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THE GUNITE OR SHOTCRETE IS SPRAYED and cured, and the pool is now ready for an interior finish. The last step before the pool is able to hold water is to select an interior finish that will complete the composite structure of the pool and allow it to be watertight. Shotcrete and Gunite are inherently more watertight than, say concrete poured with no pressure in a form, but like any concrete or cement product and they are inherently porous and will allow water to pass through – eventually. Besides, no one wants to walk on a pool that has a gunite or shotcrete surface flattened with a trowel – it would be incredibly rough and unattractive and would allow plenty of spots for algae to form on the rough surface.

Plain old pool plaster has been around since there were pools, and plaster is still the most inexpensive and popular choice for pools. Plaster really accomplishes two goals – it makes the pool watertight, and it provides a nice, slick surface that is easy on the feet and body as well as making it more resistant to algae growth. The slicker the side of the pool is, the less algae can latch onto it. Plaster, otherwise known as whitecoat or marcite, is made from white marble dust mixed with Portland cement to form a water tight, long lasting interior finish. Plaster has some downsides, however, the biggest of which is the need to refinish it every 5 to 7 years depending on the maintenance and condition of the pool. Plaster can also mottle or discolor, chip, and crack. As it ages, it build calcium deposits which make the surface rough and increase the foothold that algae can get on the surface.

Pebble or quartz finishes are extremely popular and an upgrade to plaster. In this scenario, pebbles, of a color and consistency chosen by the homeowner, are added to the plaster mix and then the plaster is applied. The surface is then brushed off, leaving the exposed pebbles much like an exposed aggregate sidewalk. The advantage here is that the pebbles are much harder, smoother, and more durable than the plaster, and the goal is to keep very little of the plaster exposed. This results in a surface that’s very easy on the feet and body, is easily cleaned, and more resistant to algae. In a twist of this, quartz can be added instead of pebbles. Quartz is one of the hardest minerals on earth, and it’s even smoother than the pebbles which gives you a smooth stepping surface, resistant to algae, and impervious to dings or gouges caused by people or pool equipment.

Paints and fiberglass finishes are becoming a prevalent choice to conventional pool finishes. High tech epoxy paints are used to paint everything from ships to bridge abutments and dock piers, and are incredibly durable. The gunite or shotcrete surface must be manually smoothed out, then the epoxy primers and paints are applied, in the color of the homeowner’s choice, and allowed to cure. The result is a durable system of paints that can last for up to 20 years. Fiberglass is similar to this, and involves lining the inside of the pool surface with fiberglass mat and ultimately gelcoat, combing the advantages of the flexibility of pool design of a gunite pool, and the maintenance free, slick surface of fiberglass. The key with paints and fiberglass is surface preparation – if this is not done correctly the results will be less than stellar.

There are many options available for interior finishes, from basic plaster, to elegant quartz, to high tech epoxy paints, and all have distinct advantages. You really can’t go wrong with any of them – they are just different choices based upon your own individual requirements.

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