Spool Pool – a DIYers Guide to building one

Spool Pool

Building your own Spool Pool is not as difficult as you think. In this article I will cover all of the things that you need to consider when building your own spool or pool

Contents hide

What is a Spool Pool?

At its most basic, a spool pool is a small swimming pool. It is a swimming pool in every way apart from its size. It is much smaller than your regular pool. So where does the the term spool pool come from. Well, the main difference is that you are not going to be doing laps in your pool. You are more likely to be relaxing with a drink in your hand.

In terms of the size of a spool pool, it would seem that the definition is that the maximum area of a spool Pool is 400 to 700 cubic feet. In terms of the dimensions, you are looking at around 12′ x 12′ and 4′ or less in depth. There is no “deep end” per say and you are really looking at a pool that is going to accomodate less than 10 people.

DIY Cocktail Pool

What is a Cocktail Spool Pool?

A cocktail spool pool, sometimes called a “spool” or “cocktail pool,” is a relatively small hybrid swimming pool that combines elements of both a spa (hot tub) and a swimming pool. It is designed to provide the benefits of a pool for cooling off and swimming a few strokes, as well as the relaxation and hydrotherapy features of a spa.

Here are some key characteristics of a cocktail spool pool:

  1. Size: Cocktail spools are typically smaller than traditional swimming pools but larger than most hot tubs. They come in a range of sizes, but a common length is around 12 to 14 feet with a width of 6 to 8 feet.

  2. Depth: Cocktail spool pools have a uniform depth that is typically around 4 to 5 feet. This depth is ideal for both cooling off and swimming a bit, as well as providing a comfortable soaking and relaxation experience.

  3. Jets and Hydrotherapy: Like a spa, cocktail spools are equipped with jets for hydrotherapy. They often include seating with strategically placed jets for massaging and relaxation. Some models even feature adjustable water temperature, making them usable as hot tubs or cool plunges.

  4. Versatility: Cocktail spool pools are versatile and can be used for various purposes, such as relaxation, exercise, and socializing. They are great for families or individuals who want a mix of pool and spa experiences in a limited space.

  5. Space-Efficient: They are an excellent choice for smaller yards or areas with limited space. Their compact size allows homeowners to enjoy the benefits of a pool and a spa without the need for a large backyard.

  6. Design Options: Cocktail spool pools come in various shapes and designs, and they can be customized to fit the homeowner’s preferences. They can be equipped with features like LED lighting, waterfalls, and fountains.

  7. Ease of Maintenance: Due to their smaller size, cocktail spool pools are generally easier to maintain than larger swimming pools. They require less water, fewer chemicals, and less energy for heating and filtration.

Cocktail spool pools offer a solution for those who desire the best of both worlds—swimming and relaxation—in a compact and space-efficient package. They are a popular choice for homeowners looking to make the most of their outdoor living space while enjoying the therapeutic benefits of hydrotherapy.

What is different about a Spool Pool?

One of the differences with a Spool Pool is that they often combine some of the features of a Hot Tub or Spa. This combination of the features, “Spa” and “Pool” are combined together to make the term “Spool”.

Because of the size, I guess spool pools are a little more like a Hot Tub or Swim Spa in nature. Therefore, it is not uncommon for them to share some features such as a heating, jets and blowers.

Essentially a Spool is a 12′ by 12′ super-large Hot Tub!

As you can control the heat, you can use if for both. Perhaps a Hot Tub/Spa in the winter and then a plunge pool in the summer. Sounds like the perfect combination to me!

Can I Build a Spool Pool myself?

Absolutely! The methods that we discuss on this website of cinder block built Hot Tubs, Plunge Pools and the like are totally valid for a spool pools. What you are probably not going to do in terms of a construction method is Shotcrete or Gunite.

We’ve discussed this many times on this blog that this is an art and something that can only be done by a professional.

However, digging a big hole, laying a concrete slab, then building 4′ high walls around the perimeter, in it’s most basic form is going to give you a simple method for building a DIY Cocktail Pool or Spool.

Cocktail Pool DIY


How Much is is Going to Cost to Build a Spool Pool?

This is always a difficult question. That said, what it is not going to cost you is $50K that the average swimming pool costs to build. A rough estimate here, based on the large hot tub projects that we do is that it should be under $10K. That is a pretty cool edition to your backyard for ten grand.

The finishes and features will ultimately dictate the final cost. If you are going to for swimming pool tiles as opposed to a liner, than this is going to add to the cost. Incorporating Hot Tub style jets is also going to add to the cost.

Ultimately, at planning stage you should be able to gauge where you expect this project to come out in terms of costs. Expensive finishes and fittings will of course, push up the cost. Cutting the costs as low as possible, I think it would be possible to do for around $7K.

Looking for Plans and Designs? Need to Submit Planning Permission? Click Below!

Considerations for a Spool Pool

Spool Pool Size – How Big? How Deep?

We’ve already outlined that the definition of a spool pool should be that it is under 14′ x 14′ and at a maximum 4′ deep. The exact dimensions are going to depend on your own backyard and the space that you have available.

A couple of things to think about. Where are you going to put the pump, filter, jet pump if you opt for one an heater? These do need to be covered and out of the elements. You will need 3′ square approximately to house these pieces of kit.

Cocktail Pool DIY

Shape – Square, Round, Kidney?

I guess the shape comes down to how comfortable you are in building shapes out of block or brick. Clearly, building a square cocktail pool or spool out of blocks is much easier than building a kidney shape or cylindrical pool.

That said, the plumbing for all of these is identical so my advice here is go with something that you are comfortable building and something that it going to work.

Opting for a share that it outside of your block laying capabilities is going to cause you problems. The alternative is get a brick layer in for a couple of days to lay the blocks for you.

This is always a option, you know the work will be top notch if done by a professional. It will of course add to the cost but it it something to think about.

Heated or Not Heated Spool Pool?

This question is really going to to be answered by when you plan to use it. Is this going to be an all year round thing? Do you live in the south where you are not going to need to heat it for several months of the year?

Conversely, do you live up in the north where it is much cooler and you will need some additional heat. Only you can answer these questions.

Couple of things to point out on heating. The bigger the pool, the more energy needed to heat it. The more it is going to cost you to run it. Sounds obvious right? Also, how are you going to heat it?

When it comes to heating options for your DIY spool pool, you have several choices to consider. The first option is gas and propane heaters, which have long been favored for their quick heating capabilities.

These heaters utilize natural gas or propane fuel to generate heat, allowing for rapid temperature increase in the pool water. They are particularly useful for larger pools or situations where you want to heat the water quickly for special occasions.

Electric heaters, on the other hand, are a reliable and easy to install choice. They use electricity to generate heat and can maintain a consistent water temperature over a longer period. Electric heaters are often preferred for smaller spool pools as the heat up time can be very long with electric when compared to some of the other options. Also, it is expensive to use electric alone.

For those looking for an eco-friendly and energy-efficient solution, air source heat pumps are a great option. These devices extract heat from the surrounding air and transfer it to the pool water.

They work similarly to air conditioners but in reverse, making them an efficient choice for heating. Air source heat pumps come in various models, some of which are capable of cooling down the pool water as well.

This feature is especially beneficial for hot climates, where chilling the pool can provide refreshing relief during scorching summers. The ability to both heat and cool the water makes air source heat pumps a versatile and all-season solution for spool pools.

In summary, when deciding on a heating option for your DIY spool pool, consider the pros and cons of each choice. Gas and propane heaters offer quick heating, while electric heaters prioritize energy efficiency.

Air source heat pumps provide a sustainable and flexible solution, with certain models capable of both heating and cooling the pool water. Understanding your specific needs, climate conditions, and preferences will help you make an informed decision about the most suitable heating option for your DIY spool pool

Something you need to think about at the planning stage.


Jets or No Jets in my Spool Pool?

This is definitely something that you need to decide at the design stage. The pipework and jets do need to be added to the pool during the build. This is not something that you can add afterwards. Well, I guess that you could but it is going to be messy.

How many jets are you going to have. This will impact on your pump selection as remember, each jet needs a certain amount of water flow so this is a calculation that needs to be done. General rule, under 16 jets you will be fine with a 4HP pump as long as it is not too far away from the pool. It it is further away, there is a head height of water that needs to be “pushed and pulled” by the pump which impacts flow. We can help with this at design stage of course.

DIY Spool


The finish that you are going to use on the pool is going to dictate a couple of things. Firstly, the cost. Something like swimming pool tiles is going to be much more expensive than a pool liner or a painted surface.

Secondly, wear and tear. If you have a liner in the pool, it is going to need to be replaced every few years whereas arguable, the tiles will last a lot longer.

Ultimately, the finish is going to come down to personal preference and budget. Yes, it is possible to create a good looking pool on a budget. Just be mindful of any replacement costs of things like liners (which are a couple of grand for a full size pool) do add up.

Looking for Plans and Designs? Need to Submit Planning Permission? Click Below!

Plunge Pool Designs

What are the Running Costs for my Spool Pool?

How long is a piece of string? Yes, this is a difficult one. There are so many factors involved. How you heat it. How often you heat it. how well is it insulated? What is your ambient climate like? What sanitisers you use. The list goes on.

A Cocktail Pool or Spool is a luxury item (certainly in my books anyway) The is going to be a cast for this and an ongoing one of course. I would estimate at the lowest end of the scale it will cost you a 1000 bucks a year to run. At the upper, if you are heating it a lot, perhaps closer to 3000 dollars.

Not cheap I know. Again, this is just an estimate but you do need to be aware of ongoing costs.

Construction Method for your Spool Pool

This is very much a summary of the steps that you need to take to build your own Spool. I’ve summarised each of the main stages that you will go through. This gives you an idea of the amount of work needed to undertake such a project.

Step 1 – Clear the Area

Step 2 – Dig the hole for your Spool Pool

DIY Spool

Step 3 – Concrete Base

I suggest putting down a liner. This stops potential dirty water ingress into the pool. I’ve then put some metal rebar into the base for added strength.

DIY Spool

Step 4 – Brickwork for Walls and Seats (if any)

Next, I built up the block work for the walls and for the seats. The stones that you can see are to form the concrete base. You put these down to disperse the pressure of the concrete so it has less chance of cracking under pressure.

DIY Spool

Step 5 – Basic Plumbing Fixtures

DIY Spool

Step 6 – Jets if Any

You will need to fit your jets at this stage. Bore any holes that you need and then use the Gunite fittings to get the jets through the wall.

Step 7 – Finish the Surface

DIY Spool

Step 8 – Fill and Enjoy!

Grab yourself a cocktail! You are done.

Looking for Plans and Designs? Need to Submit Planning Permission? Click Below!

DIY Cocktail Spool

Can I Help You?

If I can help you in any way I would love to hear from you. You can get in touch using the form below.

Thanks - Andi


Hi, Andi here. I own Buildahottub.com and also write all of the articles and info pages on the site. Some years back now, I built my own hot tub but struggled to find the information I needed. So, once my tub was complete, I started this website to help others in their own pursuit of hot tub and plunge pools DIY building information.

Today, I've helped over 1000 DIY customers just like you all over the world build hot tubs and pools. Have a good look around the site, there are lots of resources here. Please do get in touch if I can help you. - Cheers, Andi

Soaking in Success: What Makes the Best DIY Hot Tub Plans?

It’s that time of year again where the second wave of DIY Hot Tubs and [...]

Paul’s DIY Hot Tub Journey

Paul decided to take the plunge (pun intended!) and build his own hot tub, and [...]

DIY Hot Tub / Swim Spa Case Study – Darren, AZ, USA

Darren got in touch with me April 2024 because like most of my customers, he [...]

How Noisy is an Air Source Heat Pump?

In my latest video, which you can find below, I take a look at how [...]

Installing a Main Drain for Your Hot Tub or Plunge Pool

Installing the main drains that you are going to need on your hot tub or [...]

Rebar for Hot Tubs and Pool Construction Explained

Imagine soaking in a steaming hot tub or cooling off in a refreshing pool on [...]

Infinity Hot Tub with Swim Jet Takes Shape in Virginia

Have you ever dreamt of soaking in a luxurious hot tub while enjoying a mesmerizing [...]

Keeping Your Pool Crystal Clear: A Deep Dive into Sand Filters

Sparkling pool water is every pool owner's dream. But achieving this oasis of refreshment requires [...]