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Only quality surface materials like marble, granite ot ceramic tile are used in Water Structures' baptisteries. Our baptistery designs and materials reflect the churches they inhabit. Water displays are meditative and reflective. In short, a Water Structures' baptistery can never be mistaken for a plastic jacuzzi.
The renewed interest in the Baptistery as a central architectural feature has brought about some serious construction problems. All too often, parishioners have been greeted by leaking or empty baptisteries that are just a few months old. The problem can usually be traced back to an indeterminent leak in a containment vessel. Usually the leaking area is covered by building materials like cement, wire, plastic, copper or tile. Finding the leak is then nearly impossible without taking the baptistery apart. Containment materials like copper, plastic or cement are prone to undetected site damage or just plain incompetence by the many trades needed to construct the baptistery.
At the heart of every Water Structures' Baptistery is a revolutionary fiberglass/fibercement shell. A proprietary manufacturing process provides Water Structures with the ability to economically produce these superior shells in both standard and custom sizes. Waterfalls, spillways and multi-pool baptistery designs are uni-sealed at the factory. The super-strong shells provide short term construction protection as well as long-term structural preservation. Simply put, Water Structures' superior shell technology can save a church the agony and embarrassment of a leaky baptistery.
Water Structures offers both standard and custom baptistery designs. Our master mold makers have been building architecturally-specified products for fourteen years. Water Structures offers the design professional technical assistance as well as shop drawings and other construction documents. Baptisteries can be tiled at the factory or on site using conventional thin-set or mud methods. Clients can optionally order shells and equipment or a complete turnkey installation.
Coping can be constructed in natural stone, cast stone or wood. Natural stone coping like marble or granite, especially with polished edges, are the most costly. Compressed stone and wood are the least expensive.
The interior of the baptistery must be in tile or natural stone. Water Structures does not use any plastic surfaces like gel-coat. Ceramic, porcelain and glass tiles come in many shapes, colors and textures. Natural stone comes in slab or tile form. Natural stone tiles like granite, marble or limestone are usually polished, but can be ordered in different finishes like rough-sawn, sandblasted or honed. Slab stone can be fabricated to add a dimensional look to the baptistery. Slab fabrication of natural stone is by far the most expensive.
The interior of the baptistery can be finished in almost any finish desired.
Water Structures also offers a wide array of Water Effects. Water Structures' experienced staff will help you create a fountain or baptistery with just the right ambient sight and sound.
Water Structures' shells are one-piece, factory built, installation-ready vessels, available with pre-plumbed through-wall fittings. Tile or natural stone can be installed at the factory or job site.
The outer shell is constructed of polyester fiberglass with integral; laminated supports. The interior of the fiberglass mold is chemically bonded to a fiber-cement wall 5/8" thick. Tile or natural stone is adhered to cement surface with conventional latex enhanced thinset.
The durability of the Water Structures' baptistery's interior is dependent on what product is chosen. Granites, some marbles and ceramic tiles have traditionally been the best interior surfaces.
Water Structures' baptisteries are designed so that the interior surfaces can be replaced using conventional methods without disrupting the baptistery's watertight containment vessel. The piping in and around the Water Structures' containment shell, unlike site-produced Gunite or plastic lined baptisteries, can be repaired or replaced without jack hammering the font apart. The design of the Water Structures' baptistery will afford future generations the opportunity to repair and resurface the baptistery without starting over.
Water Structures' baptisteries can be manufactured in sectional pieces that can be assembled on the job site. The reassembled units are sealed, bolted and fiberglassed on site. The inside joint is tiled so as to match the rest of the unit.
Water Structures has manufactured tile and natural stone custom baptisteries and fountains for thirteen years. Water Structures' products have performed well outside in diverse environments from the Rocky Mountains to the Middle Eastern deserts.
Water Structures provides a factory tested, finished product from one source. The experienced mold makers and stone and tile setters at Water Structures have years of experience. Water Structures customers are guaranteed a baptistery whose look and durability are unmatched in the industry.
Baptisteries can be constructed with no connecting pipes. The disadvantage of installing a unit this way is that a hose must be used to fill and drain the baptistery.
In some cases it is not possible to locate the baptistery equipment in a separate area. If water is to be left in the unit, then equipment must be installed under the skirt to prevent the water from becoming unattractive or unhealthy. Easy access is needed for this under-deck equipment. Automatic disinfection, heating and filtration equipment can all be placed under a baptistery deck. The area needed is dependent on the amount of equipment specified. This equipment does need an electrical supply. Your local Water Structures' representative can help you design an equipment area.
Water Structures' baptisteries have no steel reinforcement that can corrode over time, like Gunite. The Water Structures' shell is construction tolerant with no plastic liner or copper panes that can be easily damaged during construction. Fiberglass has been proven to be one of the most durable products available for the containment of water. Engineers specify fiberglass when they can't afford to take a chance on leakage, as in the construction of underground gasoline storage tanks.
A baptistery should be built in such a way as to show off its central place. Spot lights can usually serve this function. Underwater lights are available for applicable installations.
Baptisteries can have a number of water effects that reflect their meditative and symbolic function. The noises created by these effects should be considered when designing a system. Waterfalls and spillways can be diverted for quiet runs but this option must be planned into the plumbing. Waterfalls may be the quietest and easiest solution to noisy baptisteries.
A small movement can be created in a baptistery to give it the look of moving water. This symbolic effect has the added benefit of being quiet.
A waterfall effect can be created in two ways. The first is to have water pumped into a baptistery or collector that has a weir or spillway exiting it. Water is pumped from the lower baptistery into the upper baptistery or collector. The waterfall or spillway effect is created as the water cascades over the spillway lip back into the lower baptistery. The spillway collector method demands a significant amount of water be pumped in order for the system to work properly. When water cascades over a waterfall lip, there is a tendency to have some water hug the underside of the waterfall lip. The offending water then travels down the outside wall of the upper baptistery or collector. This can cause water problems if not planned for. This type of waterfall probably should not be run duing the service due to the level of noise.
The second method for creating a waterfall effect is by using a waterfall fixture. Waterfall fixtures are usually installed in a wall on site. The water throw of the waterfall can be regulated at the pump. Of the two types of waterfall methods, the fixture type is simplest, most efficient and least likely to cause noise level problems.
Some baptisteries have been equipped with small, quiet jets that can be mounted in the center of the baptistery or coming out from the side. These give the water some movement.
The ability of a particular stone or tile to maintain its look in water should be considered in choosing a material. Some marbles and tiles do not do well in water. Granites, most tiles and many marbles do well. The manufacturer of the stone or tile should be consulted before choosing a material.
Waterfall steps and wet walls are quieter to operate than waterfalls. A dynamic water display can be created using these features. When designing a step or wet wall into a baptistery, it is important to consider how these features project. The projective nature of the features should be worked into the overall design. It is also very important to make sure that the spillway or slide is completely waterproof before applying the surface material. Water Structure's baptisteries have a one-piece shell which prevents leakage through this transitional structure which connects the upper and lower baptistery parts.
The piping that surrounds the outside of a baptistery makes it almost impossible to "drop in" a shell. The shell should be set in place and leveled before the deck is built. If a platform is being poured before the shell is on site, a call should be made to Water Structures to get the exact height of the unit. Remember, it is much easier to bring the baptistery or fountain shell up than it is to lower it.
The top of the untiled Water Structures shell has a fibercement lip which usually measures 3 x" in width from the inside of the unfinished shell to the outside of the lip. Tile or slab stone can be directly set on this lip. The rough lip can interface with the deck in a number of ways. See your Water Structures representative for details. Dimensional tolerance should be allowed for in the shell deck interface. The shell should be set, leveled, plumbed and tested before decking is built.
When designing a side panel decking system, the pipe which protrudes from the outside of the shell and its rough lip should be taken into consideration. Try to allow for at least a 5" space from the outside of the shell to the inside of the panel. This space should allow for the throughwall plumbing fittings. The side wall of the untiled shell measures approximately 1", with the exception of the lip area which is approximately 3x" wide by 4" deep. The shell's entire weight must be supported from the bottom. Large baptisteries should have their lips supported every 3 feet to prevent movement.
Water Structures' baptisteries are often built to meet specific design needs. The size of the lip and floor may vary from application to application. Tolerance for dimensional variation should be built into the unit's design. Consult your local Water Structures representative for assistance.
Overflows can be used on baptisteries, however, local authorities should be consulted. Overflows are mandatory if an auto fill system is to be used. The fill rate of the auto fill system should be well below the ability of the overflow to dispense with water. Note: Some churches require a separate dry well be used to drain baptistery holy water.
Most local codes prohibit a direct connection between the baptisteries and the portable water system. Some localities will accept direct fill connections if certain types of back flow preventers are used. Some inspectors will only accept a fill system that has a gap between the top of the unit and the fill spot. Though less convenient, a conventional hose fixture with a backflow preventer can be an inexpensive solution.
If the recirculation and water effects equipment is to be separate from the baptistery, piping should be run and tested before the floor is poured. Pipe sizes vary greatly from job to job, but even a small baptistery should have a minimum of two 1x " PVC Schedule 40, or better, pipes. Equipment can be placed under the baptistery decking, which would negate the need for recirculation piping, but would necessitate an electrical feed. Copper pipes do not usually last as long as PVC. An additional pipe will be needed if a controller or lighting system is used at the unit. Often larger pipes are needed as when a water effect is incorporated into the project. Piping requirements can vary greatly from job to job. A Water Structures representative should be consulted before producing piping specifications.
Baptisteries need to be maintained. Water must be added due to evaporation. If the system does not have an automatic disinfection system, then a chemical disinfectant must be used. Even systems with automatic disinfection equipment need to have their PH and hardness adjusted occasionally.
The safety of the baptistery should be considered when designing the unit. Local codes and authorities should be consulted.
Baptisteries need a designated area to put their equipment. Some fonts can have the equipment installed at the factory. The size of the equipment area can vary greatly. Equipment areas should always be accessible and, whenever possible, be on the same grade or below the baptistery or fountain. Your Water Structures' representative should be consulted before laying out the room.
Baptistery water should be filtered every day. Filters should be cleaned when the water is changed.
Some baptisteries have heaters that can be turned on when needed. Smaller baptisteries may be able to use the domestic hot water. A thermostatic valve would make this process easier and safer.
Baptisteries can be equipped with odorless disinfection systems that operate when the filter pump is on. Baptisteries and fountains without automatic disinfection systems should be chemically treated.
Baptisteries need to be filled frequently due to evaporation and water changes. Direct connection made to the plumbing should not be done unless a back flow preventer is used and the local plumbing inspector is consulted. The control valve for the water fill should be within sight of the baptistery, if possible.
Baptisteries can be drained or pumped out. The local plumbing inspector should be consulted before any hook ups are made. NOTE: The Church may want baptistery water to be drained into a separate dry well.
The safety of the public should be considered when designing a baptistery. When possible, the water depth should be kept down or a safety barrier should be built.
The nature of a Baptistery is described this way
Custom built baptisteries have often been constructed using protective pans made of copper, metal sheet or plastic liner. Wven with these protective pans, water would too often work its way past the interior surfaces, causing a major leak. There are some historical problems with metal and liner pans which are discussed below.
Copper, vinyl, or metal sheet liners are easily damaged during the construction process. These liners are made of thin material with weak joints. Hidden damage can occur well after a liner and its piping are tested. Liner pans are labor intensive to install with many different contractors working on the unit. Damage occurring to the pan is not usually visible so it is impossible to tell which sub-contractor was working on the unit when the damage was done. A leak in a liner or pan does not appear until the water migrates past the surface, a process that usually take 6 months or more, long after the sub-contractors have been paid. These liners are impossible to repair without destroying the baptistery and starting over!
The weakest point in a metal pan or liner is the place where a pipe passes through it. These pipes can be drains or recirculation fittings. The more through-wall connections the more likely a leak. Through-wall connections can be easily damaged during construction. Piping connection leaks are usually hidden and can not be fixed without destroying the font which surrounds them.
Copper, stainless steel, and vinyl can be damaged over time due to the caustic environments they occupy. Copper and stainless steel liners can be eaten by the chemicals in cement. Plastic liners can be stretched due to the heat and chemicals in the water.
Water Structures manufactures a uni-bodied fiberglass/fibercement shell which is far superior to any site-built product. The Water Structures' shell is made from reinforced fiberglass. The exterior is chemically bonded to a fibercement interior surface in the molding process. Because the interior of this uni-boded product is Portland fibercement, it will accept tile adhesive easily. The exterior of the shell is made of fiberglass which is both durable, waterproof and allows for the double manifolding of through-wall pipe fitting.
Water Structures' staff has thirteen years of experience building custom baptisteries, fountains and other water features. Each Water Structures' baptistery is handcrafted by our experienced craftsman. When you order a Water Structures' baptistery you get the advantage of a single-source product from an experienced manufacturer. Each shell comes with a Water Structures Limited Ten-Year, No-Leak Warranty.
The labor and material that go into making a custom tile or natural stone baptisteries can be substantial. The cost to remove a custom baptistery and replace it is even higher than the original cost. Water Structures' baptisteries provide you with the best protection possible from indeterminate leakage.