Contractor's Corner

Pond Pirate Rescues Pool with Natural Rock Waterfall Addition

The Pond Pirate finds booty in a botched pool

Waterfall running in the rain.

Waterfall running in the rain.

I’m a very strong believer in the phrase “you get what you pay for.” This particular project demonstrated exactly that.

My client Tony originally hired a pool contractor who had promised him the world — natural rock waterfall — for a small chunk of change. As his pool construction moved forward, the contractor left him uneasy and unsettled — and ultimately the owner of a botched job.

Black Slate Quartz coping.

Waterfall dry stacked prior to being mortared together.

That’s where I came into the picture. Tony gave me the lowdown on what had happened and his waterfall original vision. When you walked onto Tony’s property, he had a beautiful home and an amazing backyard, but all he really wanted was to increase the “wow” factor by making his pool look like something out of a magazine. He was looking for a natural rock waterfall and coping to match.

As a pond contractor, I treated this as I would any concrete pond installation. In order to accomplish Tony’s vision, I had to structurally modify the pool to compensate for the extra weight of the waterfall. My method consisted of cutting the wall of the pool, exposing existing rebar about 6 in. down, and tieing new rebar into the existing rebar cage using No. 3 and No. 5 rebar. Rebar was positioned 4 to 6 in. off-center, creating a new cage for the pitched slab. The slab was done using about 6 inches of concrete mix, a layer of 45 EPDM liner and an additional 2 in. of mortar mix, totaling in 8 inches of concrete. Keep in mind, steel should always be set in the upper portion of the slab.

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Black quartzite coping.

Before pouring, of course, we needed to deal with plumbing to make sure we had a functioning waterfall and not just a pile of rocks on the edge of the pool. Tony’s original pool pump was relatively outdated, so a new 3-horsepower, variable-speed pump was installed to achieve the right flow on the waterfall. A 2 ½-inch, ridged PVC pipe was used to plumb the waterfall. Once all of the plumbing was installed and the slab was poured, my crew and I were able to begin the waterproofing process using FlexCrete. We used a nab roller throughout the entire pool, creating a waterproof membrane.

At this point, I was finally able to get to my favorite part of the job — building the waterfall. Black quartzite was the rock of choice. A variety of sizes were used, from 1/4-pound chips to rocks of more than 880 pounds, to fill in the gaps. All pieces of quartzite were concreted in using thin set and mortar mix. The rocks were stacked in an irregular pattern to give it a more natural look.

At the end of the day, Tony was happy with his newly styled pool, especially the natural rock waterfall with a midnight blue, Diamond Brite finish. He also had all the amazing qualities of a pond — but no fish included.

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