Introduction: How to DIY Paint Your Pool, Pond or Spa: a Long-lasting Cost Effective Alternative to Replastering.
Here’s how to Prep, Prime and Paint using 1-coat Olympic Gunzite Primer and Zeron Epoxy pool coating.
If you have a plaster/gunite pool, pond or spa, sooner or later it will need resurfacing. Our pool is 23 years old and we have had it resurfaced twice: 1st at 7 years old for $3000, 2nd time at 15 years old for $4500. The current price is between $6000 and $8000 for replastering including labor. We were concerned that painting would be too difficult and only last a year or so, and one of the ‘hidden’ expenses is draining and filling the pool so we wanted to avoid using and paying for so much water every year or so.
We researched and evaluated several brands and chose Olympic Zeron for its 8-year guarantee and 1-coat application. We bought the recommended amount of Gunzite primer (3 gallons), Zeron epoxy (6 gallons), Olympic Miracle Clean (1 gallon), some plaster repair (which we did not need or use), Ace Hardware muratic acid (4 gallons), a new stiff scrub brush head, assorted paint rollers, brushes, pans and sponge applicators. We used all the supplies except the plaster repair and 2 gallons of the Zeron which we will save for the next time in 8-10 years!
Our total cost was under $1000. We could have saved $218 on the Zeron but we over estimated the size and under estimated how well it covered.
There are several excellent primers and paints available online and from pool stores, all cover and cost about the same. They vary in guarantee length and terms. The Zeron we chose has an 8-year guarantee, their other paint has a 5-year guarantee.
Zeron epoxy coating
Miracle clean (or TSP)
Silica sand (or other nonskid paint additive — works best to sprinkle on wet paint and NOT mix in paint can).
Chemical resistant scrub brushes on long handles
Paint rollers, pans, brushes, rags, drop cloths, amounts based on the number of painters you have help.
Hose connected to water supply with spray nozzle and/or a pressure washer (we used a hose only).
Sump pump and old towels to empty pool and pump out the bottom after each cleaning and prepping step.
A wet vacuum is also helpful.
RUBBER GLOVES, EYE PROTECTION AND RESPIRATOR FOR WORKING WITH CLEANER AND ACID.
Garden sprayer and large plastic sprinkler/plant watering can are helpful also.
Soda ash (available in bulk online, we used about 5 pounds).
At least 2 people for the cleaning, prep and acid washing and priming. For painting we had 9 and took turns cutting in, rolling, being go-fers, playing music, bringing snacks, etc.
We had plenty of bottled water, donuts, coffee and snacks for our helpers and a hot dinner after where we could social distance and applaud our fine work together!!
Step 1: Drain Your Pool, Spa or Pond
DO NOT DRAIN THE POOL WHEN THE WATER TABLE IS HIGH IN YOUR AREA. This can lead to cracks and broken pipes!! Wait until the end of the long dry summer, make sure the water is pH neutral and chlorine is depleted and pump out slowly
A note about chlorine water: we stopped the automatic chlorination several weeks before draining and tested the draining water to be sure it was safe to water our yard. We spent about 10 days slowly pumping the water to our trees and plants so we did not waste water ‘down the sewer drain.’
[Refer to your pool technician or manual for instruction on releasing the main drain hydro pressure release, if necessary. This is usually not necessary if the ground around the pool is dry and the water table low. We did not need to do this, but we did remove the main drain cover].
Step 2: Clean the Pool
Brush down the entire surface with your pool brush.
WEAR A RESPIRATOR MASK as the cleaner and/or TSP have noxious fumes.
WEAR EYE PROTECTION when mixing and using cleaner.
WEAR GLOVES to avoid skin irritation.
Mix Miracle Clean per package directions.
We found a 2-gallon garden pump sprayer worked great.
One person spray in sections ahead of the scrubber.
Repeat the spray/scrub again.
Dry over night.
Time to complete: about 2 hours each afternoon for 2 days
Step 3: Acid Wash the Pool
Vacuum or sweep up any debris and prepare to mix acid wash.
Muratic acid is caustic and can irritate skin and mucous membranes in your nose, eyes and mouth. PUT ON YOUR RESPIRATOR, GLOVES AND EYE PROTECTION BEFORE OPENING THE ACID GALLONS!!
WEAR RUBBER/PLASTIC BOOTS OR SHOES.
ALWAYS ADD ACID TO WATER, NEVER ADD ANYTHING TO ACID, INCLUDING WATER, OR COMBUSTION MAY OCCUR.
Mix acid into water per label for a 25%-30% solution INTO A LARGE PLASTIC WATERING CAN.
One person dribbles acid water around the perimeter of pool while the other person (in the pool) scrubs with a long-handled chemical safe stiff scrub brush.
You will see bubbling all over the surface. Continue around the whole pool, then do the bottom of the shallow end, then the deep.
Acid wash is a great way to clean the tile, grout and coping around your pool, also, just be sure to keep away from metal and rinse thoroughly.
Rinse the entire pool.
Repeat the acid wash and rinse. Watch for any areas that still bubble, repeat until no bubbling and the entire pool is clean.
THIS STEP CAN MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A BEAUTIFUL FINISHED SURFACE and BUBBLING, PEELING, SLOUGHING and not so beautiful finished surface, so go slowly and be careful.
Time to complete: about 3 hours one afternoon
Step 4: NEUTRALIZE THE ACID BEFORE PUMPING OUT
This step is so important it got its own page!!
Use enough soda ash to neutralize the acid wash water in the bottom of the deep end, we used 5 pounds.
TEST THE ACIDITY BEFORE PUMPING.
Once the acid is neutralized, it can be safely pumped to the drain, ground or deck.
Time to complete: 1/2 hour
Step 5: Prime the Surface of Your Pool
The primer is a 2-part epoxy that seals, fills and smooths the surface, do not skip this step and be sure to buy the proper primer for your surface: plaster, gunite, painted, vinyl, etc.
Wearing gloves and eye protection, add part 1 of primer to part 2 (the gallon of Gunzite). There is enough room in the gallon can to mix in the can. We used a power drill with paint mixer attached but a stir stick works, too.
Loosen, remove or tape any hardware like the chrome surround of the pool light.
One person ‘cuts in’ around the edges, while another comes along behind rolling the walls. Walls first, deep end floor up to the shallow floor, steps and out!
We found it helpful to keep the vacuum handy for random debris that blew in.
The primer must cure now, our directions said 24-48 hours, we waited 2-1/2 days.
Time to complete: about 4 hours (2 people working, with breaks, the primer is a lot thicker than regular paint!)
Admire the pretty surface, clean and ready to paint!
Step 6: PAINT YOUR POOL
The paint mixes just like the primer, 1 can of part 1 into the gallon of Zeron, stir thoroughly.
WAIT 30 MINUTES BEFORE APPLICATION.
We started at 4 pm and finished at 8 pm but we would have finished before sunset if we’d timed the mixing better! We had to wait 30 minutes after mixing to start rolling so...we got to rest and visit between!
Two of us did this entire project up to the painting, then the family pitched in and we had 7 painters and 2 teenagers running errands, bringing water and holding lights at the end.
Time to complete 4 hours, 2-1/2 hours actual painting time.
Step 7: No Skid the Steps
Sprinkle silica sand in the wet paint on the steps to prevent slips.
Nice bonus: it sparkles!
Time to complete: 5 minutes
Step 8: A LAST NOTE...
We put off deciding to do this for years. I actually was finally convinced by talking to our local aquatic center about the epoxy paint they use. It is labor intensive, but with careful prep you can get beautiful results.
Did I mention that only 2 of us did all but the paint? I am so grateful for our family’s help with the painting as we WERE getting a bit tired...
Did I mention we are 70+ years old? If we can do it, so can you!
Runner Up in the