Living in a place where the weather is less than ideal—too hot, humid, or too much rain? A pool enclosure might be a good investment. Pool enclosures protect your pool from the elements so you can enjoy your pool year-round; enclosures also keep debris, animals, and people out.
Since you will need a fence for safety reasons anyway, a pool enclosure can serve this purpose as well. But is it really worth building an enclosure for your pool?
In this post, I’ll break down everything you need to know to help you decide before you approach a contractor.
What is a pool enclosure?
In the plainest terms, pool enclosures are structures erected around a pool to keep the sun, wind, elements, and animals away from your pool so you can enjoy a swim year-round.
Pool enclosures differ from indoor pools because they contain clear panels that allow light to enter; some pool enclosures are semi-permanent and can be opened and closed either manually or automatically.
Pool enclosures vs. lanai vs. pool cage
A pool enclosure is typically (but not always) an unattached structure that surrounds a pool. A lanai is a covered structure attached to a home that can enclose a small pool. The term lanai has been used historically to describe a roofed architectural feature of a porch or patio.
A pool cage is another term used to describe a pool enclosure with mesh sides, although commonly used as a synonym for enclosure or lanai.
How much do pool enclosures cost?
Pool enclosures can range from $5,000 to $10,000 on the low end for basic mesh-screen or domed enclosures, to over $50,000 for retractable enclosures with polycarbonate or tempered glass sides.
The cost of a pool enclosure depends on the materials used, so it’s difficult to give an exact estimate. For a small 350-square-foot pool area, expect to pay around $130 to $150 per square foot or about $50,000 on the low end for a retractable unit at this size according to RollACover, a manufacturer of pool enclosure systems.
What materials are pool enclosures made of?
Most pool enclosures are made of reinforced steel for the frame and with mesh, polycarbonate, or tempered glass for the sidewalls. Strong polycarbonate is a popular material due to its durability.
With any solid material used to enclose a pool, you should use a dehumidifier to avoid mold and mildew since you are basically creating a greenhouse…a breeding ground for things to grow.
Retractable vs permanent pool enclosures
Many modern retractable pool enclosures open and close by remote control and a motorized mechanism, although you can find some that open manually along a track.
The video above uses what’s called a telescopic mechanism, where the entire structure opens and shuts like an accordion. You can find enclosures that completely retract or enclosures where only the roof opens.
Different pool enclosure roof styles
There are different styles of pool enclosures on the market. Some have functional benefits (like allowing leaves and water to drain easier); other styles are purely cosmetic.
The styles differ based on the roof shape for the most part, and costs vary according to design and material.
Gabled roof pool enclosures
These pool enclosures have roofs with sloping slides as a house would. The gabled roof is a popular pool enclosure style because it resembles a house.
Domed roof pool enclosures
Pool enclosures have domed roofs, usually made of glass. These deep domes or slightly reclining domes provide a great view of the sky as you swim.
Due to their gentle slope on the roof, these enclosures are robust and resistant to strong winds.
Hipped roof pool enclosures
Pool enclosures that have hipped roofs resemble those that have mansard roofs, but without a middle section. On a hipped roof enclosure, all slides meet at a point at the top. Hipped roofs by design withstand high winds much better than other roof types.
Mansard roof pool enclosures
In this design, the enclosure’s roof slides up on all sides, but instead of meeting at a point, there is a flat and level midsection.
There is a feeling of open space when you look up through such an enclosure.
Two-story pool enclosures
Two-story pool enclosures are similar to the other styles mentioned, but with an extra vertical section. Although uncommon, this unique design is commonly integrated into a nearby house for cosmetic appeal and makes the pool feel a bit less confined.
Why do pools in Florida commonly have enclosures?
Since pool temperatures can be maintained year-round in states like Florida, many residents opt for pool enclosures. According to the State of Florida’s Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act, a covered pool enclosure is one of the four acceptable pool safety options.
While you can technically use a fence or other approved safety features, many homeowners choose enclosures for the following reasons.
1. Protection from UV rays
Pool enclosures made of polycarbonate or tempered glass can block UV rays, in addition to some mesh screens. The percentage of UV protection varies depending on the material, with solid materials usually offering much better protection.
Florida gets a lot of sunlight each year in addition to a lot of rain and bad weather— two reasons pool enclosures are so common.
Since Florida has a ton of pools, homes with pools are more susceptible to accidental child deaths…another reason enclosures are popular. Most all enclosures come with gates and doors with very high handles so that children can be kept out of the pool.
3. Pest control
It is a well-known fact that Florida is prone to pests like mosquitoes and other tropical insects swarming, not to mention alligators!
Many homeowners choose permanent pool enclosures to keep alligators, snakes, and other small animals out. This is not to say this is a completely foolproof solution, but better than nothing.
4. Debris prevention
Since Florida and many Gulf Coast and eastern states are prone to high winds, enclosures are a good way to keep debris and leaves out.
Twigs, leaves, silt, mud, and other debris are much easier to remove from an enclosure than a pool!
Are there any HOA regulations for pool enclosures?
Many HOAs regulate the color and style of pool enclosure used. In case you wish to put in an enclosure, be sure to check with your HOA and obtain the necessary approvals.
Are pool enclosures worth it?
Pool enclosures are worth it if you want to cut down on skimming for debris and use your pool a bit longer in the year. It is especially good to have enclosures for safety reasons since they offer more protection than fences.
Let me know in the comments what enclosure type you go with!