While smooth plaster surfaces may be what you're most familiar with when it comes to finishing a pool, but they're far from the only option. Pebble finishes are a relatively new development in pool technology that combine real or simulated pebbles embedded in a durable cement. Find out why this is a great option for both new installations and refinishing efforts on older pools.
Naturally, the smooth finish of a plaster pool makes it quite slippery and easy to slip while you're in the pool or climbing in. Most pool owners focus on the slipperiness of the deck surrounding the edges of the water but forget about the dangers of a slick pool. You can still injure yourself by slipping on the stairs or pool floor, especially when you're near the edges, and you could potentially hit your head or neck due to the slip. The rough surface created by leaving the pebbles partially exposed creates a lot of traction even when you're underwater, resulting in a safer experience while you're swimming or doing water aerobics.
One of the reasons many pool owners stick with traditional plaster finishes is because they assume that it's the only material they can easily paint to change the color of their pool. However, pebble finishes can be coated with paint just as easily as any other finish as long as you follow the proper procedures. The finish must be acid etched, just like plaster, to remove any lingering chemical residues and algae buildup that could interfere with bonding. An epoxy-based primer is applied, then an epoxy bonding waterproof paint can be rolled or sprayed on, just the same as with plaster. The beauty of the exposed pebbles are hidden by this method, but you'll still enjoy the same non-skid surface and the texture that adds to the visual appeal.
Keeping a pool looking its best takes a lot of work, and sometimes you just don't feel like brushing down the walls and floor just because guests are dropping by for a swim. You'll enjoy the fact that the roughness of the pebble finish hides residue left behind by the chemicals you use to keep the pool water clean, resulting in the need for less cleaning just to keep the surface looking good. From calcium scale to the bits of shock powders that settle at the bottom, you'll see much less of it once you add a pebble finish.
Looking for a more natural look than you usually get from smooth plaster and bright blue color palettes? Both synthetic and natural pebble finishes come in a variety of colors, allowing you to get the look of a river or rocky beach. Truly natural pools are not as clean and easy to maintain as chemically managed pools, so a pebble finish is a good compromise that gives you more of the natural look without problems with insects, frogs, and algae. If you're not a fan of natural pool styles, there are plenty of colorful options instead that no one would confuse for the bottom of a stream.
For most pool owners, it's the sheer longevity and durability of a pebble finish that attracts them to it in the first place. The cement used is very strong compared to surface plasters, and many companies also mix epoxy into the cement to help it further resist cracking and other forms of damage. Most pebble finishes are expected to last 20 years or longer, while plaster needs replacement every 10 years or so. You'll spend more to have a pebble finish installed, but remember to compare the price to the cost of having two layers of plaster applied during the same time frame.