Do you own a pool and find pool stairs to be a challenge? Maybe you’re looking for pool stairs that will keep your pool safe and accessible without breaking the bank.
When it comes to pool safety, pool stairs matter, but the trick is finding pool stairs that don’t break the bank but still offer top safety. Pool stairs should be durable, stylish, and accessible. Read on to learn how to the right one for your pool and make it a step above the rest!
In-Ground vs. Above-Ground Pool Stairs
Inground pool stairs are attached to the pool wall, and pool-goers must use a handrail to climb up and down. They’re usually made of sturdy metal and grab pool walls, which offer stability. That said, pool-goers who aren’t that steady or sure on their feet may find them difficult and slippery.
Above-ground pool stairs are usually made of sturdy plastic, which offers stability and ease for pool entry/exit. However, pool owners who own an above-ground pool with a metal frame may find these attachments difficult to install.
Inground pool steps are more durable and stable, while above-ground pool steps offer ease of installation and pool safety in a lightweight package. They’re usually made of sturdy plastic and come in different styles to match any pool décor.
Pool Stairs vs. Ladders
The main difference between a ladder and steps is that ladders are attached to pool sides while stairs are attached to the pool walls.
Pool stairs are preferred for safety and stability. While pool ladders aren’t as sturdy, ladders are popular options for above-ground pools because they are affordable, lightweight, and aren’t attached to pool sides.
Pool Stair Styles
Pool steps are usually made of plastic and come in either single or double versions depending on pool height. Some pool stairs also include a handrail for added safety.
Countless pool stair styles are available in various materials, including vinyl, fiberglass, and concrete. Choosing pool stairs with a metal frame is both durable and aesthetically pleasing.
Take a look at the list below for some common pool stair styles.
- with handrails
- without handrails
- with platforms
- with pool entry steps
- indoor/outdoor compatible
- with poolside entry
- common straight steps
- round corner steps
- roman steps
- drop in corner steps for inground pools
- walk-in for inground pools
Vinyl Over Steel
Vinyl pool stairs can offer a more affordable price and are usually made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE), lightweight, strong, and durable.
Swimming pool owners of above-ground pools with a metal pool frame may find pool stairs made of steel harder to install due to the need to drill pool stairs into the pool wall.
Vinyl Over Polymer
Vinyl and Polymer are both essentially plastic. However, Vinyl pool stairs are typically stronger and more durable. Polymer pool stairs are often made from recycled plastic. Polymer pool steps offer pool safety at a more affordable price and usually come in single or double versions with or without handrails.
Thermoplastic is a type of material that melts into a bendable form when it reaches a high temperature but then returns to a solid form again when cooled. Common thermoplastics include:
Thermoplastic pool steps are safe and affordable while still maintaining the stability and look of pool stairs with metal frames. Thermoplastic pool stairs are made from recycled materials. They are lightweight and entry-safe.
Plastic & Steel
Popular in-pool ladders are made from durable plastics with a steel frame. These typically have a 300-pound capacity and are available in 24-inch and 32-inch models.
- In-pool step ladder with double handrail set offers sturdy support when getting in and out of the water; Made for 46 to 60-inch above-ground pools
- Features 2 deck mount flanges for greater stability with a 300-pound load capacity; Includes all the hardware necessary for easy mounting to the pool deck
Pool owners looking for strong, durable, attractive, and affordable stairs will find pool fiberglass options ideal. Fiberglass provides a unique texture to any pool while being meeting safety standards.
Fiberglass pool stairs are made using fiberglass-reinforced plastic that is lightweight, strong, easy to clean, and durable. However, fiberglass may require a skilled installer as it can be tricky to install into a metal-framed pool.
Concrete pool steps provide pool safety while being visually pleasing but can be a bit pricey.
Concrete pool stairs are usually made of either cast or poured concrete. Poured pool steps are slightly less pricey than cast pool stairs, but cast pool stairs are generally a more attractive option. In addition, these pool steps are strong, safe, and can be repaired or replaced if necessary without too much trouble.
Considerations When Purchasing Pool Stairs
When purchasing, consider pool stairs with one or more of the following features:
It is important to shop around and receive quotes from various pool stair sellers to find an option that fits your budget. The cost will increase and decrease based on the type of material you choose, size, and if you have custom stairs built.
Pool stairs can range from the most basic budget options at $50 to custom, more intricate steps ranging into the thousands.
Be sure to choose a quality, reputable brand that holds up over time. Check out the reviews of the product you are interested in. These often answer additional questions you have about the products.
Don’t forget to measure your pool’s height and determine the width, size, and shape of the pool stairs you are looking to purchase. Unfortunately, not all stair brands and styles are compatible with every pool.
Don’t just pick the first option you see, investigate different styles. There are many designs and styles on the market, and other materials can influence how they look. Don’t like what you see? Some manufacturers can create custom pool stairs to fit your vision.
Pool stairs will be an important (sometimes expensive) purchase, so choosing pool steps with a warranty is important. This way, you can rest assured that your pool stair material and craftsmanship come standard.
No one wants to buy a product that breaks after only a few uses. However, pool stairs are depended on to be safe, so the more durable, the better! An important factor to consider to help maintain your pool stairs is weight capacity. Be sure to select an option that can withstand the pressure applied over time so that you can utilize your stairs for years to come.
Pool steps can vary in features and attachments to improve pool safety and functionality. For example, pool stairs with a pool handrail may be beneficial if you have children. Other pool stair features include non-skid surfaces, pool stairs that fold for ease of storage, pool stairs with attached enclosures, pool stairs tethers, and pool stair gates.
Pool stairs must pass rigorous pool rules safety tests before they can be sold to pool owners. By law, pool stairs must meet or exceed safety standards set by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) and requirements established by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Make sure you investigate your pool stair’s safety rating before purchasing.
Having pool stairs with a non-skid surface makes pool entry and exit safer. In addition, it will provide pool owners, especially older adults, young children, or pool users who are unsteady on their feet, a secure way to enter and exit the pool.
With pool stairs, you want to choose pool steps that are resistant to the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays. Ultraviolet rays can cause pool stairs to fade and lose color quickly, requiring pool owners to purchase additional pool stairs.
Another option to prevent damage to the stairs from the sun is to purchase pool stairs that can be tucked away when not in use. Foldable pool steps are ideal for pool owners who enjoy spending time around the pool but don’t always need pool steps present.
How to Build Pool Stairs
Building swimming pool stairs depends on the option you purchased. You can often buy stairs from a swimming pool retailer that are preassembled or come in a kit. Ensure you have all the required tools handy and follow the instructions carefully when assembling a kit. These take the least amount of time and require minimal skill, whereas pool stairs built from scratch (DIY) take a bit more time and effort but generally provide sturdier pool steps.
Pool Stairs Safety Codes and Regulations
Safety code and regulations for swimming pool steps are set by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) and must meet minimum pool safety requirements as defined by Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Pool stairs must have a minimum weight capacity based on pool height and pool user load. Along with pool stairs safety regulations, pool safety signs and alarms are required to be installed on pool decks before use.
Can You Add Steps to an In-ground Pool?
Yes. Pool stairs can be added to both in-ground and above-ground pool decks. However, pool stairs should only be installed on pool decks that are sturdy enough to support pool steps, pool handrails, etc.
The Bottom Line
Pool steps are essential in pool safety. When pool stair requirements are met, and pool stairs are used appropriately, pool entry and exit can be made safer for everyone who uses the pool.
Whether you own an above-ground or inground pool, ensure pool stairs always meet pool safety requirements, and pool stair installation should be done with pool safety in mind. Start researching and pick the best pool stairs for your pool!
For over 15 years, Sean Moore has been sharing his love and enthusiasm for swimming pools and hot tubs with everyone he knows. His goal is to help everyday people DIY their maintenance to save money by teaching how to properly take care of your equipment, safely and correctly balance chemicals, and extend the life of your water oasis.
Pricing on this page was last updated on 2023-06-10