These slippery slopes will make a splash and offer an exhilarating ride that's the stuff of childhood dreams
I was recently meeting with clients to discuss a rear yard landscape plan, and their 7-year-old son was sitting in. To keep him busy, they cued up Houzz on their iPad and let the boy’s imagination run wild through a photo search. What was he looking at? Pool slides, of course.
The kid in me got my mind racing, too. Who doesn’t love a good water slide? But while a slide is every child’s fantasy, it’s the adults who will be the ones with a lot to consider before incorporating a slide into their pool project.
Here’s a look at what you’ll want to know before you decide to build your own pool slide.
Distinguished Pools, original photo on Houzz
Design: If all these examples show us nothing else, it’s that the possibilities are limited only by our imaginations. Themed grottoes, pirate’s lairs and aquatic playgrounds of all kinds are in play for your consideration.
One Specialty Landscape Design, Pools & Hardscape, original photo on Houzz
The X, Y and Z: From an engineering perspective, there are three factors to consider in a pool slide. We can call them simply X, Y and Z.
X = Elevation (starting point)
Y = End Point (splashdown)
Z = Shape (where the fun is)
How do we arrive at our elevation (X) and endpoint (Y)? If you are building into a sloping hillside, it can be rather easy to determine both. In other cases, as in the photo here, the “hill” is a man-made structure, often covered in rock-like precast concrete or real stone veneer.
The shape (Z) is how X and Y are connected, and it can be a short, swift shoot or a long, looping ride.
Jauregui Architecture Interiors Construction, original photo on Houzz
Surface options: The main surface options include prefabricated polyethylene or fiberglass chutes, both of which are constructed offsite. Polyethylene is considered a superior surface, but it costs more than fiberglass.
Custom slide surfaces for slides constructed onsite include tile, smooth, molded concrete and pebbles. The latter are ground and covered in wax resin for protection.
This lovely example shows a 1-inch by 1-inch mosaic tile surface.
Whom to hire: This is a job for an experienced professional pool contractor, often working in conjunction with the home’s landscape architect, contractor and subcontractors. Hard and fast rules are difficult to come by, so you truly are in need of someone experienced, who has done it successfully many times before. There are just countless factors, including drainage, structural support, aesthetic finishes and slide operation that must be properly thought out by a professional.
Marquise Pools, original photo on Houzz
Cost: The range in cost is wide. A simple, prefabricated slide with ladder might be installed for $4,000, while some of the tantalizing slides shown here could easily top $100,000.
Another cost factor to consider is insurance. Similarly to how insurance companies view diving boards and trampolines, they also look at slides unfavorably. You may need to purchase a separate liability policy to properly protect yourself, which can cost as much as an additional $1,000 per year. Be sure to talk to your insurance agent to mitigate risk.
Mediterranean Pool, original photo on Houzz
Adults can play too: Why should kids have all the fun? The example here is an entertaining wonderland, with a jaw-dropping firepit that’s nicely distanced from all the squeals and splashes from the slide.
Sunscreen: The kids will be in your pool from dawn to dusk, so lather on that sunscreen. A sunburn is one consequence of a pool slide that is not straight out of a childhood fantasy.