The Lowdown on Tanning Ledges

If you’ve been researching fiberglass pools or have spent time in one lately, you might have discovered the beauty and versatility of a pool tanning ledge. The tanning ledge is a feature, usually as wide as the pool or about nine feet in diameter if inset, that pulls the deck experience and pool experience together. Rather than going back and forth between a deck chair or lounger, you can bring the lounger into the pool! This post will answer the most common questions about pool tanning ledges. 

What is a tanning ledge, and why would I want one?

Tanning ledges are an elevated pool bottom for easy entry or lounging. The depth is about 18 inches from the lip, and the water depth is typically around nine inches but can range between six and eight. It’s deep enough that you can cool off but shallow enough that you can place a chaise lounger on it, and it won’t float away. In addition to the feeling of luxury that comes with stretching out and relaxing on the tanning ledge, the feature provides easier entry and exit for parents with toddlers, people with pets, or elderly swimmers. 


Tanning ledges offer pool-goers of all ages the best of both worlds. For small kids, they are the perfect spot for them to play and still stay well within your sight. For older kids and adults, they’re great for staying cool while relaxing in the sun. Additionally, they’re great for old guys and gals (and pets) to get in and out of the water without navigating many steps. 

What are some other names for tanning ledges?

Have you ever been down south, someone offers you a Coke, you say “yes,” and then they ask, “what kind?” The same way you may ask for a “coke”, “pop”, or “soda” differently depending on where you are, the tanning ledge has its own regionally accepted names. 

Are tanning ledges the same for all pool types? 

No, you’ll want to consider several factors if a tanning ledge is a feature you want in your pool. When considering a pool tanning ledge, cost, appearance, safety, durability, comfort, and maintenance may influence your pool type choice. While we are fiberglass pool manufacturers, we have a broad perspective based on conversations and working over the years with homeowners, installers, and the innovators in our manufacturing facility. Here is a quick guide to tanning ledge options for vinyl liner pools, gunite pools, and fiberglass pools to help you decide the best pool for you.


Vinyl liner pools

Today’s vinyl liner pools can offer many different configurations with ledges, steps, corner seats, benches, and wading depths that at one time were thought to be impossible. So, if you feel like a vinyl liner pool is for you, a tanning ledge is possible. Here are some factors you may need to consider::

  1. Durability. Often a sunbather’s favorite part of a tanning ledge is the ability to put a tanning ledge chair or ledge lounging chair on it for maximum water-to-sun relaxation potential. There is a possibility for furniture to puncture or tear the liner, so keep that in mind as you consider your options. Safety. Another concern with a tanning ledge on a vinyl liner pool is vinyl’s potential to be slippery. If you’re looking for a tanning ledge as an easy landing pad for pool entry and exit, you should consider slip and fall possibilities, and this goes for all pool types. Water weight. Depth of water is crucial to hold a vinyl liner in place. The shallow water of a tanning ledge area may not carry enough weight to keep your liner in place over a tanning ledge. It can be challenging to get the corners to pull in without ballooning or wrinkling.
  2. Cost. Some buyers go with vinyl because of its comparably low up-front cost. Adding a feature like a ledge can negate some of those savings. 


Gunite (concrete) pools

If your budget is unlimited, then the sky’s the limit for how you can configure the shape and size of your tanning ledge on a gunite pool. Gunite pools are entirely customizable. If you feel like gunite is the pool for you, here are some things to think about when it comes to installing a tanning ledge in a gunite pool:

  1. Expense. Gunite pools are incredibly durable, so there’s very little chance of damaging the pool surface with ledge loungers. However, gunite pools can be expensive in the Midwest and may exceed the budget for many homeowners.
  2. Maintenance. There can sometimes be problems with plaster finishes, and in climates that require winterization, the tanning ledges should be tiled or painted (so make sure you consider that when you’re planning).
  3. Surface comfort. You may not have to worry about slipping if the ledge is textured. However, a textured finish could be rough on your feet or your pet’s paws. It can also cause snags on swimsuits for those who sit on the ledge itself.


Fiberglass pools 

A fiberglass pool with a tanning ledge may be your best bet. Fiberglass pools have come a long way over the years and now come in many sizes and configurations that include tanning ledges. Here are some things to know about them:

  1. Low-maintenance durability. Thursday Pools fiberglass pools with tanning ledges are structurally very sound thanks to our innovations in fiberglass pool manufacturing.
  2. Affordability. Particularly in the Midwest, a fiberglass pool with a tanning ledge may be less expensive than a custom gunite pool.
  3. Non-slip (and still gentle on feet and paws). The surface of a fiberglass pool is a non-skid gel coat finish that’s the ideal combination of beauty, durability, and smoothness. Of course, everyone needs to be careful when entering and exiting the pool, but fiberglass offers comfort and safety combined.


Are design options limited for a fiberglass pool with a tanning ledge?

While we have to acknowledge the near-infinite customizability of gunite pools, we also must point out that there is a fantastic array of design choices available if you’re looking at an inground fiberglass pool design with a tanning ledge. The choices include freeform pools as small as 25′ in length to a 40′-long rectangle pool with a tanning ledge. Another fun design option, a Wet Deck, has a tanning ledge as a stand-alone complement to your pool. The deck can feature design elements like rocks, tiles, waterfalls, or spillovers.   


Thursday Pools Tanning Ledge Options

The more you investigate tanning ledges, the more seriously you might be considering one in the pool you select. We don’t blame you! It’s the perfect luxury-style feature for a fiberglass pool that offers durability, affordability, and safety. Let us connect you with a pool dealer near you.