Pool Buyer Advice

Why I Love a Sun Shelf and What Benefits Can It Provide

Author: Josh Koop
Posted: April 11, 2020
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When building a pool, it’s important to think about the type of design that you want to have. This can include deciding on the size and shape that you want it to be. When doing this, you will often be asked whether you want to include a sun shelf. But what is a sun shelf in a pool? 

What is a Sun Shelf in a Pool? A sun shelf also called a Baja shelf or a tanning shelf, is a long flat bench, often with just a few inches of water. This is typically located in the shallow end of the pool. This is typically included to give people somewhere to sit and relax. 

The sun shelf is a popular addition in most modern pools. But why is this? Let’s take a closer look at the tanning shelf and how you can incorporate it into your pool. 

What is a Tanning Shelf in a Pool?

A tanning shelf is one of the most popular concepts in modern design, with many people wanting to incorporate one into their pool. But what is a tanning shelf in a pool? 

This is a bench in the shallow end of the pool creating a sitting area where there are only a few inches of water

There are several reasons why you might want to include a tanning shelf in your pool. For example, you might want to use it as a place to rest after a long swim. Other people might use it to ease themselves in the water

In other cases, you might want to use the bench as a way for disabled people to enjoy using the pool. 

How Deep Should a Pool Sun Shelf be?

As we’ve seen, there are a few ways that you might want to consider installing a tanning shelf. But how deep should a pool sun shelf be? 

The ideal length will often vary, depending on what feels comfortable for you. In general, though, most people opt for a shelf that’s around 6 to 12 inches deep

Often, this is shallow enough for you to sit comfortably while providing enough water to keep you cool. 

My sun shelf in my backyard pool, also has 2 fountains to spray water - What is a Sun Shelf in a Pool

Can you Add a Sun Shelf to an Existing Pool?

A sun shelf can be a great way for you to improve your pool, creating a place for you to relax.

But these have only started to gain mainstream popularity recently. Previously, they were restricted to expensive pools.

This meant that they weren’t included in a lot of older pools. So, can you add a sun shelf to an existing pool? 

It is possible to add a sun shelf to an already existing pool. However, it will be a very expensive process. 

Before you install anything, you will have to make sure that you have enough space to put in the shelf. In some cases, you might not have a big enough pool. Once the step is installed, you won’t have a large area to swim in. 

To make a sun shelf possible, you will need to have a few major alterations made to your pool. First, they will need to build a strong supporting frame around the shelf, making sure that it’s secure. This frame will later be filled with concrete

Then, they will need to complete the exterior. This can mean re-plastering the pool. Finally, you might need to call in tilers, to make sure that the step is comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. 

By the time that this process is complete, you will often have spent thousands of dollars

Customizing Your Sun Shelf

Once your shelf is built or installed, you might want to find a way to customize it to better suit your pool and style. There are a few ways that you will be able to do this. 

First, you should think about tiling the shelf. This can allow you to add a unique visual element, injecting more personality into the area.

For example, you might want to have a mosaic design, highlighting plenty of colors. Other people might want to choose natural stone, making the area feel more relaxed. 

You might also want to consider adding some bubblers. This can create a relaxing area, as the bubbles give you a massage. You might want to include a slot for an umbrella, so you can chill out on the shelf without the risk of getting sunburnt. 

You can add to the atmosphere by including some LED lighting strips, which will illuminate the pool at night. This is perfect for parties

Another great customization option is including a fountain. There are a few options in this area. For example, you might want to have the water flowing from the sun shelf into the shallow end of the pool. Alternatively, you might want to have the fountain inside the shelf. 

While these are some of the most popular customization options, there are many more for you to explore. This will ensure that you can create a spectacular sun shelf in your pool. 

What are Some Drawbacks to a Tanning Shelf?

As we’ve seen, there are plenty of reasons why you might want to consider including a sun shelf in your pool. But there are some potential downsides that you might also want to consider. So, what are some of the drawbacks to a tanning shelf?

There are a few reasons why a tanning shelf might not be a good option for you. For example, they take up a lot of space. Also, they tend to be very expensive to install.

For this reason, you should make sure to consider how you’ll use the pool, before installing the shelf

To install the shelf, you’ll need to sacrifice some space. This can be a problem for people who intend to use the pool to exercise.

For example, if you intend to swim laps, you might find the shorter pool a hindrance. However, if you wanted to use it recreationally, you might not care much about the shortened pool. 

Also, the ledge might attract more wildlife to your pool, giving ducks and birds a place to perch and clean themselves. This can lead to more bird droppings and feathers accumulating in the pool.

Because of this, you will need to clean it more frequently. You might also want to consider installing a heavy-duty filtration system

Finally, installing a shelf will require more equipment, time and materials. For this reason, they tend to make building a pool more expensive, especially if you want to customize it by adding extras like a foundation or LED lighting.

As we mentioned, if you’re planning on adding a sun shelf to an existing pool, you can expect to pay thousands of dollars. 

How important these downsides are to you will depend on the way you intend to use the pool and your budget. You should keep your intended use in mind during the design process to make sure you don’t end up with tanning ledge regrets. 

Final Thoughts on What is a Sun Shelf in a Pool

A sun ledge is a small bench in the shallow end of the pool. Often, it will only contain a few inches of water, just enough to keep you cool as you are relaxing. This has made them a staple of modern pools, adding to their luxury and glamor. 

I love the one in my backyard, my daughter thinks of it as the entertainment area for her and her friends.

My dogs love it because they can touch the bottom and run through it like fools, yes, even when it is cold as can be outside!

Image of the Pool Owner Josh
Hi, its nice to meet you. My name is Josh and I have wanted a pool my entire life.

When we moved to Texas I finally got my wish but wasn't ready for the massive amount of things you have to know!

This site is built from my labor of love to learn pool management and understand changes and repairs!

Hope it can help more people like learning this has helped my family and myself!
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