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How To Make an Indoor Archway Waterfall

Indoor water features aren't limited to portable accessories in a home; they can also be permanent interior features. Here's how to make one.

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Step 1: Prepare the Structure of the Arch

Install a 2x6 header board above the archway to redistribute the weight, and use 3/4" plywood to fashion the framework for the archway. Install half-inch backer board to protect the wood from moisture. A hole drilled through the framing at the base of the archway will allow the power-feed for the waterfall's pump to be installed and concealed within the wall.

install header board above archway

Step 2: Understand the Pieces of the Water Feature

With the structure of the archway prepped, work on assembly and installation of the water feature. The submersible pump (Image 1) will be housed in the stainless-steel basin of the waterfall. This pump has an output of about 500 gallons per hour. Flexible 3/4" tubing that runs up the center of the archway attaches the pump to an upper basin (Image 2). The upper basin will diminish the pressure of the water coming from the pump and allow the water to spread out before it cascades down the glass partitions into the lower basin (Image 3). This helps make for a gentle, even flow of water. The flexible tubing and reservoir portion of the upper basin will be mounted between the two pieces of glass The upper basin is mounted to a slot cut in the glass. The glass is mounted to the wall on either side of the archway using stainless-steel angle brackets. Glazier's tape is used to cushion the glass against potential breakage. Submersible 12-volt lights (Image 4), plugged into a transformer, will illuminate the waterfall from below. These are specially designed lights that are safe for underwater applications. Shining on the water and frosted glass, the lights will create a dramatic effect. Once the piece is assembled, the tubing and upper reservoir will be concealed by a stainless steel sheet (Image 5) over which the water will flow.

Step 3: Add the Stainless Steel Back

Glue a stainless steel sheet to each piece of glass using waterproof silicon glue. Place a bead of silicon all the way around the perimeter of the steel sheet a couple of inches from the outside edge, and a few drops in the center of the sheet. Once the glue is applied, carefully lower the steel sheet into position. Measure from the outer edges to verify that the steel is perfectly centered on the glass sheet.

glue stainless steel sheet to each piece of glass

Step 4: Secure the Brackets and Glass

Next place a strip of glazer tape to the first two angle-bracket stops. Line up the brackets with pre-drilled screw-holes and secure the brackets to the backer board with 2" stainless-steel screws (Image 1). Place the first piece of glass against these two stops (Image 2), then install the second set of stops on the other side of the glass to hold it in position.

Step 5: Install the Top Basin

The next step is to install the top basin into the slots in the glass. The upper basin has been prepared with a hole drilled in the bottom to accommodate the upper portion of the flexible tubing.

install top basin into slots in glass

Step 6: Insert the Tubing

Conduct a dry fit to determine the exact length of tubing you will need to reach from the submerged pump to the upper basin (Image 1). Cut the tube to the appropriate length. Insert the upper end into the top basin so that it extends about 1/2 inch into the basin, and secure the tube in place using epoxy glue. Apply the epoxy mixture liberally all the way around the reservoir hole and tubing (Image 2). The waterproof epoxy will secure the tube in place and prevent leaking. Once the epoxy has cured, apply a second coat around the tubing on the interior of the reservoir. Once the glue has cured thoroughly, connect the lower end of the tubing to the submersible pump and insert the upper end of the reservoir into the slot in the glass sheet (Image 3).

Step 7: Secure the Second Piece of Glass

Now you are ready to install another set of stops and position the second piece of glass. Secure the second piece of glass with the last two stops.

secure second piece of glass

Step 8: Test the Water Feature

With the frosted glass backdrops, stainless steel components installed and submersible pump installed, and all the operating components connected, the waterfall can be filled with water (Image 1) and tested to make sure that all elements are operating properly. Once the bottom basin is filled, and the pump completely submerged, the fixture is plugged into an electrical outlet. Within just a few seconds, the water pours out of the upper basin over the stainless steel sheet forming a smooth curtain of water (Image 2). Also check to ensure that the waterfall is also operating properly on the other side of the feature (Image 3). Small submersible lights installed in the lower basin, and angled upward (Image 4), provide dramatic illumination for the water and frosted-glass backdrop.

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