Lyon Financial

Shout Out to the Shallow End – Unique Pool Steps and Ladders


The front door of your home makes a statement; whether it’s a casual screen door or the stately welcome of pillars and a portico. In the same manner, pool steps and ladders are the entrée to your backyard’s centerpiece, so this entrance should also exhibit form, fashion, and function.

Visual appeal in pool design is key to creating the setting. Aesthetics, however, do not have to be sacrificed for safety. Pool safety is the critical step in defining your pool’s access. The first question you need to consider is, “Who will be using the pool?” A well-designed pool entry that is safe and convenient can be utilitarian yet still enhance your pool’s appearance.

Pool Ladders

Before resort-style baja shelves became the rage for backyard pools, ladders were the standard go-to for many reasons.

  • They suit the wide range of water depths
  • They’re typically sleek and not obtrusive
  • They are generally the most affordable of pool access hardware
  • They blend with most outdoor decors as they are cast from stainless-steel

However, pool ladders:

  • Can appear reminiscent of a public pool
  • They can look a bit sterile and don’t necessarily sport a decorative flair
  • They are not the most easily accessible for small children or those with physical challenges

Still, if a stainless-steel ladder is in your budget and it suits those who will be using the pool, then you can dress it up. We are huge fans of the difference which pool landscaping can make to the scenic element of your backyard oasis.

If you don’t like the look of the ladder, place matching potted ferns/blooming flowers on either side of the handrails to make the pool entrance a little grander. Colorful pottery and easy-care plants never go out of style.

An alternative to pool ladders are footholds built right into the pool wall. (Think rock climbing crevices that are smoother and safer.) While more expensive than ladders, they do eliminate the “bulkier” profile of their ladder counterparts. Still, if you are considering a built-in option, then we say just go for the pool steps! They are far more attractive and versatile.

Pool Steps

As far as stamping your unique vision on your backyard pool, this is the feature where yours will shine.

If your pool is already constructed/is above ground with a pool ladder and you’d like to add some easy access for the young swimmers in your family, consider a wedding cake step. As the name implies, this removable step structure features tiers like a wedding cake with the smallest step closest to the water’s surface and the subsequent ones increasing in width as you descend. With non-skid stair treads for traction, they provide a wide angle to make entry and exit easier.

If installing a pool, consult with your pool contractor as pool step placement is a function of the shape of your pool, which is a function of the shape of your yard and its available construction space.

Built-in wedding cake pool steps lend an easy elegance. Whether the edges are curved, at right angles, scalloped, or framed with contrasting tile work, this one design idea offers thousands and thousands of variations.

If you are beginning the exciting process of working with a pool contractor to create your pool’s look, this is one of the features to which you may wish to allocate a good chunk of your budget.

Pool steps are more than serviceable. Like your home’s front door, they make a statement.

Shimmering above and beneath the water’s surface, there is literally an endless array of ways for them to be constructed. You can even top yours with a sparkling fountain – like an exclamation point proclaiming, “We are here to relax and enjoy!”

Baja Shelves

Also known as tanning ledges or sun shelves, your creativity knows no limits here. According to The Arizona Report, a Baja shelf is an expansive shallow-water step that serves as an entry point into a swimming pool. Typically, the shelf is submerged 8-16 inches. A Baja shelf may also be called a Baja step, Acapulco shelf, tanning ledge, Shamu shelf, shallow reef step, thermal ledge or a sun shelf. It is a scaled-down resort feature that adds functionality to residential pools for bathers of all ages. They have grown in popularity in residential pools since the mid-1990s.

The Best of Both Worlds

Beach entries (also known as zero depth pools) are an interesting take on pool access. If your pool is on the larger side, this may be a design/functionality element you want to consider. This entrance option gives the feel of taking those first steps from the shoreline into the ocean with a beach-like slope for absolute elegance. Zero depth pools make a huge impact and are uncommonly beautiful.

Backyard Pool Tips

A backyard pool offers a transformative experience that will add value to your home. Just a couple final tips about your pool design:

  1. Safety first – discuss all possible choices of nonslip surfaces and necessary handrails with your pool contractor while considering the ages and swimming experiences of anyone who will use the pool.
  2. When it comes to pool entrances and exits, you can combine several to include steps and ladders to suit everyone’s needs.
  3. Your pool steps or ladders should be integral to your overall design aesthetic so consider carefully how these work in the context of your future pool’s style and shape.

Once you’ve made the decision to install your own piece of paradise in your backyard, you’ll need to prepare to make many, many fun decisions about things you may never have had to consider!

Things like how you get in and out of the pool, and how those decisions fit with the ones you will make about pool shape and choices of tile and pavers and landscaping. Don’t get overwhelmed. What you are doing is laying the foundation of parties and family gatherings for years to come.

Our swimming pool financing company only works with the finest pool contractor professionals who will take you step by step through the process. After almost 40 years of providing pool loans, we still love the photos we get from our clients showing us the unique choices they’ve made.

Lyon Financial works with families across the country to install pools, upgrade pool features, and finance all those wonderful extras – like spectacular outdoor kitchens and Baja shelves!

We love the difference we can make for your family by providing something that puts years of memories within reach. Call 877-754-5966 for more information.