How to Select the Proper Paint for Your Pool

Written by:  Danny Rhodehamel
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 (2.5 OUT OF 5 STARS ON 4 RATINGS)

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.

Tips & Warnings

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.

Comments (1 to 29 of 29)

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User: Inyopools

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.

User: Shontell

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 ?

User: Bill

Thanks!

User: Inyopools

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.

User: Bill

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.

User: Inyopools

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.

User: Big Time

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?

User: Inyopools

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.

User: 

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

User: Inyopools

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.

User: Bernie

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

User: Inyopools

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.

User: 

What paint can I use I've glass tile?

User: Inyopool

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.

User: 

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

User: Inyopools

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.

User: 

hello just need to get some advice my inground pool has a liner fitted which has faded badly over the years what is correct paint to use to paint the liner as a replacement liner is not an option at present thankyou

User: Inyopools

Dire - It's a problem of the paint not adhering to the surface rather than damaging the surface.

User: Dire

Hello, I purchased wr-1023 today to paint my pool steps a contrasting color. After I painted I read the label. Turns out I have a fiberglass pool. Wr-1023 is not recommended for fiberglass. However, now that I have already painted, will this paint damage my fiberglass or is the only concern that it won't last long? I am mostly asking to know if I need to urgently remove the paint. No big if it just won't last long. I can repaint the stairs every season if need be.

User: Inyopools

Peggy - If you have a painted fiberglass pool and the paint is peeling off down to the fiberglass surface, the only paint recommended to cover fiberglass is an epoxy paint. See our chart on "Paint Compatibility". You will have to power wash the rest of the original paint off to have a uniform fiberglass surface. You cannot paint epoxy over the combination of the original paint and the bare fiberglass surface. For instruction on how to apply epoxy paint see our guide on “How to Paint a Pool with Epoxy Paint”. The surface preparation instructions are critical. This is not a simple procedure. If you have limited painting experience you might consider having a professional painter paint your pool.

User: Peggy

I have a fiberglass pool that is peeling off. Can it be painted and what type of paint would I use?

User: Inyopools

Kevin - This question gets fairly involved and you would probably do better talking directly to the Ramuc tech rep on this. His number is 800-745-6756.

User: Kevin

Ramuc test shows my top layer is epoxy on top of two layers of chlorinated rubber. There are some patches where the paint has chipped all the way down to the concrete, but in some places there appears to be another layer on top of the concrete that has some fibers in it. I'm assuming I can patch with hydraulic cement. Questions: (1) Do I need to determine if the pool is gunite or cement or concrete? (2) Is the next layer a plaster or a fiberglass coating? What paints adhere to this?

User: Inyopoools

Mark - I sounds like your pool is at the point where it should all be sand blasted to bare concrete and repainted. If you don't sand blast, you run the risk of painting over lose sections that will flake off quickly. Use the paint the sand blaster recommends.

User: Mark

I have purchased a home with a pool that I don't think has ever been repainted. The coating is light blue in small spots, and bare concrete in others. There is NO WAY I can get a chip off to test. How do I know which paint was previously used, or, does it really matter since its so far gone? Thanks!

User: Inyopools

Pete - We were recently told by a Ramuc rep to use their epoxy paint on steel pools. I will research this more and post the results. Thank you for your comment.

User: Pete

I also have an old steel pool. Years ago I used Ramuc Type S for steel pools. Since that was discontinued, been using Type A chlorinated rubber. Is that still the best to use?

User: Inyopools

cooly - According to the Ramuc paint manufacturing rep, their Hi Build Epoxy is the coating system to use on steel in-ground pools. Make sure you follow all the surface preparation instructions.

User: cooly

I wonder why you did not mention metal pool paint at all so what is the best for steel in ground pools

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Tips & Warnings

For quick reference, see our paint compatibility chart at http://www.inyopools.com/images/pool_paint_compatibility.gif.


Please Note:

Inyo Pool Products is not responsible for any injury or damaged equipment
while using our guides. Using our guides is doing so at your own risk.
These guides are suggested use of your pool or spa equipment and may vary
depending on which product you are using.