What Is a Plunge Pool?

Written by Michael Dean
December 14, 2023

plunge pool

Not everyone who wants to own a swimming pool can afford one, and some people who can afford a pool do not have space for it on their property. However, people facing these kinds of hurdles do not have to give up on their dream of pool ownership. A plunge pool might be just the thing for your modest budget or limited space.

In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about plunge pools, including what they are, how big/deep they are, benefits, costs, and more!

Main Takeaways

  • A plunge pool is a small but deep pool perfect for those who want to lounge and wade around in pools.
  • Plunge pools can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but they are typically 8×8 feet to 8×16 feet and around 4-8 feet deep.
  • Plunge pools are cheaper than standard pools, easy to care for, ideal for homeowners with smaller lots, and great for relaxation.

What Is a Plunge Pool?

A plunge pool is a small, typically deep, pool designed for the purposes of wading or lounging. They are great for people who enjoy sitting on the steps of a pool and drinking a glass of cold iced tea in the summer, or for people who live in very hot climates and use their pools mostly to cool down. Because of their size, you cannot swim in a plunge pool, but you may be able to do other types of exercises, such as water aerobics.

Plunge pools are popular in Europe and Australia, but they are just becoming established in the U.S. They tend to be most attractive to people who are interested in the aesthetic value of the pool and the lower cost to own and maintain one. Unlike a full-size pool, a plunge pool can be installed in a small yard and maintained on a smaller budget. Unlike an above ground pool, a plunge pool can fit perfectly into a gorgeous landscaping and design background.

The term ‘plunge pool’ typically designates a pool designed with leisure in mind. Similar pools include those that have jets that enable the users to swim against a current in a small space, sometimes referred to as lap pools, endless pools, or infinity pools. The dividing line between these kinds of pools can be blurry because some plunge pools come with jets.

How Big Are Plunge Pools?

The size of plunge pools can vary quite a bit. However, a typical size is around 8×8 feet to 8×16 feet. Because they come in all kinds of shapes, the absolute volume can vary quite a bit, from round pools that are 10 feet in diameter to half-circle pools with an 8-foot radius or square pools with 8-foot sides.

Given that they are small, most plunge pools are rectangular to create the most usable space. However, just as with a standard-sized pool, it is possible to get a plunge pool in any number of shapes. Half-circles, round, and L-shaped plunge pools are also popular. Custom-designed plunge pools come in almost any shape you can think of.

How Deep Are Plunge Pools?

There is no rule stating how deep a plunge pool has to be to earn the name, but most are around 4-8 feet deep. People who want to exercise in it may want their pool to be a bit deeper, and people who want to sit on a shelf inside the pool may want it to be a bit more shallow. Here’s a diagram I created for what a plunge pool could look like. As you can see, it can be very deep and narrow.

What Temperature Is the Water in a Plunge Pool?

This can range from 50 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Some athletes maintain their plunge pools at very low temperatures (50-60 degrees Fahrenheit), while many people maintain them at normal swimming pool temperatures (75-85 degrees). There is no particular ‘right’ temperature for a plunge pool, just your personal opinion.

But with that said, typically, plunge pools are cold bodies of water. However, others are designed to be used as a spa at certain times and a cold pool at other times. Cold also does not have to mean frigid, as plenty of heaters are available for plunge pools. A heater can make the pool remain a comfortable temperature all year round for people who use their pools to exercise or simply enjoy a quick dip, even in the winter.

Benefits of Plunge Pools

There are several benefits to plunge pools, some of which are more practical and some of which are more aesthetic.

  • Plunge pools cost significantly less to install than standard pools.
  • They are also cheaper in terms of maintenance, as they require fewer chemicals to maintain.
  • They offer therapeutic relaxation and sensory stimulation.
  • They are easy to care for.
  • People with smaller lots may be able to fit a plunge pool if they cannot fit a standard-sized one.
  • Electrical use for filters and heaters is lower.
  • Plunge pools are multi-functional. You can use them for swimming in place with a resistance jet system or for hydrotherapy.
  • They are safer than standard-sized swimming pools, as they are smaller and shallower.

On the aesthetic side, plunge pools can offer a lot as a design feature. They can fit into modern designs as a sharp-edged, blue-water square, or they can fit into artfully overgrown yards as a rock-edged pond. Want to put a fountain in your yard? A plunge pool with a fountain inside it makes the water feature serve double duty.

Drawbacks of Plunge Pools

To have a fuller understanding of whether or not a plunge pool is for you, it’s important to evaluate the potential drawbacks of a plunge pool as well.

  • Plunge pools lack the wow factor of standard-sized swimming pools.
  • Since they fit fewer people, you wouldn’t be able to host a swimming pool party.
  • The size and depth limit the activities you can do.

How Much Does a Plunge Pool Cost?

An average plunge pool will cost around $20,000, but it can range from $10,000 to $50,000. The cost of a plunge pool varies widely depending on the size and style you choose, your location in the country, and your own personal desires and needs. The average is less than half the cost of a standard-sized pool. Of course, fancy features and architectural design can add significantly to that base price.

Read my pricing breakdown of plunge pool costs for a complete analysis.

Just like larger pools, plunge pools are typically constructed in one of three ways: vinyl liner, fiberglass shell, or concrete. Vinyl pools are usually the cheapest, while concrete tends to be the most expensive, but also the highest quality option.

Need Help Building Your Pool?

I offer design consulting services to help you build your ideal pool. I'll work with your contractor, create build-ready designs and specs, and much more.

Types of Plunge Pools

As mentioned above, plunge pools are usually made of vinyl liner, fiberglass, or concrete. Each type of material has pros and cons when installing a plunge pool. Concrete is the most customizable option, but fiberglass and vinyl pools also come in a wide range of styles.

Plunge pools can come in all shapes and sizes, including rectangular, oval, or round. But most plunge pools tend to be rectangular, as they best use the allotted space. You can even fit your plunge pool with features like stairs, splash pad, or a sitting edge.

Interestingly, while most plunge pools are inground, you can even have an above ground plunge pool. Plunge pools can also be a lap pool with the help of large jets that create a current for you to swim in place or a gorgeous infinity pool. Other alternative types include a stock tank pool and indoor plunge pool.

Can I DIY My Plunge Pool?

Despite their size, plunge pools are still pools. This means that all the structural and design requirements necessary to install a successful pool are needed to install a plunge pool. For most people, installing a plunge pool successfully is simply beyond their skills.

Depending on where you live and how large the design of your plunge pool is, there may be building codes that apply and building permits that are required. You may also need the help of a design professional if you want to customize your pool’s shape, size, or features. Even if you choose a standard size and have no building codes to comply with, simply installing a pool properly in the first place requires a certain amount of skill and expertise.

Getting started on a project and then having to hire someone to finish it, or worse, start all over again, can cost you tens of thousands of dollars more than it would to just hire a professional in the first place. For this reason and others, it is best to find a great builder and work with them to create your vision… and we can help!

Ready to Take the Plunge?

Plunge pools are a great way to save money and space in your backyard. While they may not have the wow factor of a standard-sized pool, they can still elevate your space while allowing you to exercise and enjoy the cool (or warm) water.

So, do you think a plunge pool is for you? Check out my plunge pool design ideas.

Do you have any more questions about plunge pools or any other type of pool? Reach out to me!

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