Resurfacing Your Pool: Options, Cost, and Complications

An empty swimming pool that needs updating

Like everything else, swimming pool interiors wear out over time. The good news is, there are likely way more options for resurfacing now than when your pool was first built. With a brand new finish, you can dramatically change your pool’s appearance for the better.

The bad news is, all those options can make it hard to decide which direction to go. Not to mention the fact that it’s impossible to get even a ballpark figure on pricing.

One thing we can say with certainty is that swimming pool resurfacing is one of the most expensive renovation projects you can undertake. The precise cost to resurface your pool depends on a lot of different variables, including things like geography and the current condition of your pool. But the biggest factor – and luckily, the one you have the most control over – is what type of material you decide to use.

Pool Resurfacing Options

Plaster is still the most common finish for residential concrete (gunite) pools. However, other options – particularly exposed aggregate – are becoming more popular. Here’s a quick rundown of the best resurfacing options, from cheapest to most expensive.

Paint. While not a long-term solution, painting your pool with high-quality epoxy paint is easily the most affordable choice. Many pool pros will tell you that painting a rundown pool surface is just a Band-Aid, but if so, it’s a Band-Aid that can buy you time while you save for a more expensive renovation project down the road.

Plaster (aka Whitecoat or Marcite). As mentioned, plaster is commonly used for backyard swimming pools, largely because it’s cheap and relatively durable. While not known for its looks, white plaster makes an attractive backdrop for pool water, producing the classic “clean” appearance. Plaster also comes in different colors, though you should be careful about picking an offbeat color unless you know what the final effect will be.

Fiberglass. While something of an oddball choice, fiberglass pool resurfacing (not to be confused with fiberglass pool shells) is available in some parts of the country. Fiberglass resurfacing seems to be somewhat controversial in the pool industry, so be extra-diligent when investigating this option.

Aggregate. The trendy choice for pool resurfacing is aggregate, which is plaster mixed with quartz or pebbles. Aggregate finish creates an attractive, sometimes colorful, surface that’s also very long-lasting. On the downside, it tends to be pricey (no surprise). Also, the surface of some aggregate finishes can be rough to the touch, which is a real deal-breaker for some people. Popular brands of aggregate include Pebble Tec and Wet Edge.

Tiles. If luxury is what you’re after, covering the pool interior with tiling might be something to consider. As you might expect, this is the most expensive option due to the materials and labor involved. If you have to ask how much it costs, you probably can’t afford it.

Other Cost Factors

Unfortunately, even after you decide how you want to resurface your pool, it’s still tricky to get an approximate price. Anyone who tries to give you a one-size-fits-all answer is likely ignoring some key factors that determine swimming pool resurfacing cost. These include:

Location. In any given area, there are only so many companies offering pool resurfacing, limiting your options (and how competitive they have to be with their bids). How far materials have to be shipped can also make a big difference.

Prep Work. The difference between different pool plasterers, and the prices they command, often comes down to prep work. Obviously, the current condition of your pool also dictates what needs to be done to get it ready for resurfacing. Inadequate prep work can lead to problems later on, which can easily wipe out any savings you get by cutting corners.

Pool Company Profit. How much profit a company or contractor is looking for on a job is always a big X factor. You can save money by hiring a pool plasterer directly, rather than going through a pool company that will be looking for a cut of the profits in any transaction. The National Plasterers Council website can help you find one in your area.

Other Renovation. Resurfacing is often done in conjunction with other renovation, such as replacing coping and decking. This can make the true cost of pool resurfacing hard to judge, as you’re getting a package deal. As a rule, you should pay less for refinishing (or any other job) as part of a larger project than you would if you were having it done separately.

5 thoughts on “Resurfacing Your Pool: Options, Cost, and Complications”

  1. CharlotteEhle

    Great blog post. I had a swimming pool built in my backyard a few years ago for the weekend get togethers. Although i didn’t use it much still the plaster started to wear out with time. So this time hired a professional pool replastering agency in my neighborhood, I must say they gave me some great tips on how to prolong the life of surface etc.

  2. I like how the article explains that aggregate is a long lasting and nice looking surface that is very popular for pool refinishing. My pool is very old and is needing to be refinished and I want it to look very nice as we often have a lot of pool parties. We will consider getting aggregate for our refinished pool as it looks very nice.

  3. Angela Waterford

    It’s great to know that I have options to choose from if I’m going to resurface my pool. After all, my swimming pool’s interior has worn out over time. I think I’ll ask a contractor if plaster is a great choice since I haven’t tried that before.

    1. Plaster..pulverise..not good thru the years. Cheap. It will become white n chalky.

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