Why The Sun Shelf Pool Is Becoming Popular

sun shelf pool with lounge chair on it in backyard

You’re thinking of building a pool and in the process of researching the options and features you come across some terms you don’t quite understand. It can seem overwhelming with all the new terminology and pool speak you’ll hear in the process. As you hone in on what you want you may find yourself drawn to the concept of a sun shelf. Then you’ll begin asking yourself what is a sun shelf pool?

What Is A Sun Shelf Pool?

Just about every pool has stairs going into it. Most commonly the sun shelf is built into the stair design. Usually the sun shelf is the depth of the top stair. Although, sometimes it’s a split level halfway between the first and second step. Rarely you’ll build a sun shelf at the depth of the second step. Ultimately, the sun shelf pool feature is a large extended step where you can put a ledge lounger or chaise chair.

sun shelf pool in backyard with waterfall and palm trees

Sun Shelf Pool Vs. Pool With A Sun Shelf

What makes it a sun shelf pool, and not just a pool with a sun shelf? Well that’s where it gets into the weeds of the English language. Often times you’ll consider a pool a sun shelf pool when the pool is not all that large, but within it is a pronounced sun shelf which takes up a good percentage of the total area of the pool. In other words if the sun shelf is the main focus of the pool, it’s a sun shelf pool. For example, imagine if you built a plunge pool, and added a sun shelf to it. You’d probably refer to that pool as a sun shelf pool instead of a plunge pool.

Sun Shelf Pool Design Considerations

When building a sun shelf pool in freezing climates, it’s important to make sure the builder is taking frost protection into consideration. To properly build a sun shelf in freezing climates the area of the sun shelf needs to be excavated below the frost line. Additionally, the engineered fill (usually crushed stone), needs to be used underneath the sun shelf. Otherwise, you can end up with a crack along the edge of the sun shelf if frost pushes on the underside during the winter.

In non-freezing climates it’s far easier to build a sun shelf, and there’s far less to worry about. However, you still need to take soil conditions into consideration. Additionally, you should always demand your builder hire a geotechnical engineer to verify soil conditions prior to construction. Structural engineers design structures using a baseline of soil bearing capacity. If they don’t know what the soil conditions are, structural engineers will make an assumption. If that assumption is not accurate, they are shielded from liability since soil conditions are outside of their purview.


Ultimately it’s best to hire a company with a good track record of building sun shelf pools. Find a pool builder that likes crossing all the t’s and dotting all the i’s of the construction and pre-construction process. The best way to build a sun shelf pool or any pool for that matter is to follow the best industry standards, and exceed them when possible. Building your very own sun shelf pool can seem daunting. However, putting a sun shelf pool into your backyard is not as complicated as you might think.