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: 04/17/2017 9:31 AM  Latest Inyo Product Specialist

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: 04/12/2017 18:51 PM 

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  Posted: 04/10/2017 12:53 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

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: 04/08/2017 21:28 PM 

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  Posted: 04/08/2017 13:16 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

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: 04/04/2017 17:20 PM 

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  Posted: 01/27/2017 10:16 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

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: 01/25/2017 3:22 AM 

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  Posted: 11/14/2016 12:22 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

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 18:35 PM 

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

Inyopools  Posted: 10/31/2016 16:28 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

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 19:08 PM 

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  Posted: 09/27/2016 10:18 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

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: 09/26/2016 18:48 PM 

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

Inyopools  Posted: 09/16/2016 12:06 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

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  Posted: 09/13/2016 22:34 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

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: 09/12/2016 23:05 PM 

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: 09/12/2016 7:21 AM 

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

Inyopools  Posted: 08/12/2016 10:55 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Janet - If you are considering repainting the whole pool, I would have a professional pool painter look at it. Paint selection is based on what was used originally and if you have to go with epoxy, I would have a professional painter repaint the pool. It can be tricky and this isn't something you would want to do twice.

Janet  Posted: 08/10/2016 12:18 PM 

I have a five year old pool with some staining and a chip in the bottom of the pool. It is Gunite. Do you have any suggestions on repair or paint.

Inyopools  Posted: 06/24/2016 18:37 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Painting a new pool - I would recommend talking to a tech rep with our paint manufacturer, Ramuc at 800-745-6756. They should be able to give you the information you need for painting a salt water pool.

Anonymous  Posted: 06/23/2016 13:28 PM 

This was a very helpful, but discouraging, overview of pool paints. We have an unfinished concrete pool that will become (if we ever find the right product to finish it) a residential salt water pool. We had looked at an expensive Marcite finish, but a couple in our neighbourhood, who also have a concrete pool, had it coated in Marcite and just 3 years later they are finding that it is now beginning to flake off. We have also Ben looking ap tiling the top 1 foot and painting the rest,so Superior Industries in the U.S. about their Pro Master Platinum 20-year 2-part epoxy paint; however, because ours is going to be a salt water pool (like you said), they said that it isn't suited to salt water because of the chalking (he didn't mention that the problem was actually the UV rays). Superior's rep. Did say that they are working on a formula for salt water pools but had no idea when they might expect a product to be developed, tested and brought to market.

Inyopools  Posted: 06/18/2016 0:17 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

anglochick - The epoxy paint we sell will not work as a filler. The surface must be solid. Here's a link to our guide on "How to Paint a Pool with Epoxy Paint". It describes the process for preparing the surface for epoxy paint.

anglochick  Posted: 06/15/2016 22:17 PM 

Hi! I have a cedar hot tub that is heated with a wood stove (we call it our cowboy bath!) that is sadly in a bit of disrepair, and has been leaking. Is there an epoxy paint I could use to improve the situation? What type of surface prep should I go through? Thanks in advance for any help!

Inyopools  Posted: 04/14/2016 10:55 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Shontell - Your problem may be the brand of epoxy paint you used. The Ramuc paint manufacturer does recommend epoxy paint for concrete and fiberglass surfaces or for surfaces previously painted with epoxy. There are strict preparation procedures to follow. See our guide on "How to Paint a Pool with Epoxy Paint" for more information.

Shontell  Posted: 04/12/2016 16:33 PM 

I have a cement pool with fiberglass walls at the first 4ft. I've painted with a rubber base paint the first year we bought the house 9years ago. Then 3years ago went with epoxy with all the proper prep work bc I heard it would be better but the last 2years it's been chalking on everyone that swims. Everyone feet turn to smurfs in my pool. No chipping with the paint just fading. Now in my deep end I haven't painted since we moved in and that down to bare cement now. Maybe it was the type of paint I used, but I'd like a lil advice at what's my best way to go now ?

Bill  Posted: 03/14/2016 19:29 PM 


Inyopools  Posted: 03/11/2016 10:03 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Bill - If I were in your position, I would probably go with the water-based acrylic paint. You will have to remove the bubbled surfaces but it sounds like you have done that process more than once.

Bill  Posted: 03/08/2016 8:44 AM 

I have a 28-year old gunite pool. After a few years, I coated the gunite with Ramuc epoxy. That lasted a few years and I did it again, hand sanding bubbles and pressure/acid etch washing. For the third time a few years later, I prepped the same way, but used Zeon (sp) epoxy paint. It didn't last as long as the Ramuc. In any case, I am about to sell the house and would like to refinish the pool as cheaply as possible. I have lots of bubbles. Should I sandblast, acid wash, pressure wash and then can I use the less expensive acrylic water-based paint? Not only cheaper, but should be lots easier to apply than the painstaking epoxy. Thanks, Bill.

Inyopools  Posted: 03/07/2016 15:30 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Big Time - I would guess that the acrylic emulsion would have to come off to get you down to the epoxy primer. Then you would have to treat and sandpaper the primer surface. See our guide on "How to Paint a Pool with Epoxy Paint". Then I would call the experts at Ramuc Paint at 973-776-8271 to double check the procedure. This is something you don't want to do again.

Big Time  Posted: 03/07/2016 10:18 AM 

I have a plaster pool. Prior to applying applying epoxy based primer, I pressure washed the surface. Now I know that I should have acid washed it, instead of just pressure washing. After I primed it with the epoxy based primer, I painted it with Aqua Seal water based acrylic emulsion. It looked great the first year, but horribly faded the next year. I am getting ready to start the whole resurface process over next week. How should I prep and what coatings should I use after it's acid washed?

Inyopools  Posted: 02/18/2016 15:04 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

sandblast pool - Yes it is alright to sandblast your pool before repainting. I am assuming you have a gunite or concrete pool and for these type of pools you would want to use an epoxy base paint. You will still have to go through an extensive preparation of the surface before you paint. See our guide on "How to Paint a Pool with Epoxy Paint" and carefully follow these instructions and those that come with the paint.

Anonymous  Posted: 02/17/2016 0:08 AM 

Is it OK to sandblast the pool before repainting? What paint would you recommend. Inground pool 15x30.

Inyopools  Posted: 02/15/2016 14:18 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Bernie - You would use epoxy paint to paint your pebblecrete pool and it will require some extensive prepping. See our guide on "How to Paint a Pool with Epoxy Paint" for instructions.

Bernie  Posted: 02/10/2016 20:57 PM 

Can a pebblecrete pool be painted over? Or is rendering required before applying paint?

Inyopools  Posted: 11/04/2015 10:24 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

glass tile - I just talked to the Ramuc paint rep. He said it would be very difficult to prep the glass surface enough to have any of their paints adhere to the surface.

Anonymous  Posted: 11/03/2015 14:02 PM 

What paint can I use I've glass tile?

Inyopool  Posted: 09/28/2015 14:21 PM 

epoxy paint chalking - According to our paint rep, there is no sealer solution. You will have to repaint the surface with another coat of epoxy paint. Surface preparation is very important. See our guide on "How to Paint a Pool with Epoxy Paint" with particular attention to Steps 9, 10 and 11.

Anonymous  Posted: 09/27/2015 22:32 PM 

We used epoxy paint for our Fiberglass pool and it is chalking, will some typ of sealer help and what?

Inyopools  Posted: 09/23/2015 10:52 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

liner paint - I just talked to our pool paint supplier. None of the pool paints we sell can be used to paint over an in-ground pool liner.