Paint or Plaster? The Answer for Your Pool Resurfacing Needs

The winter season is here...which means it's a great time for pool maintenance! No matter how attentively you’ve cared for your pool over the past year (or several years), at some point it will need to be resurfaced.


The professionals at American Pool Enterprises, the largest swimming pool management company in the U.S., offer the following pros and cons to help you prepare for your next pool resurfacing project.


Invariably, when you see those telltale cracks, you’ll be confronted with the question of paint versus plaster. But what works best for you isn’t a matter of choosing either/or. You’ll want to look at the age of your pool, where your pool is located, your budget and the current surface of the pool. All of this should be taken into careful consideration. 


In other words, there is no easy answer. But a good property manager can present you with a breakdown of each option so you can make an informed decision, with the help of your qualified pool specialist. If you do not have a pool specialist, you can ask your property management company for a certified list of vendors.


Paint Pros

  • Lots of options, from acrylic-based to water-based to epoxy-based and rubber-based
  • Seamless, smooth finish
  • Vast array of color options
  • Epoxy-based paints will last up to 10 years

Paint Cons

  • Varying durability – epoxy lasts longer than acrylic
  • Epoxy-based paints require catalysts and hardeners that must be mixed according to strict standards, and it can only be applied over unfinished or similar epoxy surfaces
  • Acrylic paints will require reapplication every two or three years
  • Peeling can result if debris contaminated the paint during application (because of wind, for instance)
  • Preparation can be difficult – the surface must be completely dry for five consecutive days, with three additional dry days required after application
  • You may see blistering, peeling or chalking if the application process wasn’t perfect, or if your alkaline level in the water is off

Plaster Pros

  • Attractive, thick surface with options from colored aggregate to exposed aggregate to polished
  • Easier prep than paint, since the service doesn’t need to be dry
  • Longer-lasting than paint
  • Can enhance the finished look by adding pebbles, quartz and glass beads for enhanced aesthetics and longer durability of 10-12 years

Plaster Cons

  • Semi-permeable, which means water slowly seeps through, requiring maintenance every 7-10 years
  • Multi-step application process including water-blasting and the application of a bonding coat
  • Calcium in color-dyed plaster will create a mottled or whitened appearance; this can only be mitigated through exact water chemistry

In a nutshell: the right finish will depend on you. There may be variables or specifics when it comes to your community association’s pool that makes one option more viable than another. Cost is always a factor as well, and these solutions may be paid for in many different ways from your budget. Your best bet? Talk to a reputable pool company. A great property management company can help you find one. And whether you ultimately choose paint or plaster, it’s the professional who does the job that matters most of all.


For help finding a qualified contractor, contact FirstService Residential, North America’s leading property management company.