Whether you are looking to refresh your existing pool or add some extra features and enhance your pool during a remodel, there are many ways to give your backyard pool some extra flair. Water features are basically any decorative or functional element that incorporates the water in your pool.
Some swimming pool water features are simple and can be added easily, while others are best incorporated into a remodel. Some are part of the pool, and yet others are added to the pool deck.
They can also vary greatly in cost, so it can be helpful to know what you’re looking for ahead of time. Additionally, swimming pools with water feature accents are quickly becoming popular all across the United States.
From bubblers and Baja steps to sheer descents and deck jets, water features are some of our most requested add-ons when we remodel a pool. Below, we will discuss the most popular water features swimming pool owners have added to remodels in the area.
Whether or not you are ready to make changes to your own swimming pool, knowing the basics of the many different types of water features can save you time in the future.
Water Features to Enhance Your Pool
Bubblers, also called gushers, are one of the most common pool water features to enhance your pool added to Baja steps. There are many different brands and several different diameters to choose from, but whatever you choose will certainly add movement and gentle sounds to your backyard.
While most bubblers are added to a depth of less than 10 inches, they can be placed further down by using a soft silicone extension tube.
One benefit of adding bubblers to a baja step is that they can be customized to change color, adding an additional pop to your pool. We recommend finding a licensed, experienced contractor, like Stanton Pools, to handle adding this water feature and enhance your pool to your remodel if you want it done precisely and correctly the first time.
A Baja step, or shelf, is a shallow ledge that is usually added to the inside of your swimming pool edge and can be anywhere from a few inches to a foot deep. It is a water feature that allows you to relax and get wet without fully submerging in your pool.
This is a big benefit to families with small children or grandparents who want to enjoy the water without having to get all the way into the water. While this feature is not flowing water, like the others on this list, it is still considered in the same category of addition.
Many times, a Baja step is used for sunbathing, with submersible lounge chairs and umbrellas that can be added to enhance your experience. If you want to create a different shape or style when you remodel your swimming pool, this is a great way to add a shallow surface to a deeper existing pool.
Baja steps can be added during your swimming pool remodel and customized to your specifications. If you have kids or pets that enjoy spending time in your pool, Baja Steps can make it easier for them to relax and easily access the water.
Baja steps are also great for people who value safety since they add another place that is shallow to rest and hang out. The construction of a Baja step is fairly straightforward and does not require any special wiring or plumbing, adding to its appeal.
Sheer descents are a type of fountain or waterfall, but their distinguishing feature is that they push water from an elevated surface with an opening into your pool. A sheer descent can be installed on a raised pool wall, or even on a pedestal built specifically for this purpose.
They vary in size, and while most sheer descents added to a swimming pool remodel are between 18 and 36 inches wide, they can range anywhere from 12 inches to 8 feet.
Most people who add this type of water feature choose two or three 18-24 inch wide descents during their swimming pool remodel. You can get multiple colors for the housing of this water feature, but the most popular by far is clear, to create an invisible waterfall look.
One bonus to adding this type of waterfall to your pool is that the installation process is usually straightforward and not as expensive as other water features. In order to showcase the water falling, they usually require 18 inches or more of fall space.
As far as the style of waterfall, sheer descents can be in a sheet fall style or a rainfall. They can also be curved to accommodate the shape of your swimming pool. Sheet fall descents are more common and provide a flat, smooth look. Rainfall, or rain curtain style descents creates a calming effect more like a trickle of rainfall. One thing is for sure, these descents add a dramatic effect to any pool or spa.
Other Fountain Water Features
Arcs and Waterfalls
Although sheer descents are popular, they do require an elevated surface. If you prefer to not have a raised pool wall or pedestal surrounding your pool, you can install an arc sheer or arc waterfall feature.
These push water up and away from the pool wall creating a waterfall effect. They can add dimension and texture to your pool surface, and are perfect for people who enjoy the sound of falling water.
One drawback to this water feature is the installation is more expensive, as it originates from the bond beam of your pool, under the coping. These water features come in various styles, such as rainfall, curtain, sheet, or curved.
It should be noted that these water features are louder than a sheer descent is, but that may be exactly what you want for your outdoor space!
If you have an elevated spa connected to your existing pool or are thinking of adding one on, another water feature you should consider adding is a spillway channel. This is also known as a spillover spa.
A spillover spa helps water circulate and direct overflow into the pool. We have helped many people remodel their spas and built slate or stone spillways that help add aesthetic appeal.
There are also custom stainless steel, brass, or hammered copper spillways if you are looking to create a unique, sleek addition to your spa.
Many elevated spas have one spillway, but scuppers, another type of water feature usually found on an elevated wall, are narrower waterfall features. They get their name from the overflow ports on the side of ships, and serve the same purpose in a spa-pool combo.
They can also be made of copper, stainless steel, or brass, as well as simply being a round opening along the wall of the spa. This feature is relatively easy to incorporate into a swimming pool remodel and adds attractive detail to your backyard.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to styles and configurations!
Deck Jets and Laminars
Deck jets and laminars are another water feature you might consider adding to your pool remodel. These swimming pool water features are located outside of the pool itself, and shoot streams of water into the pool. They are also sometimes called pool fountain jets.
While these features are similar, laminars have noticeably smoother water streams, creating a clean, unbroken shape that flows seamlessly into your pool.
Laminars are especially popular because you can incorporate lighting, making it possible to change the color of the stream and customize the look of your pool at night. These deck jets or laminars will surely become a focal point of your entire backyard.
We do feel the need to mention that these features can be hard to maintain, cause discoloration of your pool deck due to water overflow when initially turned on, and must be installed by an experienced contractor.
They require proper drainage and can be expensive, and they tend to add more sound to your backyard environment due to the constant stream of water. This is especially true for deck jets more so than laminars.
Despite these drawbacks, they are one of the most stunning nighttime water features on this list.
Water Feature FAQs
When to add water features?
There are many things you will want to consider when thinking about adding water features to enhance your pool or spa. Most of these options will be much easier to install during a full pool and patio remodel.
Many electrical and plumbing lines need to be trenched underground depending on the feature, and if you aren’t planning a full remodel, this could leave you with unsightly patching on your patio surface. It can also be very expensive to complete these additions on their own as opposed to during a remodel.
How much do water features cost?
Costs can vary greatly, depending on the type and style of feature you choose. The biggest factor in cost will be all of the invisible elements that must be added to the surrounding environment in order to create a functional, beautiful water feature.
When remodeling a swimming pool to include water features, the distance from your equipment to the feature will be a big factor in determining cost. Electrical and water lines must be trenched, added, and connected properly in order to achieve the best outcome.
What about maintenance fees?
Another factor that should be taken into consideration is the maintenance associated with each pool water feature. Some features, like spillways, actually lower maintenance by directing water flow away from the tile and the pool wall.
On the other hand, deck jets and laminars can be tricky and may require a more frequent maintenance schedule in order to work properly.
The choice is ultimately up to the homeowner, and a good contractor will work with you to make sure you understand the pros and cons of each selection you make.
Can LED lighting be added to all water features?
The ability to add color-changing or LED lights to water features will vary depending on what you are adding to your swimming pool remodel.
Baja steps, for example, usually do not include lighting unless there are bubblers added along with the ledge. Sheer descents, however, look stunning with customizable lighting options.
At Stanton Pools, we will explain how each feature can be customized or modified based on availability and budget.
How much does adding LED lighting cost?
Many people are surprised by how much more it can cost to add LED lighting to your water features, but in our opinion, there is no better way to add that “wow” factor to your pool or spa. Very few customers regret adding this type of lighting to their remodel, and the elevated look you can achieve is definitely impressive, creating a beautiful focal point.
Just make sure to include lighting in your total budget if that is something you would like.
Is an equipment upgrade necessary to add water features to my pool?
A pool equipment upgrade will be necessary if your current pump cannot handle the gallons per minute water flow required by the pool water features you are considering. Aside from the pressure needed to ensure proper water flow, the distance from the pump to the water feature needs to be considered too.
At Stanton Pools, we always ensure that our customers understand the steps it takes to add any water feature to their pool. The more features you add, the more important it will be to ensure proper water flow from your pump. This is especially true if you have an existing spa that has jets or its own water features.
Can I keep my current equipment?
You may want or need additional equipment in order to achieve the desired look and feel from your water features. For example, you may need to adjust the flow rate if you have multiple sheer descent features in your pool, or if you also have a spa and like to use the jets.
No matter what needs to be done, we will ensure your water features add beauty and value to your pool remodel, making it your new perfect place to relax and enjoy.
Enhance Your Pool with Water Features Today
For more information on water features, pool remodels, spa additions, or any other related inquiries, please contact us. Stanton Pools has helped many southern California families remodel and enhance your pool, their backyard environments over the last ten years.
We are fully licensed, bonded, and insured and use our ten years of experience to achieve optimal results. We can’t wait to help you elevate your pool water features and create a true backyard oasis!