Most swimming pool repairs can be done by the pool owner, but major repairs (such as large holes, pits or cracks) should be left to the pool professionals or a person with experience repairing concrete. Very thin hairline cracks do not require any repair before the pool is painted, and are typically filled in with the coat of pool paint. Cracks up to 1/8" should be cleaned out, and filled in with a rubber caulking compound that can be painted over. Follow the caulk manufacturer's application instructions. If you are going to attempt major repairs yourself, first remove any loose concrete or material in the area that is to be repaired. Be sure to use a patching compound suitable for your underwater application.
The most important step in the pool painting process is to prepare the surface of the swimming pool. Preparing the surface of the swimming pool to accept the fresh coat of pool paint ensures that the fresh pool paint bonds properly with the surface. Most types of swimming pool paint will look great for many years if the pool is properly prepared, but you can only expect a fresh coat of pool paint to last one year or less if the surface has not been prepared. Click here to shop for quality swimming pool paint at competitive prices.
The first step to prepare the swimming pool to be painted is to wash the surface of the pool with a solution of tri-sodium phosphate and warm water. Tri-sodium phosphate is one of the active ingredients in most common laundry detergents, however laundry detergent should not be used because it will typically include other soap ingredients that leave a film on the surface of the pool. Tri-sodium phosphate is available at most local hardware stores and home improvement centers, or through any reputable pool supply retailer.
The pool washing solution is created by mixing eight ounces of tri-sodium phosphate to each gallon of warm water. You can wash roughly 200 square feet pool surface, per gallon of this solution. Scrub the pool surface with this solution, and rinse the surface off immediately after scrubbing. Work in small areas to prevent the washing solution from drying on the surface of the pool. Start by scrubbing the pool walls first, and leave the floor to be washed last.
The second step to prepare the swimming pool to be painted is etching the surface with a muriatic acid solution. Acid etching opens small pores in the pool surface to allow the pool paint to form a mechanical bond with the surface. Acid etching is required on bare concrete or plaster, and is strongly recommended (but not required) on a previously painted pool. Acid etching a previously painted swimming pool will remove mineral deposits or scaling from the surface, to assure good adhesion. Read the warning labels and follow the instructions on the muriatic acid very carefully.
Mix a 10% solution of muriatic acid in water, and brush it onto the surface using a large brush with stiff bristles or a push broom. The acid solution will bubble on the pool surface when it is first applied, and should be rinsed off as soon as it stops bubbling. Once dry, splash a small amount of water on the pool surface where it has been etched. If the water quickly soaks in, the surface has been properly etched. If the water stands on the surface, a second etching is required or you need to switch to a stronger acid solution before etching the rest of the swimming pool.
After acid etching you need to wash the pool again to neutralize any remaining acid on the surface. Follow the pool washing procedure described above.
Bare Fiberglass swimming pools to not need to be acid etched before painting. A fiberglass swimming pool that has never been painted before should be sanded by hand in straight lines using coarse sandpaper. The roughing of the surface from the sanding creates a mechanical bond for the pool paint. After sanding, the pool surface should be washed following the instructions above before it is painted.
A bare concrete swimming pool that has not been previously painted, or a surface that has been sandblasted down to bare concrete, can be successfully coated with several different types of pool paint. You may use a water based acrylic paint (usually lasts 1-2 years), a synthetic rubber based paint (usually lasts 2-3 years) or an epoxy based pool paint (usually lasts 5-8 years). Epoxy based swimming pool paint will last the longest on your swimming pool, however this type of coating is typically the most expensive.
For the best, longest lasting results an epoxy based swimming pool paint should be used on bare plaster. Use one coat of epoxy pool paint primer appropriate for the texture of the pool surface.
Epoxy based pool paints are the only type of swimming pool paints chemically compatible with bare, unpainted fiberglass. The bare fiberglass should first be prepared, using the process described above. Use an epoxy pool paint primer designed for rough surfaces before painting with the epoxy based pool paint.
To assure the best possible adhesion between coats of pool paint, we suggest that you recoat your swimming pool with same type of pool paint that was previously used on the pool surface. The only exception is that you may use a synthetic rubber based pool paint over a chlorinated rubber pool paint. When the type of the old paint is not known, you should bring a paint sample to a local hardware store or home improvement center that offers free paint testing. You can also test the pool paint yourself by dipping a small chip of the pool paint into a solvent blend of 75% mineral spirits and 25% rubber base paint thinner. Wait 30 seconds and rub the chip between your fingers. If the chip dissolves, it is a synthetic rubber based paint. If it doesn't dissolve, immerse another chip in 100% rubber based paint thinner. If the chip dissolves it is a chlorinated rubber pool paint, and if it does not dissolve it is an epoxy based pool paint.