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Plunge Pool: What It Is, Cost, & 5 Surprising Benefits

By Jayme Muller

October 2, 2023

You’re looking for a new backyard upgrade… And a plunge pool has entered your purview.

You may have wanted to add a pool to your space for quite some time… But a full-size pool simply isn’t an option.

Hence, why your interest has been piqued!

It appears that a plunge pool would be the perfect solution to space limitations.

But is that the only reason why you should consider one for your outdoor living space?

And what even is it… Exactly?

We’ll cover the above questions and more in this article. We’ll cover differences between pool types, benefits, and cost.

But first… Let’s define plunge pools.

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tropical plunge pool

What is a Plunge Pool?

While it may seem obvious what a plunge pool is… There are some important differentiating details.

Of course, the obvious answer is that plunge pools are small. They aren’t meant to sprawl across your backyard like a traditional pool.

Most often, the dimensions will land somewhere between 8’-12’ wide and 12’-24’ long.

Naturally, this makes them an excellent fit for a small backyard.

However… There are other small pool types that fit this definition, such as cocktail pools. (We’ll explain that in a minute!)

So yes, plunge pools are small. But they are also known for being deep. Generally, they are designed to be 4’ – 8’ deep.

This makes them well-suited to exercise rather than just lounging.

Also, while you can install it as an above-ground pool… The vast majority will be in-ground.

Hopefully that clears things up a bit! Plunge pools are small and deep.

So how do they compare to similar options?

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Plunge Pool or Cocktail Pool?

If you’re in the market for a small swimming pool… You’ll want to survey all of your options.

Thankfully, there’s not much variety here. (That makes it easier to decide!)

Ultimately… Your choice will come down to either a plunge pool or a cocktail pool.

The Case for a Cocktail Pool

plunge pool for relaxing by the ocean

First… Let’s briefly explain what a cocktail pool is.

Compared to plunge pools… Cocktail pools are shallower and designed for wading or lounging.

They’ll usually top out at 4’ deep. Although, 6’ deep cocktail pools aren’t unheard of either.

And while there’s some debate about maximum dimensions… You’ll find them somewhere in the realm of 8’-12’ wide and 12’-24’ long. (This happens to match plunge pools!)

Since their primary purpose is for lounging… Cocktail pools are often decked out with heated jets, merged with a hot tub, or other spa water features.

As a result, you may also see them commonly referred to as “spools”. This is simply “spa” and “pool” combined.

Benches and other supports will be common here as well. If you can’t comfortably sit with a drink in hand from your outdoor kitchen bar… It’s probably not a cocktail pool!

So if you want to use your pool mainly for relaxation… A cocktail pool may be the better option.

But plunge pools will get the final word here!

The Case for a Plunge Swimming Pool

We’ve already defined plunge pools… So there’s no need to repeat anything here.

Really, it’s important to understand the purpose of a plunge pool.

While it can be used for relaxation… Plunge pools are actually better suited for exercise.

With that extra depth… It’s better for water aerobics. (Or cannonballs!)

You could also install high-powered jets or pressure currents to increase the intensity. This can create the feeling of swimming laps, without actually moving that distance.

Due to this specialization for exercise… Plunge pools tend to lack benches or ample space for lounging.

It’s pretty easy to see where we’re going here.

If you want to be able to exercise in a smaller size pool… A plunge pool is the clear winner!

But what are some of the overall benefits?

Benefits of a Plunge Pool

No need to beat around the bush… Let’s get to it!

Plunge Pools are Compact

enclosed plunge pool

We give you full permission to call us “Captain Obvious” here.

But it’s true! Size is one of the biggest draws for homeowners considering a plunge pool.

Outdoor space comes at a premium… And you have to conserve in order to make the most of it.

Plunge pools offer that perfect compromise.

You can have a fully functional pool… Without it monopolizing your entire backyard.

More than likely… You’ll have space leftover for a fire pit, lounge area, or even a summer  outdoor kitchen.

The compact nature of a plunge pool cannot be understated!

They Can Save You Money!

The petite size of a plunge pool pays dividends in other ways, too. In this case, quite literally!

Smaller pools will cost less than a regular pool. We know, it’s not rocket science!

But it’s still an important point to make.

If you deck out your plunge pool with a ton of features, it can get expensive… But if you keep it simple, you’ll save some money over a full-sized pool. 

At that price… You could get an outdoor kitchen and a plunge pool for the cost of a single full-sized pool!

We’ll discuss plunge pool prices in detail momentarily… Just know that a smaller pool translates to a smaller price tag.

Plunge Pools Require Less Maintenance

Once again, the small footprint is a winner!

One of the less glamorous aspects of pool ownership is maintenance.

Skimming, brushing, vacuuming, testing, checking filters… It easily gets to be a slog after a while.

Make no mistake. All of this still has to be done with a plunge pool!

It just takes you less time to get it all done.

Instead of spending an hour or so checking off the weekly maintenance tasks…  You can cut that time in half with a plunge pool.

That’s an extra 30 minutes you can now spend grilling at your outdoor kitchen and enjoying your pool… Not cleaning it!

Better for the Environment

Just to be clear… We aren’t going to pretend like a plunge pool is some paragon of green living.

However, compared to a large pool… These small backyard pools are better for the environment!

Just like with maintenance… This comes down to using less of everything.

Plunge pools require less water, less energy to heat, and less chemicals to maintain.

All three of which reduce your environmental impact!

If this is an important value for you… A plunge pool is certainly more aligned with green living than a giant backyard pool!

Outdoor Plunge Pools Can be Multi-Purpose

plunge pool water fall feature

You might be a bit confused here. Yes, we did say plunge pools are better suited to exercise.

However… Your plunge pool design can be modified to make it more functional.

Of course, a plunge pool will already come with the depth needed for exercise.

If your design is on the larger side of the spectrum… Consider design ideas with benches or tanning ledges to relax on.

You can also make the experience even more luxurious with a water feature.

You could even simulate the experience of a lap pool with powerful jets to swim toward. (Or just use them like a spa!)

Point is, while a plunge pool is generally best for exercise… You can make adjustments to create a multi-purpose experience.

So, how do these plunge pool ideas sound so far?

If you’re still with us… Let’s plunge into the discussion on cost.

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Backyard Plunge Pool Cost

fancy plunge pool in backyard

Here’s where the waters get muddy… So to speak.

The average cost for a plunge pool is highly dependent on multiple factors. So it’s not something that can be easily pinned down!

Your location, the materials used, and the actual size of your plunge pool will affect the final cost.

If you live in an area that has a high cost of living… Naturally, you’ll pay more for your pool.

Materials also play a significant role.

Vinyl, fiberglass, and concrete pools  all have different costs associated with them. (Same goes for outdoor kitchen materials!)

Generally, you’ll save some money on vinyl. Fiberglass plunge pool cost and concrete plunge pool cost are often on even footing… But in many areas, concrete will be the most expensive option.

Just keep in mind… Vinyl liners need to be replaced every so often, so there is an additional maintenance cost here.

Also consider that an above ground plunge pool will cost less than a below ground plunge pool.

And for size, that needs no explanation! The more square feet… The more expensive it will be.

So, what can you buy a plunge pool for?

The cheapest plunge pool you’ll find will start at around $10,000. These will often feature a bare bones design… And be on the smallest end of the scale.

If you’re willing to expand your budget a bit more… You’ll be a lot more comfortable at the $20,000 range.

Most plunge pools fall into this category… And will afford you more sizes, options, and better quality.

But that’s only the beginning!

If you want a larger custom plunge pool with more features… The cost will jump upwards of $30,000 – $50,000+.

But remember, this is just for the pool! There’s also site work and plumbing that factors into the final price tag.

“The average price for a pre-cast concrete plunge pool is between $30,000 and $40,000. The installed cost can be anywhere between $65,000 – $70,000 and up including the plumbing and site work”, shares Karen Larson of Soake Pools

Again, these are ballpark estimates! Work with your pool builder to get accurate pricing information… And settle on an option that works best for your budget.

And once you have your plunge pool installed… What are you going to do with the rest of your backyard?

How to Utilize Your Leftover Backyard Space

stacked stone terra linear grill island next to pool with pizza own and refrigerator

If you’re set on a plunge pool installation… Ideally, you should have a good amount of backyard space leftover!

So of course… You’ll have to consider how best to utilize that space.

In our minds, an outdoor kitchen should sit at the top of the list.

Just think about how much value a grill island will add to your outdoor living space… And complement your new plunge pool!

After taking a dip in the pool… Dry yourself off and get to the grill! Certainly, you’ll have worked up an appetite after a good workout session.

An outdoor kitchen also significantly increases your capacity to host. And no, a small yard doesn’t have to be a limiting factor here!

There are plenty of excellent BBQ island designs for small spaces.

With a simple built-in grill, refrigerator, and counter space… You can elevate your yard to a year-round destination!

Talk about an excellent backyard design idea.

If you’re curious about what a DIY outdoor kitchen project involves… Check out our Learning Hub.

Here, you’ll discover everything you need to know (and more!) about outdoor kitchens.

And should you have any questions… Don’t hesitate to reach out. Speaking with homeowners about outdoor kitchens is our passion!

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Generally speaking… Yes, a plunge pool is cheaper to build than a regular pool. However, if you are using more expensive materials or adding a ton of luxury features… The cost of a plunge pool could approach that of a regular pool. This is especially true if you go for a large plunge pool!

The minimum depth for a plunge pool is 4’… But a deep plunge pool is far more standard, sitting at around 6’ – 8’ deep.

Plunge pools are a great idea if you are planning to use it for exercise and have a smaller lot of land. You can install a plunge pool with jets to get resistance exercise, and not need the full footprint of a lap pool. So yes, it’s a great pool idea!

The primary difference between a pool and a plunge pool is size. Regular pools are known to be quite large, taking up a significant portion of the backyard. Plunge pools are far smaller in size… But tend to be deep, somewhere between 6’ – 8’.

Home plunge pools are primarily used for exercise. They’re deep enough to allow for aerobic exercise. And if you add jets… You can simulate the experience of a lap pool without taking up as much space.

While plunge pools are compact swimming pools… They tend to be larger than hot tubs. But the key difference is temperature. Hot tubs are, well… Hot! Plunge pools aren’t always heated, and if they are… They won’t reach temperatures as high as a hot tub.

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