Plunge Pools Are the Popular 2023 Upgrade That Will Keep You Cool All Summer

Their compact design makes them more affordable and suits small yards.

Whether you have a large or small backyard, a plunge pool is a great way to create an idyllic spot to cool off, minus the considerable footprint of a conventional swimming pool.

A plunge pool can be customized to your choice of size and depth and built from various materials. They're often easier and quicker to install, costing significantly less than standard backyard pools. Moreover, their compact size means that many backyards can still accommodate coveted features, such as a garden or a dining space, lounge, or kid-friendly play area. 

Here's everything you need to know about plunge pools, including the pros, cons, installation considerations, and cost.

plunge pool

John Bessler

How big is a plunge pool? 

“A plunge pool is a smaller, svelte alternative to a traditional pool,” says Allison Messner, chief executive officer of Yardzen, an online landscaping design platform. “Perfect for a dip or leisurely float, these small, deep pools can transform a compact backyard or outdoor space into a relaxing oasis without requiring a massive amount of space.” 

Plunge pools range in shape and size and can be in-ground, above-ground, or semi-above-grade, but generally range between 200-400 square feet, she says. Some plunge pool designs opt for deeper water at 5-7 feet, while some are wading depth at 3-4 feet. In general, they have a flat bottom versus the sloped floor of a traditional pool

Because of their smaller size, it’s easier to tuck a plunge pool into a corner, nestle it against a planter wall, or integrate it into a deck, making it feel inviting and cohesive with the rest of your outdoor design and landscaping,” says Messner.

She also notes that some prefab options can function as a cold-water pool in the summer and a hot tub in the winter for added year-round use.

“You’ll have the most options for customization if you choose a custom concrete pool, but they often take months to install and are on the higher end for price,” she adds. “For vinyl, you have lots of options for patterns and colors, and they typically take a few weeks to install. Precast fiberglass is likely the fastest to install, and there are lots of pre-engineered options for both shapes and colors.”

plunge pool

Maximillian Kim-Bee

Pros of a Plunge Pool

At Yardzen, designers have seen a 15% increase year-over-year in requests for plunge pools. “I think their rapid rise in popularity goes hand in hand with the fact that people are looking for more functional spaces in their yards; that, and they’re impossibly stylish and modern,” says Messner.

“While a traditional pool can sometimes overwhelm a backyard, a smaller plunge pool gives you all the cooling and relaxation benefits without compromising space for additional entertainment and gathering zones in your backyard,” she says. “Aesthetically, they also can feel more modern and polished, giving you the look of a swanky spa or hip boutique hotel in your backyard."

Additionally, plunge pools require less water. In drought-stricken areas where residents are required to limit water usage and the size of swimming pools, a plunge pool may be the only feasible option. 

“As far as maintenance goes, they also require less upkeep—it takes less energy to heat them, if you opt to, and fewer chemicals to treat them,” she says, noting that it can result in long-term cost savings, too. “With a smaller surface area, they’re also easier to clean. This is another benefit for homeowners that might not have the time or patience to maintain a large pool.” 

Cons of a Plunge Pool

The size and depth of a plunge pool limit the types of activities that it can accommodate. While a plunge pool is ideal for water aerobics, they're often too small for swimming laps. Likewise, they are too shallow for diving and cannon balls. (Sorry, kids!)

Similarly, the small size limits the pool’s capacity. Only a handful of people may fit comfortably. 

Despite their minimal size, plunge pools still often require professional installation. Furthermore, a pool of this size necessitates a perimeter fence if you have young children.  

plunge pool in backyard

Nathan Schroder

In-Ground vs. Above-Ground Plunge Pool

There are different options for configuring a plunge pool, which can also affect the overall cost. 

For example, an in-ground pool requires excavation as the pool is set into the ground. “You can also have a pool partially above ground, requiring a shallower excavation,” says Messner.

On the other hand, an above-ground pool is any pool that sits on the ground's surface. “Typically, they are 4-6 feet off the ground,” she says. This can include a custom concrete plunge pool that sits above ground or one that is built into an above-ground deck, she adds. 

Cost of a Plunge Pool

According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of a plunge pool is $22,650. However, prices vary depending on the size, materials, and location, as well as customization. For example, a kit can average around $20,000, but labor on a 300-square-foot pool will cost about $1,650. 

Messner says there are ways to save based on the pool that you select. While concrete is generally the priciest material, an above-ground pool or a precast fiberglass or vinyl insert ground pool is more budget-friendly. Custom seating, water features, lights, and heating elements will increase costs.

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