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Perimeter Overflow Pools vs Infinity Pools

Modern pool design is a far cry from a cement pit in your backyard. Modern pools are sleek, contemporary, and a style focal point in your outdoor space. Two of the most popular modern pool designs are perimeter overflow pools, and infinity pools. Though the terms are often used interchangeably, perimeter overflow pools and infinity edge pools are not the same.

When deciding which style will best fit your space, it’s important to understand the differences between the styles. The more you understand the pros and cons of each design, the easier it will be to make your choice. Both a perimeter overflow pool and infinity pool is great for a modern outdoor living spaces. Still, their differences do matter.

From cost to upkeep, both perimeter overflow pools and infinity pools have their perks and drawbacks. Pool design can be a detail oriented subject matter. Before you choose a style for your backyard, make sure you know what you’re getting into.

What is a Perimeter Overflow Pool?

A perimeter overflow pool is like an Infinity pool in the sense that it has a glasslike, or mirror-like surface. However, unlike an infinity pool, in an overflow pool the water is recycled into basins or underground tanks on all four sides, or the entire perimeter of the pool. Thus, it was dubbed a “perimeter overflow”. The result is an incredibly glassy effect to the top of the pool. It is not uncommon for perimeter overflow technology to be used in a reflecting pool, or elite custom pools for large hotels or monuments.

To enhance this glassy effect, most designers will use a dark interior along the inside of the entire perimeter of your pool. Water features such as fountains, additional water falls, or laminar jets are not usually added. Doing so would disrupt the smooth surface, and defeat the point of a perimeter overflow.

Deck Level vs Raised

Perimeter overflow pools can be installed in multiple ways and at multiple levels. Standard designs include deck level and raised. An example of a raised design by Georgia Pools can be seen below.

A deck level perimeter pool is popular in many contemporary backyards. In this design, the water sits flush to the level of the deck. This creates a perfectly flat, still landscape. It allows your outdoor space to continue with a smooth, uninterrupted feel and blend directly into existing hardscaping. This kind of design is often referred to as a “knife edge” or “zero edge” design. The space or hidden slot where the water falls to be recycled is almost invisible.

Raised perimeter overflow designs are typically seen in spa configurations. Here, raised cube or circular spas will have the water flow directly over the edge, and into the rest of the swimming pool layout. This falling water effect can also be seen in the design above. This creates a unique and dramatic effect.

What To Keep In Mind Before Purchasing

Before settling on a perimeter overflow design, it’s important to know a few key facts. One of the main benefits of this type of pool construction is that it does not require a pool skimmer. A pool skimmer is a function built into infinity pools to keep the surface clear. These style of pool are reliant on a clean surface for the desired effect. If interrupted by debris such as leaves, the overall effect is ruined. Skimmers fix this problem by periodically clearing the top of the water.

Perimeter overflow swimming pools do not need skimmers because the water constantly falls into the perimeter and is recirculated. The edges of the pool act as constant skimmers. Owners still must clean the tanks regularly to remove debris and build up.

Like infinity pools, perimeter overflows can be built in a variety of shapes and styles. Unlike infinity style swimming pools, they can also be raised. This allows you to vary the design, include a custom spa, and personalize your pool to your property.

Not every pool designer will be familiar with a perimeter overflow pool design. Some, like an aquatic technology pool, may have done many in this style. Some designers may have never designed a swimming pool that incorporated a catch basin or raised wall. Make sure you pick your builder carefully.

Cons of a Perimeter Overflow Pool

The cons of building a perimeter overflow style pool are mainly cost and the difficulty of the build. Because every side of the pool must drain, it is more difficult to construct than typical infinity pools. It is important that tanks are well made and well constructed. Cutting corners during the build can result in malfunctions and costly repairs later on down the line.

For this reason, choose your pool contractor carefully. Challenging hydraulics and specialized water levels must be incorporated. Finding a company with experience installing perimeter overflow designs will ensure it all goes smoothly.

What is an Infinity Pool?

Easily recognizable, an infinity pool is similar to perimeter overflow pools except the water flows over only one edge. This creates the traditional vanishing edge visual effect of infinite water against a background. For homeowners trying to emphasize ocean or skyline views, a well placed infinity pool can be a perfect way to do so.

Infinity pools are often referred to as a vanishing edge or zero-edge swimming pool. They function in much the same way as perimeter overflow pools. Water spills over the edge into a basin which recirculates it back into the pool. First popularized in upscale hotel and celebrity pools, the infinite design has been seen increasingly often in backyards.

What To Know Before Installing an Infinity Pool

Infinity pools have a classic, sleek looking. However, like perimeter overflow design, this simple look takes skill to achieve. As with all infinity style pools, improper installation will result in a pool that does not work.

One perk of choosing an infinity pool design is that the water in your pool remains cleaner. Thanks to the required installation of skimmers, the surface of your water should remain clearer than traditional pools.

Due to their hidden tanks, infinity pools must be installed at least partially above ground. While not automatically a positive or negative, it is something to consider before moving forward. Thinking about whether or not an infinity design will best compliment your space is important before beginning complicated construction.

Cons of an Infinity Pool

As mentioned, infinity pools must be installed at least partially above ground. This means that not all backyard spaces can accommodate one. Though your home doesn’t need an incredible view to have an infinity pool, a tiny yard may not cut it.

Before you commit to the idea of installing an infinity pool in your space, do your research. Ask local swimming pool contractors to assess your space. Their recommendations may allow you to adapt the design to your backyard.


Additionally, though perimeter overflow swimming pools do not need skimmer, infinity style pools do. Because the water is only recycling over one edge instead of all, the water may not flow across the entire length of the pool. If leaves or debri get caught on the far edge of the pool, it may not be removed by the draining of the free edge. A skimmer solves this problem by skimming the surface.

Perimeter Overflow Pool vs Infinity Pool—What's the better design?

When all is said and done, the best swimming pool is a swimming pool you are excited to use. Whether that pool includes a knife edge overflow, or you create an infinity pool to showcase an amazing view, the aesthetics of your pool are a matter of personal preference.

Additionally, at this point it should be fairly obvious that installing a perimeter overflow or infinity style pool is a pricey endeavor. Between complicated installation, skimmers, and the investment of a proper contracting team, you can expect to spend a good chunk of money.

However, when done right, the effect of either of these special pool designs is dramatic and beautiful. Bringing together modern design and simplicity, infinity and perimeter overflow style swimming pools both have much to offer. The design that appeals most to you depends on your surrounding space, lifestyle, and list of must-haves.

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