There is a huge variety of water features and fountains available on the market. Here we will discuss the different materials used to make these features and their pros and cons, hopefully helping you to make an informed decision about what kind is best for you. The materials we will look at are: stainless steel, rock / stone, resin and terracotta.
Stainless steel is a very popular material for water features. One thing to look out for though, is that the feature you're interested in is made from quality steel. Stainless steel is produced according to different grades – these grades determine the quality of the steel so to get the best, longest-lasting feature, you need to make sure it's made from the highest grade of steel (grade 304). Bear this in mind especially if you are looking for an outdoor water feature – higher grades of steel are less likely to be subject to corrosion or damaged by the outdoor environment.
One of the reasons stainless steel is so popular is that such water features have a very contemporary, sophisticated look. Frequent styles are tubes, spheres and walls and these can often be quite large features. Due to this, they are often favored by businesses as stylish decorative pieces in their offices or showrooms (although stainless steel fountains are by no means exclusive to commercial institutions!)
If you do have it in mind to buy a stainless steel feature, there is one important thing to consider beforehand – due to the material itself and the average size of the features, they can be fairly weighty, so it is best to double check the weight with the vendor prior to purchase.
Natural rock or stone make ideal outdoor water features. As they are hewn from real rock rather than made from a mold, each feature may have slight variations, providing one of their most appealing attributes – no one else will have the exact same feature so yours is unique!
These water features can be supplied from a number of rock sources, including slate, stone, granite and marble. The very nature of these materials ensures that the features are solid and durable; however, like stainless steel, some can also be rather heavy.
The third material to consider is resin. Resin is widely used for the manufacture of water features as it is so versatile. While you may often find that rock or steel are used to create similar styles and shapes, the sheer variety of shapes, sizes, colors and styles of resin features is intense. Within the range of resin features, you will find fountains, figurines, animal water features, wall fountains, spheres, tabletop features and more – the list is endless! The choice available is one of the top benefits of resin.
Unlike some stainless steel and rock water features, those made of resin are also lightweight. This is especially useful if you want to be able to move the feature around, for example if you have a number of guests visiting and you simply want to make more space in the garden (or conversely, move the water feature to a more central location to create a talking point!)
Resin is a synthetic material, however; so if you prefer something more natural, rock or terracotta features are a better option for you. A great advantage of the synthetic manufacture of resin features though is that most are weather-resistant, so are less likely to be damaged by UV rays than the sun in summer or frost in winter.
The final material to consider is terracotta. Please note that sometimes terracotta water features are handmade to order rather than kept in stock – each of these, therefore, is completely unique like rock features. However, it is important to be aware that it will take longer for you to receive a bespoke water feature than one of those that is kept in stock.
Terracotta is a lovely, sturdy material with a warm color and has been a traditional material for pots, jars and various features for many years. For this reason, it is ideal for replica designs of ancient features such as Greek pots water features, giving them an authentic look. Terracotta water features are generally only supplied in that color, however, (terracotta is a peachy-orange hue) so if you would like a wider variety of colors to choose from, resin is a more suitable material for this.
It is worth noting that while all these materials are durable and designed for long-wearing wear, often outdoors, all features must still be protected. Very strong winds may overturn smaller features and damage them, so in cases of extreme bad weather if you can bring the feature indoors, it may be safer there until the weather has subsided. If you are leaving your water feature outdoors during the winter, take care not to let the water inside freeze as it will then expand and this can damage the feature or pump.