11 Different Types of Swimming Pools for Your Backyard

Growing up I was a water nut.  Couldn’t get enough of swimming in pools.

I’m still a water rat and now that I have young kids I do more swimming than I could ever wish for.  Sadly, we don’t have our own backyard pool and so we visit public pools often.  Just last weekend we did another 1.5 hours at our local wave pool.  Yeah, we’re fortunate to have an amazing public pool with zero-entry and wave sessions.  It’s a kid paradise.

While we don’t have plans for a backyard pool, I don’t rule it out.  The issue is we live in a climate where we can realistically use it three to five months out of the year, which isn’t very much.  If we lived in a hot climate, we’d definitely have a pool.

Not only do I love swimming and they’re amazing for kids, I think they look fabulous in any yard.  They sparkle like a gem among the lawn and gardens.  I flat out love the look a pool in any backyard.

If you’re more fortunate than me and are actually going to install a swimming pool, the good and bad news is you have many options to consider.  That’s what this article is all about… setting out the many different types of backyard pools.

There are several pool categories demarcating different types.  There’s main types (infinity, zero-entry, etc.), shape and material used.  We set it all out here.

Main Types of Pools

1. Regular

By regular I’m referring it’s your standard in-ground pool of average size.  This is the most common although infinity pools are very popular.

2. Infinity

Infinity pools create the illusion of the edge disappearing over a cliff.  It’s a very cool look and extremely popular.

Modern backyard with entertaining area and pool in stylish Australian home

3. Lap pool

Lap pools are skinny and long in a rectangular shape designed for swimming laps.  These aren’t terribly common, but for people who swim primarily for exercise, they’re a good option.  You can easily use a lap pool as a regular pool too.

4. Zero-entry (beach entry)

This isn’t too common, but it’s a great feature if you have young kids.  This type of pool has a lake or beach style gradual entry.

5. Swim Spa (Spool)

These are smaller pools that you can heat up higher than regular pools and use it as a hot tub/relaxing pool.

6. Plunge pool

These are smaller pools designed to provide a place to dip in and cool off.  Great for small backyards or courtyards.

7. Exercise pool

Endless pools is an example where the pool pushes water out against which you swim for exercise. This way you can swim without moving and so you don’t need to flip around constantly.

8. In-door

If you live in a colder climate, an indoor pool is a great option.  The downside, of course, is it’s not nearly as nice when the weather is warm because who wants to be inside on a warm, sunny day?  Not me.

Large indoor swimming pool with wood ceiling

9. Screened-in

Pools in areas with a lot of bugs or other wildlife that can take over a pool solve the animal problem with a large framed-screen built around the pool.  This is very common in Florida.

A swimming pool in the garden of a large country property in England (Property Released)

10. Salt-water

If you don’t like chlorine and other chemicals used to keep water clean, you can opt for a salt-water pool.  These are fabulous.

11. Above-ground

If you’re on a tighter budget, you can consider an above-ground pool.  With some smart deck design, you can make it appear like an in-ground pool.

B. Pool Materials

1. Concrete

Until recently, concrete was the predominant in-ground pool material. You dig a hole and pour in the cement. While still used, concrete isn’t the only in-ground pool option.

Concrete is great for custom shapes.

2. Fiberglass

A fiberglass pool is delivered to your property in one piece ready to install.  It’s like a large bathtub.  The big benefits is it’s fast to install, less maintenance and lasts a long time.  The downside is that you are limited to shape.

3. Vinyl-Liner

A vinyl-liner pool is one that is a series of panel walls that are assembled on site.  It sits on a concrete foundation.  Great for custom shapes and is the least expensive in-ground pool option.  Also, it won’t crack (durable) and doesn’t require rapainting.

4. Shipping Container Pool

A container pool is a pool made out of large containers.  You can drop them in a hole or place them on the ground.  They are less expensive than concrete or fiberglass and they are very efficient heat-wise.

This company builds and installs shipping container pools.

C. Pool Shapes

1. Rectangle

2. Kidney

Kidney shaped pools are fairly popular.

3. Free-form/custom

4. L-Shape

5. Roman-Grecian

Source: Bluehaven Pools & Spas

D. Cost to Install a Pool

The cost for an in-ground pool depends on material and size.  Size is the biggest factor.  Generally speaking, and these are rough numbers and don’t include special features, expect to pay the following:

  • Small: $20,000 to $30,000
  • Medium: $30,000 to $40,000
  • Large: $40,000 to $60,000
  • Luxury:  $100,000 +

E. Size

The average size of a backyard pool will range as follows:

  • Width:  2 meters to 6 meters
  • Length: 5 meters to 12 meters.

Of course, you can build smaller (plunge pool) or larger pool.  Lap pools may only be 1.5 meters wide for instance.

Setting out an average size is a bit silly because at the end of the day most pools are custom built and can be any size.  However, we include the range just to give you an idea of common sizes.

F. Pool Features

A pool itself is a wonderful yard feature.  However, you can really take it to the next level with additional pool features.  Below is a list setting out some common pool features to consider:

1. Fencing:  This is important and you definitely want to consult a local pro as to fencing requirements.  The last thing you want is a child to drown in your pool.  The pool fence is critical.

2. Slide/waterslide:  Since the old-school slides aren’t terribly safe, they aren’t common. Waterslides are taking their place, but that is not cheap.  Building a full-blow waterslide will cost thousands and take up quite a bit of space.  The plus side is it’s an amazing feature if you can swing it.

3. Diving board:  Like slides, these aren’t as common due to the risk.  Again, consult a local pool pro about the legality and viability of a diving board.

4. Hot tub:  I think these days most in-ground pools are build with an accompanying hot tub.  I think it’s a no-brainer.  If you’re going to maintain a pool, you might as well maintain the hot tub.

5. Bar:  Not super common in residential backyards, but if you like entertaining, you can add a tiki bar or something like that.  If you’re really into adult swimming parties, you can build a swim-up bar like the hotels.  Of course, you need a designated bartender.

6. Cave:  Another feature kids love.  They can also be romantic.  You can construct a real or faux rock formation adjacent to the pool and include a pool cave element.

7. Lazy river:  If you have space and loads of money, you can construct an entire pool canal or lazy river throughout your property.  Yes, some people have done it.

8. Rock structures:  A well-designed and constructed rock structure can look amazing next to or wrapping around a pool.  I think it looks great.

Small swimming pool with waterfall and slide at high resolution

9. Lighting:  Lighting can make a big difference in your pool atmosphere in the evening.  You want lights in and outside the pool.  

A pool with a waterfall in a luxury backyard

10. Cabana:  If you have space an money, why not create a separate structure serving as a cabana which can be an outdoor living room, outdoor kitchen and/or a guest house.

11. Automatic cleaners: If you don’t hire a pool cleaning service and you don’t relish cleaning it yourself, look into automatic pool cleaners.  

12. Lounge Ledge

The lounge ledge is a shallow section where you can place chairs and wade in the pool.  Check it out:

Source: Bluehaven Pools & Spas

G. In-Ground vs. Above-Ground

For me, it’s a no-brainer; I prefer in-ground pool. I realize that if I move, the pool ain’t coming.  I’m okay with that because I like the larger size and appearance of an in-ground pool.

However, an in-ground pool isn’t always an option due to budget constraints.  Above-ground pools are much cheaper and if you’re in a hot climate and that’s all you can afford, it’s much better than nothing.

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11 types of swimming pools

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