One thing I love about swimming pools is the way they take all of us back to being children. Many of us have memories of spending time in our backyard pool. If not, we can remember the feeling of waiting excitedly for our parents to drive us to visit that one friend who had their pool.
Once you’ve decided to install a swimming pool in your backyard to relive those childhood experiences (or you want to make sure your kids get to have them), you’ve got a lot of questions to answer.
One of the first and most important questions that will come up is how big you want the pool to be. You need to decide on this early on because the pool size you’re planning on installing will impact many other decisions. For just one example, a bigger pool might mean that you have less money to spend per square foot of tiling. This changes what you’ll be looking at while talking with a contractor or browsing different pool sizes (if you’re looking for an above ground pool).
In this article, I’ll take you through some of the most critical factors determining what size pool that’s perfect for you and your property would be. I’ll tackle the most crucial questions first, moving on to less vital (but still noteworthy) criteria as we go.
How Much Are You Planning to Spend?
Perhaps the most significant limiting fact to the size of the pool you can build is your budget. You can only build a pool as big as you can pay for (or finance, as often happens). Large, inground pools can be costly, usually costing between $50,000 and $100,000. Small above ground pools, on the other hand, can be as cheap as a few hundred dollars. Suffice to say, there’s quite a range to consider.
There’s a lot of variation in people’s preferences that impact how your pool budget will end up being spent. If you’d like to have as big a pool as possible on a tight budget, consider going with an above ground pool. Some people are more concerned with the pool’s look than how big it is, so they might go for a smaller pool with luxurious accouterments.
When you’re thinking about what you can afford, don’t forget to consider the additional costs associated with building a pool. In addition to the upfront costs like building a deck that surrounds the pool and upgrading your outdoor furniture, there’s also the matter of routine maintenance costs. The bigger your pool, the more you’ll spend on cleaning chemicals like chlorine and re-tiling.
What Are the Size Restraints Around Your House and Property Line?
If your budget isn’t what limits the size of the pool you can build, then the size of your property forms the upper limit of how big your pool can be. I doubt that your neighbor would appreciate finding three feet of your pool on their side of the property line.
In general, you don’t even really want to go all the way to the edge of your property line. Issues like overflow from the pool and splashing can cause conflict between neighbors. It’s best to give at least four or five feet of distance from the property line.
Similarly, you want to leave a bit of space between your house and your pool. Constantly having water around outside walls and foundations of your home can cause serious problems. A professional contractor will be able to advise you on complicated matters like these.
Need a Pool Builder?
We partner with HomeAdvisor to help you find the best swimming pool contractors in your area. Compare quotes for free from fully vetted pool builders.
How Much Patio Space Do You Want?
Having a pool isn’t all about swimming. People often tell me that half the fun of having a pool is sitting out beside it. That’s why you want to think about your patio space at the same time as you think about how big your pool will be. Often, there’s a trade-off between the size of a pool and the patio space that surrounds it. The bigger one is, the smaller the other will be.
It’s crucial to think about the activities you’d like to do on your patio when thinking about how big you want it to be. If you love to barbecue as much as you love to swim, you’ll want to have plenty of space for your grill. Worrying about stepping back and falling into the pool doesn’t go very well with watching your steaks or kebabs.
Sketching out a model of your backyard is never a bad idea. Draw your property and home’s outlines to scale, figure out where the pool should go, how big it should be, and what the patio space will be used for. You don’t want to start thinking about these things after your new pool is in the ground.
Who Will Be Using the Pool and How Often?
For a group of people to have fun in a swimming pool, everyone needs to have enough space to do their thing. Constantly bumping into one another is annoying, and so is organizing shifts to make sure the pool isn’t overcrowded.
Those with big families or who do a lot of entertaining will want to install a bigger pool. However, it can be a waste to get a bigger pool than you need, both in terms of resources and space. Most people (and almost all kids) won’t notice the difference between a 30-ft pool and a 25-ft pool.
When people will be in the pool all the time, it’s also good to go bigger. There are just more options for activities in a bigger pool. Going deeper is also a consideration here. It’s nice to be able to jump and dive into the pool safely, especially if you or your kids want a diving board.
Are You Planning to Use the Pool for Exercise and Swimming Laps?
A specific use of backyard pools that deserves a quick note is as part of exercise routines. Serious swimmers who plan on regularly doing laps need to get a pool that’s long enough for that purpose. Of course, very few of us have space or money for an Olympic-sized pool, but it’s horrible only to have done a few strokes before you’re hitting a wall.
Generally, a pool should be at least 30 feet long if it’s going to be used to swim laps regularly. However, that’s a lower limit, and some swimmers prefer even longer pools.
Another popular form of exercise in pools is aquatic aerobics (also known as Aquasize). In this case, the depth of the pool is more important than the size. Most exercises require roughly shoulder-deep water (I’d recommend at least five feet deep), although it’s best not to touch the bottom of the pool for some of them.
Summing It All Up
One of the most consequential decisions that a homeowner faces when installing a new pool is its size. There’s no going back on this decision once you break ground on an inground pool, so make sure to consider all the factors mentioned in this article carefully.
No two families or homeowners will have the same preferences or needs when it comes to pools, so the decision ends up being very individual.
And lastly, the size of your neighbor’s pool shouldn’t affect how big you make yours.
Questions about how big you should go? Let me know, always happy to provide some more advice.