by Rob Cox, November 18, 2012
Luxury Interior Surfaces for Swimming Pools
A brief history lesson on swimming pool surfaces. In the first half of the last century, most pools were being painted annually. Pool plaster was introduced as a solution and provided a durable surface, in the singular color of white.
In the 80's, colored plaster was being used around the country, and in the 90's, pebble surfaces and colored quartz additives improved the durability and appearance of pool plaster.Then came Hydrazzo, and Durazzo, which are buffed or polished plaster mix, taking their name from Terazzo floors.
Aside from pool plaster or plaster modified with additives or aggregates, what else is available for pool interior surfaces?
Tile has been used for thousands of years, in fountains, baths and early swimming pools. Tiling an entire pool, especially using glass tile, is out of reach for most pool owners, who can instead add trim tile on the steps, around a spa, or tile mosaics of mermaids or sea life.
Complete tile surfaces are primarily used on high-end pool or fountain projects, and it can add 50% to the cost of pool construction. It's a project that can take several weeks to complete, but the results can be breath taking.
Tile used is normally a 1" tile, which will bend around curves in the pool wall and floor better than larger tiles. A pool with more square or angular surfaces is easier to tile than one with a lot of floor curves and coves.
Tile surfaces are very durable and easy to keep clean, although your grout is susceptible to staining and can be a home for algae if not kept clean.
Using a pebbled surface for swimming pools began in Australia, as builders struggled with regular plaster on beach front entries. They began using a form of exposed aggregate, similar to what is used for swimming pool decks.
The process was licensed to Pebble-Tec, who opened up headquarters in Arizona, sub-licensing the product and techniques to pool plasterers. Other companies such as Fina and Sheen are now producing a similar product.
A pebble surface is still a plaster coating, but with a lot more aggregate. More aggregate than plaster, which makes the surface more resistant to degradation from chemicals and provides a much longer lifespan.
Pebble pool surfaces are offered in a wide variety of colors and sizes, and even larger stones can be used with good effect. The surface is rougher to the feet, but not sharp. It's usually laid relatively smooth, to allow for easy cleaning of the pool.
You can tile a pool with round beaded glass tiles, of many colors, but that's not what I mean by beads. Beadcrete is another Austalian invention (always on the cutting edge of pool surfaces), that blends glass beads and a polymer modified mortar.
The results are a hard-as-glass finish, which is very reflective of light and very durable against staining and chemical degradation.
New to the states, Beaded finishes provide more sparkle and textural interest than quartz modified plaster, and have a smoother finish than most pebble surfaces. Similar to a Pebble finish, you can expect 25 years from a beaded pool finish like Beadcrete.
Not all pool resurfacing company will be a Beadcrete dealer however, and the same is true for other finishes mentioned above. But most plasterers will have 3 to 4 options above white pool plaster - ways in which you can add strength, beauty and durability to your pool finish.
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