Natural Rock Sealant with SWCG

icedipper

New member
Aug 27, 2007
3
Richmond, Texas
I'm a newbie!!!

First off, this is an awesome site and thanks to everyone for sharing your ideas/pictures/experiences. We are in the very early planning stages of getting a gunite pool off the ground and this site has been extremely valuable in our homework efforts.

We are looking to put in a SWCG system and using flagstone coping with a natural rock waterfall. We've read about the erosion concerns regarding SWCG with porous surfaces and have decided to seal the flagstone to prevent/reduce this. The question is, should we consider sealing the natural rock waterfall as well? Anyone out there who has a salt water/natural rock combo without issues (and if so what did you do :) )
 

From_Arizona

LifeTime Supporter
May 8, 2007
212
Glendale, AZ
Welcome to the board!

I am quite anxious as well since my husband loves the look of our pools back wall when it is wet, I have considered sealing the rock. We have a salt pool that is being filled as we speak, I look forward to hearing comments as well.
 

mastercaster

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 3, 2007
14
Leander, TX
well, here in the austin area, local stone suppliers are not supporting the use of flagstone or any natural porous rock with SWCG systems. they actually are posting disclaimers as to their not refunding, providing warranty on materials or labor etc. on the use of those materials with SWCG systems. we too were interested in saltwater. we interviewed 4 or 5 builders before we decided on one. of those, not a single one recommended doing SWCG with natural materials. we were told that the sealing will slow the deterioration only slightly and need to be done frequently.
 

icedipper

New member
Aug 27, 2007
3
Richmond, Texas
I had some builders who would not warranty it in the Houston area as well while others said they use a sealant and had not had problems with their previous pools. I agree it will only slow the deterioration and will likely need to be resealed later on. My thoughts are also that keeping the chemicals in balance would reduce or rather avoid an accelerated erosion.
 

dwnsth

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 14, 2007
16
SE Louisiana
I have no experience with natural rock, but I used a product called Deck-O-Sheild to seal our brick and mortor waterfall. The product says it's specifically for natural rock waterfalls and protects against salt issues. The site is : http://www.deckoseal.com/system.htm but I had a heck of a time finding anyone who carried this. Only comes in 5 gal containers so I have quite a bit leftover. Wokred great with our setup but again, can't say for natural stone although tha'ts what the product is actually made of.
 

ehorn

Active member
Apr 15, 2007
26
I have a salt water system with natural rock waterfall. I have no problems with any deterioration so far and it's been up and running now for over six months. I don't even have any salt residue on the rocks. I'm not sure what kind of rocks they are, but it's been very nice so far. No sealant was added.

Eric
 

Sabot

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 2, 2007
343
Austin, TX
mastercaster,
We experienced the same thing during our discussions with the builders around Austin. None of them would recommend nor warranty SWG which I wanted. We went with a Pentair Auto chlorinator for now. Once our water is stable, I will switch to BBB. I am keeping an eye on SWG owner’s comments in Central Texas to see what issues if any they have over the coming years. If SWG’s are still around, I may consider a switch. Our rock sections are Moss Rock and Okalahoma Chocolate Golden. Our deck is going to be sealed with Sundeck material.
 

cliff_s

Well-known member
Mar 28, 2007
93
I had pool with a SWG and a natural rock waterfall for 6 years without any problem. If you have
calcium in your water you can get the white buildup around the water line, but it really didn't
show on the waterfall.

Cliffs
 

chem geek

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Mar 28, 2007
12,083
San Rafael, CA USA
Cliff,

Do you know the kind of natural rock? I'm guessing it wasn't soft limestone, probably wasn't flagstone, and may have been a "harder" less water-absorbing rock. Any problems would be in the edge areas where the water would splash yet have time to evaporate over multiple cycles -- there shouldn't be any problem in areas that remain dry or remain wet most of the time.

Richard
 

texasbrew

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 3, 2007
51
Humble, TX
I have a pool that has SWG and it is two years old. It has OK Wister flagstone and has no signs of decay. I have spoken to my pool builder (in the Woodlands, TX) and they have not reported any instances of decay and they build approx 50 pools per year. I do rinse my coping off daily (unless there is rain). There have been many instances of flaking (stone did that before water was ever added) since the flagstone was installed but that has begun to slow. I have inspected all of the fasteners on lights and drain covers and there don't appear to be any signs of rust either. My builder did indicate that most of the sealers that they have seen seem to look like skin shedding over time. It only takes about 10 mins to rinse off the flagstone and it seems to be easier to keep it rinsed off than it is would be to have to continually re-apply a sealant.
 

dawndenise

Well-known member
Jun 30, 2007
79
North Florida
Let me preface my comments by saying, "Yeah, I know we should have done things differently."

We have a natural (as in "native") rock waterfall that is unsealed and we have an SWCG. We live in an area with lots of rock and the digging process unearthed great-looking, wonderfully colored rocks, so we thought to change from tiled sheer descents to a natural waterfall to blend in with our surroundings.

Mason assured us that the rocks would work and look very, very nice after sealing. After things were completed, I asked when he would do the sealing and he said there was really no point, as the rocks were too porous :shock: to get a complete seal. I'm not convinced the PB told him that we were going with a salt system. I later found on some other site that we should have tried to find/use the hardest, most dense rocks for our situation and have them sealed.

It's been just over a year and the lower, outside rocks have a gritty chalk on them that I'm thinking is general disintegration - perhaps from water seeping through slowly. The area of deck (which is sealed) at the base of the waterfall that gets splashed a bit when the waterfall is on (maybe 6-12" all around) has quite a bit of "stuff" on it...maybe dried salt? maybe dried rock debris? lime from limestone??? I really don't know. Some will rinse off with a hose but some is even resistant to brushing. Our area gets less than 30" of rain annually, so Mother Nature isn't rinsing off our rocks regularly.

However, I suspect that we'd have the same issues without the SWCG...this seems to be more a function of using an improper rock type. FWIW, we have no salt residue on the facings of the rocks where the water comes down. We've resigned ourselves to the fact that at some point in the future, we'll have to do a major re-work of the waterfall and what-will-be-a damaged deck in that area.
 

texasbrew

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 3, 2007
51
Humble, TX
Are you sure the white substance on the rocks is not calcium? I have to routinely clean calcium deposits from my grout lines on my pool. It is usually just above the waterline where splashing occurs. I clean mine by mixing 50% muratic acid and 50% water (acid added to water). It foams and then I proceed to rinse it off. For the record, I have seen the similar calcium deposits on a rock waterfall on a chlorine tab pool.
 

dawndenise

Well-known member
Jun 30, 2007
79
North Florida
texasbrew said:
Are you sure the white substance on the rocks is not calcium?
As for my pool, I'm fairly certain it's not. I too get some calcium in/on/near grout underneath the waterfall that I need to clean w/MA. The "stuff" on my deck at the base of the waterfall may indeed have some calcium in it from the splashing, but the majority is something else which I'm afraid is from the rocks themselves...at least that's what I believe...but I'm certainly no geological expert. And, asking the PB for an opinion is out of the question - at least for us.
 

AcoldStArnolds79

LifeTime Supporter
Jul 4, 2007
44
I live in Houston and have a swg with a 30 ft. sandstone wall on the back that is partly below the waterline at all times. My waterfall is also sandstone as well as sandstone on the floor of the beach entry.
In the 2 1/2 years we have had the pool I have noticed no problems with a white salt line or erosion of the rock. The sandstone does erode some, but that is natural. All rock will break down over time.
My neighbor, who has a chlorine pool constantly has problems with a white line build up around the waterline. They have to remove that a couple times a year.
I believe the swg pool with the softer water is one reason I do not get this build up. After all, we both have gunite pools, same builder, and are on the same municipal water system.

Now I have recently had a metal staining problem that mbar has been helping me with.
I am wondering if the red/orange colored sandstone I have is contributing to this problem?
 

mgora1

Active member
Oct 16, 2007
31
Suwanee, GA
We are about to seal all of our pavers and flagstone. After tons of research we are going with a product from Aldon Chemical. The link is provided below and there is a ton of great info and various products for all types or problems and surfaces. They also provide some good example images as well. I will report back after we do the seal this weekend as well.

Visit WWW.AldonChem.com

additional pool info: http://www.aldonchem.com/type-pool-maintenance.htm

Edit by Divnkd101
 

txborn

LifeTime Supporter
May 21, 2007
126
Carrollton, TX
mgora1, the SBS sealer is one of the best on the market. You can't go wrong with Aldon. I seal all my stonework with it including travertine. Going to do our flagstone coping, spa and rock weeping wall in a few weeks. Best thing about SBS is if it does need to be reapplied, you don't go through a removal process of the old sealer - it melts and bonds with the old layer.

Only drwaback is it puts out some serioud fumes! :shock: Not a problem outdoors but inside is another story!