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Lap Pool & Automatic Cover Design

Learn about the benefits of using an automatic motorized pool cover, and get tips for lap pool size requirements.

A video transcript featuring Joseph Huettl, Huettl Landscape Architecture

For this particular pool, as is often the case, the decision was to go with a rectangle. There are two main reasons to do a rectangular pool: One is they work great for lap pools and, two, you can do the automatic cover.

Advantages of automatic coversAutomatic covers are really big these days because they reduce maintenance, reduce evaporation, reduce heat loss, and they're safe. With the automatic cover, you cannot have a pool accident if it's properly utilized. So with the advent of these automatic covers and the popularity of them, many times now the design comes down to a rectangular pool and, lucky for us, rectangular pools work very well in a modern aesthetic. They also work in traditional.

The one consideration when you have an automatic pool cover is, with the rectangular pool, if you want to protect the spa as well, the spa has to be integrated into the pool and more or less flush with the waterline, slightly raised but the pool cover has to be able to go over the spa.

Pool design and materialsWith this pool and this pool patio area, we continued with the winter beige concrete color and the bluestone bands, which carry across the pool to the other side to the raised terrace. With the rectangular pool, we needed to have a spa that was inside the pool for the pool cover to go over it, and typically you locate that off to the side to a corner because you want to keep a lane open for laps.

Lap pools can really vary in size, but usually at a minimum you need at least 30, 32 feet and the more the better as far as not having to turn so frequently. This pool is approximately 36 to 40 feet long, and that's a good size for a homeowner to do laps in. At the one end of the pool, when you have an automatic pool cover, you have to have a vault that this cover wraps into, and nowadays they've got pretty good systems where you don't have to have the old metal cover and you could integrate your pool coping. In this case, we have a precast concrete coping and you can integrate your pool coping with the cover for the vault. So the pool cover wraps underneath this loose-placed coping, which is heavy enough and it stays down in place.

One of the things about these vaults, though, is that they have to have an extension on one side for the motor, and so that can be a design challenge - how to design in what we often call "ears" on the pool vault area to fit that into the paving.

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