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What is a reverse infinity-edge swimming pool?

Posted by Blue Haven Pools & Spas on Aug 12, 2023 9:12:15 PM

—Redirecting a fabulous flow where you can see and hear it

A reverse infinity swimming pool boasts a “vanishing” edge that faces toward the home and patio area—so you can see the decorative wall with overflowing water and catch basin—instead of it being hidden from view on the pool’s “far” side where it appears to merge into the horizon.

Newer on the pool-building scene, this inventive twist on the iconic design is unfamiliar to many homeowners.

This clever approach “flips” the iconic infinity pool concept (aka “vanishing-,” “negative-,” or “zero-” edge pool) to create a new kind of visual treat in the backyard.

In the configuration, the special edge has been tuned around: Instead of the water flowing over a side of the pool——where no one can see it travel down the wall and into a catch basin below—the specialty feature is oriented on the accessible side of the pool in full view of anyone around the pool deck.

By orienting the infinity side of the pool

As it does in the traditional infinity design, the overflowing water sheets down the edge wall and falls into a catch basin, where it’s recirculated into the pool above it.

But the difference is you can watch the water travel over the decorative wall and fall into the basin. Sometimes referred to as a “water wall,” the design presents itself as an aquatic architectural creation, the kind you might see at the entrance of high-end resorts.

Maximizing the sights and sounds

With its expanse of wall and catch basin in clear view, a reverse infinity edge boasts superb decorative possibilities.

Starting with the surface of the exposed section of pool wall, you have an ideal backdrop to showcase distinctive finish materials.

One approach is to use tile in your choice of head-turning color, pattern, and finish. On a pool with a modern aesthetic, a sleek, tile-covered wall usually compliments the look.

The other favorite tactic is to adorn the wall with distinctive flagstone or ledger stone with its stacked appearance.

By using a textured stone surface, the descending water takes on a complex character as it interacts with the irregular contours of the stone pieces.

The water catch basin itself can also become an attraction. Like the finishing materials on the wall surface, the tile or stone inside and around the catch basin take on more visual significance simply because they are closer to the house and will be seen more often.

Style treatments on the basin vary.

On some reverse infinity projects, the basins are partially hidden. The opening may be a narrow slot or the basin is situated below the grade of the pool. Or, its visibility can be semi-hidden from view with landscaping or hardscape features such as a long rectangular firepit.

But on most reverse configurations, designers use the basin to produce added liquid drama. Like the wall, the basin’s surface is covered in attractive tile or stone.

As the water falls from the wall and hits the shallow water in the basin, you have two additional effects.

One is for the eyes with the two bodies of water meeting in motion. And the resulting sound is a relaxing sensation for your ears.

An infinity wall typically spans six feet or more feet of the pool perimeter. The catch basin, which runs the entire length of the infinity section, also represents an opportunity for added functionality.

If the basin width is made at least two to three feet, you will have a shallow area—a virtual secondary pool that serves as a kind of kiddy play pool.

On particularly ambitious projects, the catch basin can boast enough square footage to give the main, upper pool a run for its money in terms of scale.

With an extra-spacious catch basin that holds its own adjacent to the main pool, it achieves a distinctive split-level effect rarely seen even on elaborate custom pools.

An evening attraction

After dark, a reverse infinity edge delivers handsome good looks as well. T

his water feature is ideal for LED uplighting to accentuate the structure in vibrant colors.

As the light catches the water dancing down the wall surface, the result is a complex, sophisticated backyard showstopper.

The upshot is the edge, edge wall, and catch basin become a highly visible water feature within your outdoor space.

Designers often locate the pool to take advantage of views from adjacent decks and patios.

In some settings, this location is also visible from inside the house, and glimpses of the dramatic edge configuration through windows draw your gaze out into the landscape.

By turning the edge around, the designer/builder is in effect hiding the main part of the pool from view. Doing so creates an opportunity for an “ah-ha” moment when visitors walk up to the main pool area and see the pool in its entirety.

In other backyards, the backside/downhill side of the pool becomes a veritable “surprise destination.” For example, the design may include a path or stairs that lead you to the far side of the pool where you discover the outward-facing edge wall and catch basin to enjoy.

Traditional or reverse?

Which kind of infinity pool is the best choice?

Deciding whether to go with a traditional or a reverse-edge version often comes down to a property’s topography.

Do you have a backyard with a view—especially one that’s perched at the edge of a cliff, ravine, hillside, canyon, greenbelt, or over a body of water such as a bay, lake, inlet, or ocean?

If so, the iconic version with an edge that “melts” into the vista will usually be the way to go.

But on a flat property or one that has a slope that’s pitched back toward the house, doing the exact opposite may be worthwhile.

For completely flat, enclosed yards, either infinity type is rarely a smart pick.

Your infinity configuration

As is true of swimming pools of all types, those with infinity edges come with a range of design decisions.

Again, many of those choices will be heavily chosen based on

In some cases, the grade change is only a foot or two; in others on steeper lots, the edge wall might be six to eight feet—or even taller.

Designers need to determine the length of the edge and its shape—straight, curved, or angled. In some projects, the edges are bookended by pilasters with fire features or plant material.

The size and depth of the catch basin will be largely dictated by some fairly sophisticated “water-in-transit” calculations.

For example, knowledgeable contractors make sure to properly size basins to ensure adequate circulation of captured fallen water back into the pool.

Because the design creates a beautiful water feature, the edge wall is often situated to serve as a backdrop for a seating and entertaining area where you can enjoy the sights and sounds of the moving water up close.

Those areas might include fire features or outdoor dining accouterment—serving as a backdrop for social interactions.

Finally, take note that infinity-edge pool construction is not for novice builders. These specialty creations demand multiple hydraulic and structural considerations.

If you plan a pool with an infinity edge, regardless of which way it will face—always work with a contractor experienced in completing these custom projects.

When designed and built correctly, you’ll find the creative possibilities and the pleasures of owning one of these special pools is, well, almost infinite!

Topics: Buyer Tips


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