How to Select the Proper Paint for Your Pool

WRITTEN BY:  Inyo Pools

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Painting a swimming pool is a big project you'll want to do right the first time. Choosing the correct paint is the first step. Our guide below covers three common pool paint types and their advantages and limitations as well as compatibility with different pool surfaces.

Step by Step


Step 1

If your pool is already painted, you will need to know the existing paint type before applying any new paint as not all paints are compatible. This can be determined by sending a sample to Ramuc (or other paint manufacturer) if the paint type is unknown. There are also a few tests you can try. Take a 1 inch paint chip, immerse it in denatured alcohol. If the chip dissolves, it is a water-based acrylic. If it doesn't dissolve, immerse a new chip in 75% mineral spirits and 25% Xylol, wait 30 seconds and rub the chip between your thumb and forefinger. If it dissolves, the paint is a synthetic rubber-base coating. If not, try immersing one last chip in 100% Xylol. If it dissolves, the paint type is chlorinated rubber; if it does not, it is an epoxy.

Step 2

There are three main types of pool paint currently used - epoxy, premium acrylic, and water-based acrylic. Chlorinated rubber paints were once very popular but have been largely phased out due to environmental concerns. We'll go over the pros and cons of each of three pool paints most commonly used today.

Step 3

Epoxy pool paint, which is solvent-based, is the longest lasting and most resistant to chemicals, stains and abrasion. It has a life expectancy of up to 8 years and dries to a durable satin finish. Epoxy can be used on previously unpainted concrete, plaster, fiberglass, and gunite pools. It can also be used on pools previously coated with epoxy paint. Because it builds up to 8 mils dry per coat, epoxy can help smooth rough surfaces.

Step 4

Application of epoxy paint is the most complicated of the three pool paint types. In addition to cleaning and acid-washing, bare fiberglass or previously painted epoxy surfaces must be sanded to a #80 grit profile. For all surfaces, a condensation test must be performed and paint cannot be applied until no condensation is present. Epoxy paint comes in a two gallon kit; each gallon must be individually mixed and then intermixed. The drying time for epoxy is the longest of the paint types, 5 - 7 dry days for outdoor pools and 10 - 14 days for indoor pools with proper ventilation. Epoxy will "chalk" over time; this is a breakdown of the top surface due to exposure to UV light and pool chemicals.

Step 5

Premium acrylic pool paint is designed to comply with environmental regulations regarding VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and replace chlorinated and synthetic rubber-based paints. Acrylic can be used on unpainted concrete and plaster pools. It will also work on pools previously painted with acrylic, chlorinated rubber or synthetic rubber. It can be applied to a damp surface and dries to a high gloss finish. The drying (or cure) time for acrylic pool paint is 5 dry days for outdoor pools and 7 days for indoor pools with proper ventilation.

Step 6

Acrylic paint should not be used on fiberglass or wood surfaces, or on hot tubs and spas. It is less chemical resistant than epoxy paint and can also chalk over time. Premium acrylic has a life expectancy of up to 4 years.

Step 7

Water-based acrylic pool paint, also referred to as "Type DS" by the manufacturer Ramuc, offers the quickest drying time of the three paint types. Drying times for water-based acrylic are 3 dry days for outdoor pools and 6 days for indoor. This makes it the preferred choice when a pool needs to be refilled as soon as possible. However it has the shortest lifespan, rated at one season for commercial pools and up to 2 years for residential.

Step 8

Water-based acrylic can be used on unpainted concrete and plaster pools, and pools that were previously painted with synthetic rubber, epoxy or acrylic. It should not be used on gunite or fiberglass surfaces or on hot tubs and spas. It dries to an eggshell finish. Type DS paint has the weakest chemical and stain resistance of the three paint types.

Step 9

To summarize paint and surface compatibility, if you have an unpainted concrete or plaster pool, epoxy or premium acrylic are the best paint choices. For an unpainted fiberglass or gunite pool, epoxy is recommended. For pools previously painted with synthetic rubber or acrylic paint, your best options are premium acrylic or water-based acrylic. If the surface was painted with chlorinated rubber, premium acrylic would be recommended. Epoxy should be used if the pool was previously painted with epoxy.


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InyoPools  Posted: 9/12/2018 

Hello Moe - According to our paint manufacturer, Ramuc, epoxy paint is recommended for heated spas.

Moe  Posted: 9/6/2018 

I have a combine pool/spa with 3000G of water(small compare to others) I painted three years ago and I don't remember what kind paint I used and paint has started to come off and I need to repaint it again but I don't know which paint is good for heated spa up to 100 F? your advise kindly appreciated. Moe

Inyopools  Posted: 4/26/2018 

The stains could be from fertilizer, well water, or a copper heat exchanger within a heater. I would try and treat the stains before you consider painting the pool. A lot of pool owners have good luck using a product called Stain Free Extra Strength. It's an industrial strength ascorbic acid. Make sure you follow the directions on the bottle.

Anonymous  Posted: 4/25/2018 

We have a gunite pool that is showing metallic stains (not rust). What could this be a sign of? Can we paint these spots?

Inyopools  Posted: 4/5/2018 

If you need to determine which paint was previously used on your pool, follow Step 1 in the guide above.

raymond nebreja  Posted: 4/5/2018 

how match water proofing paint?

Inyopools  Posted: 2/23/2018 

Janet - You don't have many options when painting an unpainted gunite pool. See this compatibility chart. I'd recommend using epoxy paint. It is not the cheapest but will last longer. Also, if you are looking for something to smooth out your pool's uneven spots, be aware that these paints are not fillers. They will give you a smoother surface but it will still be uneven.

Janet  Posted: 2/19/2018 

We have an unpainted gunnite pool what is the easiest cheapest way to paint it that may cover some uneven spots?

Inyopools  Posted: 10/19/2017 

Ron - The coverage for Ramuc EP Hi-Build Epoxy pool paint is 150 - 200 sq ft for bare surfaces (2 coats recommended) and 300-350 sq ft for recoat of a previously epoxy painted surface.

Ron  Posted: 10/18/2017 

How much square feet does a gallon of epoxy paint cover?

InyoPools Product Specialist Dennis R.  Posted: 7/5/2017 

Hoa - Have you looked at adding sand to the paint. I don't know if that would work but give our paint supplier Ramuc Paint a call and see what they would suggest. Their number is 800-745-6756.

Hoa  Posted: 7/3/2017 

Our community pool has a "boat ramp" type entrance. Since our pool was completely redone and repainted we have had two people slip and fall. The pool company has tried 3-4 different options and nothing is working. It is July and our pool isn't open. There's now talk of plastering. Expensive and community woukd have to pay. It's all because the paint that works is no longer available. Help??

InyoPools Product Specialist Dennis R.  Posted: 6/13/2017 

Denise - Yes, you should be able to spot paint the chipped areas with epoxy paint. Just make sure you follow the preparation instruction closely. Be aware that after the 4-5 years, the colors might not match exactly.

Denise  Posted: 6/13/2017 

Our gunite pool was professionally repainted with Ramuc epoxy 4-5 years ago. We had an iron water problem and the pool walls and floor were stained. Also, the paint blistered and peeled in one small area of the pool floor. We have cleaned the pool with rust iron remover and power washed it. A few chips occurred due to this cleaning. Can we spot paint these few areas with epoxy, without having to repaint the entire pool?

InyoPools Product Specialist Dennis R.  Posted: 6/6/2017 

Mike W - Please talk to our paint manufacturer, Ramuc, on this issue at 800-745-6756.

Mike W  Posted: 6/5/2017 

I have read that rubber chloride paint can be painted over with epoxy if a "conversion coating" is applied first. Is this effective?

InyoPools Product Specialist Dennis R.  Posted: 5/29/2017 

Lisa - You can paint your fiberglass steps but you will have to use an epoxy paint. See this chart on "paint compatibility". Also, see our guide on "How to Paint a Pool with Epoxy Paint".

Lisa  Posted: 5/27/2017 

I'm trying to repaint my fiberglass steps in my pool. We are having the vinyl liner replaced. The steps have no cracks or damage other tan the blue has now faded to white. Is there a way to do this? It is a inground pool and they are fiberglass.

InyoPools Product Specialist Dennis R.  Posted: 5/24/2017 

Sanjose - Check if your pool was previously painted with epoxy paint. Acrylic paints do not adhere well to epoxy. See this link to our Paint Compatibility Chart. Also, see our guide on "How to Paint a Pool with Epoxy Paint" for instructions on testing for previous paint covering.

Sanjose  Posted: 5/22/2017 

My pool was power-washed and repainted 2 years ago with Aqua Seal. Now it is chipping, I am considering to acid-washed n then repaint with acrylic enamel paint aqua seal. The tiles around the wall have fell off. I was planning to remove the old adhesive and reattached the old tile and possibly add cement to any spot needed.

InyoPools Product Specialist Dennis R.  Posted: 5/6/2017 

Jean - Sand the aluminum surface with a fine sandpaper and then paint it with a high-quality enamel spray paint. Check with a boat maintenance dealer for a good marine enamel paint.

Jean  Posted: 5/4/2017 

What kind of paint can I use on the aluminum handle to my steps (wedding cake) into the above ground pool? The portion of the handle that is under water needs re-painted.

InyoPools Product Specialist Dennis R.  Posted: 4/17/2017 

Dann - Follow the procedure in Step 1 of this guide to determine your pool’s previous paint type. As you suggest, it is important that you know the previous paint before you try to paint it again.

Dann  Posted: 4/12/2017 

My pool was previously painted, but I do not know what kind of paint they used on it. Measures 15x30 concrete. What kind of paint can I apply?

InyoPools Product Specialist Dennis R.  Posted: 4/10/2017 

fiberglass pool - If you can power wash the fiberglass surface to a solid base, you can use an epoxy base paint on the fiberglass surface.

Anonymous  Posted: 4/8/2017 

I have a rhinonlined fiberglass pool where the rhino lining is deteriorating. Can I paint the rhino lining and if so, what kind of paint?

InyoPools Product Specialist Dennis R.  Posted: 4/8/2017 

Chris - If the pool is structurally sound, no cracks, you should be able to power spray the surface to remove any deterioration or previous surface covering, then paint it with epoxy paint. Follow the instructions carefully.

Chris  Posted: 4/4/2017 

I have an older concrete pool that hasn't been used in several years. The tiles around the top are almost completely gone. Can any damage to the concrete be fixed and then painted over?

InyoPools Product Specialist Dennis R.  Posted: 1/27/2017 

Johnny - Unfortunately, you will probably have to power wash the surface to remove all peeling or blistering acrylic paint before painting with epoxy. Epoxy paint must have a solid base to adhere.

Johnny  Posted: 1/25/2017 

I painted a gunite pool with acrylic paint last year. It peeling and blistering.gunite supposed to be painted with epoxy, but I screwed up. Now what do I do since I'm not supposed to paint epoxy over acrylic?

InyoPools Product Specialist Dennis R.  Posted: 11/14/2016 

Emmanuel academy - If this is a new unpainted pool, the epoxy paint will be the most durable but requires more preparation. If your pool has been painted previously, you are more limited on resurfacing. Here is a link to a Paint Compatibility Chart.

Emmanuel academy  Posted: 11/12/2016 

I have a baby pool with ceramic tiles. Which paint is best to use. Want to turn it to a blue finish.

InyoPools Product Specialist Dennis R.  Posted: 10/31/2016 

micagman - If you tried to use an epoxy paint over a previously painted pool that was not epoxy, it probably didn't take. Here is a chart that addresses paint compatibility. I would recommend talking to a tech rep with our paint manufacturer, Ramuc at 800-745-6756. They should be able to help you solve your paint issue.

micagman  Posted: 10/29/2016 

40 year old commercial pool, 28000 gallons , uses chlorine, after painting the blue comes off on the skin. Using rubber based paint.. why is the paint coming off on the skin? Pool is pressure washed and acid washed prior to applying...

InyoPools Product Specialist Dennis R.  Posted: 9/27/2016 

Kdurk - Sorry, I don't understand what a "finite pool" is. In general, Epoxy is the best and most durable paint for a pool surface including a salt water pool. However, the decision on what paint to use is based more on what surface you are painting and what paint was used if you are repainting. See this chart on "Paint Compatibility" for more information.

Kdurk  Posted: 9/26/2016 

What type of paint can be used on finite pool that runs a saltwater system?

InyoPools Product Specialist Dennis R.  Posted: 9/16/2016 

Rev Smith - For previously painted surfaces, epoxy paint can only by used if the previous paint was epoxy. Otherwise, you will have to use the acrylic paint. Here is a link to a pool paint compatibility chart. See step 1 of this guide for determining what paint your baptistery was previously painted with.

InyoPools Product Specialist Dennis R.  Posted: 9/13/2016 

Larryann - See step 9 of this guide. If you have an new unpainted concrete surface, the epoxy paint will be your most durable surface.

Rev Smith  Posted: 9/12/2016 

Our church has an old brick baptistery that has not been used in over 25 years. It is painted, but not sure with what. Trying to figure out how to resurface so we can use it again. Old paint is in good condition just looks old. Any recommendation on what to use?

Larryann  Posted: 9/12/2016 

I have a cement swim spa and we keep it at 87/90 degrees depending on the weather. What paint is recommended?