Say The Word – Understanding Pool Terminology
Mar 7, 2023

Have you decided to embark on a new pool project to liven up your backyard in time for summer? If you’re a novice when it comes to construction, it can be a little daunting to begin a major project when you don’t understand the lingo. When your pool project is underway, there are some terms that are likely to be thrown around, and it pays to have some knowledge of these before you start. That’s why Melbourne Pool + Outdoor Design has spoken to Danny Harvey of Narellan Pools to lift the lid on some important terminology you will likely come across while your pool is constructed.


One of the first decisions you’ll have to make before embarking on your pool project is the type of pool that will suit your outdoor area and lifestyle, as well as the materials that will work best for you.


“The term above-ground typically refers to vinyl liner pools or blow-up pools, and can cost significantly less than an in-ground pool,” Harvey says. “[They] vary in size, from wading pools for kids to adult lap pools. The owners can take the pool with them or sell it when they move home. Concrete and fibreglass pools can be built above ground, and this would normally be dependent on the site requirements.” You should be conscious of your fencing requirements if you decide to build above ground, as these pools are subject to the same laws as in-ground pools.


“An in-ground pool … is excavated and sunken into the ground. They are predominantly fibreglass or concrete, but can be [made from] vinyl liner or other forms of construction,” Harvey says. “It can be designed as a seamless extension to the home.”


Visually appealing, quick to install and easy to maintain, fibreglass pools are a great option. “Fibreglass pools have come a long way in the past 25 years,” Harvey says. “Once, the only fibreglass pool option was a washed-out blue colour with the top of the shell merging with a plain or exposed-aggregate bond beam around the perimeter of the pool – now the consumer is spoilt for choice on shapes, brilliant colours and the ever-increasing customisation of fibreglass pools.” The shell strength, longevity and safety features for children that fibreglass pools boast make them an ideal option for most projects.

“Fibreglass pools have added safety features for kids [and are] easier to maintain [than concrete pools] due to their smooth surface. The building process is much quicker than in concrete pools. With the wide range of shapes, sizes, colour combinations and unlimited custom-design features now on offer, it’s easy to see why fibreglass pools have become the popular choice with consumers.”


If you have a large-scale project on your hands, a concrete pool may be the way to go. “Concrete pools have been around in one form or another for centuries,” Harvey says. “Unlike the fibreglass pool, which is built in a factory and shipped to site, a concrete pool is built on-site. There are more construction stages involved in building a concrete pool, and therefore the build time is generally longer and the cost in most cases will be more. Concrete pools are ideally suited to those [who want] an unusual shape or a commercial-sized pool.”

Infinity Pool or Negative Edge

“An infinity pool is a swimming pool where the water flows over one or more edges, producing a brilliant visual effect,” says Harvey. “The water flows over the edge into a holding tank of water below. Costs are a lot higher than a standard pool due to the engineering required to customise the pool for site conditions. Evaporation is also a lot higher in a negative-edge pool.” An infinity edge can be used to overlook another body of water and give the spectacular illusion that it is merging with the ocean or the horizon.

Perimeter Overflow

To add a streamlined aesthetic to your home, you could install a pool that looks like a sheet of glass, or that appears as if it is perfectly contained without walls. “This effect is created by a perimeter overflow, [which is] a style used in high-end modern swimming pool designs in which the water overflows its edges and flows into a hidden slot or catch basin where it is then recycled back into the pool,” Harvey says.


Next, you’ll need a few things to keep your pool running smoothly.


Water turnover is crucial to keep your pool looking good and swimmers healthy, and your pump is the way to achieve this. “The pool pump is the ‘heart’ of the pool,” Harvey says. “[Its] job is to circulate the water through the filtration and chlorination system and transfer good-quality water throughout the pool.” Most modern pool pumps are very quiet, however, you should note that local councils set guidelines to limit noise from pumps, including their proximity to neighbours.”

Hydrostatic Valve

“A hydrostatic valve is a pressure-relief device installed on the bottom of a swimming pool, which prevents groundwater pressure [from] beneath the pool [causing damage],” Harvey says. When groundwater builds up, it can exert significant hydraulic pressure on a pool. “[A hydrostatic valve allows] groundwater to flow into the pool, thereby relieving the pressure.”


There are three main types of pool filters that are commonly used in domestic pools today: diatomaceous earth (DE), media filters and cartridge filters – the latter two of which are most commonly used. In the case of media filters, “the water is pumped through the filter and forced down through a bed of finely graded sand, glass or zeolite: as the water penetrates the bed, dirt particles are trapped between grains of the media,” Harvey says. “When the bed is clogged with dirt, the pressure inside is indicated on a gauge to [inform] the owner [that] the filter requires backwashing.”

Alternatively, “the cartridge filter is comprised of a large concertina-shaped cartridge, which provides a larger filter surface than media filters. When the cartridge becomes clogged with dirt, the owner is required to remove the cartridge and manually hose it off”. It’s important to note that some houses are only suited to a cartridge filter due to council regulations.


There are a number of methods to ensure your pool is clean and healthy for you to enjoy all year round. You should talk to your pool builder about the options that will work best for your pool.

In-Floor Cleaning System

“An in-floor cleaning system is designed prior to the swimming pool being constructed or manufactured, depending on the pool interior. It consists of a series of heads, which pop up in the floor and steps of the pool,” Harvey says. “Their purpose is to drive the dirt and debris towards an in-floor drainage point, which is usually located in the deep end of the pool. Once the dirt is removed from the drainage point by the pump, it usually passes into the filtration system, where it will get trapped.”

Suction Cleaner

“The suction cleaner is the traditional pool cleaner that is attached by a hose to the skimmer box. It is powered by the suction of the filtration pump while it vacuums the floor in a random pattern, picking up debris and placing it in the skimmer basket and filter.”

Robotic Cleaner

“Robotic pool cleaners work independently from the filter and pump, and are driven by an electric motor inside the unit, with a cable running to a low-voltage transformer,” Harvey says. “They collect debris in a filter canister within the cleaner. Robotic pool cleaners have built-in intelligence that ensures they don’t get stuck in corners or on steps, and provide better coverage than alternative cleaners.”

Installing a pool in your backyard is an exciting project to undertake, and if you understand some of the jargon that’s likely to be used, you’ll find that the process will be a lot less daunting. So, armed with this knowledge, all that’s left for you to do is to get building!

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