Pool Remodel - Should we add a rock waterfall feature?

Jun 13, 2015
20
Tulsa, OK
We are finally planning on pulling the trigger on a pool remodel this year. We have been delaying because dealing with pool builders is terrifying, and this is way outside our wheelhouse. One of the features that we have been considering is the addition of a rock waterfall/slide feature to our pool. With that said, it is an expensive feature (roughly $25K to add). As a result, I was hoping to get feedback from pool owners with similar waterfall features to see whether they enjoyed them. Do you use them a lot? Have they had a lot of problems? Would you install one again?

We are not heavy pool users. However, if we are ever going to install a rock water feature, we need to do so now when we are replacing the deck, water line tile etc.
 

Rancho Cost-a-Lotta

Silver Supporter
Apr 10, 2018
2,434
Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Pool Size
18735
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
CircuPool RJ-45
We had a gunite slide/waterfall combo installed with the pool five years ago. It's composed of formed gunite. The additional cost with the pool build was about $17,000. It was plumbed with a separate 2 HP pump and 2" plumbing. We love the look of the waterfall/slide and the ambience it adds to the backyard. With a 2 HP pump, it was costly to run. I recently plumbed into my pool plumbing which allows me to run it at lower RPM's while filtering pool water.

The slide chute is finished with an epoxy paint/coating that only last a little over a year before requiring recoating. The chute usually begins to fail where hairline cracks form and push out calcium that gets under the sealer. They've used a variety of coatings, but none is better than the other. The builder has covered each of these service visits, but this will be the last time. I'm waiting for a call back from the company to schedule a service visit. They usually spend at least 5 hours each time they repair the slide.

I would not recommend a gunite slide chute. If I were to do it over again, I would choose a fiberglass formed chute.

Only you can determine if the cost of the project is worth it. Consider the age of your kids and how much use you'll get out the slide before it becomes something you just maintain. You may want to consider a less costly waterfall with no slide.

Best of luck!


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Jun 13, 2015
20
Tulsa, OK
We had a gunite slide/waterfall combo installed with the pool five years ago. It's composed of formed gunite. The additional cost with the pool build was about $17,000. It was plumbed with a separate 2 HP pump and 2" plumbing. We love the look of the waterfall/slide and the ambience it adds to the backyard. With a 2 HP pump, it was costly to run. I recently plumbed into my pool plumbing which allows me to run it at lower RPM's while filtering pool water.

The slide chute is finished with an epoxy paint/coating that only last a little over a year before requiring recoating. The chute usually begins to fail where hairline cracks form and push out calcium that gets under the sealer. They've used a variety of coatings, but none is better than the other. The builder has covered each of these service visits, but this will be the last time. I'm waiting for a call back from the company to schedule a service visit. They usually spend at least 5 hours each time they repair the slide.

I would not recommend a gunite slide chute. If I were to do it over again, I would choose a fiberglass formed chute.

Only you can determine if the cost of the project is worth it. Consider the age of your kids and how much use you'll get out the slide before it becomes something you just maintain. You may want to consider a less costly waterfall with no slide.

Best of luck!


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Thank you for your reply. Your water feature is lovely. I am sorry you are having problems with your slide. I believe our quotes are for a fiberglass slide, but I will verify. It sounds like we definitely do not want to go with a gunite slide.

We do not have any children at home, but we are getting our first grand baby in October. It has been a long time since we have had small children around, so we are unsure how much they use slides or even how appealing water features in general are.
 

PCR

Bronze Supporter
Jul 19, 2015
106
Frederick County, MD
We have a waterfall and slide. It doesn't look as nicely put together as Mike's because we were away the week the pool builder was doing that, and it came out differently from the concept we had discussed and drawn but the builder would not do anything about it at that point. The waterfall is too wide and the slide, instead of being landscaped into the hill, just looks like it is sitting on top of a jumble of rocks! But besides that issue, like Mike has said, we also generally love the look and ambient sound of the water coming down the waterfall. The slide gets used ALOT - especially when we have bbqs here. There is a line at the slide of kids and adults the whole day pretty much. The slide we have is the SR Smith Big Ride fiberglass slide. It is 17 feet long with a 5'6" height at the top part. This is the fourth full season with it, and we have not had any issue so far with the coating coming off, although the color is fading.
One recommendation is to make sure the slide drops into deep water. Being pool slide newbies, we let the builder design where the slide went. It looked aesthetically nice on the drawings, but they built it dropping into the absolute minimum depth of water specified as ok by the slide manufacturer - 4'6". Now after using it, really, if you are over about 5' tall, this means you have to be careful not to point your legs down as you come off the slide or else they hit the bottom somewhat firmly. I would suggest a slide like this one should drop into a minimum of 6' of water depth - and more if possible. Every other build I've seen with a slide has it dropping into the deep end, so that's a design mistake that is now quite hard to fix for us because it is a landscape slide and not a standalone slide. It's still lots of fun! But would be much better dropping into deeper water.

We would absolutely do a slide/waterfall again if we (god forbid!) ever built a pool again, but we would definitely make sure the builder understood the design and size on the drawings wasn't just a "concept" but what we actually wanted! Oh, also, I know some folks on the forum that have water features in pools that are enclosed in a relatively smaller area with a tall/solid privacy type walls say that it is noisy to the point of being annoying when the features are running. We don't find that at all, but we have an open fence and so the water sound is pleasant and not noisy for us. Also, water features aerate the water and raise PH over time. So running them for longer periods of time may require lowering the PH a bit the next day. I ran my waterfall, slide and bubblers for several hours the other day and my PH had only risen slightly, so I don't find this an issue at all. If it has gone up too much, I just put a little muriatic acid in like I have to do occasionally anyway so the PH thing is a non-issue for me.

2021 Waterfall.JPG
 
Jun 13, 2015
20
Tulsa, OK
Thanks PCR. I think your waterfall/slide looks pretty nice. My guess is that ours will look more similar to yours (except that it has kind of a mini grotto kind of thing over a pre-existing pool seat). Thanks for the information on pH.

It is good to know that the slide gets a lot of use. We have never had a slide or a waterfall in one of our pools, so we were unsure how much people actually use them.
 
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