New Swimming Pool Vinyl Liner's for 2014

Penguin Pools offers three new dynamic liner patterns in 2014 to provide homeowners with even more options to decorate their poolscape. Choose from the natural hues of Bonneville, the playful Dolphin mosaic, or the intricate style of the new Sanmray pattern. All liners come standard with the exclusive Ultra-Seam process, which makes floor seams stronger and virtually invisible.

Check out the entire array of vinyl liner selections here.

Cocktail Swimming Pool Design

Cocktail Pools are often described as small, often detailed pools, built on tight lots. However, the term has certainly expanded into a wonderful description of the most popular and fastest growing segment of swimming pool designs at Penguin Pools
 The Cocktail design. 
The Cocktail design, much like its namesake, represents a mix of top shelf materials and ideas served in an attractive, compact arrangement. 
In recent years we have found our clients have developed a taste for decorative detail. This style inclination has been cultivated through their experiences at theme parks, travel destinations, restaurants and also through their media. They come to us with magazine clippings, travel photos, and web ideas all detailing their desire to have a backyard entertainment oasis for family and friends. These exciting and creative ideas include bonfire rings, cascading waterfalls, outdoor pergolas, beach entries, outdoor grill areas, sunning patios, plunge pools, grottos, water slides, practice greens, and ruin walls. 
We have found that size is less important. The trends lean toward moderately sized pools with more sizzle. No longer is the 800-square-foot pool the norm. In fact, it has become the exception. We still build large 20 x 40 pools for clients each year, but more often than not, it’s a 500- to 600-square-foot moderately sized pool with plush amenities.

Just a few years ago, the pool represented the largest portion of a project’s budget. Now, the pool itself is often a much smaller portion of the project total, and the details around the swimming pool may be of equal importance to the homeowner. In these situations, the swimming pool represents one facet of the backyard entertainment area. 
“Cocktail design” is a truly apt description of what is happening. We've even designed a few with the bar inside the pool. It’s a blending of ingredients that captivate all the senses: eye-pleasing environments, rich water sounds, warm toasty fires, fragrant blooming flowers and the alluring scent of steaks on the BBQ. In most cases, each element needs to be appropriately sized to meet a manageable budget — thus, the cocktail design. As designers at Penguin Pools, we have become students of this style, learning its nuances and searching for materials and products that expand the pallet of options we can offer the customer. 
It is important to offer and be well-versed in the gradations of any option you offer. For example, grill areas can range from a simple grill in a wheel cart with fold down sides to a grill built into a stone-faced enclosure complete with warming drawers, refrigerator, ice maker, burner trays, and a sink. Clients can select from that range based on their desires and budget.
We’ve found that being knowledgeable and skilled in delivering a variety of options enables our clients to incorporate something of each idea into an affordable mix, and ultimately achieve a project more precisely targeted to their original desire. 

The Glass Bottom Pool

While the use of acrylic panels in swimming pools has increased in popularity in recent years, this is the first example we’ve seen of windows mounted in the bottom of a residential pool.

This highly unusual rooftop vessel was built by Vision Pools, in Downingtown Pennsylvania. The builder, and owner of this pool decided that he and his wife would enjoy watching their two young children swim from the comfort of their living room, looking up through the ceiling.

 The construction involved a concrete roof supported by a system of I-beams with the six 3-foot- square windows.
The pool features an all-tile finish and stone cladding that matches the home’s architecture. Naturally, the windows not only provide a bottom-up view of the pool, they also function as skylights.

Ask us for quote on your custom designed pool!


What Are The 3 Most Popular In-ground Pool Options Of 2014?

As a pool experts, the question we get asked almost all the time is "What are the most popular options for in-ground pools and why?" I would say the three most popular options are salt water chlorinators, LED pool lights, and automatic safety covers. Here are the pros and cons of each.

 Salt Water Chlorinators

 Quality Salt water chlorinators provide exceptional water quality without the odor and irritation typically associated with traditional chlorine pools. Most people don’t know that a salt water pool is actually a chlorine pool. The machine actually converts salt into chlorine, and does so in such a way that the nasty odors and eye irritation associated with Chlorine aren’t present.

 Another huge advantage of salt water chlorinators is they are extremely low maintenance. To maintain chlorine levels simply add four to eight bags of granular salt directly to the pool each season. Salt can be purchased from any store that sells pool chemicals, comes in 40 LB bags, and costs about $12 per bag. Even though salt water pools are extremely low maintenance, water chemistry should still be monitored weekly. The initial cost of a salt water chlorinator is typically between $1,400 and $2,000. The salt will usually cost between $50 and $100 per season.  If you compare this to a typical chlorine system where you spend between $200 and $300 on chemicals each season, the long term costs are virtually the same. If there is any disadvantage to a salt water system it is the initial cost, but most people find that it is well worth it.

 LED In-ground swimming pool light

If you have ever seen a pool lit up at night or even looked at some of our pictures on our website, you can see why a lot of our customers consider lighting a need rather than a want. When comparing the cost of lighting to other accessories that beautify your pool, a light gives you the best bang for your buck. LED lights allow you to change light colors, rotate colors, and even project patterns into your pool.

 The life expectancy on the bulb is 10,000 hours so rarely, if ever, will you need to replace the bulb. If you do need to replace the bulb, it is easy and can be done without lowering the lever of water in your pool. We find that one light is adequate for pools less than 30’ and recommend an additional light for pools greater than 30’. You can expect to spend between $700 and $800 per light.

In Ground Pool Automatic Safety Covers

 Automatic pool covers are often referred to as inground pool covers, electric pool covers, or retractable pool coversThe primary purpose of automatic safety covers is to protect children and pets, but they also keep debris out of the pool and require no maintenance during the winter months while the pool is closed.  

I sometimes get asked, “Are these covers really as strong as they claim?” The answer is “Absolutely”. If you look at pictures of these covers it is easy to see why they are so popular.  Retractable pool covers run on a set of tracks. Tracks that run in a straight line are utilized to transport the cover over the pool. The tracks run parallel to each other for the length of your pool.

The biggest benefit is the saving on your heating costs, and this is where the cover can actually pay for itself. 90% of the heat loss from pool water occurs from the surface. Keeping it closed overnight or when you are not in the pool will keep you from running your heater, letting the cover do the work instead.

 A security cover will be between $8,500 and $10,000 installed. The manual option is definitely cheaper (about $4500), but works best on midsize pools and smaller.

Automatic covers provide these key benefits to the inground pool owner:
  • Safety and piece of mind.
  • Negates the need to incur these significant costs: fence around pool, winter cover and solar blanket/solar reel (potentially as much as $7,000)
  • More aesthetically pleasing especially since no fence is required in some cities with an approved pool cover.
  • Dramatic savings on heat and chemical costs.
  • Less maintenance due to debris not being able to get into pool when cover is closed.

 So here are the three most popular pool options for in-ground pools. I hope this helps you to make a more informed decision when deciding how to spend your hard earned dollars. If you would like to learn more about salt systems, pool lighting, or security covers check out our Pool Options page. It covers these options plus many more. Good luck this 2014 pool season!


Local Swimming Pool Information for Minneapolis and St. Paul

Who are the best 
swimming pool builders in
Minneapolis-St Paul?

Each year, we at Penguin Pools meet with well over 100 homeowners in the  Twin City area with respect to their inground swimming pool installation. And because so many folks know our thoughts and feelings (from this blog and website) on all things "pool construction", they often ask us who are some of the other builders and competitors we have in the area.

Never ones to shy away from being blatantly honest with respect to
our competition, here is a list of some of the companies that have an inground pool building history in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

1. Performance Pools and Spa: Having been around since the 90's, Performance Pool is probably the largest builder, with stores in Oakdale, Plymouth, Woodbury, and Burnsville.  They specialize in vinyl liner inground pools, but sell fiberglass pools also. They offer Sundance Spas in their pool stores, along with a variety of pool chemicals, accessories, and water testing. They also have a service center in Oakdale.

2. Atlantis Pool and Spa: Located in Maple Grove, Atlantis Pool and Spa has also been around the Twin City area for a few years, having installed vinyl liner inground swimming pools. They do not sell fiberglass pools, but curiously have devoted an entire web page of disinformation about fiberglass pools to discourage you from purchasing one. They sell chemicals and accessories in their showroom.

3. Dolphin Pool and Spa: Located in Eden Prairie and Plymouth, Dolphin Pool & Spa might be one of the oldest pool companies in Minneapolis and St. Paul, having been around since 1979. They specialize in custom vinyl and gunite pool construction, pool renovation and repair, pool cleaning and maintenance, and pool equipment repair and replacement. They also supply pool products, including parts, chemicals, and accessories. 

4. Peterson Pool and Spa: Another staple of the Twin City market over the years, Peterson Pool and Spa is located in Elk River and Minnetonka. Specializing in inground vinyl liner pools and San Juan Fiberglass Pools, They also sell Dimension One Spas, chemicals and accessories.

5. Valley Pools & Spa: Valley Pools & Spas is also one of the older pool companies in the area with locations in Burnsville, Brainerd, Andover,and Hudson Wisconsin. They have a service fleet and technicians on staff. They specialize in Fort Wayne inground pools and sell Finlandia Saunas, Marquis Hot Tubs, and Splash Super Pools. They also do water testing.

6. Poolside: One more long time company in St. Paul is Poolside. They offer vinyl liner inground pools from Fox and fiberglass pools from San Juan Pools. They do stock parts also, and have a service department. Poolside also offers Dimension One Spas, Finlandia and Helo Saunas, Big Green Egg grills, and chemicals.

So there are 6 companies to consider if you're getting quotes for your swimming pool installation project. As we have stated many times before on this site, the key to a great experience in your pool installation is twofold:

-The manufacturer of the pool
-The builder of the pool
Hopefully, in your case, both these will be of highest quality and your pool building experience will be an exceptional one.

Get an Immediate Quote Today for Your Inground Swimming Pool Installation from Penguin Pools.

How to prevent stains in your swimming pool vinyl liner

Protected by special additives and coatings, vinyl pool liners are can withstand the extremes of sunshine, heat, cold and constant exposure to chemically treated water. But even the highest quality vinyl liner is subject to staining and bleaching.
Follow these simple, preventative steps to help ensure a stain-free liner.

One chemical at a time

Pre-dissolve sanitizers in a bucket of pool water and add the solution by pouring it through a sieve to catch any undissolved chemicals.
Any one chemical added to pool water should be allowed to circulate throughout the pool before adding a second chemical. The reason for this is that certain combinations of pool chemicals at high concentrations can cause bleaching.
The addition of a single chemical can damage a pool liner if it is not allowed to circulate sufficiently. Chemicals, such as chlorine, can settle in the deep end of the pool and bleach the liner if they are not allowed to circulate for several hours before a pool is closed for the season.
Spot bleaching of vinyl liners can also occur if undissolved particles of calcium hypochlorite or other slow-dissolving sanitizers are allowed to settle on the bottom of the pool. Using large, single doses of hydrochloric (muriatic) acid to adjust pH or total alkalinity levels can also damage vinyl liners. Because it is not sufficiently blended with pool water, the acid can chemically attack the liner’s printed pattern.

Source of the slime

A winter cover that tightly seals around the pool perimeter should be used to prevent the accumulation of organic debris such as leaves and insects during the winter months.
Organic debris staining can become a big problem, often presenting itself as a grayish mark. This happens most often after the pool is closed for the winter when debris might be allowed to accumulate over several months. But even when the pool is open, organic debris should not be allowed to sit on the vinyl, especially in the corners, because this could lead to staining.
In addition, under the proper conditions, fungi can grow on debris, producing a pink stain on the vinyl. Pink-colored blotches on vinyl pool liners are caused by a pigment excreted by bacterial microorganisms such as streptoverticillium reticulum. These microbes are metabolic products of various fungi and bacteria that can be affected by light, temperature, oxygen and pH.
Because the dye is highly soluble in vinyl, it easily migrates throughout the entire thickness of the liner. Dye on the surface of the liner can be bleached by chlorine — but new dye will simply migrate to the liner surface to replace it, making it seem as if the chlorine is having no effect on the stain.
Pink staining microorganisms can also develop on the underside of a vinyl liner. This growth may not take place directly on the liner itself, but on some other material touching the liner, such as soil or backing materials such as Styrofoam, felt or tape. Even though an antimicrobial agent is used in the vinyl formulation, the dye can migrate from unprotected components and cause staining in areas beyond the point of infestation.

If you must replace the liner

Remove all contaminated materials and disinfect the entire pool shell with a liquid chlorine spray or other suitable disinfectant.
Areas with a high water table, where the liner is always in contact with water full of microorganisms, can also cause pink or grayish stains on the underside of the liner. Using disinfectants at these sites may be ineffective, as they will be quickly washed away. One possible solution is to use a barrier — such as a layer of plastic sheet, or a layer of polyethylene between the pool shell and the liner or a barrier coating applied directly to the pool shell. The only known issue with this approach is the vinyl liner often will slide on the smooth surface of the polyethylene barrier, creating the potential for wrinkles.

When salt assaults

Many salt chlorinators leave stains in swimming pools regardless of their material.
When adding salt, make sure that the pump is running and that the salt is completely dissolved before turning it off. Test the water for pH and metals regularly.
If you need to use a stain-removal product, be sure to avoid phosphorus-based stain-fighters. These will cause a phosphate scale to grow in the chlorine generator.
Some of the best metal removers in the market are just simple filtering aids or sequestering agents.


For Valentines Day. The Jayne Mansfield Pink Palace Swimming Pool

In November 1957, shortly before her marriage to Mickey Hargitay, Mansfield bought a 40-room Mediterranean-style mansion formerly owned by Rudy VallĂ©e at 10100 Sunset Boulevard in Holmby Hills , Los Angeles.

Mansfield had the house painted pink, with cupids surrounded by pink fluorescent lights, pink furs in the bathrooms, a pink heart-shaped bathtub, and a fountain spurting pink champagne, and then dubbed it the "Pink Palace".  

 Hargitay, a plumber and carpenter before getting into bodybuilding, built a pink heart-shaped swimming pool. Mansfield decorated the Pink Palace by writing to furniture and building suppliers requesting free samples. 

 The Pink Palace was sold and its subsequent owners have included Ringo Starr, Cass Elliot and Engelbert Humperdinck. In 2002, Humperdinck sold it to developers, and the house was demolished in November of that year.

Step inside the Pink Palace..... the epitome of kitsch!

We actually have a heart shaped pool of our own we can build you if you haven't bought that perfect Valentines Day present yet. Check here for pricing.

If you want to make the impression... but need to 
go the economy route, we can help you there too.


7 steps to opening your pool for the summer

Take The Cover Off
The very first thing you need to do is remove the cover from your pool. If you have a safety cover, you will need an installation rod and hex key to remove the springs from the anchors and screw them down flush to the concrete.
If you have a standard tarp cover with water bags, just remove the water bags and empty them to store for the winter.
Make sure you drain the water off the cover and remove any large debris before taking off the cover. It will make your job a lot easier and it will prevent that stuff from getting into your pool water.
Next, take the cover from one end of the pool and continually fold in half until it’s easy to remove the cover from the pool.
Remove The Winter Plugs
Walk around your pool and find all the return lines. Remove the winter plugs from the return lines and step jets.
Remove the ice compensator from the skimmer buckets. Depending on how you closed it, there should be a plastic bottle, sponge, or “gizmo” in your skimmer that prevents the ice from cracking it. Replace the baskets.
At this time, make sure your pool is filled mid-way up the skimmer opening before starting your filter system.
Get Your Filter System Ready
Before you start your filter system, make sure all of the drain plugs are properly installed. Your filter system should have one main drain plug and your pump may have two.
Replace the pressure gauge on your filter as well as any other parts that belong.
Check the o-ring on your pump lid to make sure it’s in good condition. Bend it between your fingers to check for cracks. If everything looks ok, just apply a Teflon-based o-ring lubricant before screwing the pump lid back on.
Once everything is in place, start your filter system.
Note: Your pump may have to be primed if no water is coming through. Turn off the pump and remove the lid. Fill the pump housing with water. You can use a hose or a giant bucket of pool water to do this. Replace the lid and your pump should prime itself.
Test and Shock
Once your pool is up and running, take a water sample to your nearest pool dealer to get a professional water analysis done. Make sure you pH and alkalinity are properly balanced.
At this point, it’s a good idea to add the proper sanitizer to your water (i.e. chorine). Also, shocking your pool right away is a good idea too.
Cleaning Up
Make sure you clean your winter cover before storing it away for the season. Check your local pool supply dealer for winter cover cleaner.
Also, vacuum your pool using a manual vacuum at first to get all the heavy debris out (if there is any). After that, you can continue to use your automatic pool cleaner.
Opening up your pool is easy and takes no time at all. Ask a friend or neighbor to help and drink plenty of water, or beverage of choice, while working in the heat.
Happy Swimming!


Alternative uses for your swimming pool in winter

Pool inlet configuration can make a big difference in energy savings. Infusion Pool Products

Infusion Pool Products, NEW, venturi swimming pool return line inlet fittings drastically enhance circulation and Deep Heat by drawing warmer surface water through strategically placed louvers thrusting it to the floor of the pool!Save time, money and energy by simply replacing your standard eyeball swimming pool return line fittings today! V-Fittings’ 60 degree venturi deep heats by drawing warmer surface water through strategically placed louvers thrusting it to the floor of the pool creating a cleaner, easier to service swimming pool. V-Fittings have no moving parts and simply attach, by hand, to 1.5 inch threaded wall return line inlets worldwide. Go Green while saving money and improving water quality for the life of the pool!


What Chemicals do I Need for My Pool? A Basic Overview

Below is a list of the water balance basics that will help ensure that you have a trouble-free pool season:

Basic Water Balance Factors

  • Chlorine (1-3 ppm)
  • pH (7.2 - 7.4 ideal)
  • Total Alkalinity (80-100 ppm)
  • Stabilizer Level (30-50 ppm)
  • Calcium Hardness (200-800 ppm)

Water Balance Basics

  • At the beginning of the season take a water sample to your Authorized Sustain Dealer for complete analysis.
  • Do not start on the SUSTAIN System until all water balance factors have been established.
  • Make sure that all of your equipment is operating properly:
    • Check pump and filter.
    • Make sure the skimmer is unobstructed.
    • Adjust the return jets to minimize dead spots in the circulation of filtered water.
  • Test pool water with a DPD kit or Test Strips once a week (or more often depending on pool use and weather conditions).
  • Take a water sample to your dealer for testing every 6 weeks.
  • Run your pump at least 12 hours per day.
  • Follow SUSTAIN product label directions.
  • Never mix chemicals.
  • Don't guess. If you are wondering what to do, visit or call Penguin Pools with problems that are chronic or unusual.

Pentair Swimming Pool Deck Jets with Led Lights

Deck Jet water effects can be cast into concrete decks and gunite pool walls, mounted in the sidewall of aboveground and vinyl-lined pools, or blended into surrounding landscapes.
MagicStream® Deck Jet II create a graceful arc of water that enters the pool with a gentle splash. The stream seems to appear magically from the pool deck since the jet installs flush and out of sight.

How to make your swimming pool more energy efficient

Why should I build or upgrade to an energy efficient pool?

Reduce Costs

You’ll save money. Energy-efficient pool appliances always pay for themselves in reduced electric bills, and then continue to save money for years to come. By choosing pool equipment such a variable speed pump or pool cover, and by establishing good habits like lowering the pool heater when not in use and proper preventative maintenance, costs to a pool owner can be greatly decreased.

Cuts down on energy waste and saves water

Almost all of a pool’s heat loss—about 95 percent—occurs at the surface, mostly through evaporation to the air and radiation to the sky. By using a pool cover to prevent heat and water loss, the amount of chemical water treatment will also be reduced. A multispeed or energy efficient pool pump can also significantly reduce the power consumption of a swimming pool by over 65%.

Tax incentives and rebates

Did you know that some states offer tax incentives and rebates for homeowners that purchase energy efficient pool appliances? Check to see what incentives and rebates are available in your state.

Energy Efficiency – How?

With a combination of pool products and good preventative maintenance habits, you can improve the heating and energy efficiency of your swimming pool. Variable drive pool pumps reduce utility costs.

Pump Efficiency

You can save energy and maintain a comfortable swimming pool temperature by using a smaller, higher efficiency pump and by operating it less. On average, an energy efficient pump will use 30-45% less energy than that of a standard pump. The difference over a season can be immense. Pumps now come in two-speed, four-speed, and variable-speed models, so you can turn the speed down for regular daily use saving a lot of energy, and use higher settings for more thorough, less frequent cleanings. New energy-efficient pumps also move the water more efficiently for further savings.
Since pumps circulate the water to keep it clean, the better they work, the less a filter has to work.Visit to see how much money you could save by switching to an IntelliFlo variable speed pump.
  • Pentair IntelliFlo
    Pentair Water Pool and Spa® was the first to introduce variable speed technology with their IntelliFlo® pumps over 5 years ago. Today, IntelliFlo continues to lead the way, out-selling all other variable speed brands combined. Their ultra-efficient permanent magnet motor design reduces noise and vibration for greater efficiency and longer pump life. 8 programmable speed settings ensure minimum flow requirements are being used for every pool task – filtering, heating, cleaning, spa-jets and more – to optimize performance and minimize energy use. In fact, with IntelliFlo technology, pool owners can save $620 to $1,360 each year compared to other pumps.
  • With the Hayward EcoStar family of pumps, money flows back into your pocket. EcoStar is the industry’s most energy efficient variable speed pump, thanks to a super-efficient permanent magnet, totally enclosed fan cooled (TEFC) motor and industry leading hydraulic design. Tests prove that EcoStar can save you up to 90% on energy costs compared to ordinary single speed pumps. EcoStar matches pump flow to a pool's needs, versus running at full power 100% of the time. It's fully programmable with a self-contained 24-hour clock and up to 8 custom speed and timer functions that allow EcoStar to manage flow throughout the day. Whether used in new construction or aftermarket applications, EcoStar is the perfect choice.

This headband could stop kids from drowning

The iSwimband is a device that uses phone notifications to warn parents if their child is having trouble in the water.
Parents often find themselves stuck in a bind between letting their children have fun by themselves and making sure they’re not in trouble. Technology such RFID has been used before on farms — the Where Abouts system for example lets kids explore and notifies farmers if one has strayed too far. Now theiSwimband is a device that warns parents if their child is underneath the water for too long.
The headband is made of lightweight rubber and can be fitted securely around the head of all children, from small toddlers to teenagers. When synced through Bluetooth with parent’s mobile devices, the companion app delivers notifications that let them know the status of their kids when playing in the pool. Users can set their own alert limits — if a toddler or non-swimmer gets too close to the water, or if a swimming child becomes submerged for longer than they should. The founder of Aquatic Safety Concepts, which developed the product, is a father whose child’s 9-year-old classmate tragically died at a busy pool because nobody noticed that he’d disappeared under the water for five whole minutes. The iSwimband could help kids in trouble get a much quicker response from adults and potentially save young lives. The video below explains more about the concept:

 The iSwimband is expected to be available around May 2014.


Public safety warning for Speedo Swimsuits