fountains and spillover spas are all the rave. But, don’t let what’s trending stop you from building the custom pool of your dreams—the pool professionals are here to help you materialize the vision you had in mind for your own personal water hole for swimming, socializing, and simmering down after a long day. We also have the scoop on special software that provides 3D images of how your completed pool will look in your yard all in an effort to help you find the best fit for your home and garden.

So, you’ve got an idea for how you want your pool, but you have concerns about space, design and layout? The professionals suggest planning ahead, as much as six months to a year in advance, both to ensure your pool is built in time for the hotter, summer months and to make sure your pool looks exactly how you imagined it would.

“Do your homework when deciding on your pool and contractor,” said Chad Parker of Parker Pools. “This will be a large investment that will be with you for as long as you own your home. Remember that going with the lowest bid isn’t always the best option, so do your research because, of course, in the end you get the quality that you are willing to pay for.”

There’s a new 3D imaging software, called Realtime Landscaping Pro, which can be used for drawing up 3D renditions of pools. Along with showing you how the pool will appear in your yard, these 3D images can give you a visual concept to work with by showing how much space you’ll be left with after factoring in additions like patio furniture, pool extras like spas and enclosures, as well as the plant life surrounding your pool area.

Now that you know how much space you’re working with and you’ve made a tentative layout for the pool you want, it’s time to get the ball rolling by helping your pool take shape. From freeform designs, which have more curvature and less straight edges like you might find in natural occurring bodies of water, such as ponds and lagoons, to more geometrically-geared pool shapes that are a combination of squares and rectangles, the options are practically limitless. 

Speaking of shape leads to the question of with what material you choose to construct your pool. While gunite, which give a natural slate or stone appearance, has grown in popularity, traditional vinyl and fiberglass pools are still high in demand (especially because they tend to be the most economical option).

If you’re worried about how your fur babies will manage in the new pool, all pool materials can be pet-friendly if maintained properly. However, if you have an especially large dog and you’re concerned about tears, you might consider using gunite instead of fiberglass or vinyl.

Although vinyl liner pools were traditionally limited in the shapes available, today pool providers are pretty much able to build whatever the customer requests, so you don’t have to limit yourself to a certain material because of the shape you select for your pool project.

“Since 1979, we’ve specialized in vinyl pools and repairs,” said Walter Vaughn, owner of Vaughn’s Pools. “But, the experts at our company can install all different types of pools, including San Juan fiberglass and vinyl pool systems by Performance, as well as spas by Dimension One.”

Now, you’ve got the groundwork laid out for shape and materials, the next step is deciding on how to fill your pool: will you choose chlorine or salt water? There’s no judgment here, but alternatives to chlorine systems are on the rise, as well as equipment and filters that cut down maintenance time and increase energy efficiency.

Although in the past those in the Pensacola Bay area relied heavily on sand filters due to their low maintenance and affordable price, this came at the expense of murkier waters. Today, there is a new style sand filter by Pentair with Clear Pro technology that improves water clarity without needing additional chemicals.

Additionally, saltwater pools are trending and many older pools are transitioning to saltwater because of its low maintenance and cost. Even a combination of salt and chlorine, referred to as salt chlorinated, pools can maintain a more consistent chlorine level that requires less “shocking” of the pool and are not as harsh as fully chlorinated pools.

“Saltwater pools are the most popular type of pool around today,” said Tom Jensen of Gulf Coast Pool and Spa. “They have gained popularity for a variety of reasons with reducing the amount of chemicals being the biggest reason, and saltwater feels much better to those with sensitive skin. The cost to maintain salt pools is typically lower than traditional tablet or granular chlorinated pools, too.”

Automatic pool cleaners by Polaris and Hayward OmniLogic pool panels that can be accessed from any smartphone are growing in popularity, since they are making pool maintenance easier than ever. LED pool lighting can also be accessed from smartphones on which you can initiate a pool lightshow for your own (as well as your guests’) entertainment.

Last, but not least: deciding on the finishing touches, or additional features, for your pool.

Since slides and diving boards are not as popular as they used to be, because of strict insurance regulations, the pool providers are finding raised and spillover spas are taking over as the go-to add on features. Popular shapes for raised spas are circular and usually they are placed above ground and near the edge of the pool for easy access; if you’re ready to cool down, hop in the pool, but if you’re ready to relax, recline in your raised spa.

Slightly different are spillover spas, which are placed on the side of a pool and have a decorative waterfall, which that spills over into the main swimming area and adds a sense of luxury to any pool.

Waterfall décor is another trending add on, which can be placed in various ways depending on how you’d like to feature the calming sound of running water. While spillover waterfalls are popularly combined with spillover spas, waterfalls can be added regardless of whether or not there is a raised spa. 

Soak up the sun while staying cool by lounging on a sun shelf, a shallow part of the pool just barely covered with water and usually placed where you can get the maximum amount of sunlight.

With an abundant supply of pool professionals and options in the Pensacola Bay area, including the vinyl-oriented Vaughn’s Pools, the custom gunite-focused Parker Pools, and luxury-aimed Gulf Coast Pool and Spa, there’s no doubt you’ll find the cool pool that suites you.

Vaughn’s Pools
Find out how to build a great space for cooling down in your backyard at

Gulf Coast Pool and Spa
Get ideas for your own pool project as you browse through diverse and luxurious pools and spas at

Parker Pools
Learn how to create the perfect swimming pool area to accent your lifestyle at