Pool Builder Buzzwords

Pool Builder Buzzwords: What They Are & How We Use Them

Swimming pool building like any specialized trade comes with a long list of buzzwords. However, these are just some of the shorthand ways of describing a custom outdoor environment with the swimming pool as its crown jewel.

Pool design has so many possibilities, and the team at Selah is a custom builder. So we're sincere when we say, "You can dream it, We build it…" because we can design and engineer in-house, and our builders trust us to develop new ideas AND deliver good plans that they can deliver on our promise.

The actual construction of custom builds is tricky because we "build outside the box" and work with native soils & terrains to leave all we can undisturbed and natural.

So, let's introduce our first buzzword: "Field Modification".

Field Modifications (Field Mod.'s) are a part of every project. Most are minor and conducted to conform to the realities of the project's Field of Operation (a.k.a. your backyard.) For example, most Field Mod.'s happen underground and out of sight, like plumbing runs. Field Mod.'s for plumbing have to do with routing lines, but at Selah usually come about in our looped plumbing and deep heat plumbing construction (more on those buzzwords, later.)

Field Mod.'s do occur in aesthetic changes of a design. A design change is often made with your approval if the Field Mod. is significant. Because Selah doesn't charge our clients for design renderings, like some other builders, we usually will re-render a Field Mod. design for your approval. But many times, it's just a matter of a conversation with your Design Consultant or Project Supervisor that keeps the job moving. Just note, you can always contact the ownership at Selah, practically day or night, if you feel your design is not unfolding the way you thought it would. 3D renderings are awesome, but they can never replace the reality of your design. Always talk to your Supervisor immediately if you feel the "words & music" of the design and the build don't seem in harmony with your dream.

When we first meet, your Selah Design Consultant is your tour guide on the journey to deliver your Selah dream. They're experienced professionals backed by experienced teams of designers, engineers, and builders. So, if there is ever a buzzword that pops up, just ask because we want to ensure that not only do you understand what we're saying, but we also want to explore possibilities that you may never considered. And, sometimes, that adds a few funny words to the conversation.

Now, let's list out just a few more, so you can get the gist as we guide you through your Selah Pools dream build:

Pool Beam: This example sounds weird, but it's a necessary design feature. The pool has a thick Gunite™ "beam" that surrounds its perimeter. The pool beam is like the lip of a paper cup. Think of a coffee cup, and the open end is rolled over at the top. This roll is the cup's beam and makes it stiff, so it doesn't easily bend at the opening when you're holding it. The pool beam does the same thing for your pool, it helps hold the pool's shape.

Box beam: Selah has high design standards for our pool beams, including the "box beam" style of construction. The box beam is a double roll of reinforced steel (rebar) bent in the shape of a box to form the pool beam. We pay close attention to the bends & thickness of the box beam and the Gunite™ thickness on the form in part because we have warranties to stand behind that are above industry standard. But, more important, because we build for enduring beauty, the box beam is our standard construction method.

Gunite™: Here's a buzzword that's common but worth a mention. Gunite™ cement is the most common material used to build an inground swimming pool. Gunite™ replaced Shotcrete™ years ago because though Shotcrete™ is an excellent material still in use for cement building, Gunite™ is made with a finer grade of Portland cement, which is essential for durability and helps with waterproofing. If it helps, know that Gunite™ is just a better cement grade. But instead of mixing the cement in bulk, it's delivered to your site as a dry powder and mixed with water only and sprayed (not poured) into your pool shell. This "dry mix" process delivers our advantage because there are no "cold joints" when the spray starts & stops on application, the dry mix Gunite™ naturally sticks, unlike poured concrete that must constantly be kept moving or it will dry and form a cold joint.

Raised beam wall: Now we're into some design buzzwords that you may find more interesting. A raised beam wall is a wall built up on top of the pool beam. Usually, in 6" height increments, raised beam walls can go as high as 36" and have multiple heights in sections to deliver some character beyond a straight line (unless a straight-line suits your design.) Raise beam walls are just stone walls formed on the pool beam.

Drop beam wall: Some properties have significant slopes in their natural shape. We take great care to work with your property's terrain and consider rainwater drainage/runoff and the structural integrity of your build. For example, if your hour home is built on a hill, it's likely your pool or your pool deck will have a drop beam. The drop beam, like a raised beam, is part of the pool beam structure. The "drop" in the drop beam describes that the wall is below the pool beam and not above it (a raised beam.) Many builders can manage drop beams well enough, but Selah engineering takes great care handling these designs. We can deploy mechanical engineering Finite Element Modeling (FEA) if we feel your drop beam needs engineering through computer simulation.

Professional Engineer: Professional Engineer, also known as a P.E., is a degreed civil engineer that has passed the test of their State requirements also to be licensed as a P.E. Selah has engineers on our team, who specialize in structural engineering, but we maintain relationships with many P.E.'s as a 3rd part, so they are as objective as possible and because we appreciate a good review as codes & regulations are regularly revised. Most builds don't require a P.E. "stamp" of approval, but when they do, we're experts at delivering designs & drawings that are reviewed & stamped as needed. And, because we have an established reputation for quality in design & construction, our P.E.'s tend to turn their drawing approvals very quickly.

Now that we've hit some of the complicated buzzwords let's lighten up with some you may hear in designing your dream:

Coping: Coping is a funny word. It comes from the idea of helping your pool cope with its surroundings. Coping is the trim on top of your pool beam and is an interesting design element that you get to help choose for your build. Coping is made from natural stone like Oklahoma Flagstone or can be man-made materials, like extruded concrete with a wide variety of colors & finishes. Then there are high-end material choices like Travertine and old school "Hollywood" style "finger coping" that will give your design a mid-century look.

Tile: Pool tile choices are the unsung heroes of a custom design. We all understand the notion of ceramic tile in a pool, but there are a few things worth mentioning about this great little necessity. First, the pool tile separates the pool plaster and the pool coping at the pool waterline. The goal is to keep your pool plaster always underwater so it doesn't dry out or get hit by sunlight and possibly change color compared to the submerged plaster. Because the tile is partially exposed to both air and water, frost can build up above your water line in cold weather, so Selah standard offers only "frost-proof" ceramic tile choices. Beyond the mechanics, tile choices are spectacular. First, the mixed glass tile sets off a look, especially on a spa. Cleo glass tile is distinctive and best when integrated into the raised beam and the pool tile. Then there are Spanish tile patterns for a Hacienda art deco look. Finally, 18" tiles for straight-line pools deliver an ultra-modern look and, of course, mosaic tile for the waterline and in the pool (we did a professional sports team "horseshoe" like logo for one of our clients, you can see in our gallery.)

Plaster: Part of the pool waterproofing is the pool plaster. Here again, is your opportunity to customize your dream. The basic is a white marble plaster and is what you see in a simple motel pool. White marble is fine; it's smooth & classic, but it will need replacing at some point in your pool's lifetime. More common to Selah builds are pebble plaster materials. The advantage of choice in color & texture means you can easily customize your look. The significant advantage is the warranty from Selah for pebble can be "lifetime" because pebble is easy to bring back to its original color with just a simple acid wash.

Water features: Buzzwords abound in water features.

Sheer descents: A common feature is the "sheer descent". A sheer descent is a slim and hidden waterfall common in a raised beam wall. Sheer descents are measured in 6" lengths, from 18" to 24" and up. They can be custom-made to almost any length with a special order. Sheer descents can also be customized to match a curve-shaped wall, delivering a great look. Sheer descents add sound textures to your build. Depending on your desires, they can be aimed outward, upward, or downward, with each bringing more or less sound. And, of course, at Selah, they're independently plumbed. Their flow is balanced and can be controlled on and off with your Jandy® iAqualink™ phone app. Word of advice? Consider LED lighting in your sheer descents. A sheer descent by itself is a beautiful addition, but adding LED colors does amazing things as the light is broadcast & diffused by the water flow, and you get to change the colors for the mood, again all automated with your Jandy® app.

Bubblers: These little guys are always popular and usually show up on your tanning ledge. Typically they run in pairs, but threes or more are common. A bubbler is a little geyser of water that points up from under the water. There are so many cool things about them. Let's mention one: a bubbler can be like a little thermostat on your tanning ledge. In months when the sun is strong, the shallow water above a tanning ledge will naturally heat up. Want to cool it down? Fire up the bubblers and draw pool water into the area. Flip the switch on your Jandy® app. in cooler months, and then, your first few steps in will be a little warmer. Then, of course, the natural sound of water ripples is brought to you by your friendly neighborhood bubbler. Add a water feature pump and bubbler becomes "super bubbler", again manageable by your app. Here's another opportunity to add modern & low voltage LED lighting effects. App. controlled colors on your bubbler and other water features deliver a great look, even if your party is just poolside.

Tanning ledge: You hear the words "tanning ledge" quite often hear at Selah. What we're describing is the entryway to your new dream design. Not just for tanning, the tanning ledge is your mini-oasis when you want to be in the pool but not treading water. The Selah design team takes great care in designing the tanning ledge because it's the start of your journey into your pool. First, knowing the practical things like making sure to locate the bubblers and their count & spacing is proper, placing an umbrella sleeve in case you want the shade, or using the sleeve for a "Tequila Table" that pops in when you want a place for brunch or set down your eReader. Then our team has to carefully follow the code of regulations for depths & distances of your steps integrated to the tanning ledge, all while making the scene into a dream.

Steps, benches & swim outs: Steps & bench design can be fun, and they don't change the cost of a build much. Because we use Gunite™ for our builds, our steps & benches can be curvy creations that blend in cool and imaginative ways that add your unique style for a build with character. Swim-outs are benches outside the pool shape and are usually used for deep the deep end of the pool. Think of a swim out as another entry to your pool and a spot to rest, when you need a break from your deep-diving exercise.

Step ins: A close cousin to swimming pool steps & benches is the step in. These little guys always show up in a spa design to give you a shallow first step before you step to the bench. Great for swim-outs, the step-ins do the same job for your pool, providing another entry and exit spot for a deep end. Placing a step in takes some thought, and that's where Selah design has you covered. Knowing where your spa jets & lights will be plumbed and considering your traffic pattern from the house to the spa are considerations for such a small but important design feature.

Deep heat: The team at Selah introduced the notion of deep heat plumbing from years of experience. With deep heat, and if you have a pool heater, our team can use the plumbing on your pool floor to send warm water up from the bottom of your pool. Most builders just run the heater plumbing to the inlets near the pool's waterline. This style creates a warm water layer at the surface but a different story below the surface. With a Selah deep heat plumbing system, you get the choice using your Jandy® iAqualink™ app. and a flip of a button; you can send your heated water to the pool floor because Selah designs plumbing with optional actuator valves that deliver this unique control.


Looped plumbing: A Selah standard in both pool & spa design, we hydraulically balance your build with looped plumbing. The idea is that the further your pool water travels down the pipeline, the pressure drops from friction. Looped plumbing is easy to understand when you think of a spa jet because if the plumbing isn't looped, some jets will be "the favorite" That jet's pressure is higher, while some other jets are duds. Looped plumbing means that a pair of plumbing lines follow each other and create a loop to equalize the pressure for each pool inlet or spa jet. It's a balancing technique that some builders will cut the corner on because once the concrete comes in, you can't see how the build was plumbed. At Selah, beyond avoiding the "favorite jet" issue in a spa, we know that balanced pool hydraulics with looped plumbing also contributes to a cleaner and more sanitary pool water experience. Your pool won't have circulation dead spots that stagnate or will be less likely to have spots that build up dirt because your pool inlets will be balanced. Looped plumbing is not an option at Selah, we know it does add cost to our builds, but it's a corner cut we won't take because we want you happy for years after we finish your build.

Stone Columns: For a pedestal supporting a fire bowl, water bowl, or even a fire & water bowl (yes it's a thing), a stone column is such a distinctive inground swimming pool feature. Or just a flat top stone column for a flowerpot or sculpture pedestal is a great look. We can flank your raised beam wall with stone columns that are just slightly taller, setting off the scene. You can forego the wall all together and deliver a formal look to your Mediterranean build. Either freeform or geometric shapes benefit from stone columns, and the columns don't have to be square. Check out our project gallery, and you will see some cool freeform pools with round stone columns that complement a great custom design.

Water bowls: The name says it all, but this water feature is often a missed opportunity that shouldn't be. Water bowls come in so many shapes, sizes & colors; they're a great way to create your one-of-a-kind Selah dream design. The key is working with your Design Consultant because plumbing a water bowl on a new build is just a day on the job for the team Selah, but if your water bowl is an afterthought, then it's a missed opportunity after a build because plumbing would be prohibitive.

Fire bowls: Bring some heat and some straight fire to your scene, with fire bowls in your design. Highly engineered by the team at Jandy®, a Selah-designed fire feature is ready for you, fueled by propane or natural gas and plumbed by a master licensed sub-contractor. Bringing fire & water together delivers a scene like no other, and with optional auto-igniters, you can fire them up from your Jandy® iAqualink™ app. with the push of a button. And, you can certainly turn them off when you're miles away if your family decides to throw some heat and forgets the off switch.

Negative edge, Infinity Edge, and the catch basin: Just call it "edgeless" if you like. We've all seen the photos of these gorgeous designs in the movies. Vista views with edgeless infinity of water meeting the horizon. The key to these designs is the "catch basin" buzzword. You usually don't see this feature, but the water has to be "caught" and recirculated back to the pool as the water flows over the infinity edge. Infinity edge pools are definitely in Selah's portfolio, and it does some significant talent to make them smooth & level for the water to flow across the entire horizon. Special attention is paid to the pool equipment because that flow requires more pumping capacity than a traditional inground pool. So be prepared if you're talking negative edge; you're also talking about things like a catch basin and solid Jandy® sized pumps. But there is nothing like the infinity look in a pool. Now you may want to talk to your Design Consultant about the same great look scaled down to an infinity-edge spa, or maybe both for a total wow factor. The choice is yours at Selah.

Deck jets: The "Las Vegas" grand look for your build. Deck jets are a popular water feature that spring a column of water from a nearly hidden source, then on and up into your pool, spa, or fountain. Typically hidden in your pool deck (the name "deck" jet), they don't have to be limited to the deck. A small pedestal of decking anywhere around the pool can host a deck jet when Selah designs it. We've mentioned LED illumination for other water features, and a deck jet delivers an especially cool light effect. The water column acts like a fiber-optic and channels the LED light from take-off to landing, like a water-powered firework display. And as always, your Jandy® iAqualink™ app. can manage the on/off and color of your deck jet with the push of a button.

Spa spillover: The spa spillover as a buzzword seems simple enough, but here again, we find some new buzzwords. First, a pool adjoining spa should always have spillover into the pool. The spillover helps circulation because a spa typically doesn't have a skimmer entry. With no skimmer, any floating leaves or things need to spillover into the pool to be collected by the skimmer system. Then, with the push of a button on your Jandy® iAqualink™ app., you go into "spa mode", where the spa will maintain a level just below the spillover to keep the water warm if you want just the spa heat cranked up. Spa spillover designs come in traditional styles. The most popular is a "tiered descent" spillover, like a wedding cake of stone ledges for a quieting trickle-down effect. A flat spillover is great, and we've done some work in very thin travertine materials that give a flat spillover a glamorous look. Then there is the "flush" spillover, when the spa is set with its water level equal to the pool. So many choices, but we have a saying at Selah "always get the spa". Seriously, so many clients say they won't use it and then find out in the end, the spa gets more regular use than the pool, usually around the holidays!

Rolled beam and Rolled spa beam: Back to the beam. The pool has one, and the spa does too because the structure is important for enduring beauty. Then there is the rolled beam, and it's just for excellence in aesthetics & comfort. The rolled beam means that instead of the coping extending out over the water, the beam is rolled smooth on the spa interior. Rolled beams are almost always covered with glass tile because the smaller tile segments can conform to the smooth shape. But better yet, the glass tile on a rolled beam is a fantastic look and feels great when you lean back & relax. Round, square, or custom shapes, the team at Selah can design, engineer & build your rolled beam for the ultimate Luxe pool appeal.

Raised or Flush Spa: Worth a mention is the spa height buzzwords. Raised & flush are simple ways of describing the spa height above your pool's coping. Typically, in six-inch increments, a spa is raised up to as high as eighteen inches. Higher than eighteen does happen, but we'll need to look at steps & elevations for a comfortable entry & exit.

Variable speed pump: If you've ever noticed the lights in your home dim for a moment when your air conditioner turns on, that's the effect of a single-speed motor. That A/C motor only knows two speeds, "on" or "off" and when it turns on, it spikes power demand to start up. Recently, the regulations for a pool pump changed to require a variable speed pump vs. a typical single speed. There are many good reasons; the best is that energy requirements on a variable speed pump motor are much lower. A variable speed pump means the pump motor can operate at a variable rate and doesn't have that kick from off to on, like that A/C motor. But there's more; a variable speed pump can be adjusted seasonally using your Jandy® iAqualink™ app. When your pool is getting a lot of use, goose the speed up for better sanitation. When things are cool & quiet, drop it down just to keep things moving. And, better yet, your Selah tech. can set up the speeds, so they're higher at night when rates are cheaper, and your pool is swim-ready the next day, every day. Plus, variable speed pumps are quiet. Modern pool equipment sets from Jandy® are usually quieter than that single-speed A/C unit we mentioned.

Retaining walls: Retaining walls are a common feature, but they can add more value to a Selah build. Managing runoff & drainage in a yard is an important consideration when creating an inground swimming pool. Elevations and proximity to the home are elements to be considered, and if there is even a mild slope in your yard, a retaining well will offer additional protection. The good news is, with Selah's design, retaining walls can be integrated into the pool design. For example, a raised beam wall can trail off into your yard as a retaining wall designed to look like it's an expanding part of the scene. In addition, we can often integrate retaining walls into full-featured seating walls, patio bars, or outdoor kitchens to bring more value. The key is harmony in design with your home's style, and your tastes, married with sound engineering & construction methods come rain or shine.

Seating walls: Stone seating walls may sound a bit harsh, but with design & material choices, they can feel smooth & comfortable. Most importantly, they are sure to outlast most outdoor furniture and look great for years with no maintenance. We can work seating walls into your design, like retaining walls, in a way that complements and expands your entire scene, while they accommodate large gatherings with a guaranteed place to sit & relax.

Arbors, Pergola, Patio & Patio Extensions in Aluminum and Cedar: There are many terms you will hear when describing an outdoor cover. Even municipalities will call them "accessory structures". All you really need to know is that Selah can accommodate any or all of them. There are only a few fine points, 1) is the roof solid or open, and 2) is the structure attached to your home, or is it free-standing? From there, all the possibilities are open. Selah can build solid roof structures with semi-transparent poly materials that are insulated so they don't turn your cover into a heat lamp, but you still get natural light. A solid roof can have a single pitch for a cabana look or peaks, gables & gussets for a traditional Southwestern look. An Arbor technically is an open roof shade structure. The Mediterranean ideal is to have shrubbery & vines grow up into the arbor to create a natural shade structure. Then, of course, your choice in materials includes wood, typically cedar, or our new line of aluminum structures custom fabricated in Texas and Florida.

Outdoor kitchen Galley, L-Shape, or custom: Outdoor kitchens come in any shape & size you like when you build with Selah. As a custom builder, we've even built curved kitchens and round cast concrete tabletops, so let your imagination be your guide. As for the outdoor kitchen buzzwords, a galley kitchen is a way of saying a straight line, whereas an L-Shape kitchen is just that. Typically measured in linear feet, a good-sized outdoor kitchen should be at least twelve to fifteen feet long to give the chef room to work.

Backsplash: Along with outdoor living space that includes an outdoor kitchen, a pub high bar top, or a full-featured outdoor dining amenity center is a backsplash. The backsplash outdoors is like the one for your indoor kitchen but typically gets topped with a shelf that hangs over both sides. The overhang is usually more so on the outside. You can get creative with the backsplash, with edge trim and tile, or match the materials already in your design. We encourage backsplash in countertop design because it's a small touch that adds so much to your space's look and utility.

Bar Top: It's all about the height. A bar top is usually suited for a pub-high chair and is often part of a Selah outdoor dining scene. But of course, we're also pool builders, which means you can have a bar top on your pool beam; with round pool benches, you now have a swim-up bar top! Depending on your desires, we can show you some great build examples of how a bar top works into a swimming pool scene, with a slight touch that changes the feel of your design to a custom-tailored outdoor environment.

Outdoor kitchen appliances: The keyword here is "outdoor". Your Selah Design consultant will show you the best brands & warrantied lines on the market, your designer will make sure they fit & flow the way they should, and the build team will cut, connect & install them with professional precision. There are some unique options in outdoor kitchen design, including the outdoor kitchen stainless steel ice chest. Not something you would find indoors, but the sunken outdoor ice chest is an excellent option for "ice cold" convenience that a refrigerator doesn't quite match.

Play Pool Vs. Diving Pool, Vs. Commercial pool: Swimming pools are generally built for fun, so "play pool" sounds like it would fit all of the above. But in the building industry and the code, a play pool is just shorthand for a pool built for play depths and not meant to be deep enough for diving. For example, a diving pool tends to start at a depth greater than six feet but is more commonly eight feet on the deep end. The term "commercial pool" seems obvious, like a public pool would be commercial. But, when a pool perimeter is greater than 120 feet in residential builds, it's considered a commercial pool, even if it's for a private residence. Oh, lest we forget, there is also the Olympic size pool, which measures in at a whopping 492 perimeter feet and over 600,000 gallons of water!

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