A backyard pool can be one of life’s great joys. Even living near water has been scientifically proven to make people happier in general. That’s why when you walk out your door to take a relaxing dip and soak up some vitamin D, a neglected pool is the biggest bummer (and actually does the opposite).

There’s nothing worse than a grungy-looking pool staring back at you from outside your door. We’re here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way. If your once-sparkling pool is in dire need of some TLC, resurfacing might be just what the doctor ordered.

Out With the Old, In With the New

Caring for a pool is a lot of work and you’ve put in considerable time and money over the years. It’s only right that you reap the rewards of your labor and get back to enjoying your backyard paradise the way it was meant to be enjoyed. 

Resurfacing your pool can not only breathe new life into an older pool but it also has the added benefit of increasing your property value and protecting your investment. 

Before you get started, make sure to clear out all the old stuff to make room for the new. Take a sandblaster or pressure washer to strip off the old plaster or paint. If your existing surface is tile or aggregate, you may need to employ a professional to clear out the worn-out layers before starting on your pool restoration.

How Much is This Going to Cost?

Well, that all depends. There are several factors that will affect the price of a resurfacing project such as:

  • The resurfacing materials that you choose
  • The size of your pool
  • The condition of your pool before construction
  • Any add-ons you choose (such as waterline tile)

As you contemplate your budget, an important consideration to keep in mind is how long it’s been since your pool has been updated. A concrete pool should last between 10 and 15 years before it needs to be resurfaced. 

You’ll also want to think about the initial cost of installation plus the ongoing lifetime costs of different materials.

Resurfacing Materials

Next, it’s time to figure out what material will work best for resurfacing your pool. If you have a concrete pool, the world is your oyster. This is going to be the fun part. You have a variety of options that all offer their own benefits, depending on your pool, lifestyle, and budget.

  • Traditional Plaster
  • Aggregate: Plaster + Texture
  • Tile
  • Fiberglass

After further consideration, you may decide that your pool doesn’t need a complete overhaul after all, rather it only needs a bit of a facelift with a new coat of paint or a new vinyl liner. These are all great options. 

If this all seems overwhelming, have no fear. We’re here to walk you through your options step-by-step and fill you in on the benefits and drawbacks of each of your choices.

Plaster

To enhance a tired or dingy concrete pool on a small budget, you might consider the easy and inexpensive option of a new coat of plaster. If you happen to be a DIY master, the good news is that it’s possible to do it yourself too! You can find kits that allow you to replaster your pool without having to hire a contractor.

To get started, you need to chip out or sandblast the old stuff to uncover the original concrete shell and clean everything thoroughly before applying the new layer of plaster. Typically a bond coat is applied between the concrete and the new plaster, plus a few new coats, tinted with your color of choice.

Plaster is an economical choice to rejuvenate an old pool, making it look shiny and new in no time. There are, however, a few downsides to plaster.

It’s an incredibly porous material, meaning the chemical-laden water will soak into every nook and cranny. If your water is balanced properly, it’s no big deal, but if your pH is slightly off, this trait can cause some serious etching or scaling on the surface.

Plaster also reacts with chemicals, requiring more chemicals and more balancing over the lifetime of the pool. It’s a bit rough to the touch, making it one of the less comfortable options for those sensitive swimmers’ feet.

Pros:

  • Most inexpensive option
  • Great for DIY gurus
  • Customizable colors

Cons:

  • Reacts with water chemicals, causing etching and/or scaling
  • Rough to the touch 

Aggregate

If plaster is your jam but you need some pizzazz in your life, an aggregate finish could be right up your alley.

Aggregate is basically a mixture of plaster and some kind of texture: glass beads, quartz, pebbles, etc. It can be finished to leave a bumpy exposure or polished surface, which just gives the impression of stones beneath the façade.

You can also resurface your pool with a fancier option like Pebble Tec or Pebble Sheen, which will cost you a pretty penny, but look fabulous when finished. Whichever way you go, aggregates are going to be more expensive than plain plaster but will offer far better chemical and stain-resistant properties.

Pros:

  • Tons of customizable options
  • Looks beautiful
  • More chemical and stain-resistant than plaster alone

Cons:

  • Can get rather expensive
  • Still porous and reactive to pool water

Tile

Resurfacing your pool with tile is an elegant but quite expensive option. The smooth finish of tile and the endless varieties of patterns and designs make this a lovely option to update a tired-looking concrete pool. 

If you’re particularly handy, installing tile could be a do-it-yourself project, but it’s best installed by a professional. The risks of leaving exposed sharp edges or improper sealing (resulting in a leak) are too great to take the chance.

Depending on the size of your pool and your choice of material, tile can be an expensive endeavor. 

Pros:

  • Smooth, clean finish
  • Easy to clean and resistant to staining
  • Looks fabulous

Cons:

  • Most expensive option
  • Needs experienced installation
  • Grout is prone to etching and staining

Waterline Tile

Even if you decide to go with a different option for resurfacing your pool, tile is a necessity to install along the waterline, primarily for plaster pools. 

You have several options here such as traditional ceramic tile, glass tile, or porcelain tile. The price will vary wildly, depending on the material, size, and design you choose.

Fiberglass

For a complete overhaul, resurfacing your concrete pool with thick, durable, and very flexible fiberglass is a possible solution to your pool woes. The jury is still out, however, on whether or not refinishing a pool with fiberglass is a stable longterm option or if you should just invest in a sturdy and maintenance-free fiberglass shell. 

Fiberglass shells have a high upfront cost but an extremely low lifetime cost of upkeep. They are basically algae-proof, immune to chemicals in your water, and are resistant to staining and discoloration. You’ll spend less on maintenance with this option than any other on this list.

Pros:

  • Very durable with a smooth surface
  • Little to no lifetime maintenance
  • Does not absorb chemicals
  • Resistant to algae stains

Cons:

  • Very high initial cost
  • Limited customizability and size options
  • May require filling in part of your concrete pool to accommodate a new shape

Just a Facelift

If your concrete pool is still in good condition but could use a bit of a facelift, the good news is there are less extreme options than resurfacing too!

Vinyl Liner

If a complete resurfacing project is just not in the cards for you, a vinyl liner might be just what you need. A new, soft, and colorful vinyl liner is not only an inexpensive option but can dramatically transform your pool from shabby to spectacular in no time at all.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive option
  • Great for DIY gurus
  • Customizable size and shape
  • Smooth and comfortable surface

Cons:

  • Higher lifetime cost
  • Prone to rips, tears, and wrinkling
  • May need to be replaced every 3-4 years

Painting

Maybe your pool is in great condition but is just looking a bit dingy. In that case, why not just revitalize its interior with a fresh coat of paint?

The first step is to pressure-wash off all of the old paint so you can start with a nice, clean canvas. You can use rubber-based or acrylic paint, which are very economical options, but we recommend an epoxy-based paint.

Epoxy-based paint is extremely durable and a good, strong coat should last you up to 10 years.

Elevate Your Swim

With a variety of materials to choose from and the information to pick the one that will work best for your lifestyle, you can now give your pool the makeover it needs. Renew, revitalize, and then relax (hopefully floating with a cold beverage) because now your pool looks better than ever.