Swimming Pool and Spa Lingo

Real Estate Broker/Owner with MBA Broker Consultants CalBRE Broker #00983670

Photos at https://www.pinterest.com/realtyproadvisr/spas-pools/

Warm weather makes sparkling backyard pools attractive to buyers.  A home with a swimming pool and spa is attractive because it is perceived as success, envisioned as family fun, and desired as the home ownership dream of many buyers.  Depending upon the regional weather and the community expectations of the neighborhood, a pool may even be expected as a necessary amenity.

Parents may purposely seek a house with a pool because it gives the children something fun and healthy to do, but also it attracts the neighborhood children too.  The kid with the swimming pool becomes popular because everyone else wants to come over and swim.  It can be a great tool for parents to keep their children at home and keep an eye on them and their friends in a home environment.

Some buyers prefer not to have the added maintenance, however, and would prefer to use their backyard space for other purposes.  As sellers well know, swimming pools and spas also require a lot of maintenance.  In addition, they should be covered during non-use and fenced to keep youngsters from drowning accidents.


A swimming pool is an enclosure containing clean water built for the purpose for human immersion.  A spa is a smaller, circular type of pool with built-in seats and water jets for relaxation.  Pool types include in-ground pools and above-ground pools, both of which require constant maintenance to ensure clean water.

Swimming pools are useful for exercise, such as lap swimming, water aerobics, or general “playing” in the pool.  They can be used for recreation such as diving, wading, floating, and other leisure activities.  Spas or hot tubs are designed for relaxation and most have jets for soothing tired muscles.  A swimming pool is ideal for entertaining and inviting company to visit or just for cooling off from the sweltering summer sun.


Swimming pools can be above-ground pools, in-ground pools, or specialty types such as infinity pools or lap pools.  Diving boards, slides, tubes, or even water fountain features may be included.  Before installing a pool, the homeowners will want to request permission from their local city or county building department, and/or approval from their homeowners association (HOA).


Pools built on top of the ground are known as above-ground pools.  Constructed from metal and plastic, most are portable and get erected before the hot summer season.  Once opened to their full circular shape, they are filled with water.  A ladder or set of stairs is added so people can climb inside.  These pools are typically not heated, but do require regular maintenance.  Once the weather cools off, they can be emptied of water, collapsed, and stored until next summer.

New, modern above-ground pools can be constructed above the ground or partially above the ground.  They are more affordable and can be installed in backyards that slope or are challenging to access.


Pools dug permanently into the ground are known as in-ground pools.  They can be constructed of materials such as fiberglass shells or dry-mix concrete (Gunite) reinforced with steel rebar.  They may be lined with vinyl or made of pre-fabricated sectional walls.  Heating and automated pool controllers are built in.

Geometric pool shapes may include rectangular, oval, L-shapes, free form, or custom designed.  Often it begins with a set of stairs near the shallow end of the pool (3 feet deep) for wading, and goes down to the deeper end of the pool (10 feet deep for diving).  In-ground pools typically include a concrete deck and the edge may be decorated with colorful tile.  High end pools boast spectacular underwater lighting systems and amazing water features.

In some areas, local ordinances require tall fences with locked gates around the pool perimeter for the safety of young children.  If you are selling a vacant house, the pool should remain filled with water because empty in-ground pools risk cracking or collapsing from the ground’s pressure.

Whether representing a seller or a buyer, be aware that a pool-less back yard may contain an abandoned pool, filled in by previous owner.  Before a buyer decides to add a pool, they may consider checking the city building records to determine if there is already a pool buried.  And on disclosure forms, sellers will want to disclose the presence of an abandoned pool (if known).

Infinity Edge Pools

In luxury properties, a swimming pool that appears to have no edge is optical illusion called an “infinity edge”.  To create this effect, the side of the pool disappears over a glass edge, usually with water spilling over the edge of the perimeter.

This infinity edge is especially effective built on a hillside, or overlooking a gorgeous view where the water appears to vanish into the horizon.  It’s particularly striking when the pool “melts” into another larger body of water, such as the ocean, or into the blue sky.

Mineral Springs Pools

Revered for centuries in Rome, Italy, mineral spring baths and thermal pools tap into local water naturally rich in minerals.  Believed to be a source of healing and rejuvenation for the body, magnesium may detoxify while eliminating muscle aches and other pains.  Early mineral spring baths were located near volcanoes and naturally occurring springs.

With today’s technology, homeowners can install a black yard pool with magnesium-rich water similar to the regional thermal baths found only in a handful of places around the world.  Because it is free of sodium chloride (which may irritate the skin) and doesn’t use harsh chemicals, styles as MagnaPools® are gentler for the skin.  Pools that rely on potassium and magnesium chloride are also safe for the environment — drain-off water can feed gardens and landscaping plants.

Mineral Spring Pool

Magna Pool

Lap Pools

Lap swimming pools are long and narrow, built expressively for the purpose of stroke swimming.  These pools are attractive to buyers who enjoy swimming regularly for exercise, and people who are athletes or competitive swimmers.

Swim Spas

Even on compact lot, an exercise pool can be installed with jets that facilitate swimming.  These smaller pools, referred to as swim spas, are popular in cities where space is limited.  A swim spa is larger than a regular spa and installed with jets to stimulate flowing water.  Swimmers stay afloat and get exercise because they swim against the current.

Indoor Pools

Indoor pools require spacious floor plan and are typically housed in an indoor patio-like area with glass ceilings.  Maintenance additionally requires humidity control inside the building.  For an extreme effect, indoor pools can also float outdoor by flowing under the wall.  Buyers adore indoor pools because they can be enjoyed during all seasons of the year, regardless of the weather outside.



Magnificent swimming pool complexes produce a backyard oasis that resonates with buyers.  Visual effects include lavish upgrades with tropical lagoon theme.  A free form pool with custom-designed effects may include statues, tropical trees, water slides, fountains that spout water, and waterfalls that flow into ponds.  For children who want to try surfing, a wave pool creates waves that mimic the ocean’s tide.  Innovative poolscapes designed with superior style can increase the seller’s asking price substantially.  After all, what family wouldn’t be thrilled to invite friends over to play in their own theme park resort?

Water Features

Graceful fountains or cascading waterfalls complement a swimming pool with soothing sounds and sparkling ambiance for a refreshing touch.  LED under-pool lighting is a cool tech feature buyers enjoy.  Some luxurious pools created for entertaining may even include sound systems with music.  Homeowners with adequate land can create their own water park for all-out enjoyment.

Exterior Jets

Jets of water are not limited to the pool’s interior; they may also be seen spouting out of exterior areas into the pool.  The dynamic water gush, coupled with the sound of flowing water, can create an exquisite pool experience.  Water spout types include deck jets, sheer descent, powerstream, laminar jets, and mini jets.  Laminar jets employ LED lights to change color combinations of the water jets.  Think of Las Vegas’ fountains at Bellagio with their spectacular show of water jets, music, and light.

Hot Tub / Spa

A spa is a small, round enclosure with seats inside for relaxing in a jet-stream filled pool of water.  A spa is often constructed in combination with a swimming pool, using the same water and mechanical systems.  It may be built in-ground or installed above-ground with access stairs.  This type of spa is not to be confused with a relaxation and pampering spa typically offered at resort and vacation destinations.

Spas are shown as romantic for couples and are popular for special occasions such as Valentine’s Day.  Picture a room full of flickering candles with a steaming hot spa overlooking a snowy mountain.  Spa tubs are often used to relax muscles along with a massage.  Hydrotherapy (using water to maintain health or purge diseases) is appreciated as an effective method to rid diseases from the body due to its healing properties and energy source.

One of the downsides of spa maintenance is keeping the water sanitized.  Because bacteria thrives in warm water, adjusting the chemistry regularly is crucial for clean water and an enduring sturdy spa.  Water in a spa is typically much hotter than a swimming pool.  Therefore it is not suitable for long periods of immersion, especially for children.



Jacuzzi® is a company known for manufacturing high quality electric spa with comfortable seating areas and many jets.  Due to the popularity of their spas, the term “Jacuzzi” is sometimes used incorrectly as a generic term to refer to jet-stream spas.  However, Jacuzzi® should NOT be used generically in listing ads because it is a trademarked name.

Wooden Hot Tub

Perfect for soaking, a true “hot tub” is a half barrel or a round tub constructed of natural wood strapped together with iron rings.  Typically made from cedar logs for water resistance and long-lasting wear, its purpose is to cleanse the body and soul while relaxing, similar to a Japanese Ofuro bathtub.  Hot tubbers (enthusiasts) witnessed a rise of hot tubbing as a fad a few decades ago and a recent resurgence today.

Rustic, primal wooden hot tubs are very basic, while state-of-the-art models include circulation systems and adjustable massage jets.  Heat sources include submersible wood-fired heating, solar arrays, or push-button gas/electric systems.  Traditionally placed outdoors to enhance the experience of nature, a hot tub may also be located indoors — often paired with a sauna and a wooden deck for easier access.


Smaller spas are designed to be portable and may even fit inside of a house.  Inflatable tubes or self-assembled vinyl sides are common.  Although perhaps not the most durable, portable spas are affordable for home owners.  As a real estate agent, be aware that a seller’s portable spa is typically considered personal property and does not convey to the buyer with the sale of the property.




Pool operating systems are quite extensive.  Major components include the basin, pump, filter, chemical chute, drains, returns, and plumbing tubes.  Water must be checked and chlorinated continually, fresh water must be pumped in through jets, heated with a mechanical system, and drained for cleaning.  Besides using more energy, pools and spas need backyard space for the required equipment.

Environmentally friendly equipment is available for home owners who are conscious of energy efficiency.  Lowering the carbon dioxide emissions translates into a lower energy bill for your new buyers!


Controllers regulate heat and manage the cleaning, pumping, and filtration systems.  The pumping system keeps a fresh flow of clean water filtering through the pool.  To ensure sanitation by eliminating bacteria and algae, chemical balance of pH scale (acid and alkaline balance) and minerals is critical to measure and maintain.  Chemical balance is achieved through chlorine water or bromine tablets.  Others use either saltwater or UV treatment systems.  Most city regulations require pumping water through the filtering system at a specified pace to prevent build-up of harmful bacteria.


Swimming pools and spas require diligent maintenance.  If you’ve ever shown your buyers a house for sale and observed a dirty pool filled with leaves, green algae, and floating unknown objects, you realize the importance of sellers cleaning regularly to make the property appealing to buyers.  Water must be continuously refilled due to loss from evaporation, splashing, leaks, and backwashing.  Maintenance also requires checking for leaks and repairing them on a regular basis.


Decks alongside the swimming pools are built from concrete or other materials such as granite, wood, or rollover pebbles.  Concrete and wood are porous materials that can grow green algae in the warm, wet environment.  Walkways and decks should be regularly cleaned and maintained along with the pool.


Children naturally love playing in the water and are attracted to swimming pools.  To prevent youngsters from accidentally falling in the water, swimming pools and spas should be covered when not in use.  Robust mechanical roll-up covers are the most secure.  In addition, home owners may consider installing a fence or gate around the pool area.  Houses with these features will be more valuable to buyers with small children.


So now you see how an elegant swimming pool and spa incorporated into the landscape architecture can enhance the style and ambiance of a seller’s house.  Make a splash by highlighting the great features of your listing.  Water is a hip trend in outdoor living so explore the options with your buyers and help them locate the perfect home to enjoy with their family!

Article is also published in The San Diego Realtor® magazine, pages 26-28.


Read more in our "Learn the Lingo" series:

1) Backyard & Outdoor Structures: Learn the Lingo
2) View From the Windows: Learn the Lingo
3) Architectural Styles: Learn the Lingo - Part 1
4) Architectural Styles: Learn the Lingo - Part 2
5) Learn the Lingo: Luxury Bathrooms
6) Learn the Lingo: Fences & Gates
7) Learn the Lingo: Vintage Features of Historic Homes
8) The Kitchen: The Heart of the Home Can Be Gourmet
9) The Gourmet Kitchen: Everything and the Kitchen Sink
10) Open the Door of Possibilities (Exterior Doors)
11) The Difference a Good Door Makes (Interior Doors)
12) Tiles
13) Sustainable and Eco-Conscious Home Features (Part 1)
14) Sustainable and Eco-Conscious Home Features (Part 2)
15) Sustainable and Eco-Conscious Home Features (Part 3)
16) Roof Architecture – Don’t Let it Go ‘Over Your Head’
17) Let There Be Light Fixtures ... And There Are Many!
18) A Discussion of Ceilings Will Have You Looking Up
19) Fireplaces: Literally the Hearth of the Home
20) Learn the Lingo of Walls
21) Apply Your Knowledge to Major Appliances
22) Don't Be Floored By this Topic: It's Right Under Your Feet
23) HVAC / Mechanical Lingo
24) Rural Properties - A Sustainable Life "Off the Grid"
25) Land Usage, and Showing & Selling Rural Properties
26) The Dramatic Effect of Stairs and Staircases - A Flight of Fancy?
27) Electrical Components - Get Wired for Understanding
28) Learn the Lingo: Plumbing Fixtures (Part 1 of 2)
29) Learn the Lingo: Plumbing Fixtures (Part 2 of 2)
30) Swimming Pool and Spa Lingo


Posted by

Regina P. Brown
Broker, Realtor®, M.B.A., e-Pro, GREEN
California DRE # 00983670


Text copyright © 2011-2018 R.P. Brown, All Rights Reserved

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Comments (8)

Jennifer Mackay
Counts Real Estate Group, Inc. - Panama City, FL
Your Bay County Florida Realtor 850.774.6582

Thanks for pool lesson Regina P. Brown - I knew  some of them but not all

Aug 27, 2016 01:13 AM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Hi Regina P. Brown - that really tells us everything about any type of pool.  They are a matter of preference.

Aug 27, 2016 04:16 AM
Regina P. Brown
MBA Broker Consultants - Carlsbad, CA
M.B.A., Broker, Instructor

Jennifer Mackay thank you for visiting and sharing your comment.

Grant Schneider yes, they are.  Thanks for stopping by.

Aug 27, 2016 01:58 PM
Pat Champion
John Roberts Realty - Eustis, FL
Call the "CHAMPION" for all your real estate needs

I have an in ground pool I love it. In Florida having a pool is a great way to keep cool. Thanks for sharing I hope you have a Happy Labor Day weekend.

Sep 02, 2016 03:49 AM
Regina P. Brown
MBA Broker Consultants - Carlsbad, CA
M.B.A., Broker, Instructor

Pat Champion, that's great!  Thank you and enjoy the weekend too.

Sep 02, 2016 12:21 PM
Robert Vegas Bob Swetz
Las Vegas, NV

Hello Regina

Vegas Bob loves pools, hope you had a wonderful Labor Day weekend and your post has been featured to the group:



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Sep 06, 2016 01:04 PM
Regina P. Brown
MBA Broker Consultants - Carlsbad, CA
M.B.A., Broker, Instructor

Robert Vegas Bob Swetz thank you for the feature!  Have a great week.

Sep 07, 2016 09:57 AM
Robert Vegas Bob Swetz
Las Vegas, NV

Your welcome Regina and the same to you!

Sep 07, 2016 01:40 PM

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