—Feature walls create distinctive good looks and oasis-like atmosphere
With their striking appearance, swimming pool scuppers (and their related spout variation) are compelling water features for high-end residential projects.
So, what are scuppers, and how do they enhance the appearance of an inground pool and enrich the ambiance around it?
Scupper is a nautical term. It was coined to describe openings on boats and ships that are designed to allow water accumulating on a deck to flow overboard or into bilges.
In architecture, the term represents a similar concept: a device that helps water exit from a flat roof or parapet.
Adopted by the pool, fountain, and landscape industries, “scupper” is now used for a category of attractive features that essentially function as miniature waterfalls.
A spout is installed and functions just like a scupper, it simply has a tubular or pipe shape.
Scuppers and spouts make a bold statement on a custom pool or spa.
Whether the aesthetic is rustic, classical, or modern, these visually intriguing fixtures complement any backyard pool.
The manufactured versions of these pool fixtures come in appealing materials—bronze, copper, and stainless steel.
A word of caution: If you choose copper, oxidation happens. Due to air, wind, rain, pool chemicals, and other elements a light teal-colored patina will develop on the metal.
You may like that. Or not. If you want copper that remains smooth and shiny as possible, be prepared for a cleaning routine to help stave off this antique appearance.
Another material option for scuppers (but not spouts) is concrete. Yes, concrete. This less-common choice involves the pool builder fashioning the fixture during the gunite application process.
Craftsman notch and trim the wet material, and typically, they color it to blend with the surface surrounding the scupper.
Finally, rock scuppers are also an option. Some builders use slate, flagstone, quartzite, and other natural stone to create the fixtures.
Scuppers and spouts come in an array of sizes, shapes, and styles. Each one creates various effects and “behaviors” of the water that pass through the fixtures.
The most popular way to highlight these artistic water features is to install them on raised bond beam—an elevated section of the pool wall.
To make the wall appealing, pool builders face its surface with beautiful tile or stone.
Some of the most interesting walls are configured with a curved shape, an arched top, two or three tiers of height, or integrated columns or landscape planters.
In addition to elaborate feature walls on pools, scuppers and spouts can be integrated into a spa’s dam wall. Here, the fixtures create multiple spillways for the spa water to overflow into the pool below.
Another approach is for a scupper to go on a pool water bowl. Some of these bowls are specifically molded with a lip to act as a scupper. Other, higher-end custom versions feature a metal trim piece to accentuate the molded scupper.
A single scupper or a spout makes a lovely water feature that delivers a captivating stream or cascade of glistening water.
However, the favorite strategy is to use several fixtures in unison. Mounting a series of them across a decorative wall creates a swathe of liquid eye candy
When it comes to these fixtures, each width, length, and outlet shape creates its own form and appearance of the emanating water.
Another influence on how the water comes forth is the height at which the scupper or spout is mounted.
Plumbing also plays a key role. By adjusting the water’s speed and volume, the moving sheets or streams will project at varying distances and flow rates. The resulting effect can range from lively and robust to subtle and soothing.
Proper hydraulic design and plumbing are critical when installing scuppers and spouts. Multiple fixtures require equal water volume and flow rates to operate in virtually identical unison.
Typically, achieving this balance requires intricate configurations, such as individually valving each separate feature line.
Ensuring the correct amount of water supply for the desired effect takes great care and skill. So proper pump and pipe sizing is mission-critical.
On some builds with both a gunite spa and several scuppers, the best approach is to include a second pump. This extra dedicated pump allows you to simultaneously run the spa jets and water features.
As enjoyable as scupper and spout installations are to watch, they are also wonderful to hear.
Many pool owners find that certain pool water features., such as rock waterfalls, generate soothing sounds that provide an entirely different, pleasantly surprising way to gain relaxation from their aquatic retreat.
Falling water from scuppers or spouts is the perfect natural music for your outdoor space. Water softly gushing, trickling, or spraying onto the pool surface fosters a tranquil atmosphere.
An upscale addition for upscale projects
Would you like a mesmerizing focal point in your backyard? You can’t go wrong with the irresistible appearance and sounds of scuppers or spouts along a decorative pool wall.
Certainly, you don’t see these sophisticated water-feature installations adorning most residential pools.
But understand the primary reason why: While they raise the bar on style—they also raise it on the project budget.
First, these luxury fixtures themselves come with a price to match. Suppers and spouts usually require a special order.
Next, you have additional costs from the labor involved in building the raised beam wall, applying tile or stone, installing the fixtures, and achieving the exacting plumbing requirements. And if a second pump is included, that will add to the final price tag as well.
However, for a head-turning pool with an uncommon level of panache and personality, including scuppers or spouts perfectly fits the bill (pun intended).
After all, scuppers aren’t just for ships and boats anymore!
Scupper and spout installation photos
The dark, embossed tile pattern on these two raised walls provides a striking backdrop for eight square scuppers, perfectly complimenting this pool’s sleek rectilinear shape and dark grey rim flow spa. In addition, a series of stepping pads (aka “floating steps”) along the tallest wall provides an opportunity to enjoy the falling water up close.
In this aquatic scene, small scuppers form part of an artistic vignette with wall-mounted fish sculptures, blue-colored up-lighting, and steps that appear to float. This installation illustrates how effective LED pool lights are at showing off the scuppers’ water streams and how they gently splash onto the pool surface.
Tightly controlled streams of water pour from a series of metal spouts, landing on the deep blue pool surface below. The tall, sleek vertical pattern of piping water contrasts with the horizontal, linear geometry of the tile finish and stone-covered columns that flank this dramatic feature wall.
Metal-sculpture horses and thick landscaping join forces with this expansive water feature. Four metal scuppers span a flagstone-clad wall that runs the full width of the pool. This installation demonstrates how the modern, linear-shaped scupper can successfully coordinate with a rustic setting.
More spout than scupper, these fixtures run the entire pool length as the Wu Dog sculptures stand watch. From their high mounted position, the spouts’ narrow openings project streams of water at a relatively flat angle, adding visual interest to the rectangular pool’s formal, simple architectural style.
Strategically chosen design elements help this pool capture an ultra-chic aesthetic. Shimmering glass tile covers the swim-up pool table and the gorgeous water feature: Backed with lush tropical plants, the streamlined feature boasts two scupper-mouthed water bowls bookending a trio of square scuppers.
This rustic, symmetrical design combines richly colored stonework, round, integrated landscape boxes, and two distinct scupper treatments: In the center, three narrow fixtures accent the raised portion of the tri-level wall; on each side, wide scuppers with clear sheets of water adorn the planters.
In their starring role, a set of three stainless-steel scuppers project water about two feet onto the surface below. Note the shape of the mouths on these contemporary scuppers; the angled edges help the water jut further out versus the wider, flatter cascades created by more traditional scuppers.
Rectangular scuppers contrast the diamond-shaped tile on the feature wall, while complimenting the horizontal pattern of the ledger stone on the column planters. Notice the submerged pool bench below the scuppers—the seating is perfect for swimmers taking a break and relaxing beneath the falling sheets of water.
Sharply contrasting with the wall’s white plaster finish, these sculptural black pipe spouts offer traveling rivulets descending into the inviting turquoise water. For a subtle acoustical dimension, this installation generates soft trickling sounds as the water makes contact with the pool surface below.
Majestic palms and verdant foliage serve as a backdrop for a curved, multi-tier, stone water feature. The trio of wide scuppers are designed to deliver glassy sheets of water that are roughly scaled to the width of the three tree trunks—visually tying together the hardscape and landscape.
Dark spouts punctuate the light-colored stone facade of this bi-level pool wall, while simultaneously echoing the dark gunite spa. Spouts emanate water that arcs further over the pool surface—versus scuppers that create a more sheet-like shape.