Gunite or natural?

jscozzMay 2, 2012

Still in planning stages... a lot of great feedback from everyone on here... very much appreciated.

We are doing a free-form gunite pool... with a cave, waterfall from top of cave, and slide wrapping around the cave on the back side of the pool. The proposal we are getting is to do the cave in gunite... with natural rocks along the edge of the pool on either side of the cave (dropped to water line), then backfill to get the hill behind and around the cave (about 25' wide and 20' deep). The PB will then shoot gunite steps up the left side to above/behind the cave to the top of the slide that wraps around the cave and into the pool. The areas between the steps and cave, cave and slide and beyond slide/steps would be mulch, plantings, etc. for a very natural look.

We are really looking for the natural look (not disney pool fake). And all the rocks on the hill and pool edge will be real. But, we are concerned that the gunite will stick out like a sore thumb. Would it be better/cheaper to build paver or stone steps into the hill? And some examples I have seen of real stone cemented to a gunite cave front, top, etc. does not look that great. I am leaning toward the gunite cave for structural reasons... but would love to find some pictures showing a gunite cave integrated and disguised into a natural stone hill so it does not stand out or look fake. top, front edge, sides and inside the cave also. Can gunite be colored to match natural rocks? Or will it look like a big grey concrete opening surrounded by natural rocks?

Would love advice from anyone who has had done this combination of materials.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here's a link to a thread from a few years ago that will have pic's of some gunited rock waterfall/slides and some gunite substructure with real boulders waterfall/slides.
There's a lot of pictures on the thread so you'll probably have to scroll way down to see them.
If you want a cave there's also pic's from early construction of how I set forms for the cave with a gunite ceiling to support the rock weight above. I'm not a fan of just stacking rocks above each other to build a cave.

See ya,

Here is a link that might be useful: gunite rock and real rock waterfalls

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 12:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks, Kelly.

I agree that I feel better with a gunite cave for structural safety... but I want to understand what teh best way is to make it all look real in a hill side of mulch, stones, plants...

I see you shoot the cave squared and rough and then dress it up afterward? And it looks like you do gunite base on both sides of cave and slide... I assume that is foundation for rocks. I think the PB I am looking at does some carving of the gunite on the front and interior and cements stone to the face and rock on top for waterfall... but for steps, he said he will backfill the hill with dirt and then form and shoot the steps on top of that... may be I misunderstood, but that does not seem like a good foundation for gunite steps.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 2:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

jscozz...another alternative is the RicoRock product you were asking about earlier on my post. They have panels that can be used as forms for larger custom waterfall construction. The forms are made from castings of real rocks and become a permanent part of the waterfall.

If RicoRock is used for other boulders around the pool, it will all integrate nicely. They select only quartz rocks when chosing rocks to make molds from so the look is consistent.

Check out the weblink below for some of the panels that they offer. We were looking at these initially during our build to be used as retaining walls in our sloped back yard. Eventually, we decided the retaining walls were not needed. We did, however, use their boulders and waterfall kits and are happy with how nicely everything integrated.

In my opinion, gunite waterfalls look like structures straight from the TV show "The Flintstones" and stacked real rock looks too contrived to be natural. Just my opinion...your mileage may vary.

With the RicoRock product "what you see is what you get"....there are no unexpected surprises due to the "rock" artisan not having the same vision as you. You also know the exact dimensions of the RicoRock product which makes planning and visualizing the finished product a lot easier, which was important for us.

Hope this helps.

Here is a link that might be useful: Panels for Constructing Custom Waterfalls

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 2:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here is the waterfall for our spa. I don't know if there is gunite or concrete under the rocks since this was around 10 years old when we bought the house. There probably is one or the other since the sides are pretty steep, certainly there is a gunite bowl at the top for the water to feed the falls.

Many of the pictures here are of new water features. If there are plantings, a water feature will look a lot different when they mature.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 12:07AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for all the feedback.

huskyridor, some very nice work in those photos... looks like they all were built totally from gunite/rock... correct? Have you ever seen any built like a hillside? backfilled dirt, plantings, landscape rocks, etc?

There will be a cave/grotto on the back side with waterfall coming down over top of it. It will be backfilled to be a natural hillside around and behind the cave, with rocks and landscaping up to the pool edge. The rocks at the pool edge will be down on a shelf so they are at/below the water line. A slide will start behind the cave and wrap around, entering the pool on the right side of the cave (steps on left side).

How is this all usually constructed when backfilled dirt is involved? I assume the pool rebar and structure will be integral with the cave, and the water in the waterfall will be contained by the gunite structure... and that the slide will have concrete sonotube footings... but is there any horizontal concrete pad underneath it all like in your pictures? Or is the dirt just brought up to the rocks at pool's edge? How is it built to keep soil from washing into the pool? Is the pool beam raised up to hold back the dirt and accept rocks on it's front face, or is it at normal level and the back side of the rocks cemented solid to keep dirt from washing through into the pool?

We are trying to weight the pros and cons of gunite vs natural rock steps up to the slide... it seems gunite will be more stable and less maintenance, but stone steps are definitely more natural, and may be cheaper???

Also, how do you manage any runoff from waterfall or leaks from slide sections to keep from eroding dirt underneath?

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 4:20PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
should pool building take this long??
I signed a contract July 19th with Mr. Carlos pools....
Diamod Brite pool color photos
PLEASE!!!! Need to see finished pool pictures with...
Braden Taylor
I would really like to know what kinds of materials...
J.L. Blodgett abandons pool project
I wanted to send along a note of caution to all members...
Pool resurface question
I am having my pool resurfaced and the supplies were...
Sponsored Products
Cedar Belt Rack
Signature Hardware
No. 9 Ottoman - Loll Designs
$270.00 | HORNE
Whispering Creek Slate Copper Vein Wall Fountain
Lamps Plus
Indoor Area Rug: Celecot Off White 5' x 7' 6"
Home Depot
Philipa Pendant Lamp
Cost Plus World Market
Allier 2-Light Flushmount by Feiss
$259.00 | Lumens
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™