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. 

Inside Info on 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 decisions. Even when you’ve decided what type to build, you will have to decide what finish 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 rest need a coating of some kind to make the shell fully waterproof and smooth.

Marble plaster

Probably the most common finish 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.


A popular option for finishing 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 the NSPI giving quotes which are considerably lower than most. Chances are they will skimp on materials and so the job will not last. When a new pool is lined with fiberglass, the concrete must be thoroughly cured before the lining is applied.


Even though it is a fairly expensive option, tiles may be used as an interior finish for swimming pools. A more common choice, particularly in the Eastern Cape, 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.


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

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

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.


Very few pools are painted nowadays, however paint manufacturers do offer this as an option. >


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