Should You Have An Inground Pool Ladder?

inground pool ladder on deep end pool side

Inground pools are required by code to have an egress method at the deep end. Some pools don’t have a “deep end”, and therefore you need an egress method at the end of the pool opposite the entry steps. The deep end egress can be accomplished by building a bench into the pool or by using an inground pool ladder.

Though uncommon, you can build a pool without entry steps.  Pools without steps are usually lap pools where the sole purpose of the pool is to swim laps. This contradicts the normal backyard pool purpose to lounge or otherwise relax.  Then, your pool will require an inground pool ladder.  

How To Install Inground Pool Ladder

Pool ladders can be built a number of different ways.  In competition pools, its commonplace to build recessed steps into the walls of the pool. Then, builders also provide grab rails installed at the patio.

Alternately, the traditional one piece inground pool ladder / grab rail combination is also an option.  These one piece ladders are usually built with 3 or 4 ladder treads built in.  Aesthetically, it is more common to use the recessed steps with grab rails.  Some ladders and grab rails are designed to be features in and of themselves, but they most commonly are plain old stainless steel

Inground Pool Ladder Alternatives

Ladders have fallen out of favor for most pool designers. The reason being that they have the feel of an old pool. It used to be every pool had an inground pool ladder at the deep end and a hand rail at the shallow end. As pool design has grown into its own, designers have rejected these features and have instead incorporated larger steps, sun shelves, and deep end benches to accommodate code compliance and their demanding clients.  

inground pool with inground pool ladder in front of green bushes

Reasons To Add An Inground Pool Ladder

Despite inground pool ladders becoming less popular, there are still a few reasons to have them. As always, there is a design-driven purpose behind a reason to keep or add an inground pool ladder to your backyard pool project.

Splash Protection

When should you consider designing a ladder into your pool?  You may want to include a ladder if you have a diving board incorporated into your design.  Imagine how kids use diving boards.  They dive from the board, land in the water, then swim over to the steps, hopefully don’t run, and then dive in once again from the board.  Now imagine you have a sun shelf at your steps and you’re trying to sunbathe but you keep getting splashed.  If you had an inground pool ladder at the deep end, it would create an obvious location for anyone using the diving board to exit the pool to dive again.

Commercial Use

Though ladders have become less common on residential pools they are still commonplace on nearly all commercial and public pools throughout the country.  This doesn’t mean they all need to look the same, or have the feel of old time swimming pools.  SR Smith has created the ‘artisan’ series of ladders and handrails to bring some new design to the field of swimming pool ladders and rails.  

Consider A Custom Inground Pool Ladder

Perhaps you have the desire to create something truly unique. It is possible to have custom ladders and grab rails crafted for your project.  Reach out to your local metalworkers. You may be surprised with their willingness to create new products incorporating your designs.  One easy way to make sure your custom ladders or grab rails are compliant with the electrical bonding requirements around your pool is to use stock anchor assemblies for your custom handrails.  The embedments for off the shelf handrails and grab rails can be purchased independently of the off the shelf rails.  Just make sure you are using the same diameter tube stock for the anchor you purchase.


Ladders can be a great addition to the right pool.  They can be dressed up with powder coating if you don’t like the standard stainless steel. Yes, ladders aren’t the most common feature to add to a pool in the modern era. However, they should still be part of any new pool decision process and be shown as an option.