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There is a universal truth among pool designers: The best in-ground pool slides are custom. But perhaps your budget is modest, or maybe the house you bought during the pandemic came with a pool and no slide, or you’re having regrets (womp) about not putting one in when you had the chance. With warmth and sun-filled days on the horizon—at least in the Northern Hemisphere—and your mini oasis in need of a little more playfulness, it’s time to take the plunge. 

And you’re in luck: We’ve given you a head start on the search. We tapped Brad Holley, associate designer at Randy Angell Designs, for tips on shopping for in-ground pool slides (for adults and kids alike!), from design and materials to safety features and more. 

Our Favorites

Best Versatile: SRS Turbo Twister Pool Slide

SRS
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Material: Roto-molded polyethylene | Weight capacity: 275 pounds | Design: Elephant leg, corkscrew | Height: 8 feet, 7 inches

What we like:

  • Enclosed ladder
  • Molded-in handrails
  • Salt water–friendly

Worth noting:

  • Available in left or right curves
  • For in-ground residential pools only

Why we chose it: A space-conscious slide that lets you choose the direction of its curve.

Holley likes this brand’s reputation for its quality and reasonable price points. Compatible with in-ground pools only, the slide’s sturdy construction (including a closed-in ladder to help with fall prevention) makes it safe for everyone, regardless of daredevil status. Molded-in handrails make for easy, slip-free gripping, and an enclosed, eight-step ladder makes climbing less like you’re scaling a slippery slope and more like a wobble-free casual walk-up. The flume measures more than 14 feet long, so there’s plenty of runway for a big splash, but the curved silhouette smartly takes up less deck or patio space. Use the pool’s return line or even a garden hose to run water down the slide (with a 25 gallons-per-minute [GPM] capacity at that). The slide is available in gray granite and sandstone, two natural tones that keep it from leaning toward water-park vibes. A simple deck-mounted installation (that anchors the main section with steel studs) simplifies the process of assembling the slide; just make sure you have a couple of extra hands to give you an assist.

Best for Kids: FibroPool Slide

Fibro Pool
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Material: Fiberglass, stainless steel | Weight capacity: 200–275 pounds | Design: Straight | Height: 6 feet 

What we like:

  • Stainless steel, weather-resistant hardware
  • Simple installation

Worth noting:

  • Curves right
  • Gel-coat surface
  • Only available in white

Why we chose it: This glimmering slide offers full-size fun with kiddos’ safety in mind.

While parents kick back on the deck and soak up the sun, kids can get their share of splashes with this eye-catching slide. A gel-coat surface gives the luminous white fiberglass a glossy, high-shine finish. And installation is supersimple: The slide comes with surface-mount hardware, so all you have to do is drill holes in the appropriate spots, screw the slide in place, hook it up to your water hose—and voilà, it’s ready. Accompanying anchors and pedestal feet offer added stability, plus the steps are slip-resistant (clutch when wet feet will be running up it constantly). Oh, and rust shouldn’t be an issue; the handrails are designed to withstand the weather, so no need to worry if you occasionally forget to cover it at night. 

Best Semi-Custom: Dolphin Slides 

Dolphin

Material: Roto-molded polyethylene | Weight capacity: 275 pounds | Design: Elephant leg, corkscrew | Height: 8 feet, 7 inches

What we like:

  • Enclosed or open flume
  • UV-protectant
  • Semi- and fully customizable

Worth noting:

  • Coated in fiberglass layers and 100 percent resin

Why we chose it: A selection of semi-customized slides made with resin for extra sturdiness. 

Holley recommends this company due to its partial customization process: Slides are assembled based on the single or modular pieces you choose, so there’s more that goes into it than just clicking “add to cart.” Out of the three options, there is something for every type of pool-slide seeker: a simple single-piece water slide; a what-you-see-is-what-you-get slide; a predesigned model slide, or a 100 percent custom-designed slide, for those who want as many personalized specs as possible.

Best Add-Ons: Global Pool Tidal Wave Pool Slide

Global Pool
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Material: Roto-molded polyethylene | Weight capacity: 275 pounds | Design: Straight leg | Height: 7–8 feet

What we like:

  • Optional LED lighting
  • 2 widths
  • Enclosed plumbing

Worth noting:

  • 3-year limited warranty
  • Limited color palette

Why we chose it: A sleek poolside pick that comes with a few stylish accessories.

Gliding down a poolside water slide sounds like our kind of fun, but we also love that this particular model comes with optional LED lighting. You can choose from a couple of slide chute widths in the event that you prefer a little more space on your way down the flume, which will be covered with water at 25 GPM. The enclosed plumbing design conceals the water connections, making for a polished pool slide setup. 

How We Chose These Products

Since custom in-ground pool slides tend to require a bigger budget, we focused our search on reasonably priced, semi-custom options that can be easily installed at home without professional help. Along with Holley’s suggestions and expertise, we scoured the available offerings for the sturdiest of slides, keeping in mind how well their designs cater to the safety of small children (re: enclosed ladders and easy-to-grip stair handles). We also zeroed in on the versatility of the materials—could they withstand saltwater pools or be easily wiped down with common household cleaners? The size was also an essential factor, because the larger, more extravagant slides shouldn’t have all the fun, right? As for the design, we searched for both open and enclosed, and whether it could be moved or was more of a permanent fixture. 

Our Shopping Checklist

Design and Materials

When it comes to the design of an in-ground pool slide, consider materials, durability, height, safety features, slide type, and how much poolside area it can safely take up. In-ground pool slides come in three categories: elephant leg (between 9 and 14 feet), which is generally the tallest type, with a steep drop near the top, making it more suitable for deeper pools; molded slide leg (8 feet high), which starts out straight and has a medium curve near the drop; and straight leg (between 8 and 12 feet), which is straight at the top and has a very slight curve at the bottom. In some cases, your town or local homeowners association may have stipulations on slide height, so check with them or government safety regulations before purchasing. Holley says how well your slide blends in (or doesn’t) with your poolside surroundings is a factor in whether you should consider custom or prefabricated.

“We will often try to come up with creative ways of screening, like masonry or a stone wall,” he says of the customization process. “This way, all you’re seeing is the end of the wrapping around the wall or maybe popping through a little window.” If you purchase a prefab slide, there likely will be less opportunity for creativity concealing it, as the options are limited to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Prefabricated plastic slides and fiberglass options are extremely popular, notes Holley, although he advises paying close attention to the latter’s construction quality. “If those aren’t made really, really well, the resins can fade [over time] or even start to degrade out in the sunlight,” he says. Solid plastics contain UV-resistant pigments and dyes, which reduce the likelihood of fading from sun exposure and other forms of exterior wear and tear. “Since it’s just plastic through and through, you’re not worried about the exterior layer wearing down to some dangerous or brittle material on the inside,” he adds.

Installation 

Most prefab slides come with detailed installation instructions that allow you (and a friend or two) to easily erect them on your own—in fact, that’s one of their advantages. They are designed to be stand-alone positioned on the pool deck, so placement and space allowances are tailored to each one. If you’re looking to purchase a custom slide, there are fewer limitations on all fronts; however, expect to call in the pros to do the job. “These slides can be built into hillsides or in a way that follows a yard that slopes downward,” Holley explains. “Or some people with flat yards choose to build up, creating a landscaped mountain with a slide attached.”

Safety

As Holley notes, each slide comes with strict installation guidelines that ensure a safe setup. Before hitting “add to cart,” you can also check with the Consumer Protection Safety Commission to make sure the slide you’re considering is in compliance with federal regulations. 

Ask Domino

Q: What’s the average cost of a pool slide?

Depending on the size and whether you purchase it prefabricated or customized, an in-ground pool slide can cost anywhere from $900 to $20,000.

Q: How deep should an in-ground pool be for a slide?   

A pool with an in-ground pool slide should be at least 3 to 4 feet deep, but at certain points, it depends on the drop or the distance between the end of the slide and the water. Holley recommends checking the manufacturer’s guidelines for each slide.

“The envelope that accompanies each slide tells you how much clearance you need for a person coming off of the slide,” he explains. Different states and even cities may have different requirements on what that threshold is, Holley adds, so be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions for related questions.

Q: How much deck space do I need for an in-ground pool slide?

Most slides need a minimum clearance of  7-by-15 feet, but smaller ones may only require 5-by-5 feet. Check the manufacturer’s requirements for specific measurements.

Q: Can I use an aboveground slide for an in-ground pool?

Yes, and there are even certain models that can float in the water if you don’t want to attach them to your deck. But because every pool slide has to meet federal safety standards, make sure the model you like satisfies all the requirements.

The Last Word

There’s no doubt that an in-ground pool slide can liven up your outdoor chill spot. Make sure the slide you choose is best for your needs by considering the size, materials, durability, stability, customization options, and price. But above all, the best in-ground pool slide is a safe one. Let the splashy backyard bash begin! 

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