5+ Types of Pool Plaster Finishes to Make Your Pool Shine

Pool plaster finishes vary in cost, maintenance needs, and appearance. Choose from white, colored, pebble aggregate, quartz, or marble plasters for your pool’s unique look and durability.

types of pool plaster finishes

When considering the finish for your pool, it’s a big decision. Your choice will go a long way toward determining how your pool looks and the overall cost of your pool project.

Pool finishes range in price, and they also help determine the amount of maintenance it will need. 

Follow this guide to see all the different types of pool plaster finishes, their pluses and minuses, and some other non-plaster options you might like. 

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, this site earns from qualifying purchases. Thank you!

Hey hey – real quick! Don’t forget to subscribe to get our best content 🙂

Pool Plasters: 5 Basic Types

Plaster is the most common finish for swimming pools. There are five main types of pool plaster finishes. 

White Plaster

White plaster is the oldest type of pool plaster. Your pool builder might also call it marcite, which is the blend of materials used to create pool plaster. It is the least expensive type of plaster and offers a smooth finish and a classic appearance. 

White plaster can last for more than a decade, but sometimes, due to the water conditions, it may begin to deteriorate faster. You should expect at least seven years out of this option, with relatively easy maintenance. Good maintenance practices will see it last even longer.

However, the plain white finish is the most susceptible to staining from rust. If you have a heater with an iron heat exchanger, you mustn’t let it oxidize, or you will see evidence in your finish. 

Colored Plaster

Colored plaster has a dye mixed with the plaster product to tint the pool’s finish. Gray is a common choice, but there are many options, including black, blue, and various shades in between.

While this choice adds to the expense, it also allows you an opportunity to add some flare to your design. 

For example, you can use a dark finish to create a mirror-like effect similar to a natural pond or a gray-blue finish to make things seem tropical. 

Colored plaster is slightly more expensive than white and usually has similar endurance. However, you may see signs of etching sooner, as the more darkly colored plaster may show lightly-colored mineral deposits quite easily. You can usually correct and prevent this by maintaining water chemistry and with a sturdy brush. 

Pebble Aggregate Plaster

Pebble aggregate finishes are unpolished mixes of cement, smooth stones, and pigments. This type of finish is rougher than smoother plasters, but they offer a more natural appearance and benefit from slip resistance. The surface is in some ways safer, but some people do not like its rough feel.

This surface is more expensive than traditional plasters, but it is also much more durable and can last multiple decades. If you live in an area with severe weather conditions or very harsh water, this is a great option.

Remember that this finish is probably the most expensive and can be quite difficult to maintain. It’s very sensitive to changes in water chemistry. 

Choosing a pebble plaster finish also offers a design option where you can blend colors and sizes of rock to make a custom finish that is, at the same time, more natural and more exotic.

And there are a great many color options. The effect can often create a feeling of river rocks and flowing water, adding to the ambiance of your design. 

Quartz Plaster

Quartz plaster, also sometimes known as Diamond Brite, has crushed quartz in the mix. It is exceptionally resistant to the harmful effects of harsh pool chemicals and very UV-resistant, so the color lasts for a long time and doesn’t fade. The surface is relatively smooth and resists staining very well, but this finish is pricey. 

Depending on your installer’s catalog, there are usually about twenty different colors to choose from. They all tend to be almost iridescent, offering a bit of a shimmer, especially in direct sunlight.

However, some say quartz looks a bit plain, as it’s less exotic than pebble finishes. It’s also pretty pricey. 

On the bright side, this is one of the easiest finishes to maintain long-term, and it’s smooth enough to clean pretty easily.  

Marble Plaster

Marble plaster has crushed pieces of marble mixed into the product. Some builders may call it crushed marble or marble aggregate.

Typically it’s white, but it can be tinted light blue. It offers a smooth, sealed finish but doesn’t have the flair of other pool finish options. 

Marble plasters are relatively plain, and they’re also pretty inexpensive.

These products are popular for refinishing older pools because they last a bit longer than traditional plasters, are just as easy to maintain, and have comparable pricing. 

You should expect few color options and middling durability but easy cleaning and maintenance. 

Other Pool Finishes 

In addition to plaster products, there are other options for finishing a pool. 

Tile Pools 


Tile pools are the most expensive to build, but they offer various design options. The tiles can vary in size, shape, and color, so the sky is the limit for your finished look.

However, the tiles can be tough to maintain, especially long term, and this is the most expensive and labor-intensive pool finish.

Tile pool construction takes a very long time, requiring meticulous application. Additionally, these pools can be susceptible to winter weather damage, as the tiles can be susceptible to lifting off the pool’s surface when the water freezes.

Glass Bead Pools

Glass bead aggregates are another high-end option for pool finishes. This finish uses smooth glass and sometimes pebbles mixed into the surface, creating an intense sparkling effect. 

Sometimes, ornamental features of a pool, like a spa or a fountain area, might feature this finish as an accent. 

While expensive and fairly durable, this smooth finish offers a brilliant reflection and a modern aesthetic. 

Pool Finish Tips

Here are a few quick tips for choosing a pool finish:

  • Darker finishes tend to be sensitive to changes in water chemistry and may become rough if not appropriately maintained.
  • Lighter finishes stay cooler in the sun, while darker finishes absorb the sun’s heat more readily.
  • Smooth finishes are, in general, easier to keep clean.
  • Even the most durable, expensive finishes can deteriorate when the water’s chemistry is not maintained correctly.
  • Sometimes, you can use different finishes in different pool areas to create accent points. Consider a tile area in the spa or zero entry area contrasting with a smooth plaster swimming area. 


Questions about pool finishes are common. Here are a few to give you more information.

What is the cost of pool plastering?

Pool plastering varies tremendously by the size and scale of a pool, as well as your choice of finish. For example, plastering a small cocktail pool might only cost a few thousand dollars, while even the least expensive finish can cost tens of thousands on a large lagoon pool.

What are the top pool plastering colors?

The top choices for pool plastering colors include white, shades of gray, shades of blue, and black.

What is the cheapest pool finish?

The least expensive type of pool plaster finish is classic white plaster. However, other pool types, like fiberglass, above-ground, or vinyl pools, are less expensive. 

What is the most durable swimming pool finish?

The most durable swimming pool finish is usually an aggregate pebble plaster. These finishes can last decades when appropriately maintained. 

More FAQs

What type of pool finish is best?

The best type of pool finish is tile, which not only provides durability but also offers a wide range of design options. Tiles can be used to add a pop of color as an accent on the waterline, floor, or steps of the pool, or they can be used to completely finish the entire interior of the pool.

What is the most common pool plaster?

The most common pool plaster is white, which is widely used to finish concrete pools due to its affordability and ability to provide a sophisticated and polished appearance to your pool.

Which is better plaster or Pebble Tec?

The rephrased answer would be: Pebble Tec is a superior choice compared to plaster due to its exceptional durability. Unlike plaster pools that typically last only 6-8 years, Pebble Tec pool finishes can endure for 10-15 years. Additionally, Pebble Tec pools utilize exclusive technology.

What is quartzscape pool finish?

Quartzscape pool finish is a type of pool finish that utilizes hard and durable natural and colored quartz aggregate to create a pool surface that is long-lasting. This is because natural quartz, which is ten times harder and more durable than marble, is used in the construction of the pool finish. As a result, QuartzScapes is suitable for both commercial and residential pool installations.

What kind of pool plaster is best?

The best kind of pool plaster is white plaster, which has been a popular choice since the early days of pool construction. It is made by combining white Portland cement, limestone sand, and water. White Plaster is a cost-effective and timeless option that gives your pool’s water a beautiful sky blue hue.

Are there different grades of pool plaster?

There are indeed different grades of pool plaster available. The three primary categories of pool plaster include white, aggregate, and pebbled. Each of these options provides unique characteristics in terms of color, appearance, and texture. When planning and designing your pool, you will need to decide among these three alternatives.

What is the life expectancy of pool plaster?

The life expectancy of pool plaster varies depending on several factors, including the quality of the plaster, water chemistry, and maintenance practices. Typically, a properly maintained pool plaster can endure for approximately 7 to 12 years. Nevertheless, there have been instances where pool owners have experienced plaster longevity exceeding 12 years.

What is the cheapest pool finish?

The cheapest pool finish is plaster, which is considered the oldest and most affordable choice. On average, plaster finishes cost approximately $2,500 – $5,000 or $4 per square foot, and they consist of a blend of cement and crushed marble.

Is Pebble Tec better than plaster?

Pebble Tec is superior to plaster as it offers exceptional durability. Unlike plaster pools that typically last only 6-8 years, Pebble Tec pool finishes can endure for an impressive 10-15 years. Additionally, Pebble Tec pools utilize exclusive technology, further enhancing their quality and longevity.

Is salt water bad for plaster pool?

Salt water can have a negative impact on plaster pools as it slowly erodes the cementitious finish. This erosion is more severe with plaster surfaces, but slightly less damaging with aggregate finishes. Unlike cement-based surfaces, tile surfaces are not as affected by salt water. Additionally, it is important to note that if salt remains on the pool surface without dissolving, it can cause staining within a matter of minutes.

Should pool plaster be rough or smooth?

The pool plaster should have a consistent texture throughout, with a slight evenness to the surface. It is important to continue working on the plaster until it feels uniform and there are no areas that are noticeably smoother than others.

Is plaster pool same as gunite?

The statement “A plaster pool is the same as gunite” is incorrect. Gunite refers to the underlying structure of a pool, while plaster is the final finish applied on top of the gunite structure. All inground gunite pools have the same structure, whether it is referred to as gunite or dry shotcrete.

What types of plaster are waterproof?

The types of plaster that are waterproof include Sterile Waterproof XL and XXL plasters, which are designed for larger or post-operative wounds. These plasters have a waterproof film that allows them to be worn even when the skin gets wet, as the material repels water and keeps it on the surface. Additionally, Antibacterial Aqua Protect XL and XXL plasters are also suitable for bigger wounds and offer waterproof protection.

What is quartzscape plaster?

Quartzscape plaster is a combination of crushed quartz, white cement, and mineral-based pigments, resulting in a high-quality pool finish. By blending the beauty and durability of natural quartz, QuartzScapes offers a long-lasting and visually appealing interior finish for pools.

Does colored pool plaster fade?

Colored pool plaster does fade, according to Kim Skinner, Que Hales, and Doug Latta. However, they emphasize that with proper awareness of the factors causing color loss, it can be prevented easily. Taking necessary precautions is the initial step to ensure that issues do not arise with your clients’ pools.

What is the longest lasting pool finish?

The longest lasting pool finish is glass tile, which is considered the most durable surface for swimming pool and spa interiors when installed correctly.

Is plaster cheaper than Pebble Tec?

Plaster is indeed cheaper than Pebble Tec® due to its simpler appearance and composition. The cost of white plaster is approximately $4 per square foot of pool surface, whereas a pebble finish like Pebble Tec® or Pebble Sheen® can cost $10 or more per square foot.

How long does Diamond Brite pool finish last?

The Diamond Brite pool finish can last for approximately 8 to 15 years, offering a strong and durable solution. This is due to the addition of colored quartz, available in various shades like emerald, blue-gray, aqua blue, and more.

What does a quartz pool finish look like?

A quartz pool finish has a smooth surface that includes a slightly sandy texture to enhance grip. The pool owner can choose to dye the quartz in any color they desire, resulting in a wide range of vibrant and varied water tones.

What is the best finish for an inground pool?

The best finish for an inground pool is often debated, but aggregate swimming pool finishes have gained significant popularity in recent years. According to various sources, they are now considered the most desirable option, surpassing traditional pool plaster finishes.

What is the most expensive pool finish?

The most expensive pool finish is tile, which is considered a high-end option. There are various types of tile available, such as ceramic, porcelain, stone, quartz, and glass, each with its own unique advantages and appearances. Tile is known for its durability and long-lasting qualities, making it a popular choice for pool finishing.

What is the easiest pool surface to maintain?

The easiest pool surface to maintain is undoubtedly fiberglass. For a more detailed comparison of vinyl, concrete, and fiberglass pools, you can refer to our comprehensive analysis of inground pools.

What is the life expectancy of pool plaster?

The life expectancy of pool plaster varies due to several factors, including the quality of the plaster, water chemistry, and maintenance practices. Typically, a properly maintained pool plaster can endure for approximately 7 to 12 years. Nevertheless, there have been instances where pool owners have experienced plaster longevity exceeding 12 years.

What color pool plaster is best?

The best color for pool plaster is white. Its timeless and vibrant appearance complements tile accents, concrete or stone decks, and landscaping. White shades range from snowy and pearly to medium grays. Lighter plaster is often preferred by families as it offers excellent visibility.

What is the cheapest pool finish?

The cheapest pool finish is typically plaster. Plaster pool finishes, which consist of a blend of cement and crushed marble, are the oldest and most affordable option available. They usually range in cost from $2,500 to $5,000 or approximately $4 per square foot.

Is pebble tec better than gunite?

Pebble Tec is considered superior to gunite due to its composition of large pebbles, stone aggregate, and cement. With a lifespan of 15 to 20 years or more, Pebble Tec is renowned for its durability among various types of plaster pool surfaces. Consequently, it is the preferred option for individuals purchasing gunite pools.

How much more is pebble tec than plaster?

The cost of Pebble Tec compared to plaster is significantly higher. While white plaster typically costs around $4 per square foot of pool surface, a pebble finish such as Pebble Tec® or Pebble Sheen® can easily cost $10 or more per square foot.

Is gunite the same as plaster?

Gunite is not the same as plaster. Gunite refers to the underlying structure of a pool, while plaster is the final finish applied on top of the gunite structure. All inground gunite pools have the same structure, whether it is referred to as gunite or dry shotcrete, as these terms are synonymous.

What is the finish coat on a gunite pool?

The finish coat on a gunite pool is typically applied after the gunite has been smoothed and allowed to set. Once the gunite is set, the pool finish is applied to enhance the aesthetic appeal of your custom designed backyard. Plaster is commonly used as the finish coat due to its extensive selection of color options, allowing you to match your poolscape perfectly.

Similar Posts