Grace 25 fiberglass plunge pool
By: EP

Spools – solution for small backyards

A spool is a new term for a small pool. Spools are becoming increasingly popular with homeowners that want to swim in their backyard but may not have the space to build a regular-sized pool. Due to the limited space, small backyards used to be ideal candidates for hot tubs, not swimming pools. However, things are starting to look a little different as the demand for swimming pools increases. As a result, builders have begun to develop clever alternatives to help folks achieve their dream of owning a pool in smaller-sized backyards.

Homeowners that would have usually not chosen to build a pool are increasingly opting for smaller pools. Pool builders can integrate smaller-sized vessels effortlessly into outdoor areas without taking up the entire yard. Rather than the typical inground pools that dominate homes on larger lot sizes, these builders think outside the box regarding materials and the type of pool they need to build.

Some are indeed constrained by limited space in their backyard. However, others simply want a small and inexpensive option that adds value and fun to their outdoor living environment without the hassle and expense of installing and maintaining a full-sized pool.

“Spools” Are Ideal for Smaller Sized Backyards

When we discuss small pools, we’re really talking about “Spools,” or cocktail pools. These small swimming pools are also known as plunge pools and swim spas. Ultimately, the words and terms used to characterize smaller pools can vary as much as the actual products themselves. However, they are often up to fifteen feet or more in length or diameter and share one other thing in common. These types of pools are characterized by their ability to fit in a tiny space.

Radiance 16 fiberglass plunge pool

As far as spools go, small pools like this plunge pool are a popular indoor option for saunas and spas.

What Spool Options are Available?

Spools can be made of concrete or fiberglass and can be found inground or above ground. Heck, there are even shipping container pools as an additional alternative. These pools are popular because they are cheaper to heat and chemically maintain. In addition, the idea of an abbreviated pool build with speedier installation time is also enticing to many homeowners.

However, building a spool doesn’t necessarily mean your pool will be cheaper, says Tom Parrish of Parrish Pools. “Typically, a small inground pool costs almost as much to build as a normal perimeter-sized pool,” explained Parrish, “The price break may be anywhere from 15-20% cheaper building a small inground pool versus a larger one.”


Modern poolscape with Grace 25 plunge pool

Building a smaller pool doesn’t necessarily mean it will cost less than a normal-sized pool.

Building a Pool in a Small Backyard

According to Baton Rouge pool builder Brandt Gibert of Windgate Custom Pools, small pools and spas have become as popular as their larger counterparts as a way to “deliver a premium pool experience in a smaller space.”

“There have been a ton of new innovations when it comes to building smaller-sized pools. I tell homeowners with small backyards about a spool, and their eyes light up,” Gibert says.

“Let’s face it, people are not traveling yet, and the options for having fun outdoors with your family are still kind of limited. However, the pool industry has exploded the last two years because homeowners are reinvesting those dollars in the backyard,” said Gibert, “When you look at the fun and value a pool adds to the backyard, it’s really a no-brainer for folks right now.”

Builders who have seen unprecedented demand for pools over the last two years cater to the growing number of homeowners who want a swimming pool but are concerned that their backyard might not be big enough to accommodate one.

A small inground pool is still an option for many homeowners, and despite size constraints in their backyard, they want them.

Spools Allow You To Get Creative With Limited Space

“Backyards are getting smaller and smaller in most parts of the country,” explained Kelly Peel of Lakeside Custom Pools, a residential pool builder in Austin. “People have been moving to places like Texas because they want to build their dream home and backyard on a nice sized piece of property.”

Peel explained that part of the lifestyle in Austin means being outdoors. He feels a pool should blend in with, rather than dominate, the backyard. “Outdoor living is such an essential part of the culture in Austin,” said Peel, “even homeowners with small backyards want a pool. Quite often, the only usable space to build one is on the side of the house. So we’ve had to get pretty creative sometimes.”

Swim Spas – A Popular Small Pool Alternative

In Houston, Ryan Baird of Beyond Blue Pools said that he’s built plenty of spools over the last two years. “Smart homeowners on smaller lots are building spools, plunge pools, and swim spas. They use them all year round because keeping them small means that they can afford to heat them. As a result, spools heat up way faster than a normal pool.”

Exercising In a Small Pool

Many homeowners opt for a swim spa to enjoy the benefits of hydrotherapy. However, one usual complaint that small pools get is that they do not provide enough space to exercise. “The technology has come pretty far the last decade,” said Baird, “The swim spas these days act almost like a treadmill in the water to keep you swimming in place through the entire duration of your workout. As a result, we’ve seen an increase in demand this year for indoor and outdoor applications.”

Swim Spas are a popular option for people that want a pool but may not have the space. 

Limited Inventory Means Scaling Down For Some

“Homebuyers might have a swimming pool on their wish list, which definitely makes a home more sellable,” said Michelle Lightle, an agent with Showcase Real Estate in Sacramento. “there is a limited inventory of homes on the market,” she explained.

Consequently, finding a home with a big enough lot to build a large swimming pool is becoming increasingly difficult in some markets. However, for homeowners looking to build a swimming pool and don’t believe they have enough space to install one, “Spools” remain the best option available.



Pool magazine, by Joe Trusty

Small Pools

Fiberglass pools for a limited backyard space

Explore pool features in our inground fiberglass pool collection.