News & Views

Water Features: Materials

As explained in other articles we have written, the skill a water feature specialist must possess is understanding the subject from different perspectives. The engineering of materials used for the mechanics are more easily selected by a water feature specialist, which can look at the relevant industry standards and apply to each component to assemble a complete system to meet the performance requirements.

When it comes to the all-important part of the water features’ aesthetics and the materials used, clearly the look and feel of the material is going to be important. How it reacts to water and what proven systems can be used to keep its durability and performance in the long term is the challenge. The library for this is ever-changing as the world evolves making new materials with different performances.

Materials react differently with water, such as the thermal movement when a material is out of water and subject to the sun as opposed to the same piece of material being in the shade or below water. This movement can give rise to a multiple of issues from lowering of overall performance, water leaks and changes in the water aesthetics and water effects. A water feature specialist must understand the limitations of a material and have the knowledge of how it can be used within the overall water feature design.

On a broader technical understanding, when water features use certain materials and especially when they use two or more, it’s important to understand how they can be interfaced/joined, which in certain situations may also need to form a waterproof seal. So clearly a relatively easy design would be an all-steel water feature, as everything can be welded together. If on the other hand you had a glass water feature, which needs other materials such as steel to hold the water feature in place, deliver water, introduce water, then welding is not an option, but technically it needs knowledge on how to maintain performance with the different thermal coefficients of glass and stainless steel coming together. This typically means movement joints which not only need consideration for the mechanical and water proofing but also overcome the potential of harbouring water within the joints, becoming stagnant with bacteria growth, showing algae and debris within the aesthetics of the glass feature.

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