Selecting Your Interior Surface For Your Pool
Below is a detailed description of the four major interior finishes Pool Pros offers when surfacing your pool. The choices vary between price, texture and color. For example, white plaster is the most economical, but generally plaster does not last as long as aggregate or quartz surfaces. Pool Pros can assist you in making the right interior choice for your new or remodel pool project.
Pool Finish Pros and Cons
There are many reliable and beautiful swimming pool finish options available to today’s pool and spa owners. From the straightforward simplicity of white plaster to the variegated kaleidoscope of pebble finishes, and a spectrum of options in between. The choices can be exciting – and somewhat daunting without reliable information. Customers should explore the specific benefits and drawbacks of the interior finishes they enjoy before making their selection.
To help guide you through the process of choosing the best finish for your home’s new or remodeled pool or spa, we’ll cover all of the relevant information you should keep in mind as you discuss your choices with your designer or pool surface contractor.
Perspectives on Finishes
In general, pool and spa finishes belong in their own special category, because unlike other masonry or “hardscape” surface products, finishes in pools and hot tubs are constantly submerged in water. Any pool finish will be exposed to varying water chemistry conditions over long periods of time, especially if the pool or spa is not maintained properly.
Constant exposure to pool and spa water, treated with powerful chemicals, creates an environment where mineral content of the surface and water are constantly interacting. This interaction between water and the surface is unavoidable and in many cases will cause the appearance of the surface to change, either slowly over time, or in some rare instances, far more rapidly.
Changes to the interior surface are only cosmetic, however, in some extreme situations, some surfaces will start to deteriorate. The decision you make in the planning stages of the pool or spa installation process will have a significant impact on how well appearance is maintained over time. Good filtration and maintenance are crucial. Click here to view the pool equipment that we highly recommend.
Classic White Plaster
Classic white plaster is the tried and true pool and spa interior finish. White plaster has been around for many years and remains a popular choice for people either remodeling or building a new pool. Its simple combination of white cement, white marble aggregate and water make for an economical choice that will give you a smooth finish and the classic swimming pool look.
When filled with water, pools and hot tubs surfaced in white plaster create a brilliant, clean, light blue appearance that is very smooth to the touch. A long-time favorite for many customers, it remains the most affordable pool finish product on the market today. Standard white plaster is a reliable product when installed by a quality contractor and when it is properly maintained.
It’s important to know that white plaster is susceptible to all water conditions especially to improperly maintained or fluctuating chemical conditions. Therefore, it is only reasonable to expect that during the life of the product, it will change in appearance. These changes may be subtle or minor, perhaps slight shading or scaling, or far more dramatic changes such as pronounced staining, etching, cracking, or delaminating in extreme cases.
There are a great many variables in play when it comes to determining the exact cause of such changes in appearance and one could spend a lifetime exploring the complex chemical phenomena at the heart of these concerns. For the purpose of selecting standard white plaster it’s critical to be fully aware that it is a relatively “soft” finish compared to other options and one that is more susceptible to the effects of water chemistry than some newer innovative products.
A Note on Colored Plaster
By its nature, colored plaster will accentuate all of the characteristics found in white plaster. Mottling, for example, can be more pronounced in colored plaster than in white. Colored plaster may also exhibit pigment stains, streaks, unevenness of color and more noticeable checking and crazing. Also, variations of shade will exist between color sample chips and mixed plaster. Over time, the color may fade completely or grow gradually lighter and will often not be the precise shade that was anticipated. It’s important to note that none of these conditions are considered a deficiency of the product.
Additives to the Mix
Natural pozzolans were used in the Roman Era for construction purposes. True testimonials of pozzolanic strength and durability can still be found today in ancient structures constructed between 1550-2000 BC. Today pozzolans are required as an additive by many Federal agencies for structures such as bridges, dams and highways to improve durability and increase strength.
Admixtures contain chemicals known as “pozzalans” that essentially take the weakest element in plaster (calcium hydroxide) and “lock it up” so that it is less susceptible to chemical attacks. Pozzolan based products have been proven to reduce etching, cracking, mottling and other problems facing the interior of a pool. Another category of admixtures is based on silicone chemistry which has been proven to increase the plaster’s ability to repel water, thus helping protect it from chemical attack.
The advantages to such innovative products are obvious. Without disrupting the natural beauty and smoothness of standard white or colored plaster, these admixtures increase the surface’s ability to resist the effects of fluctuating water chemistry.
The primary concern with admixtures is that they do increase the cost of the pool or spa finish. And it is important to note that while these products have been proven to help prevent surface problems, they are not fool-proof and in some cases you may still see changes in the surface’s appearance, although to a far less severe degree.
Another highly innovative addition to the palette of surface options has been the use of special colored ceramic aggregate products. These aggregates are basically a very specialized form of ceramic-coated sand that comes in a variety of pre-mixed plaster products.
When combined with white or colored plaster, aggregates afford a broad range of colors, from vivid blues and reds, to more subtle hues such as beige or soft greens. It also has the advantage of creating, a much more durable surface than standard plaster, one that is harder and far more resistant to fluctuating chemical conditions.
Again surfaces using aggregates are more expensive than standard plaster and can also be susceptible to some surface problems, especially in the presence of extreme water chemistry conditions.
The Exposed Aggregate Revolution
Perhaps the ultimate answer to all pool surface concerns comes in the form of pebble surfaces. Pebble surfaces consist of small, smooth river pebbles embedded throughout the product. Over the past decade, pebble surfaces have increased dramatically in popularity and come in a broad range of colors and color combinations.
Pebble surfaces are beautiful, extremely natural in appearance, come in a wide range of colors and they are the most durable surface available. Because the stone material that comprises river pebbles is “chemically inert,” it is unlikely to react with swimming pool or spa water and is therefore less impervious to attack and alterations in appearance.
Because the surface is comprised of pebbles, it is slightly more textured than the surfaces described above. It is also more costly and under the most extreme chemical conditions, even pebble surfaces can suffer damage.
Beadcrete is a unique architectural pool finish that creates magnificent light refraction in the water, spectacular by day, sensational at night with the pool lights on. Beadcrete finishes use small retro-reflective, clear glass, bead spheres combined with selected colored quartz that mirror light under the surface of the pool’s water and create a vibrant sparkling finish of astounding aesthetic appeal.
Beadcrete is the very latest functional development in polymer modified cement/aggregate technology, this results in improved durability, colorfast performance and a slip resistant, smooth textured concrete pool finish that is easy on the skin and less likely to cause the cuts and abrasions sometimes associated with traditional aggregate pool finishes.
Give your pool or spa the naturally beautiful look of a pebble-bottomed stream with StoneScapes! An inviting selection of colors and textures gives you the opportunity to express your own unique style. StoneScapes combines artistry with durability, comfort and safety to create a perfect finish for your swimming pool project. Pool Pros can help you select the perfect pebble surface to meet your pool surfacing needs.
A premium blend of crushed quartz, white cement and color tints, QuartzScapes merge beauty and strength for an incomparable pool finish that will last. One of the world’s strongest minerals, our quartz crystals are bonded with a ceramic color coating for reliable beauty that will last for years. Pool Pros recommends surfacing with QuartzScapes when your swimming pool finish requests are between the texture of pool plaster and pebble.
Colored Quartz Finish
With colored Quartz colored minerals you can give your pool a beautiful and natural color and texture that will be uniquely your own. SpectraQuartz is high-purity quartz that is permanently pigmented in an amazing array of distinctive colors, ranging from the most subtle tints to the brightest hues.
The Choice is Yours
Any of the products and surface options listed here can provide years of reliable performance and dazzling beauty in a well-made and well-maintained pool or spa. The key to enjoying that success, and avoiding unexpected frustration, is to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each, to choose wisely and take steps in maintaining the product.