What to Know About Spool Pools

If you're torn between a pool and a spa or have a small budget or backyard, consider a spool pool for the best of both worlds.

If you’re thinking about installing a backyard swimming pool but have limited space or a modest budget, or if you’re torn between a pool for exercising and a hot tub for relaxing, it’s time to consider a spool pool.

What Is a Spool?

A spool pool is a small swimming pool and a spa or hot tub rolled into one so, a spool. Versatile and space-saving, spools are a compact solution for backyard fun and relaxation. Take a dip to cool off, swim laps for exercise (using the resistance current created by powerful jets) or relax with the spool’s whirlpool feature.

Types of Spools

Spools can be tailored to your particular tastes. Spool pools can be installed in- or above-ground and are available in different depths. The deeper ones are more suited for swimming “laps” against the resistance current, while others are more the depth of plunge pools. They can also be heated to function as a hot tub in cooler weather.

Accessory options include roll-up covers, support bars, steps, sound speakers and more. Spools, on average, measure around 10 to 15 feet long by six to eight feet wide. If you entertain a lot (spools are sometimes referred to as “cocktail pools”), a larger spool pool will give your guests plenty of room to splash around.

Pros and Cons of a Spool

The pros of owning a spool include:

  • Perfect for small or oddly-shaped backyards;

  • Adjustable temperature;

  • Year-round use in all climates if heated;

  • You can get a swimming workout without a large lap pool;

  • More substantial than a hot tub without the commitment of an in-ground pool;
  • Fast installation;

  • More affordable than conventional swimming pools;

  • Can be installed indoors.

Some of the cons of a spool include:

  • Lack the “wow” factor of an in-ground pool;

  • Can only accommodate a few people at a time;

  • May require installing fencing, depending on your local regulations;

  • Will raise your heating and electric costs.

Spool Installation

If you decide to go with an above-ground, pre-fabricated spool, the only requirements are a simple electrical hook-up and a poured concrete slab. If you decide on an in-ground spool, you’ll need to factor excavation into your budget.

To add beauty and functionality, you can get creative with decorative tiles, a wooden deck, a water feature and landscaping, much of which can be DIY. The cost of a spool is typically more than an in-ground hot tub but less by about half than an in-ground swimming pool. Unlike traditional swimming pools, the cost to install a spool is closer to that of putting in an above-ground pool.

Spool Maintenance and Repairs

Because of their size, spools are easier to maintain than full-size swimming pools, although the same principles apply on a smaller scale. The filter should be cleaned about once a month and the water should be checked daily to make sure the pH, alkaline and chlorine levels are in balance. Some manufacturers recommend changing the water every three to six months.

Options for cleaning and maintenance include skimmer attachments to trap dirt and foreign objects, and an automatic vacuum to clean the bottom and sides of the spool.

Like a pool, spools must be maintained regularly. But if you follow the installer or manufacturer maintenance recommendations, a spool pool can bring years of fun, fitness and enjoyment to you and your family.

Elizabeth Heath
Elizabeth Heath is a travel, culinary and lifestyle writer based in rural Umbria, Italy. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, HuffPost, Frommers.com, TripSavvy and many other publications. Her guidebook, An Architecture Lover's Guide to Rome, was released in 2019. Liz's husband is a stonemason and together they are passionate about the great outdoors, endless home improvement projects, dogs, their unruly garden and their slightly less unruly eight-year-old.