Plaster

-  is fairly reliable as a pool finish and is the most affordable of all the different finishes on the market.  Although the basic plaster is white in colour the pool, when it is filled the water, appears blue. This is because the water absorbs the red end of the visible light spectrum and reflects the blue end. So the pool looks blue. The reflection of the blue sky of a clear day adds to the overall effect

Plaster is a well-understood, well- tried and time-tested pool and spa surface finish.  It has been in use since the earliest modern swimming pools were built and it has retained its popularity, despite many modern competing products, mainly because of its relatively low costs when compared to other finishes

Plaster is a mixture of simple basic components: - cement, sand, aggregates and additives (mostly water). The hardness of the aggregates is what gives the plaster its durability. Soft aggregates - e.g. marble - will produce a softer plaster which will last a few years before needing to be re-finished whilst a very hard aggregate - e.g. quartz - will produce a very hard, durable plaster that could last decades.  Standard white plaster is applied by trowel or spray and then polished with hand-tools

Plastered pools usually have a tiled border at the waterline to permit easier cleaning of this area. Without a border the plaster at the waterline would rapidly become stained

 

There are 3 main plaster finishes: -

  • White or coloured plaster
  • 'Exposed aggregate' plaster
  • 'Polished aggregate' plaster

 

White or coloured plaster: -

White plaster is as described above but almost any colour can be achieved by adding dye to the mix before it is applied to the pool walls and floor. This gives a finish that is coloured throughout the entire thickness of the plaster, not just a top-coat of colour

White or coloured plaster - Pros: - 

  • Smooth, clean finish and the pool looks blue even with pure white plaster
  • Inexpensive
  • Simple to install
  • Balancing the water is more easily achieved
  • The colours produced by the new LED lights are seen at their best in a white pool

White or coloured plaster - Cons: -

  • Low resistance to attack from by pool chemicals, especially from low pH water
  • Subject to cracking, etching and scaling as it gets older
  • May delaminate with age
  • Both white and coloured plaster are subject to mottling and discolouration
  • Coloured plaster is also affected by sunlight and fades over time
  • Coloured plaster can show streaks if the dye is not thoroughly mixed

Exposed Aggregate : -exposed-agregate-plaster

Stone or quartz aggregates are 'exposed' after the plaster has been applied, by etching the top surface of the cement binder with acid and water, leaving a textured finish. The aggregates used in this sort of plaster are harder than marble, impervious to the effects of pool chemicals and therefore much more durable.  The aggregates used have no sharp edges and the exposed surface is safe and non-slip

A huge range of colours can be achieved by the installer by mixing coloured aggregates with the cement and additives, and/or by the addition of dyes to the mixture. Many pre-mixed plasters are also available

Exposed Aggregate - Pros: -

  • A wide choice of colour and texture available
  • Very good durability
  • Non-slip (this isimportant on the steps)

Exposed Aggregate - Cons: -

  • Expense - more costly than white or coloured plaster

Polished Aggregate

This is the most expensive choice of pool plaster but also the most durable and, arguably, the most attractive. The pool is plastered as normal and then the aggregate is polished with diamond tools and water to give a finish like a stone kitchen worktop. This process is very labour intensive and uses expensive tools so, not surprisingly, Polished Aggregate is the most expensive form of pool plaster. Polishing makes the surface very smooth and therefore potentially slippery. Frequently, the steps are  plastered and finished in exposed aggregate and the rest of the pool is polished

Polished Aggregate - Pros: -

  • It looks good - and there are so many variations in available colours
  • Extremely durable
  • Very smooth finish

Polished Aggregate - Cons: -

  • Cost - hand finishing is time-consuming and that costs money
  • Specialised tools and expertise needed for installation

 

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Ken Walker - MyPoolGuru©