Virginia residents planning a beautiful new pool to their backyard have a lot to mull over – and even more options to consider. There’s a pool for every lifestyle, and your pool can help you live your best life. So, what does that look like to you? Do you want your pool to be a lively focal point of your backyard? Or would you prefer it to be a calming oasis nestled into your backyard?
Regardless of your preference, keep in mind that a pool is only part of the package. In Virginia, long, languid summers give way to mild fall weather – with plenty of foliage to admire throughout this heavily wooded state. Virginians also contend with cold winters and occasional snowfall – although the state sometimes gets hit with Nor’Easters that deposit heavy snow. For Virginia pool owners, accessories like an automatic pool cover and a winter cover can help keep falling leaves and debris out, as well as protect your pool during winter months. As an added benefit, an autocover can make upkeep even easier while helping you save on energy costs.
To help you make the best decision for your needs, we’ll guide you through the basics of owning a pool in Virginia, why you may want to opt for either a fiberglass or vinyl liner pool, maintenance tips, and relevant state and local regulations on pool ownership. Let’s dive in!
More than just a pretty, crystalline face, fiberglass pools have a smooth finish that makes them comfortable to wade in – and won’t snag your swimsuit. Because fiberglass pool shells are prefabricated and can be transported into an excavated area in your backyard, it also reduces installation time. The result? You get to enjoy your beautiful new pool even sooner.
Fiberglass pools are also known for their durability and structural integrity. Compared to older materials like concrete or gunite pools, a fiberglass pool requires considerably less maintenance. Because fiberglass is a smooth, man-made material, it’s less susceptible to algae bloom and calcium deposits. That means less time scrubbing your pool and more time playing in it!
Learn more about the benefits of owning a fiberglass pool.
Fiberglass Pool Designs to Suit Your Backyard
If you’ve been dreaming of adding a pool to your backyard, you probably have a clear aesthetic vision in mind. You might love the crisp and classic lines of a rectangular fiberglass pool or prefer the look of a freeform pool with curves that mimic a natural stream. 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.
When planning your pool, think about how you plan to use it, as well as who will use it:
- Do you have young children or teens?
- Will they bring friends over to use the pool?
- Do you have older family members or mobility-compromised adults who will use your pool?
- Do you love to entertain? Will you want to incorporate a grilling station near your pool for cookouts and backyard BBQs?
- Do you plan to use your pool for exercise? If you’re a fitness fanatic, do you also want to incorporate a spillover spa to ease sore muscles?
- Do you plan to devote a large portion of your yard to your pool? Or do you also want to reserve space for flower beds and vegetable gardens?
- 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. Think about how your pool will fit into its surroundings. What sort of landscaping and decking do you want to offset your pool? Similarly, think about the type of fencing you will need around your yard, as Virginia requires all residential pools must be surrounded by a fence or barrier at least 4 feet high.
Maybe you have a small yard or a sloped or uneven backyard. While you might initially be drawn to a specific style of pool, it may not give you the desired effect or useability based on your property constraints. After consulting with an independent pool builder, you may discover alternate options that can work better for how you plan to use your pool. They can also help you make sure your pool meets state and local regulations.
Whatever your style or aesthetic may be, Latham can make it work with your regional parameters. Check out some beautiful real-life examples of pools we’ve built throughout Virginia below. And remember: just because you don’t see a picture of your dream pool here, that doesn’t mean it’s not possible! A local builder in your area may have even more photos and videos to share with you that might not be part of their online portfolio just yet!
Pool Ideas For Hilly or Uneven Backyards
Virginia is brimming with mountainous terrain and rolling hills. From the world-famous Blue Ridge Mountains that span Roanoke and surrounding areas, to Whitetop Mountain and other towering peaks throughout the state, Virginia offers some breathtaking natural scenery.
If you’re one of those lucky folks whose backyard sits at a higher elevation, your pool can allow you to take advantage of nature’s bounty. For instance, infinity edge pools can be a striking addition to your backyard. These custom-designed pools are made to work with the existing features of your backyard, including sloped terrain. An infinity pool allows you an unobstructed view of mountain ranges and overlooks lush green valleys. They’re designed to recreate the look of naturally occurring features like a cascading waterfall or stream, giving the illusion that your pool stretches into infinity with an “edgeless” edge.
It’s important to note that, because they’re fully customized to work with the geographic features of your backyard, infinity pools can be a bit pricier than other options. However, if your backyard sits on a slope, a customized pool can be a great option. Typically, sloped yards come with some challenges for installing an inground pool in your backyard. This is where customization can help you get a pool that works with your specific terrain.
In some instances, a licensed professional builder can grade your land to make it more easily accommodate a fiberglass pool. However, there may be some instances where a vinyl liner pool may be a better fit, offering greater flexibility compared to prefabricated fiberglass pool shells. Your builder can help advise you on your options. Just 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.
A Style to Suit Every Location, from Booming Metropolis to Wide-Open Countryside
Virginia has it all, including glorious mountain ranges and unspoiled rural locales, to urban metropolises like Alexandria and Richmond, just outside of Washington, D.C. Areas such as Northern Virginia (NoVa), Fredericksburg, and the Seven Cities of the Hampton Roads region – including Norfolk and Virginia Beach – round out some of the vibrant and bustling urban pockets of the state. No matter where you live in Virginia there’s a pool that can work for any of the unique features of your backyard.
Virginians in densely populated metropolitan areas typically have smaller backyards compared to those in more rural parts of the state. However, a smaller yard and pool doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style! Streamlined rectangular fiberglass pools, like the Enchantment 9.17, can be a great option for Virginians who want a fully-functional compact pool for a smaller yard. For instance, this model offers a built-in tanning ledge and non-slip steps, giving you a spot for young swimmers to wade, while still being accessible for adults with compromised mobility.
If you live in a more rural area, your spacious backyard can comfortably accommodate a larger pool and give you a place to splash while enjoying the beautiful Virginia countryside. The question is, whether you want your pool to be a part of your backyard or a focal point? If you plan to divide your backyard into sections devoted to different activities – grilling, gardening, or just relaxing – consider a small-to-medium sized 14’ x 30’ pool, like the Laguna or Laguna Deluxe, which features a smaller wading area perfect for kids to join in the fun.
However, if you want your pool to be the place to be in your backyard, a larger fiberglass pool with plenty of ready-made features may speak to you. The beautiful freeform Cancun Deluxe, can be a fantastic option. This pool features an ultra-wide top step that can serve as a tanning ledge along with a built-in spillover spa, perfect for a relaxing soak when the sun goes down and temperatures dip.
Regardless of the type of pool you choose and where you live, consider how it will work with your surroundings. The color and finish of the fiberglass interior of your pool will give your water its color and serve as a defining feature. Our patented Crystite color technology can give your fiberglass pool a beautiful, glimmering finish that sparkles like a natural body of water.
In addition to the hue of your fiberglass pool shell itself, think about color choices for your decking and how it can complement the natural features of your backyard. If you think of your pool as a photo, then your decking is its “frame.” You’ll want to be sure your decking works well with the color and shape of your pool. Do you want your pool water to blend with your decking or prefer that it provides a high-contrast look that makes it stand out? You’ll also want to consider harmonizing your pool and decking with any features of your home. Look at things like the color and texture of your roof or facade, as well as any doors and shutters.
Check out our fiberglass color and tile selector to play around with color palettes and start planning the luxurious look of your new pool.
Pool Designs to Compliment Your Backyard and Lifestyle
When you’re thinking about your pool’s design, consider what features you may want to include to be sure everyone can enjoy it. If relaxation is top-of-mind, envision yourself in a glorious freeform pool like the Vista Isle. Its wide underwater ledge gives you the perfect place to take in the beautiful scenery while sipping a glass of wine from one of Virginia’s many local vineyards.
If young children, seniors or mobility-comprised individuals will use your pool, look for features that make it safe and enjoyable for everyone. Consider fiberglass pools with multiple entry points and/or wading areas, like the Astoria. This breathtaking model has a spillover spa, as well as slip-resistant steps with multiple entry points. It also has plenty of swim-up seating, making it a great pool for entertaining guests and giving folks a place to congregate and chat.
Although many fiberglass pool models are pre-fabricated to include features that speak to your lifestyle, you can also customize your pool with a variety of add-ons to enhance your enjoyment. For instance, if you live in a traffic-heavy area like NoVa, Richmond, or other urban hotspots, pool waterfall features can not only provide you with a gorgeous cascade of water that packs a visual punch, but also helps mask the sound of cars passing by with the soothing sounds of a natural spring. Bubblers and bubble jets can be another water feature that adds a playful feel that invites your youngest swimmers to splash and frolic.
Small Pool Designs for Urban Living
Just because you have a smaller backyard doesn’t mean you can’t have a pool! Homeowners in urban areas like Alexandria, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach and Norfolk may have smaller yards, due to population density. And although Chesapeake and Virginia Beach are vibrant coastal communities, residents may not always want to wade in the ocean and contend with crowds, instead preferring to soak from the comforts of home.
This is where compact pools can pack all the fun of a larger pool into a smaller package. Sleek rectangular pools – like the 11’ x 20’ Tuscan – are stylish in their simplicity, while still offering plenty of room to swim laps and squeeze in some exercise. Even more compact rectangular pools, like the 10’ x 16’ Milan plunge pool packs a ton of features into a small space, as well as 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 wedding cake-style steps and swim-up seating.
Pools to Make the Most of Your Wide Open Yard
If you live in a suburban or rural area of Virginia, not only do you likely have a wider yard, but you also have a wider pool of options. (Pardon the pun.)
If you daydream about a large, luxurious pool, the modern freeform Synergy has a subtly rectangular shape blended with quirky curves that enhance its fun factor. Gracefully tiered wedding cake steps allow for non-slip access, while its generous 40’ length gives ample berth to swim laps or float around with a cold beverage in-hand.
If you have a sprawling backyard, you might not want to devote the entire space to a pool. Rather, you might want to save some space for a gazebo, designate a separate cobblestone patio for a cozy fire pit, or set aside a portion of your backyard for flower beds or vegetable gardens. If this is your goal, a medium-sized fiberglass pool can be a welcome addition that allows you to make the most of your yard. The kidney-shaped Valencia gives you plenty of pool with room to spare for other purposes!
More room in your backyard for a pool also means you can get more creative with your designs, incorporating add-ons like a spillover spa, fountains and waterfalls, as well as unique landscaping features.
While grass and shrubbery may require more frequent trims, “rockscaping” can be a great way to draw attention to your pool and cut back on mowing the lawn or pruning hedges. Consider adding attractive rock beds around your pool and decking, using contrasting colored rocks to create pretty patterns. You can also include larger, boulder-style rocks to offset a waterfall feature, giving your pool design a “back-to-nature” feel. As a bonus, rocks that are large enough to sit on can double as makeshift seating for guests who want to lounge in the sun and dry off!
Inground vinyl liner pools are renowned for their longevity, cost-effectiveness and ease of maintenance. Best of all, they’re highly customizable and can be an affordable alternative if you want to refurbish an older concrete or gunite pool.
Why Choose Vinyl Liners for Your Backyard
Although there are a wide variety of vinyl liner pool shapes and sizes, these ideas are just a springboard for the imagination! Vinyl liner pools can be further customized to accommodate add-ons like tanning ledges, colorful pool lights and water features 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 uneven backyards – a consideration for Virginia residents with uneven or sloped backyards.
Below, you’ll see some gorgeous vinyl liner pools to help inspire your own dream pool. However, keep in mind that builders have the capability to create a vinyl liner design that meets your unique needs. Even if you don’t see a photo of your dream pool, chatting with your local builder can give you access to photos and videos of custom vinyl liner pool designs that they haven’t added to an online portfolio.
Benefits of Vinyl Liner Pools for Virginia Homes
While fiberglass pools are touted for their beauty and ease of maintenance, vinyl liner pools offer just as many benefits to Virginia residents on a quest for their dream pool.
From a variety of add-on features to liner colors and patterns, vinyl liner pools are highly customizable and come in a range of shapes and sizes. A professional builder can alter an existing vinyl liner pool design to incorporate functional features like tanning ledges and multiple entry points, or more extravagant add-ons like fountains, bubblers, or pool lights.
A Perfect Choice for Hilly Terrain
Virginia is known for its natural beauty, including several mountain ranges that dot its landscape. And while gently rolling hills and a mountaintop view overlooking lush greenery can be easy on the eyes, it can also translate to backyards that aren’t quite level or that sit on a slope or rocky terrain. This can present a challenge to installing a pool. However, this is where vinyl liner pools shine!
Because of their highly customizable nature, vinyl liner pools can be a great choice for hilly or uneven backyards. A professional builder can survey your land and provide you with such options as grading your backyard or install a retaining wall during the excavation process for your vinyl liner pool.
Adjust Your Vinyl Liner to Your Lifestyle
Your pool is a major investment that will be with you and your family for decades. How you plan to use your pool now may change in the future. One of the best things about vinyl liner pools is that they can be modified over time to accommodate features that change with the times.
A fun freeform vinyl liner pool like the Lagoon model gives you a variety of sizes to choose from, plus ample space to include a diving board or water slide the kids will love. When the kids get older and leave the nest, your pool can transition into a relaxing oasis or place to entertain friends and family.
If you want to upgrade or revamp an existing pool with new features, timing those updates to coincide with replacing your vinyl liner can save you on costs and labor. For instance, maybe you want to remove older features that no longer suit your lifestyle and replace them with new ones like a tanning ledge or bubble jets. These tweaks should be done alongside replacing your vinyl liner, as those projects are a bit more invasive and you’d need to remove and replace your liner anyway.
If you’ve purchased a home that has an older pool, it may feel a bit dated. Vinyl liner pools can be a flexible option that allows you to modernize an existing pool – and save you time and money on upkeep in the long run.
Throughout Virginia, many older pools were made from concrete or gunite. Although Virginia has hot summers, winter weather can be brutally cold. These cold snaps can compromise the structural integrity of concrete, causing it to age more rapidly. Over time, it can become a financial drain to reinforce and repair every 10 years throughout the lifetime of an older concrete pool.
Concrete pools also require considerably more upkeep. Because concrete is porous, these pools can more easily develop pool algae, making it more prone to unsightly stains and more difficult to balance your pool’s water chemistry. Replacing an older concrete or gunite pool with a new fiberglass or vinyl liner pool can be less costly to maintain, and also save you time and energy on pool maintenance.
Learn more about when and how to renovate an older pool.
Regardless of whether you choose a fiberglass or vinyl liner pool, keep practical elements in mind and some room in your budget for a pool cover. Because Virginia residents experience all four seasons, it’s a good idea to invest in a cover.
If you’re working with a smaller budget, many rectangular pool models are autocover-ready. More intricate shapes, such as freeform pools, may require a custom-cut autocover, which can be slightly more expensive.
Do I Need a Cover for My Pool?
Because much of Virginia is heavily-wooded, with dense forests and trees covering more than 62% of the state, a pool cover can help minimize the amount of falling autumn leaves and springtime pollen from landing in your pool. This can help save you time on upkeep and help you scale back on skimming chores!
Most importantly, autocovers can save lives, preventing kids and pets from accidentally falling in when unattended. An autocover can also keep unwanted visitors from hopping your fence and using your pool. By law, Virginia requires that all residential pools must be surrounded by a fence or barrier at least 4 feet high. However, Virginia (and neighboring Washington, D.C.) is one of several states that leaves it up to local jurisdiction if an autocover may be permitted as an acceptable inground pool barrier in lieu of a fence. Because local laws can change over time, be sure to check with your local building office to ensure your pool – and pool cover – meets all applicable requirements.
Do I Need a Winter Pool Cover in Virginia?
Because Virginia sees a fair amount of snow each winter, pool owners may want to consider investing in a winter cover, as well as an automatic pool cover. While automatic pool covers can keep your pool free from leaves, pollen, and debris during prime pool season, they aren’t made to support heavy piles of snow.
Although Virginia receives an average annual snowfall of 14” state-wide, higher-elevation areas of southwest Virginia, can receive nearly 40” of snow. Without a specially-designed winter cover made to support the weight of heavy snowfall, you could potentially compromise the mechanical components of your automatic pool cover.
A specially-designed winter pool cover can help you safely close your pool before winter and can be removed when you’re ready to reopen your pool the following spring.
Learn more about how to winterize your pool.
Both vinyl liner and fiberglass pools have a lot to offer! One of the main reasons why these pools have become so popular in recent years is that they’re relatively easy in terms of upkeep. 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 your pool looking its best.
Vinyl Liner Pool Maintenance in Virginia
Vinyl liner pools are easy to maintain. A little TLC goes a long way towards enjoying your pool. Be sure to skim your pool each week and test your water pH. You’ll also want to set aside time to give your liner a weekly scrub with a soft bristle brush.
While a well-maintained vinyl liner can last for up to 10 years, staying on top of patching any leaks can help prolong its lifespan. Conduct periodic liner checks and patch any small tears as soon as possible. You can also show your liner some love by using only soft pool toys that won’t damage your liner. Stock up on foam pool noodles, inflatable floats, and foam rubber balls made with vinyl liner pool usage in mind!
For even more tips, download our vinyl liner maintenance checklist to help you stay on top of keeping your pool sparkling!
Maintaining Your Fiberglass Pool in Virginia
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.
With great pool power comes great responsibility. Virginia has several statewide laws and regulations around pool ownership designed with safety in mind. Before building your pool, be sure to do your homework to understand your responsibilities as a pool owner and be sure your pool complies with all state and local laws.
Some pool laws throughout Virginia vary from town to town. Your area may have even more restrictive laws than the minimums set forth by the state. Do your research beforehand to be sure your pool is up-to-code. Working with a professional builder can help you better understand the most recent Virginia pool codes, as well as help you secure the proper permits to build your new pool.
Do you need a permit for a pool in Virginia?
Yes. Regardless of where you live in Virginia, you will need to have a permit to have a pool. According to the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building code, a building permit is required for any pool that either has a surface area of 150 feet, can hold more than 5,000 gallons of water or is deeper than 24 inches (2 feet). This permit code applies to any in-ground, above-ground or inflatable pool, as well as hot tubs and spas.
If you need to excavate more than 2,500 square feet of land during the installation process, the state may also require you to obtain an Erosion & Sediment Control permit.
Be sure to check with your local building office to ensure that your municipality does not require additional permits (such as electrical, gas or barrier permits) to ensure your pool is up-to-code. In some areas, such as Fredericksburg, the city requires that permits must be obtained for any work on your pool, including any alterations or pool remodeling to ensure your pool meets citywide regulatory requirements.
Working with a licensed professional builder can help you better understand which permits you may need to be compliant.
Do you need to have a fence around your pool in Virginia?
The state of Virginia defines a pool as any man-made structure that can hold more than two feet of water. According to the Code of Virginia, Section 15.2-921 all pools in the state must be enclosed by a fence at least 4 feet high, and constructed in a way to prevent small children from squeezing through. All fencing must be at least 5 feet from the edge of the pool at any point and have a bottom opening of less than two inches. All pool fence gates must have secure latches that are set at least 4 feet high and all gates should be securely latched when the pool is not in use.
In some instances, Virginia residents may be able to use an automatic pool safety cover in lieu of a fence. However, because laws change periodically and individual municipalities throughout the state may require more stringent standards than the minimum requirements set forth by Virginia, it’s important to consult your local building office to be sure your pool is compliant with all standards.
Do you need a cover for your pool in Virginia?
While an automatic pool safety cover is not specifically required by Virginia, in some instances it can be used in tandem with or in lieu of a barrier that meets state standards to prevent entry to a pool when not in use. Barriers include fencing (chain link, picket, wooden, etc.) that completely surrounds the pool and is at least 4 feet high with self-closing and self-latching gates.
Consult with your local building office to confirm your fencing meets all requirements and if it is permissible to use an autocover instead of fencing.
How far away does your pool have to be from your home in Virginia?
Virginia regulations concerning how far your pool must be placed from your home vary. For instance, York County – home to Yorktown, VA – requires that “a wall of a swimming pool shall not be located less than five (5) feet from any side or rear property line.”
As pool setback requirements can vary from municipality to municipality, check with your local building office to be sure that your pool is compliant.
Virginia experiences the beauty of four full seasons every year, with hot enjoyable summers, as well as mild spring and fall weather. Winters are cold with varying degrees of snowfall, depending on where you live in the state. The more mountainous regions of VA tend to experience greater annual snowfall than those in less hilly parts of the state.
Many Virginians typically open their pools beginning in April and close their pools in late September or early October. However, adding a heater or spillover spa to your pool can help you squeak out as much pool time as possible, even when nippy fall weather sets in.
On top of your regular pool maintenance schedule, here are a few more seasonal tips to keep in mind if you plan to own a pool in Virginia.
- Spring: Virginia is home to acres of beautiful trees, which can translate to pollen in your pool. Pollen grains can clog your pool filter or lead to the development of algae, which can wreak havoc on your water chemistry. Be sure to skim your pool regularly to remove any pollen grains. Not only will it keep your pool looking beautiful, but can go a long way towards helping you keep algae at bay.
- Fall: While Virginia’s rich forestry makes for beautiful autumn scenery, those glorious red and gold leaves are a lot less attractive when you have to skim them out of your pool. If you don’t have a protective autocover on your pool to prevent leaves from falling in, be sure to skim your pool regularly to fish out any fallen leaves.
- Winter: Close your pool down before winter, taking care to make sure all air is removed from water lines and pool equipment, and that your skimmers are protected from cracking. Experienced pool owners may consider closing their pools themselves, but new pool owners may want to hire a professional service. As the final touch to closing your pool – especially if you live in one of the higher-altitude areas of Virginia that sees a lot of snow – a winter pool cover can protect your investment during snow storms. Winter covers are different from automatic pool covers and are equipped to support the weight of heavy snow that might otherwise compromise the delicate mechanics of an autocover.
How much does a fiberglass pool cost in Virginia
The total cost to install a fiberglass pool in Virginia can vary based on a number of factors, including size, materials, and any features or accessories you want to include, such as a pool heater, waterfall feature, or pool lights. In addition to your pool itself, you’ll also want to account for such costs as decking, landscaping or rockscaping to bring your dream pool to life.
You will also want to save room in your budget for any required fencing or automatic pool covers to ensure your pool is compliant with state and local Virginia building and safety codes.
Can I build my own pool in Virginia?
Virginia requires that all construction projects over $1,000 must be completed by a licensed contractor who has obtained the proper licensure through the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulations (DPOR). This requirement applies to the construction of any inground pool in the state of Virginia.
Latham has a long-standing reputation for helping turn Virginia homeowners into happy pool owners. We’ve served thousands of customers throughout VA, including those in:
- Richmond, VA
- Petersburg, VA
- Providence Forge, VA
- Harrisonburg, VA
- Roanoake, VA
- Waynesboro, VA
- Staunton, VA
- Christianburg, VA
- South Hill, VA
- Virginia Beach, VA
- Chesapeake, VA
- South Hill, VA
Latham is one of the largest designers and manufacturers of pools in the US. If you live in Virginia, our team is here to help you find a pool you’ll love for decades to come. Speak with an independent builder today to make your dream pool a reality.
Want more information? There’s no time like the present to start planning for a pool. Contact Latham today to learn more and enjoy your new pool sooner!