Spool or Pool? Weighing the Differences

If you’ve decided to take the plunge, figuratively as well as literally, and install a backyard swimming pool, there are some decisions to make before you commit. How big should it be? What shape? Saltwater pool or ionizer- equipped? That’s just the beginning – but one question we’re going to answer in this article is “Pool or spool – and what’s the difference?”

A pool can be large or small, above-ground or sunken, salt- or fresh-water. A spool, in contrast, is a hybrid amalgamation of a spa and a pool, smaller than an average pool but larger than a spa, with the benefit of having spa jets, heating, and seating, thus earning it the hybrid name “spool.”

There are several factors to consider when choosing whether to invest in a pool or a spool (and I’m going to ignore in this article the other options, such as a cocktail pool, plunge pool, lap pool, or spa). I’m going to discuss all these factors and give you a clear picture of the pros and cons of each so that you can decide whether a pool or spool is the right one for you.

Pool Or Spool – How Do They Differ?

Whether you have a big backyard space perfect for a large pool or a small courtyard that can accommodate little more than a spa, both provide a place to relax, cool off on a hot summer day and escape the daily grind. Pools and spools have their different advantages and disadvantages.

Definition Of A Pool

No specific size qualifies a pool for the title, but most are between 20 and 40 feet long and between 10 and 20 feet wide. The depth varies from a few inches at the entry point to between six and eight feet at the deep end.

The shape varies from rectangular to free-form and can be uniquely designed to fit into a particular landscape.

Advantages Of A Pool Over A Spool

Although they may not have all the mechanical features incorporated into a spool, because of their substantially larger dimensions, pools offer several benefits and potential uses that spools cannot.

Pools Provide A Better Opportunity To Exercise

Pools are a great way to stay fit and active without the need for additional equipment. Swimming several lengths of a full-sized 20-feet X 40-feet pool provides a full-body, low-impact workout and is a great way to improve cardiovascular health.

Pools Are Perfect For Parties

Pools are big enough to offer opportunities for recreational activities like water sports, pool parties, and games. Because of their usual setting in a garden, they are the ideal place to socialize informally with family and friends.

Pools Have Greater Visual Impact

Not all pools are custom-designed, and you may choose a standard rectangular pre-formed pool or an above-ground vinyl version, as they are much less expensive. However, an individually designed pool with beautiful decking incorporated into a garden setting can become a focal point and totally transform your home.

Disadvantages Of A Pool

As with any option, there are pros and cons to consider when selecting a pool rather than a spool.

Pools Can Be Costly To Install

Building a pool is a significant investment, and it doesn’t end with installation. The materials and labor costs, as well as landscaping, can be expensive, depending on the size and design you’ve chosen.

Maintenance Is An Important Issue To Consider

There are also ongoing maintenance costs to consider, including chemicals, cleaning, and energy consumption to be considered. Pools can be expensive, also, in terms of time and effort required for maintenance, and this should be taken into account when deciding on a pool or a spool.

Safety Is A Vital Issue

Accidents around the pool are common, whether it’s slipping and falling on wet decking or children falling into the pool undetected. Fencing and pool alarms are two ways to reduce the chance of this happening, but the risk is never eliminated.

Advantages Of A Spool Over A Pool

Now, let’s talk about spools—a pool and spa hybrid. They offer the best of both worlds, combining the relaxation of a hot tub while still offering users the ability to swim or exercise.

Spools Fit Where Pools Don’t

Spools are perfect for homeowners with limited outdoor space. Because of their limited size, they can fit into small backyards, patios, decks, rooftops, or even indoors. A spool might be ideal if you want a water feature but don’t have the space for a full-sized pool.

Spools Offer Year-Round Enjoyment

Spools, like spas, are equipped with heating systems, so you enjoy them throughout the year. In winter, you can soak in the warm water as you would in a hot tub, and when the weather warms up, you can enjoy a refreshing swim.

Spools Are Easy To Maintain

Because of their size, pools take less time to clean, require fewer chemicals, and are generally easier and less costly to maintain than a full-sized pool.

Spools Are Designed For Versatility

The typical spool is equipped with features such as hydrotherapy jets and built-in seating, as you would find in a spa, as well as counter-current swimming systems. This versatile design allows you to use the spool for various purposes, including exercising, entertaining, or a therapeutic massage.

Disadvantages Of A Spool

Before deciding to install a spool, you need to look at the pros and cons, and there are a few negatives you need to consider.

Spools Have Limited Swimming Space

The most serious drawback of a spool is its minimal swimming area. If you intend to swim against the jets for exercise, there’s no space for others. While you can still enjoy a refreshing dip, the size prevents you from swimming laps or engaging in energetic games and sports in your spool.

Making Full Use Of A Spool Can Get Expensive

If you want to heat your spool, install counter-current jets to swim against, add additional spa jets, or have any other features, it’s going to cost a lot more than a hot tub and not much less than a pool.

Pool Or Spool – Choosing The Right Option

With all the pros and cons of pools and spools detailed, you can decide which option is most suitable.

When To Choose A Pool

  • You have ample space in your backyard, have family who will enjoy the pool, and wants to be able to entertain friends in a casual outdoor environment.
  • You want the space to exercise, swim laps and indulge in healthy, energetic games and activities.
  • You appreciate the visual impact and aesthetic appeal of a larger pool. You can spend money on an asset that will increase the value of your property without overcapitalizing.
  • You are willing to invest in a pool’s construction, maintenance, and energy costs.

When To Choose A Spool

  • You don’t have the space available to install a pool in your backyard but still want to be able to enjoy a swim.
  • You want the features and benefits of a spa or hot tub but also want to be able to enjoy those of a pool, including the ability to exercise.
  • You want to enjoy year-round usability with heating in winter and a refreshing cool pool in summer.
  • You are looking for a cost-effective solution that is less expensive than a pool, cheaper to maintain, but one that offers multiple functionalities.


Both pools and spools provide the enjoyment of a recreational water feature but differ in size, functionality, and cost. Consider your personal circumstances, your preferences, as well as available space, budget, and long-term investment value. Make a choice that suits your needs and lifestyle. With either option, you’ll have a delightful aquatic oasis built right into your home.