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Swim Up Bar: The Pros, Cons, and Cost

If you’re in the process of building your very own inground pool, you’ve likely had conversations about customization. Gone are the days where inground pools are simply holes full of cool water. Nowadays, swimming pools not only serve a functional purpose, but an aesthetic and lifestyle purpose as well. Customizing your pool with features is increasingly popular among homeowners. One such feature on the rise in backyard pools is the swim up bar.

Swim up bars have always existed in luxury pools. From resort hotels to lux vacation style pools, nothing says relaxation like a drink you don’t even have to leave the water to sip. However, there’s more to a swim up bar than meets the eyes. We cover the pros, cons, and most importantly, cost, of adding a swim up bar to your at home, inground pool.


Aesthetically Pleasing

The good news for homeowners considering a swim up bar is that, when done right, they can be an incredible aesthetic addition to your pool. It’s important that a contractor incorporates the bar during the design process. This will help it feel intentional. While you can add a swim up bar to an existing pool, it is unlikely to look as seamless. It should be in your mind to avoid allowing any element of your space to feel like an afterthought.

Swim up bars can be successfully included into pools of any shape. Allow the bar to wrap around the freeform side of your pool, or embrace cleans lines with a straight across design. Play with tile, concrete, and color, or add a shade element to block bar-goers from the midday sun. Experienced contractors will know what the best solution for your pool and your backyard is.

Adds Functionality

Swim up bars are not only stylish, but they are functional elements as well. Pieces such as laminar jets can be visually stunning, but offer little else to the space. Swim up bars offer your family and friends a space to be seated without ever leaving the pool.

For those who would rather not incorporate a baja shelf, but still would like a space to relax while staying cool, swim up bars are great options. The bar countertop provides a place to enjoy a drink, snack, or can simply be a safe, dry place to check your phone while keeping an eye on the kiddoes.

Ties Outdoor Space Together

It’s a challenge to make your outdoor space feel cohesive. If you are struggling to link an outdoor kitchen with a large feature such as a pool, swim up bars offer a natural solution. Placing your kitchen along the perimeter of the pool allows the two spaces to intersect in a way that feels intentional.

Serve up food and drinks to swimmers on the swim up bar, or turn around to bring food to a separate outdoor dining area. The inevitable interaction between a swim up bar and an outdoor kitchen provides homeowners a seamless transition from space to space.

Great For Entertaining

If you hadn’t guessed by now, one of the biggest appeals to installing a swim up bar at home is the entertainment value. Having a pool is great. Bring things to the next level by turning your pool into the ultimate neighborhood getaway.

Swim up bars give your guests somewhere to gather. They encourage a conversation space, while allowing more people to comfortably use your pool at once. Four or five people may relax at the swim up bar, while four or five more enjoy splashing around and swimming.


Swim up bars are great, but they aren’t for everyone. Considering potential complication and drawbacks before going ahead with installation may save you time and money in the long term.

Can Reduce Swim Space

Installing a swim up bar is a matter of understanding your priorities. If you are looking to create a multi functional pool space, they may be great. However, if your goal with your pool is to maximize swimmable space, a pool bar can get in the way of this. While the bar itself should not intrude too much, the bar seating can consume a considerable amount of real estate in your pool.

If this concerns you, consider other options. A baja shelf or sun shelf will provide your family similar space to relax, without eliminating usable pool space. Including a swim up bar in your design should be a way to gain more functionality from your pool, not reduce it. If you expect a poolside bar to remain largely unused, it’s a good idea to prioritize another feature your family will use more often.

Hard To Clean

Cleaning should be considered before deciding on installing a swim up bar in your pool. The process of cleaning your pool can already be a pain. Adding additional features may complicate the process. Any structure you add to your pool space creates additional steps to the cleaning process. More hardscaping means more concrete or tile to maintain. Wiping stools and navigating spilled food and drink will make cleaning up an ongoing process at the bar.

Require Maintenance

Swim up bars create more outdoor maintenance in your space. Not only must you ensure that bar stools are not cracked or chipping, but now you must maintain an outdoor kitchen space as well. In your excitement, it’s easy to forget that a swim up bar automatically implies the existence of an outdoor kitchen. This comes with an expectation of appliance upkeep and repair.

Not to mention, keeping your kitchen so close to your pool can create other obstacles. You must keep a constant eye out for risk of water damage and always consider safety. In some cases, skipping the swim up bar in favor of a separately functioning outdoor kitchen may be a more logical option.

Not Compatible with Many Pool Filters

Pool filters and vacuums are the elements that help keep your pool clean, saving homeowners a lot of heavy lifting. The more structure you add to your pool, the more difficult it can be for these elements to function properly. Swim up bars can be one of these interrupting elements.

Bar seating may prevent your pool filter or vacuum from properly removing debris from the water. Make sure to talk to your pool contractor prior to installation to avoid complications in this area. Most qualified contractors will know how to make your swim up bar dreams a reality without interrupting the integral functions of your pool system.

How much does a swim up bar cost?

At the end of the day, the only thing standing between you and your very own swim up bar is money. While inground pool installation is already incredibly expensive, additional features will only rack up the cost more. So how much will a swim up bar really cost you? That depends on several things.

As with any addition to your outdoor space, the cost of this feature depends on how intricate and involved it is. Of course, the bigger the bar, the more you can expect to pay. Additionally, swim bars in deeper areas will also demand a higher price tag. Finally, the more elaborate the attached kitchen, the more you can expect to pay. Luxury appliances will cost more than a simple bar stocked with a fridge. Elements such as a sink or cooking range mean more hookups need to be added, creating a more expensive project.

Overall, most swim up bars can be added to your pool design for around an extra $5,000 dollars. For some, this may be an unnecessary cost. For others, it’s simply a tradeoff in exchange for a luxury entertaining space both you and your friends and family can enjoy for years to come.

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