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Pool Finishes For Your Swimming Pool (7 Winning Examples)

pool finishes with poolcrete

An impressive pool finished with Cemcrete’s PoolCrete, which is a uniquely formulated mixture of white cement, white marble, and special additives that permanently eliminate the need for painting a pool. 

The 7 Best Swimming Pool Finishes

Kathryn Alexander explores the options available to finish your swimming pool.

pool finishes
An imaginatively laid section of contrasting ceramic tiles mirrors the shape of the pool which was finished with white Supreme Pool Plaster.

Building a swimming pool means making decisions. Even when you’ve decided what type to build, you will have to decide what pool finishes you want on the inside as well as what material you are going to use for the coping and for the surround.

The only pools that are not finished in some way once construction is complete are vinyl-lined and fiberglass pools. All the other types need a coating of some kind to make the shell fully waterproof and smooth.

This article highlights 7 of the best pool finishes.

Marble plaster

marble plaster pool finishh

Probably the most common of the pool finishes for the contemp­­orary swimming pool, marble plaster gives the inside walls and floor a smooth, waterproof skin.

Essentially a mixture of white cement and granular marble dust, it is applied to both gunite and handpacked concrete surfaces with a trowel.

Traditionally referred to as marbelite and originally manufactured in white, marble plaster products are now available in a range of colors.

Combined with light and the chemically-treated water, different shades make the pool appear to be a different color.

For example, white marble plaster will make the water look bright and blue, while sandy hues will tend to give a greenish cast. Charcoal looks more natural and can raise the temperature of the water significantly.


fiberglass swimming pool

One of the most popular option of pool finishes for structural concrete pools, fiberglass provides a hard-wearing, long-lasting, smooth finish. It is also a finish frequently used when old pools are renovated.

However, it is essential that it is applied correctly, using reliable specifications. So beware of companies that do not belong to your local swimming pool institute or organisation.

For example, in South Africa where I currently live, the National Spa & Pool Institute (NSPI) advices against accepting quotes which are considerably lower than most. Chances are the pool builders will skimp on materials and so the job will not last.

Also note that when a new pool is lined with fiberglass, the concrete must be thoroughly cured before the lining is applied.


tiled finish swimming pool

Even though it is a fairly expensive option, tiles may be used as one of the pool finishes for swimming pools. A more common choice is chip tile.

A disadvantage is the length of time it takes to lay tiles compared to the quick process of plastering or applying fiberglass.

Another option is to use tiles around the top inside edge of the pool, instead of traditional mosaic. All tiles must be bedded in cement mortar or fixed to the shell with an adhesive which is not water-soluble.

It is important to ensure that there are no gaps or cavities between the tiles otherwise it could encourage the growth of algae.

Mosaic Pool Finishes

blue mosaic for pool finish

There are those that want something unique for their pool finishes and this mosaic tile is one of those.

The traditional material is usually used in a solid strip around the top inside edge, at the water line of gunite and handpacked concrete swimming pools.

But using the mosaic for the complete pool can be stunning. These mosaic tiles look attractive and is easy to clean. Like tiles, it should be bedded in mortar or fixed with a non-water soluble adhesive recommended by the manufacturer.

Pebble Paving

pebble beach pool finish

Beach-style pools rely largely on the natural effect of a pebble-paved surface. Based on an Australian concept, the most successful pebble finish relies on a particularly fine aggregate which is easy to clean and does not cause abrasions to the skin.

Available in a range of colors, pebble paving is often combined with marble plaster. For instance, a shelf may be paved while the bowl of the pool is plastered.

Exposed Aggregate Pool Finishes

Quartzite, is an exposed aggregate pool surfacing plaster which has a similar effect to pebble paving.

A cementitious plaster product, it is trowelled on in the usual way. But then acid-washed after 24 hours to remove the cement face and expose the grains of colored quartz.

Colors are varied and include a selection of blues and greens, as well as black, ivory, browns and even a stunning red.

Painted Pool Finishes

Painting a pool with a roller

Painting pools is one of the easiest ways to renovate and maintain your pool finish. Paint manufacturers do offer this as an option.

There are a few types but the best we have found is to use an epoxy paint that can be used in all seasons from hot summer to freezing and thawing conditions.

Some products are designed for below-water use and are safe for fish and plants if you want to upgrade and paint a garden fish pond.

One manufacturer says: “Can be applied to any constructed surface made of wood metal or stone as well as most plastics and other coatings and can be put into service in as little as 24 hours” See our link below.

Here are a few options that we have found that could suit your needs

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