Last Updated: August 21, 2021

Inground Pool Slides: Costs, Types, Safety

Written By: Pool Care Guide

There is little better than relaxing in the cool, clear waters of a pool on a hot summer day. But sometimes, we want a bit more. Restless legs and energetic children seek a thrill: a hop off a diving board, a game of Marco Polo, or maybe a trip down a slide. 

If you're considering a slide, there are a few additional items that you'll also need to consider:

  • Type: All slides perform the same basic function; climb to the top and slide into the water. Each type just tweaks the formula a little bit, and learning their names and descriptions will help you narrow your search to the slide type that fits your needs. Do you want a steep drop, corkscrew turns, decorative rocks, tunnels, or enclosures for the slide or ladder? These wants will determine the type of slide you should purchase
  • Cost: Some will only cost you a couple of thousand dollars. The most expensive will cost you the same as an inexpensive house. There's obviously quite a range there, and we'll try to help you narrow down what cost you can expect for the features you want.
  • Safety: Slides are a blast, but we need to put the safety of children first. We're not being hyperbolic. An alarming number of children drown each year, and slides increase that risk. Will children use your future slide? If so, you need to know those statistics and the guidelines set forth by the Consumer Protection Safety Commission.

Types of Pool Slides

There are three common types of pool slides: straight leg, molded slide leg, and elephant leg. These slides differ by the height of the slides and the shape of their chutes. 

We will also very briefly discuss custom slides. In most cases, custom slides are expensive enough to be out of reach for most people. However, if you can afford a custom slide, that slide can easily become a highlight of your home. 

Slide Types At a Glance

The shape and intensity assessments of these slides are rated on a relative scale. In a non-relative sense, these slides will not be considered extreme to individuals with an ordinary level of apprehension towards heights.

Pool Slide TypeHeightShapeIntensity
Straight Leg8’ to 12’Straight start, Slight curve at exitLow
Molded Slide8’Straight start, medium curve at exitMedium
Elephant Leg9’ - 14’Corkscrew curves or a big drop with curvesHigh

Straight Leg Pool Slide

Typically, straight leg pool slides have a mid-range height of 8 to 12 feet. Small children might have difficulty climbing up what will likely be a steep staircase or ladder. However, once up there, the chute should be less intimidating.

If you compare products, you will find straight-leg slides with enclosed or open entries. We recommend enclosed entries for extra protection against potential falls from inevitable rough play around the pool.

Straight leg chutes are straight at the entry with a slight curve just before a short drop. The speed of the descents are smooth but will vary a bit with the height of the slide.

Molded Leg Slide

In a general sense, molded leg slides are eight feet tall, making them the shortest of the slides. While these drops won't be as thrilling, the curves are more pronounced. There are expectations for this description. You can find molded leg slides that are taller or shorter if you choose to look for them.

For the eight-footers, the minimum water requirements will often be 3 ½', so they can be placed at the shallow end of most pools. You should always follow manufacturer recommendations over our generalized description, so be safe and check the owner's manual.

Elephant Leg Slide

Elephant leg slides are the most extreme slides within our selection of prefabricated slides. The slides are typically taller, the drops are bigger, and their curvy configurations will disorient you before gently depositing you into the water. They're a lot of fun and very popular for both kids and adults.

There are two distinct variants of elephant leg slides, G-force and X-stream. They are dissimilar enough from each other to warrant separate descriptions.

X-Stream

If you want a tall slide with a big drop, the X-stream is probably the right choice for you. At 14 feet tall, it's the most intimidating and dangerous of the slides. It will also require additional deck space for stability. As from the G-force slides, the X-stream's curves will be more prominent than the rest of our selection of slides.

G-Force

G-force slides are nine feet tall, which makes them shorter than the X-streams. They have a corkscrew design which can be a blast. You won't gain a lot of speed, but you'll notice the centrifugal force as you careen towards the water.

Prefabricated vs Custom

Prefabricated slides will almost always be more affordable than a custom-built pool slide. When prefabricated, the costs of designing and manufacturing the "new" slides are split amongst the buyers. 

When custom-designed, the single buyer is paying for those costs and using an untested product. Additionally, most do not pay for a custom design without planning something extravagant. Long and tall slides that wrap around the landscape and tunnel through walls will quickly bring these prices up to and even over $100,000.  

How Much Does a Pool Slide Cost?

Prefabricated pool slide prices can cost anywhere from $1,000 to just under $100,000. On average, most homeowners can find suitable pool slides between the price points of $1,000 to $4,500. When the installation costs are factored into the pool slide’s budget, the total average cost will be somewhere just over $4,000.

Prefabricated slides can be quite expensive, but the extravagant custom slides can cost up to and over $100,000.

Can You Get a Pool Slide Later?

Yes, you can install a pool slide after a pool has already been constructed. That said, the planning and construction phase is the easiest and cheapest time to prep for a slide. For that reason, we highly recommend that you plumb for it even if you don't know if you'll need it.

Pool slides require a continuous source of water supplied from the pool pump's return line. Tapping into that return line is much easier when there isn't a block of cement and a pool deck sitting between you and the return line.

It is not a complicated procedure and can be completed by your average layman. You just need to couple a single line of pipe to that return line. Without that water source, you'll be trading fun on the slide for friction burns.

This inexpensive addition keeps the possibility for a cheaper pool slide installation down the road. Even if you don't plan on using a slide, it could be a good addition If you ever decide to sell your current home. A pool slide is an eye-catching addition for any home buyers with kids.

If you want to add a water line and install a slide to an existing pool, you'll need to hire a plumber. That plumber can cut into the pool deck and couple a pipe to the return line. It will cost more, but it isn't likely to be prohibitively expensive.

Safety

If children will use your slide, please pay close attention. We need you to understand the risks that pools pose for kids, and how slides increase those risks. Slides have staircases and ladders. Slides introduce elevation and an uncontrolled speedy descent to a location with concrete and water that naturally inspires roughhousing.

Swimming Pool Drowning Statistics

We don't know the statistics of pool slide injuries, but we do know drowning statistics. Drowning is the most common cause of death of children under the age of 4. If you increase that range out to 1 to 14, drowning drops to the second leading cause of childhood deaths.

We can't quote the numbers regarding pool slide injuries, but they are reported to be common and sometimes quite serious. Many of us have seen close calls and black eyes when one swimmer lands on top of another.

Sometimes, these mishaps result in permanent damage from traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord damage.

Consumer Protection Safety Commission (CPSC)

Wet and slippery surfaces are dangerous enough. When you add height and speed to the equation, you are just asking for trouble. For this reason, when purchasing your slide, it would be wise to print out the guidelines set forth by the CPSC. Use the guidelines as a checklist to ensure that you pick from the safest slides. While you won't get into any immediate legal trouble by not abiding by the guidelines, it would put you, your loved ones, and visitors at unnecessary risk.

Have you ever skinned your back on the floor of the pool because the water depth was too shallow for the slide? Have you ever slipped on a slide's steps because the steps were not slotted or textured? The safety requirements change with the slide's height, and these guidelines will help you navigate those requirements. It is your legal responsibility as the pool owner to ensure the safety of those that use the pool. Don't risk lives and don't risk a lawsuit. 

How Deep Does the Pool Need to Be for a Pool Slide?

The minimum water depth is primarily determined by the height of the occupants and the drop distance. We can give some generalized guidelines of the depth requirements that you can expect. However, you should always defer to the manufacturer's recommendations.

  • Small Slides: Is the slide meant for children? Is the distance from the pool's surface to the bottom of the slide less than three inches? If you answered yes to both, the water only needs to be two feet deep.
  • Large Slides: If the slide was built to support people with a height of 4 feet or taller, most manufacturers will recommend a water depth of 3 feet or deeper.
  • Slides with Drops: At a minimum, any slides with drops require a minimum depth of 9 feet.
  • Slides with Turns: Do not have much of an impact on the depth. As long as the slide levels off, the depth requirements should be roughly 3 feet.

Are Pool Slides Safe?

No, pool slides are not safe. That said, there are precautions that you can take to make them safer. As long as everyone follows some basic guidelines, the inherent risks that a slide presents should be mitigated to the point that fun becomes the primary concern.

  • When the slide is first installed, double-check that all the galvanized nuts and bolts are tightly secured.

We’re calling these rules, but it’s clearly up to you.

Rule 1: Don't use the slide without someone else nearby
Rule 2: Don't roughhouse near the slide
Rule 3: Butt on the slide and feet first

Don't try any risky tricks. Don't stand, and don't slide headfirst. Many people get injuries from pools, and this is an excellent way to get your own.

Rule 4: Don't start sliding until the exit is clear.

Rule 5: Don't drink alcohol and slide

This rule is obvious, and it is commonly broken. There are a lot of ways this can go wrong. Is your coordination too impaired to drive a vehicle? If so, you probably shouldn't propel your body down a ramp. 

If your balance is compromised, you could also fall onto the concrete. If your blood alcohol level is through the rough, you could end up drowning.

Rule 6: One at a time

Rule 7: If you aren't allowed onto a roller coaster, you aren't allowed onto the slide. It seems tame, but the same health risks apply to each situation. Do not climb the slide if you:

  • Have a heart condition
  • Are pregnant
  • Elderly
  • User(s) are over the slide’s maximum weight capacity

Rule 8: Don't exceed the maximum weight capacity

Many residential pool slides are not built to support weight exceeding 175 lbs.

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