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Give Your Pool a Facelift

You love having an inground swimming pool, but it's seen better days. Or maybe your design style has changed over the years and the mermaid tiles just don't work for you anymore. Short of ripping out the pool and starting over, what can you do to give it a face-lift?

Why not add a water feature, like a waterfall, suggests Lisa Parker, office manager at Valley Custom Pools in Medford. Some possibilities include Sheer Curtain, which has water falling in a curtain shape designed to create a relaxed atmosphere; Rain Shower, which provides the sounds of water beads cascading into the pool, and Laminar Jets, with graceful tubes of water that arc into your waterscape.

You can go all-out and put in roaring multi-tiered waterfalls. But even just a little waterfall can make a difference, says Parker, since the sound of flowing water has such a soothing effect.

If color is an issue, you could simply change the color of the lighting in the pool or around it. This may be the easiest and least expensive kind of face-lift you could do, Parker says. You can either change the color of the lens or place a colored plastic lid over each light bulb. Suddenly the water becomes a deeper, more mysterious blue or blends into a lighter green like a tranquil Atlantic lagoon.

Want something fancier? Install an automated pool lighting system with an ever-changing seven-color spectrum. One such system features two bright halogen quartz bulbs mounted behind a revolving color wheel, producing a changing underwater light show. Disco water aerobics!

If your concern is that the bottom and sides of the pool look discolored or faded, you can do an acid wash, suggests John Gibson, owner of Water Pros in Medford. Drain the pool, wet the surface, and then apply muriatic acid mixed 50-50 with water.

"This procedure removes the buildup of calcium and metal that has caused your pool to have an unattractive look," says Gibson. "But you have to be careful because the muriatic acid does its job by removing a thin layer of plaster."

Probably the most expensive - but perhaps the biggest impact - face-lift you could consider would be a tile job. Upgrade the outdated colored or patterned tiles around the pool or even tile the steps for a huge splash of color. Other possibilities include stamped concrete.

Sometimes an addition of just one item will make a difference, says Parker. If you have young children, why not add a slide? Or if the kids are all gone, remove the slide and replace it with a waterfall?

To paint or not to paint? At first thought, it might be a good idea to have the bottom repainted a different color - maybe making it darker, more lagoon-like, or just the opposite, painting it lighter.

Here the experts disagree. Some say don't try it. The paint is expensive and can easily chip.

But Gibson says, "Painting works if you are religious about keeping water at the right acid level." In other words, if you paint, it becomes a maintenance issue.

With some small - or large - changes you can update and redesign the look and style of your pool before swim season even starts. So go ahead, dive in and give that old pool a brand-new face for summer.

Give Your Pool a Facelift