Illinois residents have tons of options to choose from when buying an inground pool. To help you make the right choice, consider how you plan to use your pool and how it will complement your lifestyle. Remember: a pool is only part of the package! Give some thought to how it will work with decking, landscaping, and other features that make up the backyard of your dreams.
Depending on the part of the state where you live, IL residents experience all four seasons, but the intensity of weather patterns varies based on where you live. Add-on features, like an automatic pool cover, can make upkeep even easier for your Illinois pool and help you save on energy costs. Additionally, a separate winter cover can withstand the weight of heavy snow for Illinois residents who live near Lake Michigan and other parts of the state that get a lot of snow.
If you live in Illinois and are thinking about purchasing an inground pool, we’ll guide you through why you may lean towards either a fiberglass or vinyl liner pool, maintenance tips, and several key state and local regulations on pool ownership in Illinois.
Fiberglass pools offer a smooth, glossy finish that’s a treat for your feet when wading. Fiberglass pool shells are prefabricated and can be transported into an excavated area in your backyard. This speeds up installation time, allowing you to enjoy your inground pool even sooner.
Fiberglass pools are also easy to maintain and prized for their structural integrity. Compared to older materials like concrete or gunite pools, fiberglass requires a lot less scrubbing and worry about algae bloom and calcium deposits. That means more time for you to enjoy your pool!
Learn more about the benefits of owning a fiberglass pool.
Fiberglass Pool Designs for Your Illinois Residence
You probably have a vision in mind for your ideal inground pool. Maybe you admire the clean lines of a rectangular fiberglass pool or the whimsical curves of a freeform pool. Pools come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. But when it comes to pool design, choosing a shape is just one part of your project. How your pool fits into your lifestyle is another major factor.
When planning your pool, think about how – and who – will use it:
- Do you have young children or teens?
- Will they bring friends over to use the pool?
- Do you have older or mobility compromised individuals who will use the pool?
- Do you love to entertain and imagine your pool at the center of cookouts and backyard BBQs?
- Do you plan to use your pool for exercise or relaxation?
Asking yourself these questions can help you design a pool that works for you so you can play!
You’ll also want to consider how your property layout supports the design of your pool. Your pool is just one part of the equation. How will it work with your Illinois surroundings – including the size of your yard, fencing, decking, and landscaping?
You may initially be drawn to a specific shape. However, after speaking with an independent pool builder, you may find that another shape in a different size may be a better fit for how you plan to use your pool and any property constraints. For instance, if you have a smaller or irregularly-shaped backyard, your builder can recommend options to work with your yard’s size and shape. They can also help you make sure your new pool meets all state and local regulations.
Whatever your style or aesthetic may be, Latham can make it work with any state or local regulations. Check out some of these beautiful real-life examples of pools throughout the state of Illinois. Keep in mind that just because you don’t see a picture, that doesn’t mean it’s not possible! If you’re looking for even more local examples of pools, contact a local independent builder to see additional photos, videos, or walkthroughs.
Pool Ideas For Small Backyards in IL
Just because you have a smaller backyard doesn’t mean you can’t have a pool! Homeowners in densely-populated urban areas like Chicago often have smaller yards.
Rectangular pools like the Enchantment 9.17 pack a ton of features into a small space. Its built-in tanning ledge and easy-access steps make it a great pool for adults with compromised mobility or young children who need a spot to wade and play. Similarly, a rectangular-shaped plunge pool, like the 10’ x 16’ Milan, offers plenty of room to swim laps for exercise, alongside a more shallow 4’ depth for homeowners who just want to wade or float.
Kidney-shaped pools are another stylish classic that can easily tuck into a smaller backyard, such as the feature-rich 10’ x 20’ Jamaica model, with slip-resistant, elegant wedding-cake steps and swim-up seating.
Pool Ideas for Larger Illinois Yards
According to Today’s Homeowner, the average-sized yard in Illinois is around 13,000 sq ft – although the Windy City of Chicago brings down the average due to population density and smaller yards. Suburban areas like Long Grove and Naperville, IL and smaller, more rural towns like Fulton and Elsah are graced with bigger backyards, offering plenty of space to add an inground pool.
If you plan to incorporate an outdoor kitchen or quiet reading nook, or to devote a section of your backyard to a garden, consider a small-to-medium sized pool, like the 14’ x 30’ Axiom 14. It features a tanning ledge and wading area perfect for kids to join in the fun.
If you dream of a pool that’s a hub of activity, you may want to opt for a larger, feature-rich model like the freeform Cancun Deluxe. This fiberglass pool features swim-up seating and a wide top step that pulls double duty as a tanning ledge. It also has a built-in spillover spa, which can help you get more mileage out of your pool once Illinois temperatures drop in early fall.
Pools for Irregular or Sloped Yards
Irregularly shaped and sloped yards are common in the state of Illinois. If you have an irregularly shaped yard, freeform and kidney-shaped pools can be the perfect fit. These pools differ slightly from model-to-model, allowing you to find one that fits the unique shape and contours of your yard. For instance, the modern freeform Genesis is more narrow at 16’ wide, but has a longer 40’ width. For smaller irregularly shaped yards, a traditional freeform model, like the 12’ x 25’ Freeport can fit the bill.
Working with a licensed professional builder can help you narrow down options to work with the unique features of your yard, as well as deliver the experience you want from your pool.
Irregularly shaped yards may pose one set of challenges to prospective pool owners, but so can sloped yards. Typically, as one of the flattest states in the country, Illinois has mostly level prairie land, which means no surprises for folks planning to install a pool. However, parts of Southern Illinois and areas along the Illinois and Mississippi rivers are quite hilly. Residents in these areas may have uneven backyards or rocky terrain lurking beneath the soil that poses a barrier to installing a pool.
In some cases, a licensed professional builder can grade your land to accommodate a fiberglass pool. However, there may be some instances where a vinyl liner pool may be a better fit, offering more flexibility of customization due to their construction, compared to prefabricated fiberglass pool shells. If you’re in an area without a level backyard, be open to new ideas, as vinyl liner pools come in many of the same beautiful shapes and models as their fiberglass counterparts. What matters most is finding a pool that can work with your unique backyard features to give you the most enjoyment out of it for years to come.
Fiberglass Options To Work With Your Lifestyle
When you’re planning your pool’s design, think about features you may want to include to be sure everyone can enjoy it. If you have small children, grandchildren, or mobility-comprised individuals who will use your pool, safety features should be top-of-mind. Look to fiberglass pools with multiple easy-access entry points and non-slip steps. Or consider pools with shallow wading areas for young swimmers to play.
Adding an autocover to your pool package can also be invaluable in terms of easier maintenance and less struggle with a manual cover. It can also serve as a convenient safety barrier to prevent kids from using the pool unattended or accidentally falling in.
If you plan to use your pool for exercise, the Astoria can be a great option for laps, as well as for easing sore muscles in its spillover spa. It also has multiple access points and a wading area that’s great for children.
If the kids have flown the nest and you envision your backyard as the go-to spot for entertaining, a pool like the Axiom 14 can be a perfect fit. Features like swim-up seating and a beverage bar make it a great place for friends to kick back poolside. Plus, a generous underwater tanning ledge offers an ideal spot for lounging without fully submerging yourself.
Think about how you plan to use your pool. This can help you narrow down your choices or spark a conversation with a licensed builder about what style and features will help you find a pool that lives up to your dreams and beyond.
Inground vinyl liner pools are another popular choice for pools in Illinois. They’re known for their durability, ease of maintenance, and can be a cost-effective option. Even better, vinyl liner pools are highly customizable. A well-maintained vinyl liner can last roughly 10 years, but you can replace it sooner to refresh the look of your pool on a budget. Vinyl liner pools are also an affordable option for refurbishing older concrete pools.
Vinyl Liner Pool Designs for Illinois Homes
Vinyl liner pools offer a ton of flexibility in terms of design. While there are a wide variety of vinyl liner pool shapes and sizes, vinyl liner pools can be further customized to accommodate add-ons like tanning ledges before vinyl is laid over the structure. Additionally, because vinyl liner pools are poured into place, they can be an excellent choice for homes that have small, irregularly-shaped or uneven backyards.
Vinyl liner pools are highly customizable. While some of the photos here are prime examples of their beauty and flexibility of design, your builder can work with you to create a vinyl liner pool design that meets your unique needs. Even if you don’t see a photo of your dream pool, ask to see your local builder’s portfolio. They can show you photos and videos of custom vinyl liner pool designs that might not be available online.
Benefits of Vinyl Liner Pools for Illinois Homes
Fiberglass pools get a lot of love for their glossy finish and ease of maintenance, but vinyl liner pools have just as much to offer. There are numerous vinyl liner pool benefits. Here are just a few that may be of particular interest to Illinois residents.
Flexibility of Design
Although there are a huge number of pre-existing vinyl liner pool designs in all shapes and sizes, you can work with a builder to customize your pool. A licensed professional builder can tweak an existing vinyl liner pool design to incorporate features like tanning ledges, wading areas perfect for kids and seniors, custom stairs or multiple entry points. Or, they can whip up something totally bespoke that meets your needs.
Vinyl liner pool shapes can range from classic rectangular and kidney-shaped models, to more eclectic shapes like freeform or L-shaped models that can work well for irregularly-shaped yards.
For IL residents who live in densely populated urban areas like Chicago and have smaller backyards, vinyl liner models like the Gemini come in small, medium, large, and extra-large sizes – making it a great kidney-shaped option that fits into the vision you may have for your backyard.
If you live in a suburban or more rural part of Illinois with a sizable backyard, you have a wide range of medium-to-large sized models to choose from, depending on how much of your yard you want to devote to your pool. For instance, if you want to bring a bit of sleek sophistication to your outdoor oasis, the Patrician model brings classic Roman style with rounded entry points and a wide top step that can be used as a tanning ledge.
Beyond your pool’s design itself, vinyl liner pools allow you to choose from a variety of liner colors and patterns, allowing you even more room for customization.
Great for Uneven Backyards
Although it’s one of the flattest states in the US, parts of Illinois are situated on hilly terrain, particularly those along the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers and at the southern edge of the state near the Shawnee Hills. Due to their ability to be highly customized, vinyl liner pools can be a great fit for homeowners with backyards that aren’t quite level or that sit on a slope or rocky terrain. An expert professional builder can walk you through your options, including grading your backyard or installing a retaining wall during the excavation process for your vinyl liner pool.
Maximize Your Pool Season
Illinois experiences all four seasons. Depending on where you’re situated within the state, some areas can be hotter or cooler than others. On top of being a cost-effective option, vinyl liner pools can be installed fairly quickly compared to other pool types, like concrete or gunite. As a result, your pool can be fully operational for early spring or summer. If you’re thinking about a pool, chat with a local builder to learn more about when is an ideal time to start planning and breaking ground so that you don’t miss a second of pool season.
Vinyl Liner Pool Installation Process in IL
Vinyl liner pools can be installed relatively quickly. Illinois residents often open their pools in April and close their pools in late September. (However, it’s important to note that the city of Chicago mandates that outdoor private residential pools may only be used between June 1 and September 15, and must be drained and covered at all other times of the year.) Making sure your pool is installed, your water is balanced, and that all systems are properly working can help you make the most of your pool once it’s installed.
From measuring your backyard to sealing your vinyl liner in place, learn more about what you can expect throughout the vinyl liner pool installation process.
There are approximately 200,000 residential swimming pools throughout the state of Illinois. Many older pools were made from concrete or gunite. Given Illinois’ cold Midwestern winters with the average “high” temperature peaking at 33F, cold weather can play a role in gradually eroding the strength of concrete, causing it to age and deteriorate faster. As a result, it can be a financial drain to reinforce and repair an older concrete pool every 10 years.
Concrete pools can become flaky and rough with age. Because concrete is porous, these pools can more easily develop pool algae. Not only can algae leave behind unsightly stains on your pool’s surface, but it can make it more difficult to balance its water chemistry. This means more time spent taking care of your pool and less time enjoying enjoying it
Replacing an older concrete or gunite pool with a new fiberglass or vinyl liner pool can be less costly to maintain over time. A well-maintained vinyl liner or fiberglass pool can last for decades and also be less of a time investment in terms of cleaning and maintenance.
Learn more about when and how to renovate an older pool.
Because Illinois residents experience all four seasons, regardless of whether you choose a fiberglass or vinyl liner pool, it’s a good idea to invest in a pool cover.
Should I get an automatic pool cover in IL?
Automatic pool covers can help you save between 50% to 70% on energy costs, as well as reduce water evaporation and chemical usage. When your water levels remain stable, that means less time you may have to spend balancing your water chemistry and more time splashing around. An automatic pool cover can help you use fewer natural resources to maintain and enjoy your pool.
Illinois residents are no strangers to tornadoes, with tornado season falling between April and June. An autocover can help prevent debris from making its way into your pool.
Most importantly, autocovers can save lives, preventing kids and pets from accidentally falling in when your pool is unattended. An automatic pool cover can also help prevent unwanted visitors from hopping your fence and using your pool when you’re not around.
If you’re working with a smaller budget, many rectangular pool models are autocover-ready. More elaborate shapes, such as freeform pools, may require a custom-cut autocover, which can cost more than a prefabricated autocover.
The Difference Between Winter Pool Covers and Autocovers
Due to Illinois’ frigid winters, the state’s pool owners should save some room in their budget for a winter cover in addition to an automatic pool cover. While automatic pool covers add an element of safety to your pool, they aren’t made to support the weight of a large snowfall. Without a specially-designed winter cover made to support the weight of heavy snowfall, you could potentially compromise the mechanical components of your pool cover.
Snowfall varies dramatically depending on where you live in the state. The southern tip of Illinois receives less than 10 inches of snow each year. However, Northern Illinois and the Chicago metro/suburban area sees upwards of 36 inches due to lake-effect snow, given proximity to Lake Michigan.
A winter pool cover made to withstand the elements can help you safely close your pool before a cold snap sets in. It can easily be removed when you’re ready to reopen your pool in April.
Learn more about how to winterize your pool.
Both vinyl liner and fiberglass pools can be a great choice for new or experienced pool owners, given that they’re relatively easy in terms of upkeep. However, depending on which type of material you choose for your new pool, you may have a slightly different task list and maintenance schedule to keep it looking and running its best.
Maintaining Your Fiberglass Pool in Illinois
Although fiberglass pools are low-maintenance, it’s important to keep up with weekly and monthly maintenance tasks. Set aside time each week to check your pool’s chemistry and water levels, as well as empty filter baskets.
Learn more about weekly and monthly/periodic fiberglass pool maintenance tasks.
Vinyl Liner Pool Maintenance in Illinois
While vinyl liner pools are easy to maintain, it’s still important to stick to a regular maintenance schedule. A little bit of weekly and monthly TLC means a lot more time to enjoy your pool!
In addition to weekly skimming and testing your water’s chemical and pH levels, prioritize time each week to gently scrub your vinyl liner with a soft bristle brush. To help preserve the longevity of your liner, be sure you only use soft pool toys made with vinyl liners in-mind. (Bring on the inflatable rafts and foam pool noodles!) Periodically check your liner for leaks and patch them as soon as possible.
For more tips, download our vinyl liner maintenance checklist to help you stay on top of keeping your pool sparkling!
Seasonal Pool Maintenance in Illinois
Regardless of whether you choose a vinyl liner or fiberglass pool, in addition to regular upkeep, here are a few other seasonal tips to keep in mind if you own a pool in Illinois.
- Spring and Fall: Although Illinois isn’t known for its trees and foliage, grass pollen is abundant throughout the state. Between mid-May and late September in IL, pollen is high and can wind up in your pool. If left to accumulate, it can clog your pool filter. Pollen can also lead to algae, if not skimmed off. Pollen in your pool looks like small yellow or green grains of rice floating on top of the water. Be sure to skim your pool regularly to help keep your pool looking its best and keep your water chemistry at the proper levels.
- Winter: Close your pool down before winter, making sure all air is removed from water lines and pool equipment and that your skimmers are protected from cracking. Many pool owners close their pool themselves. However, you can also reach out to a professional service. Investing in a winter pool cover can also help to protect your pool during inclement weather. Winter covers are different from automatic pool covers and specifically designed to handle the weight of heavy snow.
It’s important to note that, while most Illinois residents can use their pools into late fall, the city of Chicago has a strict requirement that outdoor private residential pools must close, drain, and cover their pools by September 15. The earliest Chicago residents can re-open their pools is June 1.
Preparing Your Pool for Tornado Season in Illinois
As a flat plains state, Illinois experiences a “tornado season.” On average, the state endures nearly 30 tornadoes annually. Tornado season in Illinois typically falls between April and June. While you can’t prevent a tornado, you can certainly prepare to safeguard your pool and backyard to help mitigate damages.
Perhaps the most important tip to prepare your pool in the event of a tornado is to turn off all power to pool equipment, including your pump and filtration systems, pool lights, and heaters. While this may not prevent damage to the equipment itself if your home is in the path of a tornado, it can help prevent dangerous electrical issues from occurring. If possible, move your pool equipment to a basement storage unit or protect them with a secure waterproof covering.
When preparing your pool for a tornado, do not drain your pool water. While it may seem like a good idea in terms of preventing your water chemistry from becoming tainted, draining your pool actually leaves it more vulnerable to scratches and scrapes.
Additionally, do not store pool or patio furniture in your pool during a tornado. Instead, store them indoors or in a safe outdoor enclosure.
After the storm has passed, be prepared to clean up any debris in or around your pool. You’ll also need to rebalance your water chemistry or even shock your pool.
The total cost to install an inground pool in Illinois can vary based on a number of factors. Your pool’s size and materials are just one part of the equation. You’ll also want to consider the cost to install decking around your pool, as well as accessories you may want to add – such as an automatic pool cover, heating elements, pool lights, a tanning ledge, or a spillover spa.
When planning for a pool in IL, be sure to reserve budget for necessary items to be sure your new pool is compliant with all state and local laws. This includes fencing. Illinois’ Private Swimming Pool Enclosure Act requires that all new residential pools must be surrounded by a permanent fence or barrier of at least 42 inches or higher. While this is the minimum requirement for fencing around a pool throughout the state, some municipalities have more stringent rules. For instance, Chicago requires that pools with a depth greater than 4 feet must be enclosed by a self-closing, self-latching fence that is a minimum of 5 feet high.
A backyard pool can provide endless enjoyment and family memories. Yes, purchasing a pool can be a big ticket purchase. However, there are a variety of financing options available that can make pool ownership much more attainable than you might think! Learn more about financing options here.
Owning a pool is fun. But it also comes with a fair share of responsibility. In Illinois, the state has several requirements and regulations that pool owners must adhere to in order to be compliant.
State and local laws can change over time – and your local municipality may have additional laws than those that blanket the state. Do your research beforehand to be sure your pool is up-to-code. Working with a professional builder can help you more easily navigate the most recent codes, as well as help you secure the proper permits to build your new pool.
Here are some of the most common questions about pool regulations in Illinois.
- Do I have to have a fence around my pool in Illinois?
Yes, if you plan on owning a pool in Illinois, the state requires that all new residential pools and pool decks must be surrounded by a permanent fence or barrier of at least 42 inches or higher. It’s important to note that this is the minimum requirement for fencing around a pool in IL.
Some municipalities have even more rigid safety rules that residents must abide by. For example, the city of Chicago requires that pools with a depth greater than 4 feet must be enclosed by a self-closing, self-latching fence that is a minimum of 5 feet high. Latching and closing hardware must be positioned at a height inaccessible to small children. Any metal fences must be electrically grounded.
As these rules and regulations surrounding fencing and other compliance measures can change, it’s important to research the most recent laws. Working with a local builder can help you better understand the expectations and help you navigate obtaining the correct permits for your new pool to meet compliance.
- Can I build a pool in my backyard in Chicago?
Yes, you can build a pool in your backyard in Chicago, so long as it meets the Chicago Department of Buildings standards for private outdoor pools. All private residential pools deeper than 48 inches at any point will require a full building permit, “based on plans prepared by a licensed architect or structural engineer.”These pools must meet specific requirements, including that “the edges of the pool must be at least 10 feet away from any neighboring lot or alley” and that any pump or filtration equipment “must be at least 10 feet away from any neighboring lot.” In addition, a residential pool in Chicago must be completely enclosed by a fence or wall at least 5 feet high and equipped with self-closing and self-latching hardware that is out of reach of small children, and any metal fencing must be electrically grounded.The city also has specific regulations around pool type, materials, safety accessories and access points, pool permit application and plans. All pools must also meet Chicago Electrical Code and Chicago Plumbing Code requirements.In addition to rigid codes around pool permits and fencing, the Chicago Department of Buildings has additional standards around pool usage. Outdoor private residential pools may only be used between June 1 and September 15, and must be drained and covered at all other times of the year. The city also has strict hours for private residential pool usage, in that they “may only be used between 8:00 am and 10:00 pm.”It’s important to investigate the requirements for pool ownership in Chicago, as they may change at a given time. Working with a licensed professional builder can help you better understand these local laws and that your new pool meets legal compliance.
- What is the Illinois state code for pool gates?
The Illinois state code requires that all new residential pools are surrounded by a permanent fence or barrier of at least 42 inches or higher. This is the minimum requirement. Local municipalities may have more prohibitive standards. For instance, Chicago requires that all pool enclosures and gates must be at least 5 feet high and equipped with self-closing, self-latching hardware that cannot be easily accessed by small children.Be sure to investigate all local pool regulations to ensure your pool is compliant. A licensed professional builder can help you better understand these laws and make sure your pool is up-to-code.
Illinois experiences all four seasons. Summer months are warm and humid – especially in major metropolitan centers like Chicago. Winters are cold, with northern parts of the state receiving heavy lake-effect snow
For most of Illinois, April through late September is prime pool season. The notable exception is for pool owners in Chicago, who must comply with the city’s requirements that outdoor private residential pools may only be used between June 1 and September 15, and must be drained and covered afterwards. Otherwise, throughout IL, pool owners often close their pools in late September and re-open in April.
What type of inground pool is best for Illinois?
Although both are relatively low-maintenance choices, fiberglass pools are popular for their smooth finish and ease of installation, while vinyl liner pools can be an affordable option that offers comparable benefits. Not sure which option is right for you? Chat with a builder who can help you understand your options and find a pool you’ll love for years to come.
Are you planning to install a pool in Illinois? Latham is here to help you find the pool of your dreams. We’ve proudly helped many homeowners in IL to become happy pool owners throughout the state, including those in:
- Chicago, IL
- Joliet, IL
- Champaign, IL
- Peoria, IL
- Springfield, IL
- Aurora, IL
- Rockford, IL
- Medinah, IL
- Elgin, IL
- Loves Park, IL
- Northlake, IL
- New Lenox, IL
- Oak Park, IL
- Schaumburg, IL
- Park Ridge, IL
- Cicero, IL
- Plainfield, IL
- Homer Glen, IL
- Wilmington, IL
- Blackstone, IL
- Quincy, IL
- Springfield, IL
A new pool can give your backyard even more character and help you make countless memories with loved ones. Join the thousands of happy customers who love their Latham pool and speak with an expert builder today to make the pool of your dreams a reality.
Contact us to learn more and become one of the thousands of Illinois homeowners who love their Latham pool.