How To Read Your Swimming Pool's Dig Spec

How To Read Your Swimming Pool’s Dig Spec

Dig specs are detailed drawings of how you want your swimming pool to look, like a blueprint. Before you can move forward with your swimming pool order, you have to approve the Dig Spec. This is to make sure that everything in your pool kit will go where you want it to. What you’re looking for and what’s okay are:


  • how big is the pool is
  • where the step 
  • lights are located

The Dig Spec shows the final size of your pool and how the panels are arranged. The panel layout shows where each of your pool’s individual panels will go.


When you sign off on the Dig Spec, it’s important that you’re happy with the details, because your pool liner will be made to fit the pool shown in the drawing.


This is why we will explain what everything on your Dig Spec means, so you can be sure that the pool you approve is exactly what you want.


NOTE: If you ordered your inground pool from Baltimore Swimming Pool Pros, you will get an email with a dig spec/pool drawing before your pool is ordered. If you want to find your Dig Spec, look for an email from Baltimore Swimming Pool Pros that says “Document Approval.” This is also in the Documents section of your customer portal here.


IMPORTANT: This drawing shows the final size.


x Over dig for the deep end is not a part of it.


x It doesn’t have too much digging for bracing.


x It doesn’t let you have a coping, a high deck, or stones for the decking.

NOTE: If you want to know how to dig, carefully plan the exact location and height of your pool, or any of the other things listed above, please see page 9 of the inground installation guide, which can be found here.


IMPORTANT: The drawings in this article are generic and meant to help you as a reference. These don’t have anything to do with how your pool is made. You should have gotten an email asking you to approve the drawing/dig spec for your pool that was attached. Please use that PDF along with this guide, since this guide is not made for your design in particular.


The Dig Spec drawing for your pool shows both an overhead view and a side view.


The panel lengths are the first thing to look at more closely. The lengths of the panels range from 6 inches to 8 feet (feet). Even though we recommend sticking to the Dig Spec placements when putting up your panels, you can put them up in any order as long as the measurements of that wall length add up to the same amount on your Dig Spec. (Here 14′ x 28′)


EXAMPLE: It’s okay to move your 8-foot-long skimmer panel with another 8-foot-long panel. It’s fine if you change it to a 5′ and 3′. All that matters is that the total length of that side of the pool stays the same. Based on this picture, that would be 28′.


Let’s figure out what all the markings on your Dig Spec mean.


Skimmer panels are marked as “SK” and “SKIMMER”. The place where your skimmer will be is in the skimmer panel. For steel panels, this means that the hole for your skimmer is already in that panel. Most skimmer panels for polymer pools are already cut out, though some panel layouts are an exception. In these cases, the cutout for the skimmer is already made and easy to cut.


IMPORTANT: The skimmer itself needs to be at least 4 feet from a corner. When a skimmer is put in too close to a corner, especially one with a 6″ radius, problems can happen.


“RT” is written on the return panels. The pool’s return inlets will be in the return panels. For steel panels, this means that the holes for your returns are already in those panels. Returns are not already cut out for polymer pools, but the installation manual shows how to do this easily.


Small dark lines between the panels show where the pool braces are. For a freeform or polymer pool, there is usually a brace at each wall joint. If you don’t order corner braces with your kit, you can’t connect straight-wall steel pools like rectangles and L-shapes to corners with a radius. Lastly, your pool step will always have a brace on each side.

Panels and light locations are marked with “LT” and a light drawing. Only lights with a niche need to use these. The panel where your pool light will be is called the “light panel.” For steel panels, this means that the hole for your light is already in that panel. With a few rare exceptions, most light panels for polymer pools come already cut out. In these cases, the area for cutting out the light is already made and easy to cut.


Let’s talk about your step, which is usually labeled “STEP” on your Dig Spec along with details about what kind of step it is. Depending on what kind of step you ordered, the way you read your Dig Spec will be a little different. There are three types of steps to be aware of, whether they are entry steps or swim outs from the deep end:


Outside the Perimeter Bolt On Step: As you can see, this step is not inside the pool’s walls. There won’t be a wall panel where the step will go. On each side, the step will be attached to a wall panel, and both sides will have connecting braces.


Inside the Perimeter Bolt-On/Drop-in Step: This step is similar to the one above in that there won’t be a wall panel where the step goes. The sides of the step will make up the pool’s walls and make up the pool’s perimeter. On each side, the step will be attached to a wall panel, and both sides will have connecting braces.


Vinyl Over Steps: Unlike the two types of steps shown above, the area around the step is marked differently on the wall. This is because if you have Vinyl Over Steps, the steel walls of the steps will match the steel walls around your pool. This means that you won’t have pool wall panels for this entire area. Instead, your pool’s edge will be made up of steps. In the picture on the left, the step will cover the whole 16-foot end wall and 8-foot sections of both side walls. This will be true whether your vinyl-covered steps are inside or outside the pool’s perimeter.


*If you have a Drop-In Vinyl Over Step, the only thing around the edge of your pool will be wall panels. Your step won’t have its own walls; instead, it will bolt onto the wall panels of your pool, as shown here.


IMPORTANT: Once the liner is made, you won’t be able to move any steps on the inside perimeter of your pool. This includes vinyl-covered steps, corner steps, and bolt-on or drop-in steps on the inside perimeter. This is because your liner was made just for your pool, with the steps exactly where they are on your Dig Spec.


Last but not least, let’s talk about what you need to know from the side view!


Both the top view and the side view show the overall width and length.


On the side view, you can see the finished size of the bottom, which is shown on the far right side of your drawing.


In this case, the shallow end is 10 feet long, the main slope is 10 feet long, the hopper (the deepest part of the pool) is 4 feet long, and the back slope is also 4 feet long. This is shown in the image at the bottom of this page.


This will be different for every pool.


The shallow depth on the far left is 3’4″, which is the standard finish depth for 42″ wall pools. The deep end is 5’8″ to the top of the wall.


These measurements start at the top of the wall.


NOTE: Don’t dig too deep in the shallow end when you’re digging the pool. The wall is flat on the ground, and you add the 2″ pool base up the wall 2″. This means that you are putting 2″ of floor material in the shallow end, which makes the walls 2″ shorter. Only in the hopper will you have to dig 2″ deeper than necessary to make room for the pool base. Refer to the installation guide for more detailed information on this topic.