I've gone back and forth about 6 times over the last year on salt vs. chlorine for my future pool with natural stone. I've read lots of posts and articles regarding the potential degradation of natural stone used in salt pools. I've also read a lot about the best sealers out there and the need to possibly apply the sealer every 6 months, which, for right now at least, I'm prepared to do. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of low maintenance designs, but it seems that every time we go swimming in a chlorine pool, my daughter and I suffer from burning eyes for at least the rest of the day and night. I've also read lots of posts and articles on this phenomenon, including ones that have perfect levels and also ones that suggest adding salt to help with the problem. I know that the cause for burning eyes includes a multitude of variables (including sunscreen, urine, and other CC-contributing products), but I also know that when we swim in salt pools (even public ones), the problem (in general) does not exist. And if I'm gonna add salt to a chlorine pool, I know I'll need to seal the stone anyway. So, if I'm going to do that, why not just go with a SWG instead of chlorine from the get go?
Like I said, I'm really torn on this issue. I want me and my daughter (and anyone else that swims in our pool for that matter) to be comfortable during and after swimming. I also don't want to have to bust up my coping, waterfall and slide steps in a few years because of salt degradation. My current plan is to go with creek rock and moss rock (very porous, I know) for the waterfall and quartzite for the coping, slide steps and waterfall ledges. I understand the quartzite is much less susceptible to salt attack, however, I still plan to seal it like all the other rock with either the Prosoco Sure Klean Weather Seal Natural Stone Treatment Sealer (~$60/gal) or the Dupont Stonetech Salt Water Resistant Sealer (~$150/gal).
Many builders I talk to, of course, stronlgy discourage me from using salt with all the stone. They say even if I seal it twice a year it's just a matter of time before the stone will start to see the attack. I really don't want to believe them, but should I? Part of me wants to seal the stone as planned, then "try" chlorine (pucks to start, then bleach tank and stenner pump after CYA is where I need it) just to see if the burning eyes is really a problem in MY pool vs. others' pools that I have no idea what their chemistry is like or if they're really being as anal about keeping the levels in check as I will be.
What would really help me is to hear from those that have had salt pools with natural stone (especially quartzite, moss rock and creek rock) for at least 3-5 years AND who happen to leave in the south (i.e. Texas or Louisiana) where this problem seems to be more prevalent. Did you seal your stone? If so, what are the details (sealer used, frequency, application method), results and lessons learned? Would you do it again?
By the way, yes, I've considered the faux stone alternatives like Rico Rock, etc., but I just can't get over the fabricated look of these products...just not real enough looking for me. But if anyone has any other natural stone suggestions, mainly for the small waterfall boulders (in lieu of moss rock or creek rock), I'm all ears.