Swimming Pool Blog

Installing a Pool Side or In Pool Umbrella

IN-Pool umbrellas and deck sleeves for pool umbrellas
by Rob Cox February 11, 2015

The hot new trend in pool construction is in-pool umbrellas with umbrella stands built into the pool steps or benches, or built into the pool deck. The purpose is obvious, to provide shade in areas of the pool and pool deck, and because it looks really cool.

Today's post is about how to install pool umbrella holders or stands, either in the pool (for concrete pools), or in the pool deck, close to the pool edge. This allows you to get shade over a portion of the pool and pool deck, for more comfortable relaxation, and because it looks really cool.

In-Pool Umbrella Stands

When using an umbrella in the pool, especially in a salt pool, be sure to use one that is stainless steel, aluminum or fiberglass, or some other material impervious to chlorine and salts. Another thing to keep in mind is that when a pool umbrella is in the pool, it may be lower (in height) than you imagine. Umbrella pole extensions can be used to raise in pool umbrellas above eye-poking level. The third thing is that you should consider placement carefully, to provide the shade you want, during different times of the year, when the sun is higher or lower in the sky.

The method we are describing today is how to drill into your pool (concrete pools only), and insert an umbrella holder (sleeve) into the pool step, bench or tanning shelf. Umbrella sleeves can also be added into the shallow end floor, but will require pole extenders to raise the umbrella about 4' above the water level.

The method used on existing pools is to drill through the pool is to use a diamond tipped hole saw on a powerful drill. On new pools, the builder will typically drill out the gunite or shotcrete, and place the umbrella mounts during plastering of the pool. More than one sleeve can be installed for placement options, or to have more than one in-pool umbrella.

On existing pools, buy a diamond concrete hole saw of the right size - a bit larger than the umbrella sleeve that you are using, and attach to a heavy duty rotary hammer drill. Drain the pool, (of course), and use a stud finder to find the rebar in the pool. Choose a location without rebar and drill, baby drill! It may take a good 30-60 minutes of drilling, so let your drill (and yourself) rest every 5-10 minutes. Some pools can be extremely thick and will need a hole saw extension to continue drilling.

Once the hole has been cut through the pool shell, use a chisel to chip away 1" around the top of the hole, so the umbrella holder can sit slightly below the plaster level. Mix up a wet plaster patch material like EZ Patch, and pour in a thin slurry as you push the umbrella sleeve or pipe into the hole. Then pack a thick bead of plaster under the top lip of the ladder holder, and over the top edge, to prevent movement and leakage.

Use Umbrella Sleeve and Center Cap, the Waterway Umbrella Sleeve for Concrete Pools. Don't use PVC pipe (which can be used in pool decks), because it doesn't have the fluted top ring that allows you to pack the plaster thick around the sleeve, to keep it watertight.

Pool Deck Umbrella Stands

For vinyl and fiberglass pools, or anyone who doesn't want to drill holes in their swimming pools, you can place umbrella stands in the pool deck, right up against the pool, or just off the edge of the deck, depending on your sun exposure.

Before you jump right into installation, I recommend that you use a regular umbrella stand first for a few days, or even an entire season, to be sure of the location of permanent umbrella stands in the pool deck. The umbrella location depends on the location of the sun - which varies by time of day, and time of season. Experimentation can help you choose the best location(s) for in-deck pool umbrella stands.

Umbrella height is a personal preference, but remember that when in an 8" deep in-deck umbrella stand, your umbrella will be at least that much shorter overall. Install umbrella pole extenders if needed.

For concrete decks or paver decks that are tightly joined and set on concrete sub deck, use the same process as described above for drilling through the pool, only it's not as deep to drill, most pool decks are about 3-4" thick, and most pavers only 2-3" thick.Using the AquaStar or Waterway Umbrella Sleeve will allow you to have a finished edge; the fluted top edge covering the hole that was drilled. But, you can also use steel pipes, CPVC or aluminum sleeves as pool umbrella holders in the pool deck.

On loose pavers, or earthen areas, you may choose to pour a column of concrete, in place of a few pavers or bricks, or just off the edge of the deck. After calling 811 to have underground pipes and wires marked, use a post hole digger or auger to dig a hole 18" deep or more. Fill the hole directly with mixed Sakrete or other aggregate cement mix, or use a forming tube to pour a neat column of concrete. While pouring the concrete, place your volleyball or umbrella sleeve in the concrete, with the top wrapped with masking tape to keep the surface clean. 

Tips on installing In Pool and In Deck Pool Umbrella Sleeves

  • Experiment with placement and sun exposure before installing.
  • Use a powerful rotary hammer drill and a diamond hole saw for masonry.
  • Install a sleeve that is not too wide or too narrow, to fit your umbrella pole.
  • Don't use a wood pole for an in-pool umbrella
  • Do close your pool umbrellas during high winds!


- Rob