Pool depth is a massive topic and a bit of a daunting decision for prospective homeowners looking to build or purchase a pool for their backyard. There are a few things to know about pool depth, in this article, I’m going to jump into some specific pool depths that are popular.
The most popular pool depths are 4ft, 5ft, 6ft, 7ft, and 8 ft. The most popular pool depth today starts at 3.5 ft and moves to 5 ft deep at its deepest point. There are two types of pools when it comes to pool depth, the first is a relaxation pool which is extremely popular and consists of a large shallow end at 3.5ft – 4 ft with a deep end of 5ft – 7 ft deep. The second type of pool is a diving pool which must be at least 8 ft deep. Diving pools were more popular 25 years ago but less so today with most homeowners having less room in their backyards.
Keep reading on as we dive into the individual popular depths a bit to give the benefits of each one and what makes the a popular choice or a less popular choice.
Recreation Depth Pools: What are they?
The recreational depth pool is just how it sounds, the pool consists mostly of depth that provides easy relaxation. This is in comparison to a diving pool which I’ll discuss below. Recreation doesn’t mean just relaxing in a chair on a tanning shelf but rather thinking of recreation as a pool that can accommodate a large variety of people and ages with varying swimming abilities.
The vast majority of the pool will be made with a shallow end and typically the deep end wouldn’t be very deep. The reason these are the most popular pools being built today is that houses are being regularly built closer and closer together. Plus the costs of maintaining a pool and pool chemicals have gone up over the years.
4 Feet Deep Pools
4 feet is considered the best depth for a majority of any pool because this is a great height for everyone. Kids can play many games at this depth and adults will be able to keep their heads above the water. Games like volleyball or basketball or easily played as well.
Features like a tanning ledge and benches go well in this depth of water as a nice place to relax in the pool while keeping part of your body in the water.
One of the biggest concerns about this depth is that people are worried they won’t be able to swim. But most people drastically underestimate the depth of 4 feet. You will still be able to swim in this depth, personally, I swim in a 4 feet-flat bottom pool every day for exercise. I put in many laps using the crawl swim style and there isn’t any issue at all.
I do believe that 4-foot depth has one setback and I’ll talk about that below.
5 Feet Deep Recreation Pools
What is the advantage of creating a pool with a bottom style that creates a deeper end of the pool away from the 4 feet’ depth? The first advantage of getting a little bit deeper is jumping. The information you hear from people online and from pool builders is that a 4-foot depth is perfectly okay for jumping. That isn’t my experience though, in the 4-foot pool I swim in every day, I am definitely not jumping in the pool. When I do, I easily hit the bottom.
I think 5 feet gives you a little bit more leeway for jumping safely in my opinion but I still don’t believe it’s deep enough.
6 Feet Deep Pools
For me, this is the perfect depth for a deep end. It’s not overly deep which is important. The deeper you go in your pool, you’ll either need to make your pool longer to provide enough shallow space for recreation at the 4ft deep level in a sloping bottom pool. Or you’ll need to have more of a spooned bottom to accommodate the depth you are trying to reach. You can view all of these different pool bottom styles in our article, What is the perfect pool depth?
6 Feet Deep is also a popular pool depth because jumping is much safer at this depth. We need to take human error into account, when kids and adults start having fun around a pool, caution sometimes goes to the wind and someone may attempt a head-first dive. Even 6 feet deep isn’t suitable for head-first diving but accidents do happen. Check out these statistics here,
“In a 2016 review of 194 neck injuries from deck level dives into in-ground swimmingCenters for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016
pools (of which 33% were private residential pools), 86.6% were in water less than or
equal to 1.2 m (four feet) and 99.0% were in water less than or equal to 1.5 m (five
feet). Only one injury occurred in water between 1.8 m to 2.1 m”
I believe that going 6 feet deep is a great way to add a little bit of accident prevention into your pool build. At this depth, you can also add jumping rocks onto the deep end of the pool for added fun and aesthetic value. It is important to reiterate though that this depth is NOT safe for diving head-first.
Everyone has their own experience though and I think you should consider these two opinions:
We went with a pool that is 75% 3-4ft and then a little drop off so the remainder is 6ft. It’s PERFECT for us. My littles still can’t even touch the floor … so TBD on THAT but I’m in love with our depths. No on hangs out in the deep end. So I’m happy the majority of my pool will be used the majority of the time. We have enough deep end (at just 6’) for cannonballs and diving stick fun!Anonymous, First Time Swimming Pool Owners
Then a different opinion:
Mine is 6ft and I wish it was deeper. It was great for younger kids but mine are 12 & 15 now. They dive when I’m not looking.Anonymous, First Time Swimming Pool Owners
You can read more about what depth is safe for jumping in this article we wrote.
7 Feet Deep Pools: Is it necessary?
Adding an additional foot onto the depth from 6ft I believe does add additional safety precautions to your build from accidents and head-first dives. This also adds even more safety for jumping into the pool from a bit higher if you have your jumping rocks elevated from the pool deck.
We have boys 7, 5 and 2 and a teenage daughter, 14. We are doing a gradual incline to 7’. Opted not to do a diving board/super deep end because we plan to have lots of friends over to swim and the liability/risk felt really heavy, we have friends who have had two major incidents on their pool diving board. 7’ felt like a safe and reasonable compromise.Anonymous, First Time Swimming Pool Owners
At this depth, adults will be treading water to stay afloat which I believe adds a bit more excitement to the pool. I personally love treading water and deep ends but as mentioned before I wouldn’t probably build deeper than 6 ft, and if I did, I would just add the additional foot needed to create a diving pool. I believe the reduced stress from worrying about head-first dives would be worth the additional cost if you are considering a 7-foot-deep pool already.
8 Feet and More Deep Diving Pools
Any build that includes a depth of 8 ft is allowed to install a diving board onto the pool which has now become a diving pool. No longer is it a recreational pool unless you build a massive pool. The reason is that often the degree of the slope you need to create to get to this depth takes away much of the 4-foot deep recreational area that you get with the other varying pool depths we mentioned. It should also be noted that the American Red Cross recommends a depth of 9ft for head-first diving. You can read more information about diving pool depths here.
If this is an important part of your pool build because you and your family love diving and jumping then I believe you should do it. Pools are a long-term commitment so you should definitely get a pool you will love. I do know though that the biggest regret of most of my dad’s customers is that they don’t have enough shallow areas for recreational activities when they build this deep. Many people overestimate how much the diving area of the pool adds but on the other hand, the knowledge that you don’t have to be concerned about head-first dives might be worth it.
I would do 8 foot. I can promise you the kids and their friends will dive even with a no diving signAnonymous, First Time Swimming Pool Owners Group
Ours is 10’ deep; I have 3 boys and zero regrets about the depth. Our neighbor kids jump off the roof Into their pool so there’s no shortage of idiotic shenanigans to plan for.Anonymous, First Time Swimming Pool Owners Group
Or a different Opinion:
My pool is a diving pool 45,000 gallons, deep end 10 feet. I wish our pool was 4 to 5 feet. It’s hard to play games , volley ball and others!Anonymous, First Time Swimming Pool Owners Group
I believe the best part of having a pool this deep or deeper is the ability to add some really cool features at the end of the pool, for example, a grotto with a slide into the deep end or jumping rocks that are elevated. Diving boards often look a bit ugly on a pool build but there are some very nice designs that can create a nice aesthetic with the diving board.