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The Ultimate Guide to Pool Plaster

The Ultimate Guide to Pool Plaster
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A swimming pool is a stylish yet functional amenity in your home. It improves your home’s curb appeal while providing you with a classy way to counter the sweltering summer heat. In addition, your choice of pool plaster lets you impress friends and family while lowering the pool’s maintenance needs. 

A careful selection of pool plaster finishes amplifies its unique appeal, lowers your pool running costs, and improves its lifespan while making your pool the talk of the neighborhood. 

What Is Pool Plaster?

Swimming pool plaster is a finishing compound that coats the interior parts of a concrete inground pool. It’s applied as the final coat to create a watertight seal on the surface and give it a smooth texture. 

What’s It Made Of?

Typically, pool plaster is a mixture of white cement and crushed fine marble sand. Also known as marcite, the standard white pool plaster creates a classic swimming pool with beautiful blue waters. 

Pool plaster is mixed with water and other bonding additives to create a slurry. The slurry is sprayed on the shotcrete or gunite shell of the pool and troweled smooth to create a ¼ to ½-inch thick layer over the pool’s entire surface. 

Dry pool plaster creates a smooth, watertight seal at the bottom and sides of the swimming pool. Pool plaster is quick-drying, and you can fill the pool with water the next day.

How Does It Work?

Pool plaster keeps the water in the pool from leaking and damaging the concrete shell and compromising the pool’s structural integrity. 

Besides safeguarding against structural damage, pool plaster improves the aesthetics by making the pool’s surface visually appealing. The plaster can be white-colored or blended with quartz and pebbles to amplify the pool’s appeal.

Keeping pool plaster in excellent condition improves the pool’s lifespan to let you enjoy it for many years to come. 

Water and Pool Plaster

Pool plaster is a porous compound affected by the pool’s water chemistry, which creates a host of maintenance problems. The porosity allows algae and bacteria to thrive on the pool’s surface, causing stains and reducing durability.

The metals and minerals dissolved in the water can stain the plaster, which affects its appearance and integrity. For example, alkaline pool water causes calcium deposits on the plaster leading to discoloration. Acidic pool water erodes the plaster creating a rough surface that degrades quickly and potentially harms the swimmer.

What Is the Best Pool Plaster?

Besides the white pool plaster colors, today’s plastering options come with colored additives and colored aggregates for added visual appeal and durability. 

White pool plaster has the shortest lifespan but remains the most affordable pool remodeling option. Colored pool plaster gives your pool a dramatic look, but tends to mottle, streak, and fade with time. 

Aggregate finishes combine white or colored plaster with river stones, glass beads, quartz, and granite for a more luxurious and attractive pool finish. Aggregates are popular due to their longer lifespan, superior stain resistance, and more design options. They have a nonporous surface, which increases their lifespan to about 20 years, but they cost more to install

Types of Pool Plaster

There are numerous types of pool plaster on the market to fit different styles, distinct color options, and pricing points. 

White Marble Plaster

White plaster is the standard plaster surface finish in many swimming pools. White marble plaster comprises white marble aggregates, white cement, and water. It gives your pool the classic sky blue tint and has a lifespan of 9 to 12 years. 

Sider White Pool Plaster Patch and Repair - 20 lb
96 Reviews
Sider White Pool Plaster Patch and Repair - 20 lb
  • Professional grade quality polymer modified pool plaster patch (20 lb pail). Mix with water only. 10 sf coverage @ 1/4". Sider Pool Plaster Patch is white in color and yields a smooth surface to match...

Diamond Brite

Diamond Brite is an accented, durable, non-fading pool finish that combines white cement with quartz aggregates. This unique finish is hardwearing and can withstand the effects of harsh pool chemicals and inclement weather. Diamond Brite comes in 17 exotic, factory-blended finish colors to suit varying tastes and color schemes and can last for 9 to 12 years. 

Colored Plaster

Adding colorants and colored aggregates to white plaster colors creates colored plaster, which affects pool water appearance. Colored plaster comes with many options and attractive colors to give your pool a consistent, beautiful, and durable finish. It’s an affordable and economical choice for pool finishing, but you can use the mottling effect to enhance its beauty. 

E-Z Patch Cool Blue Quartz Plaster - 3 lbs
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E-Z Patch Cool Blue Quartz Plaster - 3 lbs
  • Color: Cool Blue
  • Series: SGM Diamond Brite Series

QuartzScapes

QuartzScapes is a premium pool surface finish comprising white cement, crushed quartz, and mineral-based pigments. They merge beauty with the strength to create a unique and durable pool surface with unique color pigments. Quartz crystals are some of the strongest minerals in the world and are available in a variety of colors. 

When bonded with ceramic color coating, quartz crystals create a stunning, fade-resistant, comfortable, and abrasion-free pool. QuartzScapes have a lifespan of 9 to 15 years and come in 16 brilliant colors. 

PebbleTech®

PebbleTech is a premium pool surface treatment that comprises naturally polished pebbles and white cement. They create a non-slip pool surface with unique characteristics and a bumpy texture. Peebles give the pool a natural feel while allowing it to blend with the surrounding landscape. PebbleTech comes in 18 brilliant colors and is the ideal choice for pool owners looking to complement other pool features with pebble finishes.

Pros and Cons of Pool Plaster

Despite numerous upsides, pool plaster has various shortcomings that can affect your pool running costs.

Pros 

  • Plaster is cheap and affordable 
  • It gives your pool an iconic look
  • It’s available in different colors 
  • It has a lifespan of 9 to 12 years 
  • It’s easy to install and cures quickly 

Cons 

  • Plastered pools feel rough to the touch.
  • Plaster is susceptible to algae infestation and will require weekly surface maintenance and acid wash every 3 to 5 years. 
  • Plastered pool surface can stain, crack, stain, and scale if you neglect regular maintenance.
  • Colored plaster often mottles, streaks, and fades with time. 

How to Clean Pool Plaster

There are various ways to clean and safeguard your pool plaster from dirt and stains.

Skim the Surface

Skimming is the easiest way to clean the pool because it removes debris such as bugs, leaves, and twigs before they can stain the pool plaster. Attach a skimmer net to a telescoping pole and scoop the floating debris from the pool’s surface and the floor. Skim the pool at least once a week or whenever you see debris floating on the water.

Brush the Plaster

Brushing is a recommended part of your plastered pool maintenance routine. Brushing the pool’s surface at least once a week helps remove deep stains and dislodges any debris, dirt, and microorganisms from the porous surface of the pool. Attach a pool brush to a telescopic pool and brush the walls, followed by the pool floor. Pool brushes with nylon bristles are preferable because they don’t damage the pool plaster over time.

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18 inch Swimming Pool Brush
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18 inch Swimming Pool Brush
  • Pool wall brush for cleaning gunite pools with hard-surface finish
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  • Pool brush features an 18-inch die-cast aluminum back and handle

Watch the Water

Maintaining proper pool water balance is a critical aspect of swimming pool management. Improper water balance results in scaling and pool plaster erosion and can damage the handrails, ladders, liners, and pool equipment. 

A test kit can help you measure and adjust the pool water chemistry every week. First, take a sample of the pool water and check the chemical levels using the kit. Then, make the necessary water balance correction and test the water again to ensure that you’ve got it right. 

Use Sequestering Agents

Pool sequestering agents bind the minerals and metals in the water to prevent cloudy pool water and metallic stains. Metallic components, including the heat exchange, brass valves, copper plumbing, often cause metallic stains on the pool surface. In addition, higher dissolved iron, manganese, magnesium in hard water also stain the plaster. 

Acid Washing

Acid washing is a measure of last resort as it entails using muriatic acid to remove a thin layer of your pool plaster to expose the unstained layer underneath. It’s an effective way to deal with stubborn stains on your pool’s surface, but it entails draining the pool and hiring a professional. In addition, using too much acid may damage your pool plaster, while using too little may not remove the stain. 

How to Plaster a Pool

Plastering a pool is a delicate process that may take several hours or days and requires various tools, equipment, and supplies. 

Tools and supplies 

  • Air compressor
  • Air hammer
  • Acid wash
  • Brush for acid
  • Bond coat
  • Buckets
  • Cleaning solution 
  • Chisel
  • Face mask
  • Gloves
  • Finishing plaster mix
  • Hammer
  • Goggles
  • Marker
  • Mixer (for cement or mortar)
  • Hose
  • Paint and Paintbrush
  • Paint roller 
  • Pool plaster mix
  • Power trowel and a Putty knife
  • Rubber gloves
  • Shovel
  • Sander 
  • Sponge
  • Soda ash
  • Sump pump 
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Yard brush

Prepping the Pool 

  1. Turn off the pool equipment and drain the water from the pool. 
  2. Drain the last dredges of the water with the sump pump
  3. Sweep away any loose debris from the floor of the pool
  4. Use the chisel to remove any loose plaster from the walls and the bottom of the pool.
  5. Sand down any rough and sharp edges on the pool’s surface
  6. Clean away any remaining dirt from the surface with the cleaning solution and sponge.

Pre-plastering Process 

  1. Spread the acid wash over the pool’s surface using the acid brush
  2. Thoroughly rinse off the acid wash by washing it down with the hose
  3. Leave the pool to dry 
  4. Apply the bond coat and leave it to dry for 8 to 10 hours.

Applying the Pool Plaster 

  1. Mix the plaster according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Use the trowel to apply a layer of plaster that’s at least 3/8-inches thick on the pool surface, starting from the deep end. Fill all the holes and crack and ensure the application is smooth and consistent. 
  3. Leave the plaster to dry out before applying the second coat
  4. Use the trowel to apply the second layer but this time ensure the coating is ¼-inch thick. Double-check to ensure the layer is smooth to give your pool surface a clean, professional finish.
  5. Check the plaster for flaws and leave it to dry completely
  6. Once the plaster has dried, coat the entire surface with the special pool paint. Keep all your brush strokes in one direction to give your pool a smooth finish. 
  7. Refill the pool and chlorinate the water
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Goldblatt 3-Piece Finishing Plastering Trowel Set
344 Reviews
Goldblatt 3-Piece Finishing Plastering Trowel Set
  • [Premium Carbon Steel] Compared with stainless steel, carbon steel has higher strength, toughness, and lightweight. Lightweight drywall trowel reduce the hand fatigue; Sandblasting finish for antirust,...
  • [Flat Blades & Square End Type] Flat blade makes applications easier with more consistent finish. Beveled working blade edges prevent aggregate popping, can be used for application, smoothing, polishing...
  • [Ergonomics Handle] No-turn handle design, ergonomic, camel-back wood handle makes them comfortable to use for less hand fatigue. Strong aluminum mounting securely welding with blades for long lifespan

Swimming Pool Plaster: Issues, Causes & Solutions

While swimming pools lined with plaster can last up to 20 years, their average lifespan is about 8 to 12 years. Various issues affect pool plaster’s integrity, which in turn impacts its lifespan. Proper care and maintenance are crucial to improving longevity and durability.

Cracks

Cracks are a common problem in concrete pools and may result from various causes. Hairline cracks on the plaster surface may result when the soils around the pool shift. Spalling cracks result from poor craftsmanship. For example, if your plasterer used improper troweling timing, over-troweled, or used too much water during the application process, the plaster might start to flake and peel off. 

Patching small cracks keeps them from widening and housing harmful microbe. Sanding helps fix plaster spalling, but pool replastering is best if a large area is affected.

Stains

The porous nature of pool plaster makes it susceptible to several types of stains. 

Organic stains

Organic matter such as leaves and twigs falling into the pool will stain your pool plaster green or brown. This is because the chlorophyll in leaves leads to green stains, while the acids in the stems and twigs cause brown stains. Organic stains are easily bleached by chlorine in the pool. 

Pool plaster mottling

Mottling refers to color variations on the pool plaster due to the hydration and troweling process. These types of stains are more pronounced on dark-colored plasters but also affect lighter shades. Lowering the calcium and pH levels can help you deal with mild pool plaster mottling cases. Unfortunately, you can do little to remedy pronounced pool plaster mottling. 

Dissolved metals

Metallic stains result when metals such as copper and iron saturate the water. These stains are colorful and easy to spot but difficult to remove. For example, copper metal stains appear as blue-green streaks and splotches, while iron forms brown or black stains. 

Out of Balance Water Chemistry

Improper pool water chemistry causes the pool plaster to deteriorate, compromising the pool’s structural integrity. The water chemistry may be off after adding a large amount of water to the pool to counter evaporation. Heavy rains can change the pool’s alkalinity, pH levels, and free chlorine. Leaves, twigs, grass, flowers, and pollen may fall into the water and throw the balance out of whack, besides creating notorious stains. 

You should test your pool’s water balance – alkalinity, pH, and calcium hardness – weekly to ensure it’s not oversaturated or undersaturated. Oversaturated water will precipitate minerals and form scales on the surface. Undersaturated pool water is corrosive and dissolves minerals from the plaster to bolster its mineral content. 

Debris

Debris, including rock, twigs, leaves, dolls, and more, pose a high risk to the integrity of your pool’s plaster. Most of the debris introduces algae and bacteria to the bottom of the pool. Metallic items pose a significant staining risk, and they may react with the chemical in the water to create corrosive substances and corrode pool plaster. Quick intervention to remove the debris lowers the risk they pose to the pool.

Plaster Pool Alternatives

If you’re not quite ready to replaster your pool, there are other alternatives to improve its appearance.

  • Patching: This is a temporary solution that entails applying patches of pool plaster to the stained or damaged bits. 
  • Acid wash: Washing away the stubborn stains with acid is highly effective but may wear down the pool plaster. 
  • Paint: You can special pool paint to paint over the stains and improve the pool’s aesthetics.
  • Tile: You can cover the entire surface of your swimming pool with tile for a durable, beautiful look. 

Pool Plaster FAQ

How Much Does It Cost to Plaster the Pool?

According to Fixr, it costs $1.50 to $5 per square foot to plaster a swimming pool. White plaster is the most affordable option and boasts a lifespan of 5 to 10 years. Colored pool plaster increases the variety of choices to create a simple and elegant pool but might crack and stain without proper care. `

How Much Does Resurfacing a Concrete Pool Cost?

It costs $4 to $7 per square foot to replaster a pool depending on the type, size, location, and type of finish. The national average cost of plastering a 1,000 square foot pool is $6,500, but Home Advisor estimates it could cost as little as $1,000 and as much as $100,000. 

Can You Plaster a Pool Yourself?

It’s possible to do a DIY pool plaster if you have the necessary tools, equipment, and materials, but most importantly, plastering skills and experience. However, plastering a pool is best left to professionals since it’s infinitely harder than it appears. You need considerable experience finishing flat concrete to successfully plaster a pool on your own. 

How Long Does Pool Plaster Last?

The average lifespan of pool plaster is 9 to 12 years, but many variables can reduce or increase the timeframe. Chemical water balance, plaster thickness, and the initial thickness can dramatically influence pool plaster longevity. 

How Soon Can You Swim After Plastering a Pool?

Ideally, it’s best to wait up to a week before swimming in your pool after plastering. At the very minimum, you should wait five days after filling the pool with water before taking a swim. 

Where to Buy Pool Plaster?

You can buy pool plaster from Amazon, home improvement stores, online retailers, pool cleaning companies, and local hardware stores. Also, googling pool plaster repair near me can give you helpful leads. 

Is Plaster Good for Pools?

Pool plaster is an excellent choice for swimming pools. It forms a watertight seal while giving the pool a smooth, beautiful look that can last up to two decades with proper care and maintenance.

How Long Can You Leave a Plaster Pool Empty?

Never leave a plaster pool empty for more than a week, as that may dry out the plaster and cause it to crack. Leaving it empty longer than seven days may lead to delamination, tiles popping off, and spider cracks.

Can You Retile a Pool Without Plastering?

You can retile a pool without replastering. You only need to cut under the tile line and remove the cut plaster. However, it’s recommendable to retile a pool during replastering because it is already drained, allowing for easier clean-up. 

What Are Common Pool Plaster Colors?

 Blue, green, light blue, light gray, dark gray, dark blue, and turquoise are the most common pool plaster colors. However, you can use any colorants, and colored aggregates create dramatic results in any color you choose. Adding colorants to white pool plaster may lead to color variation, and the plaster may eventually develop a whitish haze. 

The Bottom Line

The type of pool plaster is the most crucial consideration when building or resurfacing a swimming pool. Besides adding to the pool’s beauty and allure, your choice of pool plaster determines the pool’s longevity. White pool plaster is the most affordable option and has the shortest lifespan of 8 to 12 years. Pool aggregates carry a higher asking price, but they offer more design options than concrete tiles and can last up to 15 years with proper care and maintenance. 

Pricing on this page was last updated on 2022-06-30