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September 28, 2016
Pool Finishes: Options & Considerations
When planning the construction or renovation of your pool, whether commercial or residential, one of the many decisions you will need to make is the pool finish. There are several options available to both commercial and residential pools, there are also many factors to consider when choosing a finish. Cost is usually the first thing on everyone’s mind, when making any purchase. However, the there are many other considerations that will often times outweigh the initial cost. The intended use of the pool is an important factor to consider when determining the finish of a pool. Residential pools, which have a lower use, can get away with one of the more budget-friendly options, as there is less wear and tear. A low-cost finish will save some money upfront however, repairs and refinishing will be required much sooner than some of the longer lasting, high-end finishes.      
 
Tile has been used as a pool finish for years and is known to be the most durable finish. When applied correctly, a tiled finish can last for decades before requiring any replacement. Tile offers the pool owner a wide variety of colour options and design possibilities. Due to the preparation and labour required for installation, this high quality finish option comes at a higher initial cost. However, over time it will pay for itself, through the savings on repairs and replacements.
 
ADVANTAGES
  • Durability & Longevity: A tiled finish will last decades if applied correctly, and compensate for the higher upfront costs.
  • Easy to Repair: If there is an issue with isolated delamination of tile, it is very easy to replace small areas of tile and match to the existing, without having to re-finish the entire pool.
DISADVANTAGES
  • High Upfront Cost: Correctly installing tile, comes with heavy labour including; the preparation of the subsurface, laying the tile and grouting the tile.
  • Deterioration of Grout: Though tile has a very long life span, the grout will deteriorate much quicker. Over time grout will begin to wear out of the joints and discolour. Normally, grout will be required to be replaced much sooner than the tile.  
Plaster is one of the most prominent pool finishes around, and has been used for several years; a quicker install than products like tile is the main reason for its popularity. Plaster is shot onto the pool walls, similar to gunite, and then toweled to give it a smooth consistent finish. A plaster finish does require some sort of tile border at the waterline as the waves against the plaster will cause it to deteriorate quickly.
 
ADVANTAGES
  • Cost & Durability: Even with the high level of durability a plaster finish offers,  the cost is relatively low.
  • Aesthetically Pleasing: Plaster provides a very nice finish which is smooth and able to form to any shape or design.
 DISADVANTAGES:
  • Pool chemistry can very quickly deteriorate a plaster finish if not properly maintained; low pH in the water is a big concern and requires experienced supervision.
  • With age, pool plaster will start to delaminate and cause sections of the plaster to pop off, having to re-plaster a pool is very costly. 
Painting a pool is a very inexpensive method of finishing any pool, and is typically used in a commercial application for community or public pools. Though painting a pool is an economical and quick finish option, over several years the paint will chip and need to be repainted. A parge coat is required before painting to ensure all honeycombing of the concrete is filled, leaving the floor and walls smooth. 
 
ADVANTAGES
  • Low Cost & Project Schedule: The cost of the material and labour required to complete the work is extremely low and can be completed quickly.
  • Low Risk of Damage: Since paint is applied to a cementations backing, there are no concerns about damaging or puncturing the finish from items in the pool.
DISADVANTAGES
  • Frequency of Repairs: A paint finish will need to be refinished every 3 to 5 years, requiring the existing paint to be blasted off before repainting. 
  • Imprefections: If the subsurface of the pool is not done perfectly any imperfections such as honeycombing or rough parging will show through and can cause injuries to swimmers.
Traditionally Vinyl liners have been a typical residential pool finish, due to the relatively low cost and quick installation. Liners can and have been used for commercial applications however, due to the low durability of a liner it is not very common. Vinyl liners can be used in both stainless steel and concrete pools. 
 
ADVANTAGES
  • Low Cost: In comparison to other finishes, liners can be an economical alternative. The liner itself is relatively inexpensive, in comparison, and installation labour is a significantly lower cost.
  • Creates a Water Tight Tank: This benefit can be an efficient solution, saving time and money, to a deteriorating concrete pool, which has started to leak.  
DISADVANTAGES
  • Deterioration: Vinyl liners are more susceptible to deterioration caused by harmful UV light and poor water chemistry, resulting in the liner needing to be replaced sooner.
  • Easy to Damage: Vinyl liners can very easily be damaged from foreign objects, such as tree branches or toys falling into the pool. Punctures in the liner will result in water getting behind the liner, causing the pool to leak and the liner to bubble out.

Brett McMullen
Project Coordinator
Brett is a Project Coordinator at Acapulco Pools, and responsible for day to day construction operations. From takeoffs, to specification and drawing review to the coordination between architects, engineers and general contractors, Brett is involved in all aspects of the construction process for projects of all sizes.
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