Underwater coatings or pool paints come in many different colors, and is an inexpensive coating compared to other surfaces. It can be applied directly to concrete pools, plaster pools and fiberglass pools, as well as fountains or water features. It is not recommended for fish ponds. Pool paints create a shiny, ceramic like finish that can last for years.

Pool paints are also the easiest way to create underwater murals, logos, tiled patterns, or multi-hued pool colors, at a fraction of what designs of mosaic tiles cost.

There are three types of pool paint, the best pool paint for you may depend on your needs. Epoxy pool paint, for new construction, and pools painted previously with epoxy paint. Epoxy is the longest lasting, most durable and will stand up to UV rays, automatic pool cleaners and chemical treatments. Epoxy paint will last about 7 - 8 years before recoating would be necessary.

Another type of concrete pool paint is chlorinated rubber base pool paint. Rubber base paint is not as durable or expensive as epoxy pool paint, but is an easy to use, inexpensive pool paint. It is easy to apply, comes in many colors and will last about 3 - 4 years. A conversion pool paint is now available for use as a primer for converting rubber based painted pools to epoxy pool paints.

Last but not least, is water based Acrylic pool paint. This inground pool paint can be used on any type of surface, even damp surfaces, is easy to apply, and cleans up with water. Acrylic pool paint is ideal for commercial applications that are repainted on a regular basis. It can be painted over any previous type of pool paint (epoxy, rubber or acrylic) and should last about 2 - 3 years.

Whichever pool paint type you use, it is important to follow manufacturer’s instructions, and recommended safety guidelines and make sure you prepare the pool properly. Preparation is the most important step in pool painting. Without the proper preparation even the best pool paint will not bond with the wall or existing surface.

How to Paint Your Swimming Pool

The most important part of pool painting is the preparation. There are no shortcuts! The following is a step by step guide to a successful pool paint job using epoxy pool paint. Acrylic pool paints can be used on a damp surface, and don't require dry time before painting. Consult the label of the paint for application directions.

  1. Determine the type of pool paint that is on the pool. You cannot paint a pool that has epoxy paint with rubber base paint or vice versa. You can use acrylic paint on any surface, or any pool paint type.
  2. Drain any water from the swimming pool and remove all debris. Be sure to remove any hydrostatic relief plugs in the floor or main drain.
  3. Scrape all old, loose pool paint off of pool surface. A high pressure power washer is helpful.
  4. If there are any cracks in the swimming pool shell, they must be cut out with a diamond blade saw or grinder. Cut the cracks 1/4” deep, in a dovetail fashion.
  5. Chip out any divots or loose cement. Caulk the cracks, and patch any large chips or divots with hydraulic cement or pool plaster mix.
  6. Now it is time to clean the swimming pool with TSP (trisodium-phosphate). TSP is a detergent available at all paint stores and hardware stores. Mix 1 lb with 2 gallons of water in a flower watering can. Pour the mixture over the walls and floor, while scrubbing with a brush. Rinse clean with fresh water.
  7. Acid Wash the swimming pool with a 50% water, 50% muriatic acid solution. Be sure to use the proper safety equipment and procedures. Scrub the walls and floor with a stiff brush or broom.
  8. Rinse the entire swimming pool, skimmers, fittings, lights, and stairs completely. Pump out pool.
  9. Wash the pool again with TSP; this step will neutralize any remaining traces of acid, and remove the glaze from existing paint. Another TSP wash ensures no grease or oil is on the surface.
  10. Pump out all of the water and remove any debris. Remove any water from skimmer, and sponge any standing water from low spots around steps and fittings. Allow the swimming pool to dry for 3 - 5 days. (Acrylic pool paint can be applied on damp or recently wet surfaces)
  11. Time to paint your swimming pool! Tape off the tile band, light and fittings with masking tape to prevent getting any paint on the threads, tile or fittings.
  12. Just before painting the pool, sweep the pool out and blow any leaves or dirt from the pool deck. Check the weather for rain or high winds in the forecast. If there is any chance of rain, wait. Open the swimming pool paint and mix it well. Epoxy paints are two part, but other types are in one can. To mix well, use an electric drill with a paddle mixer, and mix for several minutes.
  13. Paint the pool with a 3/8” nap roller; a roller with too much nap will shed. Start in the deep end of the swimming pool, work your way to the shallow end. Use an extension pole on your roller for the deep end walls. Mid morning is the best time to paint, after the dew has lifted. Do not apply paint if the temperature is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit or above 90 degrees. Extremely humid weather can cause the paint to not adhere. If you are applying a second coat of paint, wait 2 - 4 hours before re-painting, until it’s dry to the touch.
  14. The last step is very important. You must wait 4-5 days after painting a pool before filling, so your new paint job can cure completely. (3 days with Acrylic paint) If there is rain during that time, remove any standing water after the rain has stopped. Use a sponge and leaf blower to dry the pool. If the rain lasts more than an hour or two, add a day to the cure time. After the cure time, fill the pool without stopping until the pool is full. 15. When the pool is full, restart the swimming pool filter system and adjust the total alkalinity and calcium hardness levels to a minimum of 150 PPM. Resume your normal chemical maintenance.

Supplies needed for Pool Painting

  • 2 gallon flower watering can, for acid washing, TSP washing
  • 3-5 gallons of muriatic acid, 3-5 lbs of TSP
  • Long handled pole with scrub brush, or small push broom
  • Masking tape or painter’s tape
  • Roller frame and pole, low nap paint rollers
  • Small paint brushes to cut-in corners
  • 5 gallon bucket and paint screen
  • Drill and paddle for mixing paint
  • Garden hose with spray nozzle
  • Small electric pump
  • Wet/Dry vac

Common Problems with Painted Pools

My Pool Paint is Fading

Painted pools will begin to fade over time. Nothing will stop this, but you can “brighten-up” the paint with a light acid wash. Acid will remove any dirt and chalking that can dull a paint job. While cleaning the pool with a light solution of muriatic acid and water - 10 parts water, to 1 part acid, rinse the pool well.

My Pool Paint is Chalking

Some painted pool surfaces will begin to break down over time. The results can be dull, hazy water, as well as a white powdery residue that can rub off on hands, feet and bathing suits. To avoid this, water chemistry and maintenance are the key.

Specifically, the total alkalinity should be in the correct range. For painted pools, the Alkalinity level is kept higher, in the range of 150 PPM to 200 PPM. 175 PPM is ideal. If the alkalinity is too low the pool paint may begin to rub off, on hands and feet.

Harsh shock treatments will also cause the pool paint to chalk. Use lithium or a non-chlorine shock for maintenance. Harsh shock treatments like calcium hypochlorite will contribute to the deterioration of the pool paint job.

My Pool Paint has Blisters and Bubbles

Pool paint blisters are almost always caused by improper preparation. The pool paint must be applied to a clean and dry surface. If the paint is applied too thick, or if the surface is too hot or warm, or if the pool is not cleaned properly, it can blister. Application temperature will also affect the final result. The only thing to do is re-prep and repaint the pool or the spots that have blistered. Clean the pool with all over scrubbing to remove oils and minerals, and make sure your surface is dry (except for acrylic paints), and apply the paint during dry, cool weather, and you should have no problems with blistering pool paint.

My Pool Paint is Slippery

Painted pools are very slippery. There are two ways to deal with this. You can either mix very fine sand into the paint used for the steps, and part of the shallow end, or you can broadcast very fine sand on top of the steps after the paint has been applied. The walls and most of the floor are best left smooth, but using [very fine] sand on the steps and swimouts is a good idea.

Related Product Pages:

Pool Paint Application Kit
Pool Paint & Deck Coatings
Pool Paint Surface Prep Kit
Prep Magic Surface Prep
Pool Surface Cleaner (TSP)

Related Blog Posts:

Pool Painting Project Pictorial
Swimming Pool Painting, a How-To.