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What Are the Main Types of Pool and Spa?

infinity edge swimming spa pool - different types of pool

There are many different types of pool and spa depending on the building material, filtration system, size and technical features. The most popular types of pool are listed below with their key differences and benefits. Typically pools will fall into one of three categories Deck-Level, Skimmer or Infinity.

Deck-Level Pools

SpaFlo stainless steel deck level swimming pool

Deck-level pools (or level deck pools) are pools where the water comes up to the same level as the surrounding deck or surface. The surface water (the most polluted water) constantly flows into a perimeter pool channel which then falls under gravity through several drop-outs into a balance tank. The water is sucked from the tank, filtered, treated and returned to the pool.

Deck level pools are widely considered to offer the best circulation system and are considered more luxurious aesthetically than freeboard skimmer pools.

When people swim in a deck-level pool, water is displaced and therefore a balance tank is necessary to replace the lost water. The balance tank and accompanying equipment can add quite a lot to the price of a pool which is why many opt for a lower-cost freeboard option.

Deck Level Pool Summary

  • The pool water is at the same level as the finished pool surround.
  • The most polluted surface water flows into a perimeter pool channel then falls into a balance tank.
  • Widely regarded as the best circulation system.
  • Can be more expensive due to the balance tank and equipment.
  • Better for indoor installations as less debris can get into the pool.

Freeboard Pools / Skimmer Pools

SpaFlo stainless steel hot tub and skimmer pool in private back garden

A freeboard pool (or skimmer pool) is a pool where the surround is higher than the water level. Most traditional underground pools you can think of will be a freeboard pool. Polluted water is removed using in-built skimmers in the pool walls so there is no need for a balance tank.

The skimmers are usually set around the same height as the water surface and will remove and process the thin surface layer of water, removing the majority of debris and pathogens from the pool.

Freeboard pools are usually cheaper to install as the filtration system is simpler and lower cost.

Freeboard Pool Summary

  • A pool where the surround is higher than the water level (not deck-level).
  • Water is removed from these pools by ‘skimmers’ in the walls.
  • There is no need for a balance tank with ‘skimmer’ or freeboard pools and spas, making them cheaper to create or install.
  • Border tiles and unique finishes above the water line can be used to add a unique style.

Infinity Edge Pools

SpaFlo stainless steel infinity edge pool installed in a commercial health spa

You have probably heard of an infinity pool, sometimes known as a cascading pool. Infinity edge pools have at least one side the water cascades over, giving the illusion that the pool water continues into the horizon. These are usually installed outdoors where there is a beautiful view or a drop in the landscape.

Similar to a deck-level pool, water going over the edge is collected in a balance tank, sometimes in a collection channel first. The water is filtered, treated and pumped back into the pool.

Infinity pools have a very luxurious look and feel to them and are popular with hotels and commercial spas. Glass or acrylic panels can be incorporated to really add to the infinity effect.

The added balance tank and filtration system can make an infinity pool a more expensive option compared to freeboard pools.

Infinity Pool Summary

  • Water cascades over at least one edge to give the illusion the pool water continues to the horizon.
  • Water is collected in a balance tank before being pumped around the filtration equipment.
  • Sometimes known as a cascading pool.
  • The circulation and filter system is considered to be the best.

Luxurious pool extras

With any type of pool, additional features can be added in to make the pool extra luxurious and beneficial.

  • Acrylic windows and walls can be incorporated into the shells.
  • Steps and floors can be height adjustable using hydraulic floors to make the water varied depths or totally disappear.
  • Massage jets, swim jets and hydrotherapy features can be added.

If budget allows, we would always recommend adding as much luxury as you can to your pool for maximum health benefits. Learn about the health benefits of water.

Which material are swimming pools made from?

One of the biggest differences between pool fabrications is the material it is made from. Swimming pools and spas can be made from concrete, fibreglass, plastic liners, tiles, or our preference for ultimate quality and aesthetics, stainless steel.

Stainless steel offers huge benefits:

  • Robust and durable material which will last for many years
  • Most hygienic material
  • Much lighter in weight than concrete
  • Low maintenance costs
  • Easy to clean
  • No risk of tile damage or lining being damaged
  • No chance of sun damage or discolouring

Learn more about the advantages of stainless steel.