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What is a rain curtain water feature on a swimming pool?

Posted by Blue Haven Pools & Spas on Jun 8, 2024 9:34:11 PM

—Aka: rain walls, water curtains, or rain descents

rain-curtain-from pergola-over-pool

When would you actually want rain to come down on your swimming pool?

If the falling “rain” is from a tall, stunning water feature that enhances your pool’s beauty and outdoor ambiance.

Rain curtain: An elevated, flowing backyard attraction

Also called a rain wall, rain descent, or water curtain, the decorative rain curtain is a tall, free-standing custom water feature.

Typically, the design provides a droplet-style “sheet” of water gently falling onto the pool surface below.

On some rain curtains, the “sheet” is primarily sheer and unbroken—a flat or arcing cascade versus the droplet formation.


While the raindrop pattern is more popular for rain curtains, some homeowners prefer a cascade effect that’s sheer with a more cohesive form that can be easier to see—and hear—from a distance.

Unlike the more common cascade waterfall, this liquid sensation is housed in a kind of free-standing, three-sided frame installed on the pool deck.

Most run six to eight feet tall and span about four to eight feet, but they can go wider.

Depending on the builder and pool design theme, this frame is built in metal, concrete, or select varieties of wood.

Another version of a rain curtain forgoes the frame. Instead, the water feature is directly incorporated into a pergola or canopy structure with a roof that juts out slightly over the pool or spa.

What’s also special about rain curtains is their rarity: You don’t see this intriguing feature on many backyard pools—or even on commercial ones.

So, if you are ready to splurge for a captivating upgrade that few people have seen, a rain curtain is a superb pick.


While this pergola buffers the sun’s rays on this poolside kitchen and swim-up bar, the integrated rain curtain serves as a kind of playful, interactive backdrop for the seating area.

Upscale ambiance with water in motion

With water elegantly flowing from overhead, a sophisticated rain curtain literally takes aquatic drama up a level.

As you watch the droplets glisten in the sunlight as they hit the pool surface, the whole scene just feels special.

Water in transit is not only a pleasure to see, it’s a pleasure to hear. The subtle, soothing sounds of falling water foster a serene atmosphere. In some cases, the sound may help buffer unwanted sounds, such as nearby traffic.

You can get even more from your rain curtain by including automation on your pool.

With this system, you can turn the water on and off from your phone or tablet. Adjusting the flow level to increase or decrease the sound level is also possible.

Even better, automation allows you to schedule the rain curtain to automatically come on at set times and days of the week.


Built above a specially configured shelf in the pool, this chic rain curtain is perfectly positioned to let delicate drops of water cascade onto kids playing or grown-ups lounging beneath it.

You can also maximize the appearance of your rain curtain with pool lighting. Include a color-changing LED system that will bathe your rain curtain in dazzling nighttime illumination.

Here too, automation will ensure activating the lighting or putting it on a regular schedule is simple.

When a rain curtain is a great choice

If you have the budget, a rain curtain can be a terrific way to dress up a backyard pool.

Rock waterfalls on swimming pools are always popular, and they’re ideal for a rustic or lush lagoon poolscape

But not everyone wants that natural, organic look; instead, they prefer a modern aesthetic. Or, they just don’t find rock waterfalls all that appealing.

For them, a sleek rain curtain fits the bill. It perfectly complements contemporary geometric-shape pools.

For those who prefer a modern aesthetic, a sleek rain curtain fits the bill. It perfectly complements a contemporary geometric shape of pool.

A rain curtain may also be a space-saver.

On properties where square footage around the pool perimeter is limited, a rain curtain—depending on its position by the pool and its frame size—requires only a moderate amount of the poolside real estate.

If the feature is incorporated into a pergola, it will require zero ground space.

What that means is there will be more room left for hardscape, accessories such as a diving board or deck-mount pool slide, or other backyard amenities.


In this relatively tight backyard, the pergola-integrated rain curtain creates a soft counterpoint to the raised hexagon spa and low waterfall—and does so without eating up precious deck space.

Compared to some large rock waterfalls, a rain curtain provides a softer sound—particularly the raindrop version.

Occasionally, a pool builder will suggest a rain curtain for a special purpose: To slightly obscure—or, at least reduce the impact—of something less-than-attractive on your property. Examples might be an older retaining wall or a basic yard fence.


A particularly wide, voluminous concrete structure houses this rain curtain, creating a refreshing treat for both the eyes and ears in this desert pool.

When to think twice about a rain curtain

In some cases, this lovely water feature may be less than ideal for a pool.

One potential issue is water loss. Because a rain curtain’s flow is constantly exposed to the air, the water is highly susceptible to evaporation.

Any rain curtain is at risk, but the vulnerability level is highest for the raindrop version and its delicate, vulnerable droplets versus the smooth cascade type.

In a dry climate or region with long hot summers, evaporation can become a bigger issue.

If your backyard is frequently windy, proceed with caution.

If the rain curtain lies in a breezy path, the potential for water loss could be serious. Wind will blow some of the flowing water out of its downward path, causing some of it to splash out onto the deck.

Now, in some regions of the country, water is plentiful and inexpensive. But in others, water is limited and pricey, making conservation and cutting pool evaporation key endeavors.


Here, the rain curtain helps delineate a quieter, semi-shaded “relaxation zone” by the spa—creating a sense of separation from the rest of the swimming pool.

A bold backyard focal point

A rain curtain makes for a compelling backyard statement piece.

If you are interested in one, speak with your pool designer. He or she can explain why this feature may be a good selection for your particular pool.

Your designer will also have information on rain curtain cost, and he or she may suggest alternatives for water features that might work better for your yard, pool style, and budget.

free-form-gunite-pool-with roof-mount-water-feature

On a custom-built home in municipalities with zoning that allows for it, a rain curtain can even be directly incorporated into the home’s architecture during construction.

Topics: Design / Features, LED, Construction, custom pool ideas, automation


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