If you are preparing to build a new swimming pool, you are likely deciding between many different options and features. One such option you are likely weighing is if you should get a tanning ledge in your pool.
But what is a tanning ledge? Do you really need one?
We had these questions when we were building a swimming pool in our backyard, and below are some reasons we decided to get a tanning ledge and why we think you will want and need a tanning ledge in your new pool!
What is a Tanning Ledge?
Tanning ledges are becoming increasingly popular in pools because they provide a place to relax and soak up some sun without getting all the way into the pool.
Also called a Baja shelf, sun shelf, or sun deck, a tanning ledge is a shallow area of your pool that may look like an elevated platform on a side of the pool. It’s usually between 6 to 18 inches deep of water and can be used for a variety of activities, from sunbathing to sitting and enjoying the view.
What is the Ideal Size for a Tanning Ledge?
The size of the tanning ledge will depend on the size and dimensions of your pool. But in general, a tanning ledge should be at least 4 feet wide so that two people can comfortably sit on it.
Some ledges are as long as 10 feet, which is great if you want to use it for lounge chairs or other pool furniture. If you have a small pool, you may want to consider a smaller ledge, so it doesn’t take up too much space.
If you plan on putting in-pool furniture like Ledge Loungers in your pool, you will need to make sure that your ledge can fit these lounge chairs. In-pool furniture can come in various shapes and sizes, but generally, these can be up to about 6 feet long and 2 feet wide. So plan appropriately to have enough space for the type and number of in-pool lounge chairs you want.
What is Ideal Water Depth for a Tanning Ledge?
Generally, tanning ledges are typically designed to have a water depth between 6 – 18 inches. However, the ideal height is your preference, and you should discuss your preference with your pool builder.
If you plan on using the ledge for small children to play on, a depth of 6 inches of water may be best. Most recommend no more than 9 inches deep, plus some tanning ledge furniture is designed for 9 inches are less.
What Types of Pools Can Have a Tanning Ledge?
You can have a tanning ledge in all in-ground pool types: vinyl liner pools, gunite pools, and fiberglass pools.
Tanning shelves for vinyl liner and gunite pools are highly customizable, meaning that you can design the shape and size of the tanning ledge to fit your needs as you design your pool. On the other hand, a fiberglass pool tanning ledge is not customizable. You will choose from different fiberglass pool shell options with tanning ledges to find the right one for you.
We are not aware of above-ground pools with tanning ledges.
Can You Add a Tanning Ledge to an Existing In-Ground Pool?
A tanning shelf can be added to an existing pool when a vinyl liner or gunite pool is being renovated. If you are renovating a vinyl or gunite pool, it is likely possible to cut out part of the pool wall and create a ledge. However, you will need to consult with a pool builder to adjust the plumbing and structural elements of your pool.
Adding a tanning ledge to an existing pool can be expensive, costing thousands of dollars depending on the shape and size of the tanning ledge.
We are unaware of options to add a tanning ledge to an existing pool for fiberglass pools. If you want your pool to have a tanning ledge, you will need to remove your current pool and work with a pool builder to install a completely new pool with a sun shelf.
How Much Does a Tanning Ledge Cost?
Tanning ledge costs will vary based on pool type if it is in a vinyl liner, fiberglass, or gunite pool. Generally, tanning ledges don’t add a significant cost to a new pool. For example, accounting for the cost of excavation, steel, and plaster for a gunite pool, the additional cost is generally about $500. So, if you are looking to get a pool with a tanning ledge, a tanning ledge adds a minimal cost to the overall cost of a new pool
7 Reasons Your Pool Needs a Tanning Ledge
Now that we have covered some of the basics of tanning ledges for a swimming pool, here are some of the reasons you need a tanning ledge
#1: Tanning Ledges are a Great Place to Relax and Tan While Enjoying Your Pool
As the name implies, this shallow area allows you to relax in your pool, work on your tan, etc., without getting fully submerged. The shallow shelf of a tanning ledge is the perfect spot to enjoy all the benefits of your pool without getting wet if you don’t want to.
#2: Tanning Ledges Allow You to Enjoy the Pool Without Getting All the Way In
This is perfect for those who want to enjoy the pool but don’t necessarily want to get all the way in the swimming pool water. The water is still shallow enough that you can sit on the ledge and dangle your feet in the water without fully submerging yourself.
This is also perfect for those who may not be able to swim but still want to enjoy the pool. The shallow water on a tanning ledge allows them to still enjoy the pool without having to worry about swimming in the pool water.
#3: A Great Play Area For Small Children
One of the most popular reasons pool owners opt for sun shelves is that the shallow water on tanning ledges is also the perfect play area for small children. They can safely play and splash around in the water without worrying about getting in too deep.
This is an excellent way for small children to enjoy the pool and stay cool during the summer months.
#4: Tanning Ledges A Gathering Point for Your Pool Party
Tanning ledges, also called Baja shelves, are a natural hang-out area of the pool, not only for small children but also for adults. The shallow area and the edge of your pool can act as seats for guests to enjoy your pool.
This is a great spot for people to gather and enjoy each other’s company without worrying about getting in the way of swimmers.
#5: You Can Put Furniture on a Tanning Ledge
You will often find that swimming pools with a tanning ledge have some type of furniture in them. This can either be a lounge chair, small tables, or other furniture designed or safe to place directly in pool water.
This furniture can enhance your backyard oasis by providing an additional seating area to better enjoy and relax on your swimming pool’s tanning ledge.
One popular in-pool seating option is Ledge Lounger chairs. Additionally, there are many other in-pool chair options to use on tanning ledges.
#6: You Can Add Umbrella Holes to Your Tanning Ledge
Umbrellas can help keep your pool and you cool while you enjoy your swimming pool and any in-pool lounge chairs on your tanning ledge.
Umbrella holes are created in tanning ledges during the construction process of a swimming pool and are placed in strategic areas of your pool’s decking. An umbrella sleeve is placed in the hole, and concrete is poured around it to secure it in place. The umbrella hole is then covered with a small plastic plate when not in use.
If you have an existing tanning ledge with an umbrella sleeve, you can find some tables with umbrella holes and umbrella stands that can be placed on tanning ledges to hold an umbrella.
#7: A Tanning Ledge Creates an Easy Entry Point to Your Pool
Another reason that pool owners opt for a tanning shelf in a swimming pool is that it offers easy access into the pool. The shallow water on the ledge allows swimmers to enter the pool without having to take a large step down into deeper water.
This can be helpful for those with mobility issues or for small children who are still learning to swim and need easy access to get in and out of the pool.
Also, the elevated ledge of a tanning shelf is lower than the edge of the pool, so this can be an easier edge to use to get in and out of a pool.
Additional Tanning Ledge Pool Considerations
- Vinyl liners can rip or tear. So the additional furniture or people (or dogs!) using the tanning ledge on your vinyl liner pool may cause wear and tear that can cause a rip in your vinyl liner.
- If you have a gunite pool, the furniture or other items on your tanning ledge may cause staining or fading of the pool’s plaster. So ensure that you care for your furniture to prevent any potential staining or fading.
- This shallow area in tanning ledges may be hard to clean for some pool cleaning robots. So you will need to do some extra brushing to keep this area clean. Be sure to talk with your pool builder about the best way to care for and maintain your pool and tanning ledge.
Conclusion: Are Tanning Ledges Worth It?
Absolutely! Tanning ledges are a great addition to any pool. They provide many benefits and can be used in a variety of ways to enhance your swimming pool experience.
The cost of adding a tanning ledge to your new pool is fairly minimal, and you will find many benefits of this area in your pool that easily outweigh this small cost.
If you are considering adding a tanning ledge to your inground swimming pool, be sure to speak with your local, professional pool builder to get started.