Lap Pools – Key Factors To Help You Make The Right Design Choices

Swimming Pool Design

Swimming is a great form of exercise. Not only is it a proven way to maintain good health, but it also comes with minimal risk of injury compared to other forms of cardiovascular exercise.

If you own a home here in Dubai and love swimming, lap pools are one of the best types of pool to install.

They are ideal if you are looking to use your pool to exercise on a regular basis and intend to do laps. They are not the best choice of pool if you are primarily looking to incorporate a water feature on your property.

Below, we take a look at the ins and outs of lap pool design. Here’s what you need to consider before deciding on installing one on your property.

What Are Lap Pools?

Source: Recent Milestone Project

A lap pool is a long pool that you can use for exercise or hydrotherapy. Lap pools are typically long and narrow. The basic pool is rectangular in shape, but can have many added features to enhance its appearance and function.

Lap pools are a great option for narrow properties, where a conventional pool would be a tight fit. As they are long and narrow, you can still have a beautiful looking waterbody on your property with adequate space around for landscaping.

However, since pools are the largest structural element in the landscape, they are costly, both to build and to maintain. Hence, it is important to think about your budget and requirements before you commit to building a pool.

Design Considerations for Lap Pools

Source: Recent Milestone Project

Lap pools are not for everyone. Because of their length to width ratio, they are better suited for exercise rather than as a visual feature. Having said that, you can incorporate many features in and around lap pools to make them visually appealing.

Design Style

Lap pools are different from conventional pools largely because of the longer length designed  for swimming laps. However, you can design them in any style. There are three main design options:

Skimmer Pools

Source: Recent Milestone Project

A skimmer lap pool is one that is designed flush with the ground. It has a lowered water level of 15cm. This is to accommodate the skimmer, which is located below the pool coping. The skimmer captures floating debris such as leaves, dirt, insects and other waste matter.

Skimmer pools do not need a balancing tank and hence save on additional equipment costs that other pool types incur. However, because of the lowered water level, they tend to be deeper than overflow and infinity edge pools to accommodate the minimum 1.3m depth.

Overflow Pools

Source: Recent Milestone Project

Most lap pools are designed as overflow pools, where the water level is flush with the surrounding finished floor level. The water drains into an overflow channel that surrounds the pool.

You can design the channel as a slim slot to catch water. You can also design it as a series of slits cut into the paving for an edgier look.

Overflow lap pools need not be as deep as skimmer pools because the water level is flush with the surrounding paving. Hence,  you only need a 1.3m depth to be able to swim laps or walk for exercise in the water.

However, the additional cost for an overflow pool comes from the need for a balancing tank.

Infinity Pools

Source: Recent Milestone Project

If you want to turn your lap pool into a mesmerizing water feature at night, a spill edge or infinity pool is one of the best ways to achieve this. You can raise the lap pool 45-60 cm above the surrounding grade.

Water spills over one or more edges into a collection trough or channel at ground level. Orient the spill edge towards the living or dining room for a great backyard view.

Most villas in Dubai do not come with a natural exterior view. They are usually surrounded by other villas and many share common walls with neighbors. Therefore, you are trying to create your own view in your backyard; a lap pool can really help to do this, when designed creatively.

Budget and Cost

Pool Cost

Source: Recent Milestone Project

A lap pool does not come cheap as there are a range of costs associated with building it. The greater the depth of the pool, the more expensive it will be.

A good starting point to budget for your pool is to assume a cost of AED 2500 per cubic meter. The length multiplied by the width multiplied by the height of the pool will give you the volume in cubic meters. Multiply this by 2500 dhs to give you a rough estimate for your pool.

Keep in mind that the more expensive the finishes, the greater the added cost to the pool.

Equipment Cost

All pools require a pump equipment room, which can cost anywhere from 14,000 to 60,000 AED depending on the equipment it houses and its location.

In Dubai, winters can be uncomfortably cold for a swim, while summers are very hot. It is unpleasant to swim in either of these conditions, so we recommend having heat and chill pumps to maintain a comfortable water temperature of 28 – 30 degrees.

This will enable you to use the pool throughout the year.

Above ground pump rooms are cheaper than underground ones, but can also be noisier. Hence, they will need to be placed some distance away from the main pool activity area.

Infinity edge and overflow lap pools will also need a balancing tank, which can range from AED 15,000 to 20,000. Skimmer pools do not need a balancing tank, but will have greater depth.

Hence, it is important to take into account all the various factors that will affect the budget of your lap pool, to help you make an informed decision.

Maintaining Lap Pools

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Lap pools, or rather all pools, are complex structures and require regular maintenance to keep them looking good and functioning as intended.

In general, they can cost between AED 600 to AED 1,500 per month to maintain, depending on their size. It is important not to skimp on the maintenance cost, as neglecting the pool can lead to much costlier problems down the road.

It is worth noting that more than any other pool type, lap pools are an investment in your health and well-being. Hence, although they can be expensive to build and maintain, they also contribute to a healthy household, which is a great return on your investment.

Size of Lap Pools

Generally, lap pools have a uniform depth across the pool of about 1.3m -1.5m. This is the optimum depth in which you can swim laps or walk in the pool as a form of aerobic exercise. Most of the lap pools we have built in Dubai are 3m x 15m. The minimum length for a lap pool is 10m.

If you are intent on being able to swim longer laps, you can even go up to 20m in length, although such a long pool can tend to look disproportionate, especially in a smaller garden. If you are tight for space, you may want to reduce the internal width of the lap pool to 2.75m.    

Design Options For Lap Pools

Other than the size and location of a lap pool, there are many other things you need to consider. Below, we dive a little deeper into the features that can make for a functional, yet stunning lap pool water feature.

Getting In And Out

Access to your lap pool is a key aspect of its design. Since lap pools are designed for laps, you want flat walls to be able to do a flip turn and head back for another lap. Hence, steps into the pool are usually offset, so that they don’t eat up valuable lap length.

c. Pool steps typically have 15-17cm  high risers and 30cm wide treads; therefore, for a 1.3m deep pool, you would need 7 to 9 steps.

Lap Pools As Water Features

A lap pool may not be your first choice for an ideal water feature, but you can add many enhancements to turn it into a design element. A spill edge infinity pool with a cascading edge can become an elegant waterfall at night, offering amazing views from the house.

You can also add color changing lights to any lap pool to add drama and make it come alive at night.

A lap pool may not fulfill recreational needs of children and other household members who view swimming as a form of leisure rather than exercise.

In this case, a spa, an offset shallow play area or  a water feature spilling into the lap pool can make the lap pool multi-functional. Light up these additions and use high-quality tiles to complement the look of the lap pool.

Pool surrounds can play an important role in elevating an ordinary lap pool into one that enhances the look of your landscape. Here we look at how choice of pool decking can add to the beauty of a lap pool design.

Tiling Options Around Lap Pools

Decks occupy a large amount of visible space in most landscapes. Hence think carefully when selecting your deck material.  They need to match the style of the house and complement the style of your lap pool.

Walking barefoot on the deck when you get out of the pool is a great feeling. If this is important to you, opt for tiles that do not retain heat during the summers.

WPC decking – wood plastic composites are quickly gaining popularity due to their clean look and easy maintenance. Composed from a combination of wood fibres and plastics, they look like wood decking, but without the maintenance hassles that come with using natural wood and stone.

The advantages of WPC over traditional decking are:

  • They are more durable and last much longer than traditional wood. Most suppliers offer a 10-15 year guarantee on their products.
  • Because of their plastic content, they are resistant to rot, dampness and insect infestation
  • They retain color and do not fade over time
  • They are slip resistant

Therefore, even though they are initially more expensive, they last for many years with virtually no maintenance. You can find WPC decks in a wide range of colors here.

Porcelain tiles – If you don’t want to spend on composite decking, there are a variety of porcelain tiles in the market that might be a more economical alternative to traditional decking.

Porcelain tiles are also very low on maintenance and come in a wide variety of colors and textures. This allows for great flexibility in your hardscape design around the pool.

However, unlike WPC decking, porcelain tiles do become hot during the summer; choose a light colored tile to reduce the possibility of burnt feet!

Additional Features

Wave Machines

For those of you who are hardcore fitness buffs, swimming laps may not provide enough of a workout. Therefore, you might want to up the challenge by adding additional fitness equipment such as wave machines and resistance machines.

These can turn any lap pool into an endurance lap pool for those that are athletically inclined. You can also install wave machines for hydrotherapy to soothe joint and muscle aches.  

A wave machine is a piece of aquatic equipment that uses powerful pumps to generate waves in a pool.  You can control the height and frequency of the waves to vary the degree of the workout you would like to achieve.

You essentially swim against these waves,  thereby increasing the effectiveness of the workout. Barr + Wray, a UK based company with offices in Dubai, specializes in wave technology for public and private pools.

Pool Bikes And Treadmills

Additionally, there is a variety of other training equipment that is specially designed for use in water. Astral Pools in Dubai have an aquatic pool bike that can be used in the pool much like a spinning bike at the gym.

Excellent for resistance training, the bike features additional resistance in the pedal rotation, giving muscles a great workout under water.

SmartPools also have an underwater treadmill that allows you to exercise from the privacy of your home, without ever having to go to the gym.

Hydro-leisure Elements

You can turn your lap pool into a hydrotherapy pool with a host of newly introduced elements. These are designed to work the kinks out of tired muscles. Imagine being able to get into your lap pool after a long, tiring day at work and letting pool jets massage the soreness from your body.

Astral Pools has a range of elements that can be installed in the walls and floors of your lap pool for the ultimate relaxing experience. They even have hydromassage beds that can be easily installed into your pool!

Why Choose Milestone For Your Pool

In Dubai, any pool you build requires approvals from both the Dubai Municipality as well as the developer. To get approval, you will require MEP, architectural and structural drawings for your lap pool.

You will also need to have intermediate inspections for steel work as the construction progresses and also once the pool is built in order to get a completion certificate.  

Pools are expensive; hence it is imperative that you hire a qualified, licensed company with experienced engineers.

At Milestone, we have built many pools. We have a highly qualified team of engineers who are experienced  in handling the approvals process as well as ensuring that the pool is built to the highest standards using best practices.

Hiring an experienced company to build your pool will save you a lot of time and expense in the long run, as we can ensure that the pool is built to last.

Please contact our expert design team for a free design consultation.

Sejal Nagjee

Sejal Nagjee

Sejal Nagjee, Milestone’s CEO and Creative Director is a gifted designer. Regardless of the project scale or scope, from homes and offices, hotels and restaurant, to gardens and exterior living spaces, her distinctive style injects a fresh and vibrant perspective to every living space. With over 30,000 hours of hands-on experience, across a wide breadth of interior and exterior design and build projects, Sejal has the skills, passion, resources and industry connections to get the job done on time!