What is an Infinity Pool? Definition + Safety Concerns

what is an infinity pool explained

If you’re considering a pool for your home and have a view worth celebrating, you should consider an infinity pool. That begs the question, what is an infinity pool? An infinity pool is a pool designed with a one-sided wall overflowing water into a secondary “catch” pool. These pools are also known by the names infinity edge, negative edge and vanishing edge pools.

The majesty of an infinity pool is obvious when you see it.  The water seems to defy gravity, the illusion of the water somehow holding itself up.  When built next to the ocean or lake the water of the pool will seem to blend in. It’s a breathtaking sight as you look toward the horizon.  Traditionally, an infinity pool is about leading your eye across the surface of the pool and out into the view.  This view comes in the form of another body of water, canyon, forest, or a neighboring property. 

What is an Infinity Pool answered

Designers sometimes will try and make the effect more intimate by moving the infinity edge of the pool towards the viewer, creating a waterfall or weeping wall effect.  With any infinity edge the concept is similar.  Water is moving from the pool to a catch basin of some kind, then being pumped back into the pool in a continuous loop.  The water level of the pool is raised above the highest level of the infinity edge wall, or ‘weir’ by this water being pumped back into the pool.  The meniscus is the water above the weir level and this is what creates the infinity effect.

Are Infinity Pools Safe?

The quick answer is yes, infinity pools are safe. Despite not having the traditional coping and featuring a drop-off, infinity pools are still safe. This is a great case of not judging a book by its cover. It would be very difficult, borderline impossible, to fall out of an infinity pool.

History of Infinity Pools

Infinity pools were ‘invented’ by John Lautner, an Architect who is famous for designing many Googie and Atomic Age homes including the Reiner-Burchill residence nicknamed “Silvertop” which was completed in 1963 and was the first known infinity edge pool.  This pool was a game changer and it didn’t take long before builders around the world took note.  We can look to nature and find some impressive infinity edge pools for inspiration also.  The Pamukkale Hot Springs in Denizli, Turkey are a great example of terracing, where water rich in carbonates have built up over the centuries to create interlocking infinity edge pools.  Taking inspiration from the historic and natural infinity pools of the world can lead to great design in your backyard.

Infinity Pool Design Considerations

When designing an infinity pool it’s important to consider what it is you’ll be looking at.  Where is your eye going to be led?  Does the land slope away from the home to a body of water or a vista you’d like to focus on?  Do you want to create the infinity effect of the continuous pool water from the pool to the lake or ocean beyond?  If so the color selections of your pool interior and tile becomes paramount to the effect’s success. 

What is a Reverse Infinity Pool?

Conversely, if you don’t want to focus on the view you could instead build a reverse infinity edge which flows toward you.  This focuses the eye on the pool itself and keeps you from wanting to look past the pool to the view.  It can be used to create a cozier more intimate space with the infinity edge becoming a water feature instead of an “edge”.  The flowing water from the pool to the infinity edge basin can be a wet wall effect or more of a cascading waterfall depending on the design.  Whether a traditional infinity edge or a reverse infinity edge when you insert this detail into your backyard lifestyle it becomes a center of attention, making a memorable impact on you and your guests. 

Who Builds Infinity Pools?

Companies vary by region, but most gunite pool builders build infinity pools. It requires very similar materials to a normal gunite pool with some extra design talent.

Downsides of Infinity Pools

As great and cool-looking as infinity pools are, they come with some disadvantages. The first and most obvious downside is price. Infinity pools are going to cost far more than the average price of an inground pool.

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