Every Step In the Pool Plaster Process

Written by Michael Dean
April 3, 2024

swimming pool plastering

Plastering a pool is a big undertaking. Whether hiring a pool professional to do the job for you or taking care of the plastering process yourself (which I don’t recommend), you may wonder what the pool plaster process actually entails.

In this article, I will explain the step-by-step process of plastering a pool. I will also go over other important information you may want to know, such as how much it costs, how long it takes, and how to choose the plaster color and finish.

Main Takeaways

  • Before you can begin plastering, drain the pool, relieve the hydrostatic pressure, and clean and scrub the surfaces.
  • The pool plaster should be smoothed with a trowel and be ⅜ of an inch thick.
  • Plastering a pool can cost between $4 – $7 per square foot.
  • On average, the entire pool plaster process can take 4-7 days.

Step-By-Step: The Pool Plaster Process

Here are the 11 steps to the pool plaster process.

Step 1: Drain the Pool

The first step of the pool plaster process is to drain the pool completely. Most pool plastering companies will use a submersible pump to drain the water, as this is the fastest way to remove all the water. Depending on the size and volume of your pool, this could take anywhere from six hours to a full day.

I recommend only draining the pool at a rate of 12 gallons per minute, so if you know the volume of your swimming pool, you can work out how long it should take.

Step 2: Relieve Hydrostatic Pressure

Many people do not know that draining an inground pool can result in the pool lifting and floating. This is because of hydrostatic pressure, the force of the water that presses down onto the pool walls. Therefore, the hydrostatic pressure needs to be relieved.

To relieve the pressure, try draining the pool water away from the pool area, remove the hydrostatic pressure relief plugs, refill the pool within a week, and don’t drain the pool after any heavy rainfall.

Step 3: Prep the Pool

To prep the pool, you must remove the old pool surface. Chisel away any rough edges and loose plaster until the surface is smooth. Keep a look out for any hollows found within the plaster. These hollows should be covered to ensure a good, even plaster finish.

I also recommend moving all outdoor furniture and decor away from the pool area, as plastering a pool can be a dusty process.

Step 4: Acid Wash

When the pool surface has been prepped and is ready to be plastered, it’s time to acid wash your pool surfaces. Use muriatic acid to scrub away at the surfaces.

There are many benefits to acid washing. The acid wash will remove the top layer of the pool surface to remove any calcium deposits, stubborn stains, and other debris on the surface.

Once you acid wash the pool, rinse it off with water and leave it to dry.

Step 5: Apply Bond Coat

Once the pool surface has dried, apply a bond coat to the surface of the pool. This bond coat comprises one-part bonding cement, acrylic modified sand and cement mixture, and one-part resin.

This bond coat must be applied to the pool’s walls, steps, and floor. Only once the bond coat is fully dry can you proceed with the following steps. Depending on the pool size and the temperature that day, drying this coat can take around 8-10 hours.

Step 6: Plaster the Pool

The pool is now ready to be plastered! First, you must mix the plaster mixture correctly per the manufacturer’s instructions. Plaster typically consists of white portland cement and an aggregate like marble or quartz, depending on your preference.

Start plastering from the deep end of the pool, working your way to the shallow end and steps. Using a trowel, you need to make sure you are plastering a smooth layer about ⅜ of an inch thick. When you are done with the first layer and smoothed it with a trowel, let the plaster dry. This process can take up to 6 hours.

pool plaster installation

Here is a photo of one of my pool crews plastering a swimming pool with a color I call Cumberland.

Once the first coat has dried, plaster the second layer.

Step 7: Install New Tiles and Coping

This is an optional step done alongside step 6. Many pool owners choose to have their steps and water lines tiled. This is done during the plastering process when the plaster is still wet.

Step 8: Scrub the Surface

Now that the plaster has dried, the pool’s surface will need to be scrubbed to remove any loose dirt and debris before the pool is refilled. This part of the process ensures that all rough patches and edges are smooth.

Step 9: Final Inspection

Inspect the plaster for imperfections, rough edges, cracks, and bubbles. Once the plaster cures, you cannot fix these problems unless you want to start the entire process again. So, inspect closely and carefully and fix any issues that you spot.

Step 10: Refill the Pool

Now you can finally refill your pool. Don’t worry if the plaster has not been fully set. Pool plaster cures underwater and can take up to 10 months to completely cure. Read my articles on swimming after plastering, filling your pool after plastering, and the entire pool start up process for more details.

Step 11: Brush the Plaster

Brushing the plaster is an essential step in the pool plaster process. Brushing the plaster ensures that it properly cures and that debris is removed. As a plus, doing this will prevent algae growth and scale build-up.

How Much Does Pool Plastering Cost?

The cost to plaster your pool depends on several factors, such as the size of the pool. Typically standard plaster will cost around $4 – $7 per square foot. You can use these figures to determine what your pool plaster will cost.

The type of plaster finish you choose will also affect the final cost. For example, plain white plaster is the cheapest. On the other hand, aggregate finishes like stones, pebbles, and crystals can cost at least 3x times more expensive than standard plaster.

Finally, the weather can play a factor as well. Windy, cold, and rainy weather can delay the plastering process, increasing labor costs.

How Long Does It Take To Plaster a Pool?

There is no set time it takes to plaster a pool. The weather and pool size will determine how long it takes. The plastering can take between a couple of hours to several days. But if you consider the entire pool plaster process, it can take up to two weeks in some cases but generally takes around 4 to 7 days.

Need Help Building Your Pool?

I offer design consulting services to help you build your ideal pool. I'll work with your contractor, create build-ready designs and specs, and much more.

How To Choose a Pool Plaster Color and Finish

Choosing your pool color is not as simple as picking a color you like. There is generally a lot more involved in the decision process. For example, some colors are more suited for larger pools and others for smaller ones. Your budget will also be considered here, as plain white plaster will be the cheapest option if you want a budget-friendly plaster color. Along with different plaster colors, you can also choose between different finishes. When deciding on a finish, you need to consider the look you want to go for and your budget. For example, plain plaster is a lot cheaper than quartz or marble.

And that’s about it! Have questions? Check out my pool plaster 101 article or shoot me a message; always happy to help.

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