In Over Your Head? Here’s How to Pick the Perfect Pool Depth

Pool installers

If you’re working with custom pool builders, you’ll have a say in nearly every aspect of your new swimming pool. But do you really know what you want? One of the aspects of constructing a pool many homeowners don’t even know they have control over is choosing its depth and grading (for in ground pools, at least). A classic swimming pool has a shallow end and a deep end, but you don’t even need to stick to that pattern. If you like to play games like volleyball in the pool, for example, then you might want a large flat area so that neither team has an advantage; if you like to swim laps, you might want an extended deep end; if you want multiple entry points for the pool, you might consider shallow areas on two or more sides and a deeper area in the middle. The possibilities are practically endless.

And how deep and shallow, exactly, should you be aiming for? Here are some important ranges to keep in mind based on how you want the swimming pool to function:

  • Kiddie Play

    If you want a safe space for kids to play and learn to swim, then you want an area that’s 3 feet or shallower. This will allow kids to practice swimming skills while still being able to touch the bottom with their heads out of the water.

  • Swimming Laps

    For adults, it takes at least 3.5 feet of water to swim without constantly scraping your knuckles.

  • Sports and Games

    The best depth for water volleyball and similar sports is around 4 feet.

  • Tanning

    Often called “Baja shelves,” tanning areas shallow enough to lie down in range from 6 to 18 inches.

  • Jumping In

    Feet-first jumping isn’t safe even for kids unless the pool is at least 4 feet deep — and deeper is better, especially for teens and adults.

  • Diving In

    Head-first diving requires a pool depth of at least 9 feet. Keep in mind that local laws and insurance regulations may come into play if you’re considering installing a diving board.

What are your plans for your swimming pool? Join the discussion in the comments.

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