Pool Renovation Ideas For All Budgets & Styles

Written by Michael Dean
February 1, 2024

renovating a swimming pool

Pool renovation can be an exciting business beyond the plain old replastering and repainting jobs. If you’re getting bored of how your pool looks and have the budget to jazz things up a bit, you best believe there are several exciting options available to choose from.

From outdoor lighting to tanning ledges, from fire pits to underwater LED lightning, there’s a lot you can do to update your pool’s look and feel.

Let’s explore a few interesting options below to get the ball rolling and see how to approach a few exciting renovation options for your swimming pool!

Main Takeaways

  • A few options to consider when renovating the pool include renovating the area around the pool, renovating the pool itself, or adding extra features such as a spa.
  • Trending and stylish options to consider nowadays include underwater LED lighting, tanning ledges, mini waterfalls, and automatic pool covers.
  • Seek recommendations for contractors—remember to go with someone who has demonstrable experience, happy clients, and good reviews.

Renovating the Area Around the Pool

Here is a breakdown of some of the top renovation ideas for the area surrounding your pool.

Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor lighting is a wonderful option to start with—it gives your pool area more visibility, which is an absolute must-have if you plan to swim or hang out around your pool at night. It also lights up the space beautifully, making everything look more festive and inviting. You can use outdoor lighting to spotlight certain features you wish to draw attention to around the pool perimeter and pathways.

rectangular pool with stone deck

Here’s a swimming pool I installed a few years ago with simple lighting around the exterior landscaping that lights up the stone pool deck at night.

How to Approach Renovation

As with any electrical work, DIY installing outdoor lighting is only really an option if you have experience with electrical work or if the lighting setup is relatively simple. For most outdoor lighting renovations, I recommend getting in touch with either a licensed electrician or a pool renovation company.


You can expect it to cost you around $100 to $200 per light to install outdoor lighting around your pool. Most pool owners will spend between $1,000 to $4,000 for professionally installed lights.

New Decking

There comes a time when you need to rehaul your decking. This could be because your current deck is too small, or it may just be old and stained, in desperate need of some resurfacing. Decking is the frame of your pool, so keeping it looking beautiful and clean will really change the overall look of your pool. There are different materials you can use to refurbish your deck, including natural stone, stamped concrete, pavers, composite wood, and traditional wood. You’ll need to consider the deck’s safety and slip resistance, climate and heat reflectivity, and, of course, aesthetics.

swimming pool with stone deck

I renovated this pool deck a while ago with new stone to give it a fresh look.

How to Approach Renovation

Resurfacing or building a new pool deck is not a small undertaking, and I must stress that this is a costly and time-consuming renovation. If resurfacing, you’ll need to clean, repair, and replace broken or damaged parts of the deck. And if you are completely revamping the deck or installing a new one, I recommend hiring a contractor, as the job involves a lot of planning, tools, and advanced skills.


Depending on the contractor you approach, rehauling or repaving the decking can cost you $5 to $12 per square foot. So, if you have a 700-square-foot deck, it’ll set you back around $3,000 to $7,000. If you have the time and experience, you can DIY your decking renovation to save on labor costs.

Upgraded Landscaping

The backdrop to your pool is your landscape. If you have a dead, brown yard, your swimming pool area will not look very good. Lush greenery and well-placed plants can transform your pool area into a tropical paradise.

garden inspired swimming pool

The landscaping is just coming in around this pool I built – I love how it will look in a year or two after everything has a chance to grow.

How to Approach Renovation

If you don’t have a green thumb or landscaping experience, approach a landscaping expert to plan and install the right plants, trees, and shrubs. That said, this is a job that can be done DIY. You can simply plant new plants around the pool or install some simple flower beds. 


This project depends heavily on what you get done, so while prices can run up to $10,000, you’d need a specialized quote from the contractor depending on the work you need done and the landscaping scope. If you plan to add a retaining wall and heavily revamp the landscaping of your entire yard, expect the price to be on the high end. On the other hand, if you only need to add a few plants around your pool, it will cost much less.

Fire Pit

There is nothing better than huddling around a fire after a cool dip in the pool! A firepit is especially appreciated as winter begins to approach. Plus, it’s an additional lighting source for the area around your pool. All sorts of options are available for firepits, ranging from electric to wood and gas.

How to Approach Renovation

Firepits are easy to install, so this renovation is extremely DIY-friendly. If you want a more rustic fire pit, you can build one using stones, a lava rock base, and a metal ring. You can also buy gas-powered fire pits that are SUPER easy to set up. Simply place them in your desired place in your yard, and they are ready to go. You generally won’t need a professional to install a firepit unless you want a custom job or need assistance with the heavy lifting.


Fire pits are super affordable compared to most of the other renovations on this list, with many options for under $100. If you want a high-quality custom firepit, however, expect to pay much more.


Easily one of the most popular pool renovations is adding a spa. A spa allows you to enjoy your pool area, even during the winter, and is a great way to warm up and relax at night. Spas can either be inground or physically added to the structure of your pool. Alternatively, you can opt for a much simpler above ground spa that can be set up near the pool.

dark pool spa with green landscaping

Here’s an example of a separated spa I built above the main swimming pool area.

How to Approach Renovation

Adding a spa to your pool can be as simple as purchasing a prebuilt hot tub or as complex as completely renovating your pool area to add an inground spa. Either way, you will likely need to hire a pool professional to set it up. While an above ground option is relatively simple, getting the (heavy) item installed in your yard and properly set up is best left to the pros.


Relaxing in a private hot tub comes at a cost! Adding a spa to your pool can vary depending on the size, customization, above ground or inground, and the rates of the contractor, but you can expect to pay around $3,000 to $25,000.

Renovating the Pool Itself

There are also several renovations you can make to the pool itself. Below, I will go over some of the top changes you can make.

Beach Entry

A beach entry pool has a gradually downward slope that tapers into the pool instead of traditional steps or a ladder. Think of it like a beach, just without the sand. It makes it easier for individuals to wade into a pool and really adds to the aesthetics.

Here’s a photo of a lovely beach entry pool (I didn’t build this one, but had the photo sent to me as a great example).

How to Approach Renovation

It is almost impossible to install a beach entry DIY. This is a very complicated renovation that involves a lot of engineering, heavy machinery, and knowledge. Definitely leave this job to a pool contractor—unless you are a contractor yourself!


A beach entry is a high-end renovation project, so you should expect it to cost you a pretty penny. Given the variables, providing a precise cost estimate for a beach entry pool without specific project details is challenging. But, as a general guide, you can expect it to cost around $7,000 to $10,000 to add a beach entry to your pool.

Tanning Ledge

A tanning ledge, also known as a baja shelf or a sun shelf, is a long and flat surface—a shallow shelf in the pool that is usually 4-5 feet wide and only a few inches deep in the pool. It allows you to enjoy cooling off in the water while also sunning yourself at the same time. It’s a great way to hang out in your pool without getting completely soaked while holding a book, a phone, or a drink.

unique freeform pool

The tanning ledge on the near side of this pool I built is a great feature for lounging on a hot day.

How to Approach Renovation

Baja shelves or tanning ledges aren’t the most complicated renovation in the world to install. However, as with many concrete projects, you’ll likely need to hire a professional to install it, unless you have specific experience pouring concrete. 


Adding a tanning ledge to your pool will cost you between $1,000 and $3,000, depending on the size of the ledge and how deep your pool is.

Underwater Lighting

Lighting options don’t have to exist just above or around the pool. Installing LED lights below the pool’s surface is an awesome way to make nighttime swimming a reality! You can illuminate the water in various different colors depending on the vibe you want.

How to Approach Renovation

Installing pool lights after the pool has already been built is a bit of a process and involves draining the pool, drilling holes in the side of the pool, wiring the light, and installing the fixture. This is a complex renovation that is not DIY-friendly. You’ll need a licensed electrician to carry out this job.


The cost of a pool light can greatly vary depending on the type of pool light you go for, the region you live in, and installation costs. However, expect to pay between $2,000 and $5,000.

Pool Resurfacing

Resurfacing your pool is often the most expensive renovation, but it is necessary if you have a concrete pool. You’ll generally have to resurface your pool every decade or so or when your pool plaster or tiles show signs of wear and tear.

How to Approach Renovation

Resurfacing your pool is a MAJOR renovation and takes a week or two to complete. While it is possible to resurface a pool yourself, most pool owners don’t blink twice before hiring a pro. This is due to the complexity of the job and how much time it takes to complete the job. You’ll generally need to drain the pool, prep it, repair broken or damaged sections, apply the new finish, allow it to cure, and refill the pool.


Resurfacing or replastering expenses rely on the size of your pool and the contractor’s rates. Still, an approximate cost is $6,500 to $7,000 per 1000 square feet, with average labor costs ranging from $35 to $45 an hour for replacing pool tiling.

New Liner

If you have a vinyl pool, you must replace your liner every 10 to 20 years. These liners generally need replacing due to factors such as general wear-and-tear, chemical scarring, weather damage, and damage from UV rays.

How to Approach Renovation

Replacing your vinyl liner is another major pool renovation project. You’ll need to drain the pool, measure the pool (or check with the manufacturer for sizing), prep the pool, and install the new liner. Check out my article on replacing your vinyl liner for an in-depth breakdown on installation.


Complete replacement costs around $1,500 to $3,500 on average. Costs will differ depending on the size of the pool, its shape (infinity pools or L-shaped pools, for example, require custom-made liners over a simple rectangle shape), and regional rates of the pool contractor. If you hire a pool professional to install it, prices could climb to $4,000 once you factor in labor.

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.

Add Pool Features

Finally, let’s go over a couple of top-notch pool features you can add to and elevate your pool.

Water Features

If you’ve exhausted all options and are seeking purely ornamental features, there’s no end to what you can add to your pool regarding water feature installations. Custom features such as mini waterfalls, rock grotto water features, artful laminar jets, small fountains, and cascading streams can make your pool look like a lively and exciting space. I have a ton of examples and photos in my collection of research, which you can find at that link above.

How to Approach Renovation

Intricate water features can be pretty complicated to install, and even the most simple features will require the help of a plumber or pool professional. You’ll need to map out where you want the water feature, what type you want, how large you want it to be, and more. So, unless you have the time and expertise to do this yourself, it is best to employ a contractor.


Basic features can start at around $500 to $3,000, and more complex ones can climb upwards of $10,000. Keep in mind that you will also need to factor in the cost of installation and electrical/plumbing work.

Automatic Pool Cover

Automatic pool covers are the most luxurious option available in the pool cover department. Nothing is more effortless and exciting than covering the entire pool with a simple push of a button, drastically reducing heating expenses, chemical costs, and water evaporation rates. Automatic covers are extremely safe, reduce maintenance costs, and conserve energy.

How to Approach Renovation

Installing an automatic pool cover yourself is technically possible, but you would need a large range of technical and electrical knowledge. This is a complex project that is always best left to the professionals.


In terms of cost, you can expect an automatic pool cover to be between $8,000 and $22,000, depending on the pool’s size and shape, the track system, specific features of the model, and the cost of labor and installation.

Let’s Renovate Your Pool!

Renovating your pool offers endless opportunities to transform your pool area into a stunning oasis. From stylish lighting and landscaping to practical upgrades like tanning ledges and automatic pool covers, there’s a renovation option for every taste and budget. So, take the plunge and renovate your pool to transform your backyard into paradise.

Want more pool renovation ideas? Check out my cheap pool renovation ideas and general design ideas, and reach out to me with any other questions; I am always happy to help!

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