Is a Dark Finish right for my pool? Things to consider (that others might not tell you)

Is a Dark Finish right for my pool? Things to consider (that others might not tell you)
Exotic, dramatic, deep-colored lagoon-esque pools are extremely popular right now—but there are some things to consider before opting for a custom colored, dyed pool finish.
Swimming pool resurfaced with Stonescapes Mini Pebble in Midnight Blue, Tile: WSB-Emerald, Pavers: Flagstone, Heritage in Cream-Beige-Char

Pool renovation shows and magazine feature trendy (and beautiful) dark finish pools. These pools can create intrigue and set the tone for your outdoor area. Most often, these shows and photos feature pools that have just been completed or resurfaced with their new, deeply pigmented dark (or colored) pool finish: they don’t show you the additional care, chemicals, and work that almost always accompany these surfaces.

Dark finishes, while beautiful, may not be the best choice for every pool or every pool owner, for a variety of reasons. Often, homeowners are not notified ahead of time that these finishes require special care and attention and are later disappointed when the color becomes streaky or doesn’t seem to remain picturesque for very long.

We’ve put together a list of a few things to keep in mind if you are considering a dark or colored plaster (interior finish) for your swimming pool.Pool renovation shows and magazine feature trendy (and beautiful) dark finish pools. These pools can create intrigue and set the tone for your outdoor area. Most often, these shows and photos feature pools that have just been completed or resurfaced with their new, deeply pigmented dark (or colored) pool finish: they don’t show you the additional care, chemicals, and work that almost always accompany these surfaces.
Dark finishes, while beautiful, may not be the best choice for every pool or every pool owner, for a variety of reasons. Often, homeowners are not notified ahead of time that these finishes require special care and attention and are later disappointed when the color becomes streaky or doesn’t seem to remain picturesque for very long.
We’ve put together a list of a few things to keep in mind if you are considering a dark or colored plaster (interior finish) for your swimming pool.

There is a high upfront cost

Swimming pool resurfaced using Stonescapes Mini Pebble in Aqua Blue.

Applying a dyed interior plaster is more labor intensive than an undyed surface. Each batch of the material used is a custom-mixed combination of cement product, aggregate, and dye. The dyes are expensive and require precision mixing. Additionally, when the surface is put on the pool—just like other pool finishes, it is hand troweled, but often, the process used to expose the aggregate and to even out the color is more intensive and can require additional steps (depending on the color and material type) such as pressure washing, hand washing, acid washing, to properly bring out the color. Even still, the pool may require additional chemicals or procedures to make the color look more even and uniform, but sometimes, due to the nature of the material, color uniformity may not be achievable.
The cost of the dyes and additional steps and chemicals involved cause dark finishes to be much more expensive than undyed finishes.

You can expect higher costs for chemicals and maintenance

Swimming pool remodeled using Stonescapes Mini Pebble in Aqua Blue, Tile: GLX-Aqua, Pavers: Flagstone City Stone Demi in Willow

Cement products inherently have high levels of calcium. Hard water is prevalent in Florida. Some neighborhoods have a lot of iron in their water. These are just a few factors that homeowners should consider prior to selecting a dark finish.
Your water quality will be a major factor in how easy or how difficult it is to keep your new dark surface looking fresh. There are a multitude of different factors that can play into water chemistry, so we will stick to the number one issue we see with dark surfaces: calcium.
A good analogy to think of is if you have dark tile in your bathroom shower or a glass shower door—have you ever noticed the light-colored water spots in these areas? They are the result of hard water and calcium accumulation.
Pool finishes are cement based and calcium is a component of cement. This means, before the pool is even filled, there is calcium in the pool. Calcium is present in all pools; however, on a white or undyed pool finish, the calcium buildup also known as scale, is not visible so it often goes unnoticed because scale is white or very pale yellow in color. On a dark surface, the scale is highly visible because of the contrast between the colors. The scale will often appear as streaks. It can accumulate on all parts of the pool, but most often is visible on the floor, steps, benches, or other flat surfaces. It can also highlight otherwise unnoticeable trowel marks (which are inevitable in a hand-troweled surface). Preventing or limiting scale is possible, but in most cases, it requires precision chemistry and more expensive chemicals. Some factors, such as hard water, use of a salt-chlorine generator, can make it even more difficult to maintain proper chemical balance and prevent scale.
Some homeowners are also shocked to find out that their pool service company may no longer service their pool if the opt for a dark finish.
Scale is such an issue that we send all our customers who select a dark finish a Dark Finish Letter to review and understand some of the factors they must be aware of before taking on a dark surface.

More time required

The more intensive chemical regimen required for dark surfaces also means more time spent brushing and caring for your pool.

The color will fade over time

This one may not be as noticeable to customers, but over time, the dark finish will fade. Water is the universal solvent and gradually, it will cause the color of the surface to lighten and fade. Other factors of course contribute to this as well such as sun exposure, use of the pool, age of the surface, and how well balanced your pool chemistry is.

Dark surfaces reduce visibility

This may be a more important factor to some, rather than others. Dark finishes will undoubtedly reduce visibility in a pool, making them more difficult to clean (think dirt and debris) and to some extent, more dangerous in certain conditions such as nighttime swimming and for those who struggle with depth perception. This is why commercial pools don’t have dark surfaces. Commercial pools may only be plastered in colors that have been approved the Health Department and/or the State. In Florida, pool finishes must pass a light reflectivity test to ensure the finish will be light enough to address safety concerns. The only finishes currently approved for Florida commercial pools are white-undyed finishes, such as Marquis Quartz Oyster and Bluestone and Stonescapes Mini Pebble in White and Aqua Cool.
Reduced visibility is something that those with small children, pets that go spend time around the pool area, and those with poor vision or depth perception should seriously consider.

On the bright side…

Marquis Quartz in Miami Blue is a popular option to create a “bluer” look without the extra work required to maintain a dark surface

A few positives about the dark finishes. Pool finishes come in a variety of colors. If you are set on a dark finish, a few things to keep in mind: typically the lighter colors require less care and are more cost effective. The darker the pool, the more work will often be required both initially and over time; however, due to the variety of colors available, you may find a colored finish that is lighter, and a solid middle ground between an undyed and dyed finish.

Dark finishes are truly stunning and can completely change the look of your pool area. The colors are vibrant and captivating. The majority of homeowners lean toward undyed finishes, but if you are up for the task, a dark finish will certainly create a major impact to your pool area.

There are also other was to enhance undyed finishes to give your pool more of a “pop!” For example, two of our most popular colors are Miami Blue (Marquis Quartz series) and Aqua Cool x2 (Stonescapes Mini Pebble series). Both of these colors are undyed surfaces that contain blue color specks to enhance the color of the water. These two colors feature a double batch of the colored specks which ups the intensity over those which use a single batch of color, Bluestone and Aqua Cool. Think of it like chocolate chip cookies, with double the amount of chocolate chips!
There are many different ways to make your pool look unique and to personalize it to fit your desires—a dark finish is just one of those ways. It is important to take a variety of factors into account before deciding if a dark finish is right for your pool.

Advanced Pool & Spa is family owned and operated and has served the Tampa Bay area for 38 years and is ready to assist you with your pool resurfacing and remodeling needs. We remodel both residential and commercial swimming pools and decks, are fully licensed, bonded, and insured, and are glad to answer any questions you may have. Please feel welcomed to call us in the office at 813-995-2939 or email us at aps59246@gmail.com for an estimate!

Happy Swimming!

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