Swimming pool technology has improved exponentially in the last two decades. While most of these changes make your pool cleaner, safer, and easier to maintain, advancements in pool finish have made a more noticeable effect because they change the look and feel of your swimming pool. To understand the new generation of pool finishes, we first need to understand how they came about.
The swimming pool boom began during the economic shift following World War II. Glamorized by Hollywood, swimming pools were becoming affordable thanks to the growing middle class and a new application technique, pneumatically applied concrete, or gunite. Back then, pools were typically painted white, which was pleasing to the eye, but required reapplication every few years and contained lead and copper. Also around this time, cheaper alternatives to concrete pools came about that didn't require finishing, such as above ground and fiberglass shell pools, but concrete pools were still the most common. The industry moved to plaster, which offered extra durability, but was still prone to damage and discoloration from poorly balanced water. Chemical enhancements make today's plaster finishes hardier than previous versions, but the biggest innovation in finish tech came in the late 1980's with the advent of aggregate finishes, which we discuss in detail in the next section.
While vinyl and fiberglass pools are more affordable, gunite pools give you the most flexibility with the appearance of your pool. Generally, pool plaster tends to erode over time. This causes the pool surface to cut, scrape, and scratch the skin. A pool plaster finish typically lasts between 5 and 10 years. This figure is all based on proper water chemistry and maintenance. For pool owners that want or need to remodel their plaster, there are new types of pool finishes that offer new looks and extended life.
Aggregate swimming pool finishes have been growing in popularity over the last few decades. . Today, they have taken the top spot from pool plaster as the most desirable pool finish option. Aggregate pool finishes contain river pebbles, stones, ceramic-coated crystals, or glass, which are combined with portland cement-based pigmented plaster and applied pneumatically. Most pool owners have chosen to go with an aggregate pool finish because of its durability and visual appeal. Companies such as National Pool Tile®, WetEdge Technologies®, and Pebble Technology® offer a wide array of pool finishes with different aggregates.
Exposed aggregate pool finishes incorporate stones, pebbles, and/or glass beads into the pool plaster to add resilience and aesthetic qualities. Because of this, aggregate finishes are more resistant to pool chemical imbalances than other finishes and last much longer. Exposed aggregate pool finishes have been shown to have a lifespan of between 15 and 20 years. NPT’s JewelScapes® captures the sparkle and brilliance of the world’s finest gems in a stunning, durable interior pool finish. Available in array of colors, JewelScapes® combines the beauty of smooth, colorful glass beads with the highest quality pigments and aggregates for a finish that’s beyond compare. For a more rustic feel, give your pool or hot tub the natural beauty of a pebble-bottomed stream with a StoneScapes® pool finish. An inviting selection of colors and textures allow pool owners to express their unique style. StoneScapes® combines artistry with durability and comfort to create the perfect finish for any inground pool or spa. The recent trend toward an aggregate pool finish over pool plaster will add life to any swimming pool.
National Pool Tile has combined pool plaster with a natural quartz additive for a new line of finishes. A quartz pool finish will typically last between 7 and 12 years. NPT’s QuartzScapes® is one of the best quartz pool finishes on the market today. A premium blend of crushed quartz, white cement and mineral-based pigments, QuartzScapes® merges beauty and strength for a stunning pool finish. Quartz is an amazing additive to pool plaster to increase durability and beauty, but pool owners are trending more toward exposed aggregates.
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.
Customers are trying to get the most bang for their buck while staying trendy when planning a pool remodel. They typically have a water color in mind, but may not be aware of modern crystal and pebble finish options. Most pool builders are very knowledgeable of today's options, and many companies have showrooms where you can see and feel their products. An exposed aggregate pool finish isn’t just the newest trend-- it is also strong enough to last generations.