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Waterslide Options for Every Pool
Installing a waterslide for your swimming pool
By Thomas A. Wright
There are countless ways to keep young guests happy during a pool party: toys, games, and floats come to mind. Nothing surpasses a waterslide, however, for keeping kids of all ages completely captivated during a festive occasion—or on any other day. For many, there is nothing like the exhilaration of hours upon hours of fun in a backyard waterpark.
Waterslides come in a variety of styles, sizes, and shapes. Many homeowners choose a fiberglass or concrete/gunite waterslide because they will be able to customize every aspect of the waterslide, while others opt for standard models made of acrylic or aluminum. No matter the style or material, however, there are a few things a homeowner should keep in mind when shopping for a waterslide.
A standard type of waterslide is usually made of acrylic or aluminum, mounted to your pool deck, and designed to become slick via a built-in water delivery system or a garden hose. These are the most popular kind of pool slides and usually consist of a ladder and a single open flume that runs either straight or in a loop. They come in a wide variety of styles, colors, sizes, and shapes, and most can handle weights of 225 – 300 pounds. From basic models to more intricate designs, acrylic/aluminum pool slides start at $1,000 and can run as high as $15,000.
Customized waterslides pay dividends for years. More and more homeowners are seeing the value of these pool slides, not only for their good looks, but also because they are the perfect way to recreate a private amusement park for family and friends. By tailoring a waterslide to meet their needs, homeowners can have plenty of twists, turns, inclines, and speedways.
Custom waterslides usually come in two styles: closed flume or open flume. Closed flume waterslides resemble tubes or cylinders, and the experience is like sliding through a tunnel. Open flume waterslides, on the other hand, do not have any kind of enclosure over the top of them. If you’d like a grotto or cave, or wish to conceal the waterslide in the landscaping, then a closed flume slide is the better choice.
Commonly made of commercial-grade fiberglass, custom waterslides come in a number of colors that coordinate with pool surfaces, tile, and surrounding natural rockwork and can handle weights up to about 300 pounds. Custom-designed fiberglass pool slides start at around $1,900, but can be $10,000 and up for more complex units.
Waterslides made of concrete/gunite can be built into a waterfall or the surrounding landscaping. The size and shape of the pool slide determines the amount of concrete necessary to complete the design, so it may cost more than a fiberglass model. It is best to seek the advice of a knowledgeable builder, who will coordinate the design and know what permits are needed since this type of slide is a permanent addition.
Waterslide Installation & Maintenance
Incorporating a waterslide into new pool construction is preferable, but many styles can be mounted to the deck of an existing pool. If you already own a pool and would like to add a waterslide, you’ll need to check with local government codes. The size and height of the slide in relation to the size of depth and the pool are all important factors that are typically regulated by local ordinances.
While some manufacturers provide detailed kits for skilled do-it-yourselfers, hiring a professional is the safest means of installation. Make sure you communicate with all of the parties involved: the pool designer, the pool builder, the landscape architect, and of course, the waterslide manufacturer. Every person involved in the project must be on the same page in order to guarantee an efficient installation.
Once your waterslide is installed, the fun begins. But don’t leave the fun to chance. Your manufacturer will include instructions and tips on operating your slide to its upmost capacity. Study them carefully, but remember this: water and maintenance are a pool slide’s best friends.
Water is an important part of any waterslide because it cuts the friction between the rider and the slide, allowing for a quicker descent into the pool. Most waterslides have their own pumps and plumbing while a few of the more budget-friendly models will direct users to utilize an ordinary garden hose.
Additionally, maintenance is crucial, so you must follow your manufacturer’s directions on keeping your waterslide in tip-top shape and working efficiently. If the sliding board is made of fiberglass and has a gel coat finish, then its slick facade must be maintained and re-waxed. Concrete pool slides need to be finished with an epoxy to keep the surface smooth, snag-free, and ready for sliders. Of course, over time, all types of surfaces must be refurbished and re-primed.
In the end, no matter what type of sliding board you choose, select one that will offer children hours and hours of fun and inspire your inner-child to emerge. And, don’t be afraid to giggle just before you make a splash down—that’s what it’s all about!
Photo courtesy of Platinum Poolcare, Ltd.; Photograph by Linda Oyama Bryan
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