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Basics and Benefits of Tanning Ledges in Custom Pools, Part 2

In part one of this two-part blog series, we went over some of the basics regarding tanning ledges in pools. A customization area that’s becoming more and more common in recent years, the tanning ledge offers both comfort and aesthetics to many different pool types and designs.

At Packman’s Pools, we offer a wide variety of custom pool construction options, including tanning ledges when desired. What are some of the common materials used for tanning ledges, and how can you customize these options to fit your needs? We’ll go over this plus some installation tips in today’s blog.

tanning ledges custom pools

Tanning Ledge Material Options

There are two primary choices you have when installing a tanning ledge: Choosing a pool model that has one built-in, or installing one beside the main pool shell itself. Regardless of which choice you make, ledges are generally available in three common materials:

  • Concrete: Concrete is a top option due to its ease in customization – it can be built to virtually any shape or size, and placed anywhere within your pool design. One minor downside with concrete is that the surface isn’t quite as smooth as others, meaning kids who want to run and play on the surface might be out of luck.
  • Vinyl: Vinyl liners are extremely affordable and smoother than concrete surfaces. They are also more sensitive to wear and tear, however, and they require proper sealing to prevent leaks.
  • Fiberglass: For the best combination of smoothness and safety, fiberglass is the way to go. It’s completely safe, and also helps leave plenty of swim space open. Fiberglass ledges are not quite as customizable, however, a consideration you should remember.

Customization Features

While customizing the shape and size of your tanning ledge often relates to which material you use and the shape of your pool overall, there are a few other features you can also consider. Many people include lights with their tanning ledges, for instance, and others choose bubblers that shoot streams of water above the pool’s surface – creating a fountain-like effect. Some even combine these two services, placing a built-in light within the bubbler that offers great aesthetics and a fun area for kids to play around in.

Tanning Ledge Installation

You should always discuss the building and construction of a tanning ledge before installation. Within this area, another distinct benefit of fiberglass is the time it takes to install – it only takes a couple hours, this compared to day-long projects for most vinyl or concrete ledges. Speak to our pros in advance about tips and safety areas for the installation of such a ledge in a previous pool model.

For more on tanning ledges, or to learn about any of our custom pools or hot tub options, speak to the staff at Packman’s Pools today.

Basics and Benefits of Tanning Ledges in Custom Pools, Part 1

At Packman’s Pools, we’re thrilled to be your first stop for custom pool construction. Whether you’re looking for a relatively simple fiberglass swimming pool, a complex inground pool or any other option, our team will work with you from the design phase all the way through installation.

One customizable area that many modern pool buyers are becoming more and more interested in over recent years? The tanning ledge, which offers several benefits in terms of comfort and enjoyment for warm-weather fun. This two-part blog will detail exactly what tanning ledges are for those unfamiliar with them, plus some basic dimension considerations to keep in mind and the kinds of materials you might choose for your tanning ledge if you’ve decided to install one.

tanning ledges custom pools

Tanning Ledge Basics and Uses

A tanning ledge is commonly referred to by several other names: Tanning shelf, baja shelf, sun shelf or a few others. All of these mean the same thing, though – a shallow shelf in a pool that spans either its entire width or part of it, allowing for both entry to the pool and several areas of relaxation.

Once you install a tanning ledge, your options for it are virtually limitless. Many pool owners like to add furniture items like chairs, umbrellas and drink holders, turning the ledge into a perfect relaxation area where you can quickly slide off and take a dip if you desire. Others use them as play areas for the kids or pets in the home, or as some kind of hybrid between these areas.

Size of Tanning Ledge

So how large a tanning ledge should you choose? While most tanning ledges are a minimum of five feet wide, allowing space for items to be placed on top, you can essentially dictate this based on your own needs and the size of your pools. Most fiberglass tanning ledges are between five and eight feet wide – enough space for a few items, but not so much that the actual swimming space is blocked entirely.

Depth of Tanning Ledge

What about the depth of the ledge itself? This is also up to you, though remember that the depth of the ledge determines how much water will be at your feet when you stand or sit on it. In most cases, there will be about three inches between water surface and the top edge of the pool, so a ledge that’s nine inches deep will cause about six inches of water to remain above the ledge threshold.

We wouldn’t recommend going much deeper than 12 inches for the ledge depth, leaving nine inches of water for you to stand in – this is a good depth for kids and pets, but also the maximum depth at which we’d recommend placing furniture in the water (it might begin to float otherwise).

For more on tanning ledges, or to learn about any of our other custom swimming pool construction or design services, speak to the staff at Packman’s Pools today.

How a Swimming Pool’s Filtration System Works, Part 2

In part one of this two-part blog series, we went over some of the primary components included in a swimming pool’s filtration system. This system, which is vital for keeping pool water clean and safe to swim in, is one of the primary areas you’ll have to think about when it comes to maintaining a new swimming pool.

At Packman’s Pools, we’re happy to help you understand the filtration options and details for any of our custom swimming pool construction projects. In today’s blog, we’ll go over a few of the additional components of a standard pool filter, and the important factors to know for each of them.

swimming pool’s filtrations system

Filters and Microns

We discussed the different types of specific filters that may be used in a swimming pool in part one, and this section is an add-on to that. One important element of any pool filter refers to the size of debris and contaminant it can catch and remove – within filters, this measure is done using “microns,” or millionths of a meter. Here are the general size that certain contaminants generally sit at, measured in microns:

  • Human hair strands: 50 to 100 microns
  • Household dust particles: 4 microns
  • Pollen particles: 30 microns
  • Bacteria: 2 microns or less

As you may have guessed, the lower the micron level a filter catches, the more completely it will filter your water.

Salt Chlorine Generator

One note here: If the pool you purchase contains a traditional chlorine system rather than a salt system, you can skip this section and move on. In saltwater pools, however, salt is added to the filter, which converts it to chlorine.

Salt chlorine generators are necessary in these cases, containing both a cell and a control board for operation. The cell connects to water pipes, while the control board sits in a separate location. When filtered water enters this cell, a group of grids and an extremely low electrical current converts the salt within it to bubbles of chlorine, which reacts with the water to form a cleaning acid.


Pool heaters often have a big job, and they come in a few different styles:

  • Electric heat pumps (many of these come with chiller features for those in warmer climates)
  • Natural gas or propane heaters
  • Solar heaters

Generally speaking, heat pumps are by far the most common form of heater chosen. They’re affordable to operate and durable, lasting for many years without significant maintenance needs.

Return Jets

Finally, the pool’s filtration system contains return jets, which as the name suggests are in charge of returning filtered water back to the swimming space of the pool. Within a spa, these would be called spa jets.

For more on the components of a pool filtration system, or to learn about any of our custom swimming pool builder services, speak to the staff at Packman’s Pools today.

Understanding Gelcoat Surfaces in Fiberglass Pools

For many homeowners looking for a new swimming pool, a fiberglass pool option is among the top available options. Fiberglass is a great choice in part due to its limited maintenance needs, which are largely due to a special gelcoat resin that’s created through waving glass strands into a specific, hardened fabric.

At Packman’s Pools, we offer fiberglass as just one of our high-quality pool material options. What exactly is the gelcoat that will be used in our fiberglass swimming pools, and how does it compare to other similar pool surfaces?

gelcoat surfaces fiberglass pools

Gelcoat Basics

Gelcoat is a broad term used to describe a colored resin that’s used on fiberglass pools and other related surfaces. The gelcoat covers the shell of fiberglass that’s used for the primary material. Gelcoat on its own is actually a liquid, one that’s stored separately in drums until it’s needed for the fiberglass surface, at which time compressed air systems are used to spray it onto the surface for application.

Gelcoat Testing

To test gelcoat and confirm it has the proper qualities and is also safe and healthy, a boiling format is used. Water is boiled in a container, and a piece of fiberglass pool shell complete with gelcoat is placed on top of the water. The steam from the boiling water will then react with the gelcoat. Through this reaction, we can see how much the color of the gelcoat will fade, whether any blisters or other issues form as a result, and other basic responses to stress from the gelcoat surface.

Gelcoat Application

As we noted above, the primary method for applying a gelcoat to a fiberglass pool surface is using a compressed air spray gun. This air has to be kept clean and dry – to accomplish this, it’s first purified in a multi-step process.

Once the air is of the proper quality, the gelcoat will usually be applied in three basic passes. The goal is to create a gelcoat surface that’s about 25 to 30 millimeters thick, and precision is important here: A surface that’s too thick may crack easily, while a surface that’s too thin may not cure well and will be more susceptible to blisters.

Comparisons to Similar Pool Surfaces

Let’s compare gelcoat surfaces to a few related surfaces you’d find on other pool materials. One is concrete pool plaster:

  • Lifespan and maintenance needs: Both gelcoat and concrete plaster are very strong and durable, and you don’t have to worry about premature wear. Plaster requires a bit more maintenance than gelcoat due to possible algae presence, but this isn’t too much of a concern – you just need to steel brush it weekly or so, and acid wash it every few years.
  • Feel: Gelcoat is known for its smooth texture at all points, but also has anti-slip technology that keeps it safe in the pool. Concrete plaster, on the other hand, is very rough and may require some care if small children regularly use it.

Another common pool material is vinyl liner:

  • Lifespan and maintenance: Vinyl liners need to be replaced at least once a decade, and sometimes more often, due to basic wear-and-tear – as we noted, this doesn’t really happen with gelcoat surfaces, which never need to be refinished. Vinyl liners need less maintenance than concrete, but still may have small algae issues in their corners.
  • Feel: Both fiberglass and vinyl surfaces are very smooth and comfortable to walk on.

For more on the gelcoat surface of your fiberglass pool, or to learn about any of our custom swimming pool construction options, speak to the staff at Packman’s Pools.

How a Swimming Pool’s Filtration System Works, Part 1

There are several important components to know about if you’re a homeowner purchasing a custom swimming pool, and one such component is the pool’s filtration system. Vital for cycling through and purifying the water in your pool, filters play a big role in the health and safety of everyone using the swimming pool.

At Packman’s Pools, we’re happy explain the filtration system in detail for any of our new swimming pools. In this two-part blog, we’ll go through several of the standard components that are generally used in a pool’s filter, a few options that might be available to you in certain areas, and some other important details to know.

swimming pool filtration system

Skimmer and Main Drain

For starters, your pool needs to be able to pull in water from the main swimming area to begin the process of cycling it through and cleaning it. It does this from two primary sources: The main drain and the skimmer.

The main drain, as the name suggests, is a large drain that generally sits at the bottom of the pool. The skimmer, on the other hand, is a square or rectangular opening near the surface of the pool, right beneath the coping (some pool water will naturally sit inside the skimmer when it’s oriented properly). Both these sources pull in water toward the pump and filter.

One note here: A greater and greater number of new pools today are being made without main drains included. These options simply include skimmers only – this is common for smaller pools in particular, which often don’t need a main drain for effective filtration.

Pool Pump

Once water has been pulled in by the main drain and/or skimmer, it reaches the pump area. Most pool pumps show a large, round front section that extends backward – this front section is known as the strainer pot, which, as the name suggests, begins straining impurities out of the water. It catches larger pieces of dirt and debris before sending the water along to the filter for a more detailed clean.

Pool Filter – Types and Uses

From the pump, water moves to the pool filter. This is one area where there may be some choices available – pool filters generally come in three styles:

  • Cartridge filter: The most common type for modern pools, cartridge filters use large sheets of cloth or paper folded accordion-like into cartridges that catch debris. Certain pools will use single-cartridge filters while others will require more than one.
  • Sand filter: A tank full of sand, with pipes that send water evenly through the sand, which catches debris.
  • DE (diatomaceous earth) filter: Filters that use grids covered in “DE powder,” essentially a form of fossil dust, that can catch debris and filter it out.

For more on the filtration process in your pool, or to learn about any of our custom swimming pool options, speak to the pros at Packman’s Pools today.