Here’s how to resurface your swimming pool

Jul 30, 2020, 2:45 PM
(National Pool Tile Photo)...
(National Pool Tile Photo)
(National Pool Tile Photo)

Is your swimming pool 10 years old or older? It may be time to resurface it.

Pool plaster tends to erode over time. According to, pool plaster finish typically lasts between five and 10 years if you have kept up proper water chemistry and maintenance.

If it’s time to remodel your pool’s interior surface, you now have many types of pool finishes that offer new looks and extended life. Create stunning mosaics, shimmering seawater, a lagoon, or just about anything you can think of.

Pool Plaster

Standard white plaster has been the go-to finish since the beginning of modern pool building. A combination of white cement, white marble aggregate, and water, it is an economical choice for the classic swimming pool look.

Still popular despite the myriad of choices now available because when filled with water, pools surfaced in white plaster create a brilliant, clean, light blue appearance that is very smooth to the touch. tells us that standard white plaster is a reliable product when installed by a quality contractor and properly maintained.

However, white plaster is susceptible to damage because of improperly maintained chemical conditions.

Therefore, it will change in appearance and strength.

These changes may be minor, such as slight shading or scaling, or far more dramatic as in staining, etching, cracking, or delaminating.

Today, pool plaster can be combined with crushed quartz, white cement, and mineral-based pigments.

This pool finish will typically last between seven and 12 years. Quartz added to pool plaster increases durability and beauty.

Pebbles, Stones, Crystals & Glass Beads

Aggregate swimming pool finishes have bumped pool plaster from the most desirable pool finish option. Aggregate pool finishes contain tiny river pebbles, stones, ceramic-coated crystals, or glass, which are combined with Portland cement-based pigmented plaster and applied by air pressure.

This finish is more resistant to pool chemical imbalances than other finishes and lasts much longer.

Exposed aggregate pool finishes have been shown to have a lifespan of between 15 and 20 years. This pool finish isn’t just a trend. It will likely last generations.

Colored ceramic aggregate products are fairly new to the market. This specialized form of ceramic-coated sand comes in a variety of pre-mixed plaster products. When combined with white or colored plaster, the aggregates offer a spectrum of colors, from vivid blues and reds to more subtle hues such as beige or soft greens. It also creates a more durable surface than standard plaster, and is far more resistant to fluctuating chemical conditions, like the cold winter nights to the double-digit temperatures we have in Arizona.

A stunning and durable interior pool finish, available in a rainbow of colors, glass beads are smooth to the touch.

Traditional Tile & Mosaics

Aside from regular cleanings and the occasional re-grouting, pool tile is built to last with relatively little care — unless you let the calcium waterline get out of hand. Add some individual personality to your pools with mosaic designs of dolphins, turtles, flowers, musical instruments, tropical fish for example.

The best pool tile is characterized by its ability to provide a safe experience for swimmers, is easy to maintain, and is an attractive enhancement to your landscaping. Do not use ceramic tile.

It is not suitable for swimming pools because it can absorb water which will damage the surface of the pool behind the wall.

Look for porcelain tiles because it is dense and does not absorb water.

Finding the perfect pool tile can be tricky. Purchase products from a reputable manufacturer, especially because each state has laws regarding the type of tile approved for pool use.

In addition to color, size, and design, also consider tiles that are:
• treated for slip resistance
• dense and durable
• easy to clean
• soft to touch
• frost-proof to prevent cracking
• UV protection which prevents fading and sun damage

Waterline tile isn’t just for looks. Pool finishes need to stay wet for maximum durability and uniform color. Since tile can be wet or dry and resists staining, it is installed beneath the coping to avoid stains from fluctuations in the water level.

If you swim laps but can’t do it in a straight line, add tiles to the bottom to create a swim lane.

Keep It Clean

Keep your mosaic, tile, pebble, or plaster finish in sparkling and strong. Devote time every week to removing debris, vacuuming, brushing the pool, emptying skimmer and pump baskets, and chemically treating the water.

Cleaning the filter is extremely important in summer, particularly during monsoon season when dust storms and heavy winds hit the area. A clean pool can turn green in a day. Black algae can be a nightmare to remove between tile and from the plaster.

With Arizona’s “crunchy” water, calcium can easily build up if you are not on top of regular cleanings. If it becomes too difficult to clean with a pumice stone, hire a professional pool service to drain the pool, acid wash, and polish the surface.

Take advantage of the drained pool and replace the lights with energy efficient LED lights.

IMPORTANT: Do NOT drain your pool in the summer unless it is necessary. Arizona’s extreme and dry heat can crack the plaster. The ideal time is fall and winter when the weather is cool.

Surface Color & Its Effect on Temperature

Traditionally pools were designed with a light blue hue to resemble the color of the sea.

In recent years, many homeowners have chosen darker pool finishes to mimic a lagoon-like setting.

One benefit of a dark finish is that it retains heat, which can help reduce your heating cost in cooler months. It also masks some of the dust and debris.

Contrary, a darker finish also means your pool may not be as refreshing during the day in the summer. Consider when your pool will be in use the most and then choose a shade.

From a safety standpoint, a dark pool makes it difficult to see someone in distress at the bottom.

Make sure you see a sample of the shade when it is wet, at is will look dramatically different from a dry sample.

For more do-it-yourself tips, go to An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert for 35 years, Rosie Romero is the host of the Rosie on the House radio program from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturdays on KTAR-FM (92.3) in Phoenix, 9 to 11 a.m. on KAFF-AM (930) in Flagstaff, and 10 to 11 a.m. on KNST-AM (790) in Tucson.

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Here’s how to resurface your swimming pool