What homeowners need to know about saltwater and natural stone

Is saltwater the right choice for your swimming pool?

Scrolling through Pinterest, chatting to designers, poring through home catalogues – people often look all over for inspiration when planning their outdoor renovations. 

Once your vision is finalised, nothing should stand between you and your dream backyard – except, perhaps, the harsh reality that certain elements don't always work together. 

Two such elements are often natural stone and saltwater swimming pools. That's because salt water can cause serious damage to natural stone used in pool coping and decking. 

Just how serious is this concern, and what can be done if you truly have your heart set on a saltwater, natural stone swimming pool? We answer these questions here. 

Nothing should stand between you and your dream backyard.

What exactly is a saltwater pool? 

While some people like that feeling of salty skin after a dip in the sea, most aren't looking for this experience in their own backyard. 

Fortunately, jumping into a saltwater swimming pool is nothing like a bathing in the sea.

With saltwater pools, you add salt to the water rather than chlorine. Then, a generator converts it to chlorine and the finished product is a water with around one-tenth the salinity level of the ocean – no salty taste, no crunchy hair. 

The salinity level of  a saltwater pool is around one-tenth that of the ocean. The salinity level of a saltwater pool is around one-tenth that of the ocean.

When compared to traditional pools, many homeowners see several key advantages to saltwater, including: 

  • No chlorine smell, 
  • Softer water,
  • Less maintenance,
  • Gentler on skin, hair and eyes, 
  • Lower annual cost. 

That said, this option isn't for everyone. Salt can cause damage to certain materials, which means you'll need to be selective when choosing things like heaters, pool features, lighting, liners and, of course, your pool coping.

The crusty effects of saltwater on certain natural stone products

Take a look at the coastline next time you visit the ocean – the heavily etched, broken stones are all the proof you need of salt's power to wear away at natural stone over time. 

Five hundred years ago, there were likely more pieces of stone along this coast, but the 'weak' would have been eroded by salt (as well as wind and wave) over time.

The same is true in a natural stone swimming pool. While durable, high quality natural stone will endure, inferior products will experience damage, which can occur for a few reasons:

  1. Salt crystals get trapped beneath the stone's surface, weakening the stone;
  2. Salt absorbs into the stone's pores, leaving a white, chalky residue;
  3. Saltwater enters the stone then dissolves, creating gaps and pockets. 

Soft, weak stones may even split due to long-term exposure to salt, which is why it's so essential to not only select hard stones, but to also work with a trusted supplier

Broken, etched coastlines are evidence of salt's power to damage natural stone over time. Broken, etched coastlines are evidence of salt's power to erode natural stone over time.

Is there a solution for people who want natural stone and saltwater? 

Fortunately, natural stone and saltwater can live in harmony, but you need to exercise common sense. 

Not all natural stone products are created equally, so make sure you choose the right stone for your swimming pool or nearby decking. 

Green sukabumi natural stone, as well as high density limestone and sandstone have high salt resistance. 

This doesn't mean that other stone products are off the table! You can use more porous stone, but you'll need to make sure tiles or pavers are sealed on all six sides. It's also essential that stone laid near the pool is sealed properly to prevent salt damage.  

Have more questions about installing a natural stone swimming pool? Reach out to the team at BauMart Natural Stone today. We can help you select the most suitable products for your swimming pool or decking and get you one step closer to that backyard you've been dreaming of.