Pool Sheer Descent? (Pros, Cons, Ideas, & Cost)

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When building or redoing your pool, there are so many options you can choose from when it comes to the aesthetic and final product. From finishes, shapes, and extra features to liven up your backyard oasis.

Adding a running water feature to your pool is an instant way for it to add another dimension to the space. Not only does it sound and look amazing, but it can also even help the filtration of the water. 

What Is a Pool Sheer Descent?

You might not be sure what a sheer descent means, but you’ve probably seen one incorporated into a pool design somewhere. It’s a unique and classy addition; the sheer descent waterfall is a thin layer of water falling from a raised wall.

Rather than a rush of bubbles and frothing water, you have a tranquil and glassy waterfall that you can look through, play in, and admire while in or out of the water. It adds a charming aspect to your space.

The pump runs up into a wall and pushes the water through a narrow piece that flattens the water. It falls down in a sheet and gets narrower as it goes down. The result is a quiet and beautiful water decoration for any style of pool. 

How Does it Work?

You might be looking into building a new pool or updating your existing one for a new look. Either way, a sheer descent is a doable addition. If you’re adding it into a current pool or a brand new one, the stonework and materials can be matched for whatever look you’re going for.  

The effect of the sheer descent comes from its height, so a wall will need to be installed with all the proper plumbing inside of it. A pump will draw water up from the pool, so electrical will also need to be addressed in the wall. 

It takes significant power and energy to run and continuously pump the water up and out for a sheer descent. When you’re planning to add one, make sure it’s within your budget to have the electrical and water bills be elevated from what they were.

Often, you have direct control over how much water flows through the fountain attachment and into the pool. This way, you can adjust how much water is used at any given time. This can change the look and sound, too, if you want a new vibe. 


A sheer descent can truly work for any style of pool and outdoor theme. There are multiple shapes and dozens of sizes to choose from, ranging from under a foot long to over eight in length. 

A lot of contemporary architecture uses sheer descents in its designs. You might have seen one in an indoor fountain at a high-end, modern hotel or restaurant. It adds the charm of a waterfall without being too disruptive to the overall environment and ongoing conversations.

Now, it’s easily applied to any style of an in-ground pool. The plumbing and electricity running up into the wall are integral. So, unfortunately, a sheer descent isn’t plausible for an above-ground pool. 

It is compatible with standard rectangular pools, so you can add it and boost the enjoyment of the area. If you have kids, they will almost certainly have fun playing in the waterfall and looking through it like a window. 

At night, lights can be applied under the waterfall to add another level of fun and enrichment to the space.

The sheer descent can also be added into more tropical or modern themes, incorporating its wall with plants and themed accents from the rest of your backyard. It really adds to the zen and luxury aspect of your backyard, no matter your style. 

Pools have a diverse amount of finishes and fixtures. You’ll want to make sure a descent is built with your overall design in mind. If you’re adding it to a preexisting pool, try building it up with the same color stones or backgrounds you used elsewhere. 

Sheer descents tend to look the most striking when placed against a dark background.

There are a few key styles of sheer descent to think about when planning out what would look best with your pool.

Multi-Sheer Descents

This design includes the use of multiple waterfalls in this design. Most often, it’s three separate falls that are spread out over a low wall. The size of each varies on personal preference and the amount of room you have to work with. 

With multiple waterfalls, you create a stunning visual and added sound. Feeling like they’re in nature, your guests will be wowed by the look and feel it gives your area.

Single Sheer Descents

If your pool doesn’t have the space, or you want just a hint of the feature, a single sheer descent falling in a corner or at the end of the pool is a valid option. This is the most common style, and the next two could technically fall under this category. 

Long Sheer Descents

As stated, this design is spread out in one long unit. It’s usually between three and 8 feet long and can make your pool area pop with its grand design. Adding lights to this design gives it a chance to be its own art piece.

Curved Sheer-Descents

Many pools won’t have all corners and hard lines; some will be designed with curved edges. Naturally, curved descents are made to fit these different styles and designs. These sheer descents, ranging from short to long, hug the curves of a rounded edge or small side pool.

Pros and Cons of Pool Sheer Descents

Like with most things, everything has its ups and downs. Let’s look at the logistics of adding a sheer descent to your pool.


  • Improves water quality by moving the water consistently. It adds oxygen and helps the water run more efficiently through the filtration system. 
  • The aesthetic of a sheer descent is a fantastic addition to any outdoor area and adds a calming background sound. 
  • The constant circulation of water can help the temperature stay cool even in the middle of summer. 
  • With so many design options, no matter your style, there will be a way to match and combine a descent in with your pool. 


  • A sheer descent doesn’t have an automatic cleaning system. So, you have to manually clean out the buildup of any chemicals or filth left behind.
  • The cost of adding a descent can add up very quickly. The unit itself can range from $100-$500, which doesn’t include the labor, plumbing, electrical, and then the power bills that can add up. 

Final Thoughts

Designing your own outdoor oasis is a big decision. There are so many little design choices you have to make to pull it together. A sheer descent is a great way to achieve a sophisticated, natural, and simple fixture. 

When building, keep in mind the added cost of electrical bills and installation costs and how those can vary. 

Once you’ve got it installed, it will be a memorable and beautiful addition to your pool’s aesthetic.

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