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Does colored pool plaster fade?

Having a swimming pool in your backyard can be a wonderful luxury. But like any major home feature, a pool requires regular maintenance and upkeep. One key aspect of pool maintenance is the pool’s interior surface, also known as the plaster or marcite. Over time, factors like water chemistry, sun exposure, and normal wear and tear can cause plaster to fade and discolor. This is especially noticeable with colored plaster finishes.

In this article, we’ll look at:

  • How pool plaster works
  • What causes colored plaster to fade
  • Factors that affect fading
  • How to prevent fading
  • Options for restoring faded plaster

Read on to learn everything you need to know about colored plaster and how to keep your pool looking vibrant.

How Does Plaster Work in Pools?

Pool plaster refers to the mixture of cement, aggregates, and pigments that are troweled onto the interior concrete shell of a pool. It creates a smooth, attractive, and watertight surface. Plaster comes in a variety of colors and even allows you to install decorative finishes like pebbles or quartz.

Here are a few key facts about pool plaster:

  • It’s usually 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick.
  • It cures and hardens within 28 days.
  • It has a life expectancy of 5-10 years on average.
  • White plaster is the most common, but colors are popular too.
  • Quartz plaster blends ground quartz into the mix for enhanced durability and a shimmering look.
  • Pebble finishes add small pebbles to the plaster coating.

The plaster finish brings aesthetic value, but also serves functional purposes. It waterproofs the pool shell, provides a smooth surface to push off from, improves visibility, and offers a consistent appearance. Compared to bare concrete, plaster makes the swimming experience much more enjoyable.

What Causes Colored Plaster to Fade?

When plaster fades, it’s usually due to the pigments breaking down in the mixture. The cement and aggregates remain intact, but the colors change or disappear. Some key factors lead to pigment breakdown:

  • Sun exposure: UV rays from the sun can fade and deteriorate plaster pigments.
  • Chemicals: Sanitizers like chlorine at improper levels degrade plaster over time.
  • Water chemistry: Imbalanced pH, total alkalinity, and calcium hardness affect plaster.
  • Age: Plaster naturally weakens with age as the material breaks down.
  • Use: Friction from swimming, pool equipment, cleaning tools, etc. wears down the surface.
  • Freezing: In colder climates, freezing and thawing cycles strain the plaster.

These factors often work together to accelerate plaster deterioration. For example, older plaster is more vulnerable to chemical damage. And imbalanced water further wears down sun-faded plaster. The result is a faded, blotchy appearance.

Factors That Affect Fading Speed

Certain plaster types and pool environments lead to faster fading. Understanding these factors can help you take preventive steps:

Plaster Color

Darker plaster colors fade quicker than lighter ones. That’s because they use more pigment. Reds, blues, and greens fade faster than beiges, grays, and whites.

Plaster Type

Standard white plaster fades slowest. Quartz plaster resists fading better than regular plaster. Pebble finishes fade more unevenly since pebbles block pigments from sun exposure.

Pool Location

Pools in hot, sunny climates fade faster than those in cooler, cloudier regions. Pools surrounded by trees and shade see slower fading.

Pool Use

Heavily used commercial or public pools require more chemicals and maintenance. This can accelerate fading versus residential pools with lighter use.

Water Chemistry

Improperly balanced water chemistry causes plaster to fade faster. This includes issues with pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness, and sanitizer levels.

Plaster Application

Poor plaster installation leads to premature failure. Proper thickness, curing time, mix ratios, and application techniques increase longevity.

Being aware of these factors allows you to decide which plaster and pool design best resists fading in your climate and conditions.

How to Prevent Colored Plaster Fading

You can’t stop plaster from fading entirely, but these maintenance tips slow the process:

  • Test chemistry weekly – Ensure proper pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness, and chlorine/bromine levels.
  • Shock as needed – Shocking boosts sanitizer levels to burn off contaminants.
  • Brush regularly – Brushing removes stains and debris that bind to plaster.
  • Check filtration – Good circulation and turnover rates enhance water quality.
  • Add stain prevention chemicals – Products like metal removers and scale inhibitors prevent etching.
  • Use cyanuric acid – This stabilizes chlorine in outdoor pools against UV rays.
  • Employ best practices – Install covers, use rollers, avoid harsh chemicals, etc.

It’s also crucial to start these steps immediately after plaster is installed. Fresh plaster is especially vulnerable to chemical damage.

Restoring Faded Plaster

Even with proper care, plaster eventually requires restoration. Here are options for renewing faded, discolored pool surfaces:


This involves resurfacing the entire pool with fresh plaster. It offers a permanent fix but is expensive. Cost ranges from $4,000 for a small residential pool to over $50,000 for a large commercial pool.

Plaster Coating

Coatings like epoxy paint or quartz resurfacing are applied over the existing plaster. This costs less than a full replaster but doesn’t last as long (3-5 years). Cost starts around $1,500.

Stain Removal

For minor fading, stains, and etching, specialty chemicals can remove these eyesores by bleaching the plaster. Expect to pay $200 and up per treatment.

Pebble Remodeling

This entails applying a new pebble finish over faded plaster, costs around $2,500-6,000, and lasts 5-10 years.

When evaluating these options, consider your budget, downtime, and desired longevity. A full replaster provides the best results but requires the pool to be completely drained and out of service for 7-14 days.


Colored pool plaster brings beauty and visual interest to pools. But like any finishing material, it’s prone to fading issues over time. Factors like sun exposure, water chemistry, use, and age all contribute to pigment breakdown. However, proper installation, regular maintenance, and early restoration when needed can maximize the lifespan of colored plaster.

With the information in this article, you can make informed decisions about colored plaster for your pool. While fading will eventually occur, you can certainly slow the process and extend the years of enjoyment from a vibrant plaster finish.