Whether you desire a bit of privacy, protection from the sun and insects, or an endless swim season, a pool enclosure or conservatory can provide you with a more luxurious swimming environment.
From the heat of summer in California to the rainy season in Florida to the coldest winter in Connecticut, an enclosure will allow you to comfortably enjoy your pool and landscape any time of year. And in the hands of a skilled designer or builder, it will also add an elegant architectural accent to your home.
If you’re ready to transform your outdoor pool into a relaxing indoor pool room, unique entertainment space, or year-round outdoor living oasis, prepare to discuss the following topics with your builder as you plan the design of your pool enclosure.
Glass Pool Enclosures
Just as a pool enclosure or conservatory lets the sun filter through and fill the room with its lovely natural light, it will also draw in its heat during the summer and let it out in the winter, which can hamper the pool room’s comfort and usability. The type of glass you choose will have the greatest impact on controlling the environment inside your pool enclosure.
“In the last 20 to 30 years, there’s been a total revolution in the types of glass that are available,” says Alan Stein, president of Tanglewood Conservatories, Ltd., Denton, Md. These options include insulated double- and triple-paned glass that are filled with dense argon gas which makes it difficult for warm and cold air to pass through. Low-emissivity (low-E) coatings are another improvement. “Low-E coating is a very thin metallic coating that’s sprayed on to one of the surfaces of the glass and acts to reflect either heat or light,” explains Stein. Low-E coated glass can reduce heat by up to 50 percent and cut down on UV penetration, which will minimize heating and cooling costs.
Above: Showcasing an elegant cathedral design, this glass pool enclosure allows the homeowners to experience all of the beauty of the outdoors without setting foot outside.
With the new advancements in glass, pool enclosures and conservatories are better able to be adjoined to a home and become a practical, energy-efficient, and functional room throughout the year. However, as Amy Magner, director of the U.S. branch of Oak Leaf Conservatories, Ltd., points out, “just having the best glass in the world is not going to mean that your space is going to be comfortable without other things, such as heating, cooling, ventilation, and possibly shades or blinds.”
Your designer or builder will discuss options with you to achieve the right environmental conditions for your pool enclosure, including properly sized dehumidification and ventilation systems to help maintain the humidity level inside the structure and ensure adequate air flow. “In every pool enclosure application, we always have an HVAC company study the volume of air, amount of water surface, how often the pool is going to be used…the average temperature of the location where the room is going to be installed, and we make sure that the system that’s designed for the dehumidification is adequate to handle the systems,” says Rob Suman, president of Creative Conservatories, Quakertown, Pa.
Your designer may also recommend skylights or high windows that open to allow the hot air to escape; an open roof system and sliding glass doors are another option and can create the feeling of an outdoor pool during the summer.
Above: Doors at the far end of the pool enclosure open up to a large balcony overlooking the water.
While chlorine is safe and effective for keeping a swimming pool clean, it can present certain challenges for enclosed pools. As chlorine reacts with bodily oils and sweat in the water it forms chloramines, which exist as vapors above the water’s surface and are responsible for the smell and irritations associated with chlorine pools.
In enclosed or indoors pools, chloramines can build up because of the reduced movement of fresh air over the pool. High chloramine levels can pose a health risk to swimmers as well as corrode metal surfaces inside the enclosure, including windows, frames, ductwork, and HVAC equipment.
Most pool professionals and companies specializing in the construction of enclosed or indoor pools recommend installing a supplemental water care system, such as an ozone generator or UV sanitizer, to reduce chlorine use and maintain safe air and water quality inside the room. These sanitizers work in conjunction with chlorine, but require only a small amount—they typically reduce chlorine levels by 50 to 90 percent.