Safety always outplays beauty in outdoor home features. But with today’s new technology, expanding knowledge base, and professional expertise, homeowners don’t have to sacrifice beauty for the security of safety features in luxury pools and outdoor living spaces. Pool builders and product innovators reveal some of the industry’s most compelling designs, products, and technologies to keep your pool, spa, or other water feature safe and mesmerizingly beautiful.
To capitalize on a home’s landscape and views—and often the natural beauty that lies in the distance—professionals are developing innovative products that practically disappear to the eye. Jordan Goodman, president of Aquaview Fencing in Los Angeles, has created fencing, gates, and railings for pools, decks, patios, and, balconies that present almost transparent views.
“Our glass pool fences and railing systems don’t compromise your property’s aesthetics with safety features,” Goodman says. “We’re offering a design-friendly alternative to traditional fences.”
One of Goodman’s clients, the owner of a classic Spanish Revival home in Beverly Hills, has a lavish landscape with an inviting pool and spa tucked in the back property. From the pool, unhindered views highlight the desert and city in the distance with Aquaview’s frameless glass fencing. The fence, constructed of half-inch tempered safety glass and marine-grade stainless steel, is designed to last a lifetime, and then some. “We use the highest quality material that will complement your pool or landscape,” Goodman says. “With its modern feel, our frameless glass fencing is a perfect addition to residential and commercial properties.”
Goodman estimates he has installed over a 1,000 Aquaview fencing systems—on beaches, hills, and in cities—since he began his business four years ago. “Our glass fences look beautiful, meet safety code, and can increase the value of a home.” Some of today’s new products have a visibly aesthetic presence on landscapes, often reflecting the home’s architecture.
Aquamatic Cover Systems offers the fully automatic HydraLux cover system, a niche product that protects the pool, provides a measure of safety, and saves water and chemicals that are normally lost through evaporation.
The HydraLux is primarily used on high-end new construction, both in the residential and commercial sector,” says Tom Dankel, vice president of Aquamatic. While the initial cost is higher than traditional tracked vinyl covers, it brings money-saving features: “Eventually you will realize a return on your investment.”
The HydraLux system is powered by Aquamatic’s robust hydraulic drives, eliminating the need for an electrical system or tracks. The highly adaptable systems are made to fit—however freeform the pool shape may be. The system is constructed of polycarbonate European-style slats in a translucent color and black bottom, offering a solar and water-saving advantage. “An uncovered pool loses an average of 20,000 gallons a year,” Dankel says. “With the HydraLux, you save on evaporation and chemical use. There’s also less pump and filtration time.” If the homeowner has a zero-edge pool, the cover can be hidden on the pool floor and raised when needed.
Aquamatic Cover Systems, celebrating 40 years of business this year, has numerous patents, including many on the HydraLux. “It’s an architectural pinnacle of design,” says Dankel of the cover system. “It really pushes the envelope.”
Other experts are developing technological components that improve water quality while hiding unsightly mechanics. “Safety around water is of utmost importance,” says Andrew Kaner, MLA, president of Aquatics Consultants, Inc. in Miami and a master in the Society of Watershape Designers. “You can make the backyard space safe by adhering to general principles of code, but in a way that is tasteful.”
For example, Kaner explains, swimming pool code requires two round drains that are spaced three feet apart. “We would provide drains with a specific dish-type drain cover, which is topped with the interior pool finish: “It practically makes them disappear.” Or, he adds, go with a single unblockable channel drain with a tray and a finish to match.
Kaner and Aquatics Consultants CEO Brian Van Bower, also an expert in pool design, are utilizing toe kicks under benches and in pool walls to recess channel drains so they are safe and hidden from view. Van Bower is a founding partner of GENESIS, which merged with the National Swimming Pool Foundation to educate and certify watershape professionals.
Another detail by Aquatics Consultants helps identify the edges of swimming pool steps and benches, for a safer swim. “We have a recessed contrasting tile band detail that can be installed with a faint contrasting tile or iridescent tile to contrast with the pool finish,” Kaner says. “Placed a couple of inches from the edge, it creates a clear delineation of the edge of steps and benches in a subtle, tasteful way. It’s much prettier than a bullnose tile right at the edge.”
While they built their business around safety, the innovators at LOOP-LOC pool fencing believe that owning a pool should be fun from the very start. So when clients approach the company about its BABY-LOC removable pool fence or one of the company’s safety covers, they have the option of seeing how it will look, with LOOP-LOC’s new Mirage Pool Visualizer.
LeeAnn Donaton, president and CEO of the Long Island, New York, company, says the Mirage is making waves. “Now consumers can see how any LOOP-LOC Luxury Liner or Pool Cover will look,” Donaton says. “They can choose a pool shape, paver color, and liner pattern, then add a cover. The images can then be shared with their swimming pool professionals and on social media.”
LOOP-LOC has been a leader in publicizing pool safety issues since Donaton’s father, Bill Donaton, founded the company more than 40 years ago. “For years, the industry considered safety a negative to be avoided,” Donaton says. “But by bringing safety to the front and center of LOOP-LOC advertising (some featuring a baby elephant, “Bubbles,” standing on a cover) the company showed that it could be a positive.”
One of the company’s most popular products is the LOOP-LOC’s Aqua-Xtreme Mesh Safety Cover, a virtually solid cover made from a light-blocking fabric that deters algae growth. It’s 50 percent lighter than traditional solid covers, so it handles easily.
LOOP-LOC’s Luxury Liners, liners for in-ground pools, are offered in more than 35 different patterns. “The PearlEssence liners are infused with iridescent inks that create a beautiful sparkle and shimmer throughout the pattern,” Donaton says. For especially discerning clients, Loop-LOC makes exclusive embossed designer liners. “You really can see and feel the difference.”