Picture Perfect Pool Bottoms

Designers and manufacturers lavish some love on the neglected pool bottom.

Outdoor living spaces and poolscapes have long received the luxury treatment, with exotic landscaping, high-end kitchens, rippling waterfalls, serene perimeter overflows, and hardscapes made with the finest designer materials. Even in the most beautiful pools, though, one thing is too often an afterthought: the utilitarian bottom.

But thanks to ever-evolving artistic techniques and materials, it’s now possible to lavish some much-needed love on the pool’s deepest surface. These days, commercial and residential properties alike can punch up their pool floors with 3D effects, mosaic designs, and even handcrafted artworks.


Tech meets design

One exciting innovation for the industry is the CEILTRIM 3D Resin Photo Pool Bottom, which utilizes a custom-formulated resin to embed any high-resolution image in pool floors and walls. Because of the way light and water play together, the images appear three-dimensional.

The results are striking, from a dolphin that looks like it’s swimming through the pool, to an intricate and colorful coral reef filled with bright tropical fish, to a diver about to explore an ocean cave. There are also exciting lighting options—the entire image can be backlit. The only limit is the imagination of the designer and pool owner.

“It’s amazing; it is so exciting to me,” says Kristopher Willett, president and CEO of CEILTRIM. “To see the possibilities that this product creates just sends chills down my spine.”


Photo courtesy of Cipriano Custom Swimming Pools & Landscaping


New spins on a classic 

Pool owners can never go wrong with the classic elegance of tile. It’s far from staid, especially when more cutting-edge looks are preferred to traditional designs. Using tile, pool designers and artisans can create almost any effect, from striking mosaic images to shimmering, iridescent surfaces that catch the sun.

For people who want the bottom of their pool decorated with a custom design, tile is a beautiful choice.

“You just have this canvas that’s ripe for something beautiful,” says Jeff Nibler, vice president of sales for Oceanside Glasstile. “We’ve seen a big trend in spending that money and using that canvas a little bit better.”

For Oceanside Glasstile, that trend means lots of custom work, like medallions, elaborate designs, and logos. The firm is currently working on a pool for the owner of the Oakland Raiders, forming the football team’s logo with pool tile, Nibler says.


Photo courtesy of Cipriano Custom Swimming Pools & Landscaping

Pool owners are also using tile to achieve true flights of design fancy.

Take the incredible and unique violin pool—designed and built by Cipriano Custom Swimming Pools & Landscaping—that was made using handcrafted tiles from Oceanside Glasstile.

“That’s an example of using gradients, water jet, and color movement to create something really sophisticated,” says Johnny Marckx, Oceanside Glasstile’s executive vice president.

Not only is the pool’s perimeter shaped like a violin but the tile design on the floor mirrors the instrument’s features, from the slender bridge to the swirling f-holes and strings. Not content to stop at amazing, the design is kicked up even more with the chin rest acting as the pool’s hot tub and the strings illuminated by LED lights.

Photo courtesy of Rock Solid Tile, Inc. 


Capturing the subtle

Of course, other clients opt for less figurative designs, instead focusing on texture, gradients of color, and water movement.

“Subtle can be even more powerful than the most intricate design sometimes,” Nibler says.

For instance, Jimmy Reed, president of Rock Solid Tile, Inc., is working on a project with a custom-blended Bisazza glass tile designed specifically and exclusively for the Hawaiian home. The sun’s reflection makes the resulting iridescence follow you and change as you walk around the pool. Even transition areas—treads, stair risers, outside corners, and the meeting of walls and floor—are delicately rendered with signature details.

“Those are the things that we really focus on visually for the end result. Those little details are what make the pool the jewel of the property,” Reed says. In this case, the pool is “definitely the star,” he adds. “From every angle, it’s a different experience.”

On a current project by Alpentile, tiles on the pool bottom help to capture the coastal home’s neo-contemporary architecture. The home’s five pools are very elemental, with stone, metal, and lots of glass.


Photo by Randall Cordero/Cordero Studios


The homeowners wanted a bright white, clean, and streamlined look that doesn’t distract from the water in any way. To achieve this, Alpentile used the brightest white glass mosaic tile, which has a soft silver iridescence yet lacks color, allowing it to reflect sunlight as white.

“We’ve spent a lot of time creating a very simple and elegant design that highlights the purity of the water,” says Amy Denny, who co-owns Alpentile with her husband, Luke. “The pools are all about the purity of the water.”

There’s also the stunner of a pool at a resort in Maui, where Oceanside Glasstile executed a freeform gradation of color. It shifts from a light sandy hue to lighter blues and finally to deeper blues, echoing the colors of the beautiful beach and recreating the natural world.

“It looks just like the ocean,” Nibler says.

Nibler is equally captivated by Oceanside Glasstile’s work on the pool at Chileno Bay Resort & Residences in Los Cabos, Mexico, which features 33,000 square feet of iridescent sapphire tile.

“When you see it, with the sun and ocean around and the desert behind, it’s absolutely mind-blowing,” he says. “I just want to cannonball into that thing.”

Whatever owners choose for their pool’s deepest layer, they can be sure that today’s innovators and designers will meet them where their imagination leads.


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