Avoid Liability Pitfalls: The Truth About Slide Resurfacing and Re-Commissioning

By Chris Biancofiore, Director, Performance Services

As the Performance Services team sees an influx in customer requests for testing and re-commissioning after water slide resurfacing, I thought I’d take this opportunity to clarify a few things on this topic.

Here’s the thing: Depending on the operating conditions, environmental exposure, or how well a water slide has been maintained (e.g. cleaning and waxing), the slide will eventually require a reapplication of the coating or need to be resurfaced. Quite a few companies offer this service, and some are perfectly capable because they either work in partnership or under the guidance of the original equipment manufacturer (OEM).

Man repainting a water slide

Unfortunately, many other companies are not.

Questions to Ask Water Slide Restoration Service Providers

There are important considerations when choosing a provider to perform this delicate and skilled service:

  • You need to request an inspection report. Is an inspection being provided as part of the scope of work to determine the current condition of your water slide, including but not limited to your ride surface?
  • Is maintenance (cleaning and waxing) being regarded as the first priority?
  • Is the company or personnel certified by the manufacturer to perform the required work?
  • If resurfacing work should be performed, you will require ride testing and re-commissioning upon completion. Is this service being provided to mitigate your liability?

Why is it important to ensure that the scope of work is understood? Because not all proposals you receive will be equal. Think of this as an opportunity to vet your service providers and ensure that they understand your needs to keep your guests safe and enjoying their experience while keeping your liability exposure to a minimum.

A man in an orange shirt holding a buffer buffing a water slide

Why Your Liability Could Be Affected: Five Things to Know

What many of these proposals don’t factor in is the transfer of liability to the park owner resulting from performing just the resurfacing alone, without taking the complete process into account. To this scope of work the cost of testing and re-commissioning should be added to protect the public from any negative changes to the performance of the slide as a result of the resurfacing. If this entire scope of work can be offered by your lowest cost service provider, you should be covered. But be cautious you aren’t signing up for change orders, or worse, the service provider is just not capable of delivering upon.

Kid on a red body slide

Here are five key things to remember when it comes to water slide resurfacing and re-commissioning:

  1. Ride surface condition is one of a few critical factors of a slide in terms of performance and safety (the others are water flow, water level, vehicle condition, and rider height, weight, and behavior).
  2. When a slide is resurfaced, there is the likely potential of changing that performance. It could be considered outside the state it was commissioned and outside the specifications that were defined during the last commissioning. The coefficient of friction, the speed, the ride path, the rider weight range—all these things could change through resurfacing.
  3. Therefore, a slide resurfacing must be followed by a re-commissioning of the slide in order to ensure rider safety and performance.
  4. Whenever the OEM, such as WhiteWater, is called upon to re-commission a slide, this can ONLY be done after detailed inspection and testing. If the resurfacing was done by a third party, you run the risk of the slide not passing the inspection.
  5. Any operator who resurfaced a slide without a re-commissioning is doing so at their own risk, i.e., assuming all liability, as this will be considered a ride modification.

Two men inspecting a water slide flume

As your OEM, we know your products, and we know the exact parameters to get your equipment to perform safely and at its best. Contact us for water slide restoration services to make sure you don’t get surprised by additional risks and costs.