by Rob Cox, April 3, 2010
Swimming Pool Painting, a How-To
Painting your swimming pool can brighten up a plaster pool finish by coating it with an almost ceramic like surface. Underwater pool paints have come a long way in the last 50 years, when pool painting was an annual chore. Rubber Based pool paints, not known for durability or low VOC, was lathered on every year.
Now, we have more environmentally sound pool paints, with a wider variety of colors and paint types. We have paint that converts rubber based paint to epoxy pool paint, and you can even paint onto a damp surface. You do still have to drain the pool to paint it, however.
Swimming Pool Paints now can last 5-7 years or longer - when properly applied. This article covers some pitfalls to pool painting, as well as the mechanics of measuring your surface area, surface prep and pool painting techniques.
Choose the right pool paint: With so many options available now, choosing a pool paint can be confusing. Once upon a time, you could get any pool paint you wanted, as long as it was Blue rubber-based pool paint. Nowadays, you can choose from Acrylic or Epoxy. Acrylics are cheaper, and allow you to paint over top of either epoxy or rubber pool paints, and also allow you to paint on a damp surface - but, only have a lifespan of 2-5 years. Epoxy pool paints can last 5-7 years, by contrast.
My advice for a painting a pool for the first time would be to use epoxy pool paint. If you are repainting your pool, if you know the type of paint currently used, (Rubber or Epoxy or Acrylic) use the same type paint, or use an Acrylic pool paint. Rubber based pool paints disappeared for a few years, but now low VOC Synthetic rubber based paints are now available.
Measure your pool surface area: Ordering the correct amount of pool paint is important. Not too much and not too little. We need to add up the floor and wall surfaces to get total area, in square feet. You need to know your longest length and your widest width and the average depth of the pool.
* Multiply Length X Width of pool to calculate the floor area, in square feet.
* Multiply Length X Average Depth X 2 to calculate the long walls area, in square feet.
* Multiply Width X Average Depth X 2 to calculate the short walls area, in square feet.
Add all of these sums together to get total square footage. If your pool is not as rectangular as the picture show, but very free-form in shape, then Multiply your total square footage x 0.9 to take account for the loss in area.
How to "Prep" your pool surface area for painting: This can be the most time consuming part of painting a pool, and the one that should be given the most care. Properly prepping your pool plaster involves cleaning and etching the surface to improve the bond of the pool paint.
- Drain your pool properly and carefully. Make sure that water is balanced, and chlorine levels and other sanitizer or algaecide levels are as low as possible to prevent polluting your local watershed. Check with local water authorities for specific advice on discharging or draining a swimming pool. Make sure that you pump far from your pool so that the water does not go under the pool. Also, when the water level reaches the floor, remove hydrostatic relief plugs, shown on the right, plastered into the floor. This allows ground water under the pool to enter the pool, instead of possibly lifting the pool out of the ground! Chip the plaster out from inside and around the plug, then turn with large pliers.
- Hose pool as it empties, cleaning all leaves and debris from the pool. Use shop vac or buckets/cups to get all the water from the bottom, even emptying the main drain pot. Remove pool light from niche, set up on deck. Remove any wall fittings, ladders.
- Clean the pool with Ramuc Clean & Prep all in one pool paint prep kit. A safe, easy alternative to TSP washing and acid washing.
- Sweep off any steps or low spots or use a blower. Empty the main drain pot with small cups and a bucket or a shop vac.
- Allow pool to dry for 3-5 days for most paints, except Acrylic pool paints.
How to Apply Pool Paint: This is the fun part.
- Most important - read the complete instructions printed on the label of your pool paint.
- Check the long range weather report. Don't paint if rain or high winds or hot temperatures are in the forecast over the next few days.
- Make sure pool is bone dry for several days, unless you are painting with Acrylic pool paint. Any weepers or wet cracks in the shell must dry up as most paints will not adhere to any damp surface, and will blister and bubble later, which is a real bummer, let me assure you.
- Assemble your materials: We have a pool painting kit available
- Roller Brushes and Roller Frames, large and small.
- 5 gallon bucket with bucket grid.
- Drill and mixing paddle to mix paint.
- Tape off the tile line and anything else that you don't want painted. Use blue painter's tape.
- Use brooms or blowers to sweep all debris out of the pool and from the surrounding pool deck.
- Begin painting the pool in the deep end of the pool, working your way to the shallow end steps if you have them. Plan your exit - don't paint yourself into a corner!
- Paint during the cool part of the day, out of direct sunlight. Mid-morning, after the dew, or early evening is best.
- Paint section by section, keeping an even coat throughout. If this is the first time painting the pool, plan on two coats.
- Use Skid Tex on painted steps and some on the shallow end floor, as painted pool surfaces are very slippery!
Time to fill the pool! Hold on, not just yet - most pools need to dry for several days before filling with water. If rainstorms come soon after painting, use a blower immediately after the rainstorm to blow all water to the deep end and then remove with cups/buckets, shop vac or small pump. When you do fill, try to fill without stopping until full, and balance your pool water chemistry as soon as possible.
For more information on pool painting, see our Pool Information Page on Swimming Pool Painting.
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