How a Tanning Ledge Pool Can Transform Your Outdoor Space

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A pool tanning ledge might seem self-explanatory at first glance. The name suggests something that’s only useful for someone working on a tan. But if you’re writing ledges off based on that assumption then you might just miss out on the best pool addition you could ever imagine. In fact, if you don’t have a ledge then your pool might not be reaching its full potential. Get ready, because you’re about to discover the best pool feature you didn’t know you needed.

What Is a Tanning Ledge?

The term tanning ledge is one of those phrases whose simplicity hides its true potential. It’s true that they are ledges in your pool that you can use for tanning. But they’re so much more than that.

A tanning ledge is essentially a shallow platform that lets you lie down in your pool while still resting on a flat surface.

You can almost think of the ledges as a jacuzzi experience where you’re laying down rather than sitting. Though as a flat surface, you can also sit on the ledge as well as lie on it. You can also change the nature of the experience by simply raising or lowering the pool’s water level or adding support material to the ledge itself. This versatility opens up a wide range of uses for a ledge in your pool.

woman in big hat sitting on a tanning shelf
While aptly named, these shelves are not limited to just tanning and actually add a whole new dynamic to a pool’s design.

What Are They Used For?

These ledges obviously excel as a way to get your tan on. And that utility extends to anyone who just wants to soak up some summer sun without actually getting a tan. Imagine laying in a pool as the warm sun beats down on you and the sound of wind and water create their own unique chorus in the background. That’s the kind of experience you can create with a pool ledge. This can be especially effective with different types of pool design ideas.

For example, if you have pool fountains then you can incorporate the ledges with those water features. This can create a great environment to just play around in and have fun. Plus there’s the added benefit of ledges also providing a place to sit. If you’ve ever tried to keep up with energetic kids in the pool then you know how important that can be! This concept can be taken even further by placing some simple pool furniture on the ledge or an umbrella for shade.

tanning ledge in rectangular pool with umbrella incorporated into it
Adding a tanning ledge to a rectangular pool can change the aesthetic of an otherwise ‘boring’ design.

Benefits of a Tanning Ledge

The ledges’ benefits really come down to versatility. They can make play even more fun, relaxation even more restful, and generally give you more of the things you love about having a pool. It also gives you a lot of freedom to essentially micromanage a small portion of your pool. This can also be a great way to enjoy the pool while helping smaller family members get the hang of it. Kids and pets alike might find a new pool intimidating. But they’ll often love literally getting just their feet wet with a tanning ledge.

Do All Pool Types Have a Tanning Ledge Option?

Most pools do support tanning ledges. However, that’s not to say that they all support the exact same options. The different pool types will also determine your options for a tanning ledge.


If you’ve ever broken out a payment calculator to go over options for your pool then you’re probably aware that concrete is a cost-effective option. Concrete is also highly customizable, and provides significant freedom to fit the ledge to your own unique style. Likewise, you can put the ledge almost anywhere you want. 

Vinyl Liner

Like concrete, a vinyl liner ledge is typically fairly inexpensive. But unlike concrete, vinyl tends to break down over time. It’s almost a given that you’ll need to replace vinyl ledges as they accumulate wear and tear. Generally people do not add a tanning shelf to a vinyl pool as in reality it is not the ideal pool type choice when wanting special features.


Fiberglass combines the smooth feel of vinyl with the durability and slip-resistance of concrete. However, it’s still not as open to customization as concrete. You will however find plenty of designs available that incorporate a tanning ledge into it, you just need to take into consideration the square feet you have available in your backyard and which will work in backyard design.

small baja shelf in a modern pool design
Adding a small shelf creates a practical place for you to relax or little kids to play in as if they were in the shallows at the beach.

Is There a Recommended Size and Depth?

You generally have a lot of options for the size of a tanning ledge in your pool. But most people opt for a ledge that’s about seven or eight feet long so that everyone can stretch out on it no matter how tall or short they might be. It is generally best to keep it around 12 inches deep. This ensures you’re able to easily enjoy both the sun and the water

small tanning ledge with water fountains coming out of it
The ledge doesn’t have to be big to be effective and you can add in water features to make it an extra highlight.

When Is a Tanning Ledge Not Ideal?

There’s obviously a lot to love about tanning ledges. But the pool ledges aren’t a one size fits all solution. There are some physical limitations to the ledges. For example, they’re often unsuitable for small pools. But your relationship with your pool can also make ledges a bad fit. That’s especially true if you fall into any of the following categories.

You Primarily Use Your Pool for Laps and Training

Most people use their pool for a lot of different things. But if your pool is synonymous with workouts then you probably won’t get much use out of a tanning ledge. This is especially true since the ledge is going to take up some extra space in your pool. It’s not a huge size concern. But if you’re primarily focused on athletics then you might want to maximize your space for workouts.

You Don’t Have Any Small Children in the Family

Tanning ledges are a great way to get kids used to the pool. Most children are nervous at best when it’s time to get into the pool for the first time. And sitting on a tanning ledge is one of the best possible ways to demonstrate that there’s nothing scary about pools. Conversely, you might get less use out of the ledges if you don’t have any younger children in the family.

Your Pool Is Rarely Used

There’s no question that maintaining a pool can take a lot of work. And that work is well worth the effort when you’re getting a lot of use out of your pool. But it’s a whole other thing if you’re going through the process of maintaining a pool just to relax on a tanning ledge every now and then. By adding this feature you are increasing the pool’s footprint and therefore increasing the cleaning needed too. Since they are shallow stretches of your pool it means dirt and grime is easier to spot as it is so close to the surface of the water.

Chilling by the Poolside Is Not Your Thing

Some people will always go all out when they’re immersed in an activity. If you’re one of those types of people then pool time is synonymous with energy. You might not be swimming laps, but you’re going to be on the move. You could be diving, playing, or just trying out some new strokes or styles. If you’re more focused on pool activities rather than relaxation then you might not get much out of a tanning ledge.

large pool with 2 loungers sitting on a tanning ledge
A ledge allows you to add furniture directly in the pool, just be sure to use pool friendly materials.

Getting the Most Out of Your Pool With a New Ledge

You’ve now seen what tanning ledges have to offer. And it’s clear just how much more there is to them than their name suggests. The ledges can help you get a good tan. But they can also help you find a whole new way to enjoy your pool. And that journey begins the second you decide to make it a reality.

This blog is based on information available at the time of publishing and for the purpose of sharing information with the public related to swimming pools and projects that can be financed through Viking Capital. Although we strive to be complete and accurate, it is not information that is verified or maintained. It should not be relied upon for making financial decisions. An investment such as a swimming pool is significant. Viking Capital recommends consulting with a financial professional regarding your financing decisions and with pool professionals regarding pool options. To learn what financing options are available for you today, please apply with Viking Capital and you’ll receive your free loan consultation. Click Here to Apply.

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