How to Paint a Pool in 5 easy steps

how to paint a poolA couple weeks ago I took you through all the items and considerations of what you need to buy and think about when planning a pool painting project.

In today’s guide we’ll be getting down to the business of prepping, painting, and accessorizing your pool. How to paint a swimming pool.

To reference information about paint type, pool type, amount of paint to buy, or any other purchasing related questions please check out my Pool Paint Buyer’s Guide.

Let’s get started!

Step one: Time your Pool Painting Project

The weather and temperature have everything to do with how keep good weatherwell and quickly a pool painting project will go. Typically, you should try to find a stretch of time of a minimum of one week where there will be no rain and hopefully at least a few hours of sun during the day. This can be tricky during springtime.

Avoid painting if there temperature is below 40 F, above 90F, or if it is extremely humid. Avoid high winds that blow all kinds of spring tree debris into your pool.

Before and after painting, the pool needs to be very dry, unless you are using Acrylic pool paint, or epoxy primer. If you do experience rain or wind blown debris,before or soon after painting,get out there with a leaf blower and clean shoes, and clean out the pool of debris and rain water as soon as possible. Good luck! It’s always fun to depend on weathermen!

Another thing to consider is how high the water table is prior to draining your pool. It is usually a bad idea to drain a pool too soon after (or right before) a large storm.  The concern here is that the higher water table can “float” the pool. This happens when the forces pushing up the pool overwhelm the forces keeping the pool in the ground and the pool literally floats out of the ground.

To avoid floating your pool, be sure that you open up thefflush plug or hydrostat plug hydrostatic relief caps that are plastered into the floor of plastered pools. Look for small white plastic circles in the floor. Chip out the plaster on the inside of the cap, and use large straight pliers to twist it out, as soon as water gets low enough to reach the cap.

There is also usually a hydrostatic relief cap or plug in the main drain pot also, directly in the bottom center.

Step two: Prep your Pool for Paint

Prepping your pool for paint includes:

  1. Draining the pool, far from pool, opening hydrostats
  2. Scraping away loose paint; repair & fill any cracks or hollow spots
  3. Rinse & Scrub with TSP (Tri-Sodium Phosphate) to remove oils
  4. Acid wash the pool surfaces to roughen the surface
  5. Rinsing the pool to remove any acid or TSP residue
  6. Pump out any remaining water and let dry completely (3-5 days)
  7. Tape up any lights, tiles, and fittings with painter’s tape

Acid washing a pool for painting can be a hazardous procedure. This normally involves diluted Muriatic acid, a flower watering can, and a garden hose to rinse quickly. It may be safer to use our pool paint Prep Kit, which contains TSP, and a granular form of Sulfamic Acid that you mix with water. Covers 800 sq. ft. of surface area.

Follow all manufacturer’s directions on the Surface Prep Kit (or similar kits that include the TSP wash and the acid etching solution) closely to help you get through the prep process, and create a clean and rough surface to assist in your new paint bond.

Step three: Painting the Pool

Now that your pool has been prepped and is completely dry, we’re ready to paint.  if your pool has never been painted before, or if the surface is very rough, you should plan on adding a primer. Primer coats improve the bond, and extend the more expensive finish coat pool paints. Depending on your pool surface type, there are difference primers available. Consult our pool primer chart for more information.

Remember to mix your paint thoroughly. Use a power drill with a mixing paddle to ensure that your pool paint is mixed properly. Epoxy paints have an additive that begins a reaction when you mix it into the paint, and each batch should be used within a few hours. don't be that guy!

When painting you want to start at the deep end and work your way to the shallow end. Use a telescoping pole to reach all the way up the walls. Don’t be the guy that started at the shallow end and ended up trapping himself in the deep end!

Use a low nap roller, 3/8″ nap or less, for smooth surfaces. A 5-gallon bucket with a grid works better than a low, flat paint pan. Buy a wooden extension pole that you can screw into the roller frame so that you can roll the paint more easily. Overlap just slightly, and use an even pressure for the best finish. Use a small cut-in brush to handle the 90 degree corners around steps and swim outs.

Before, during and right after painting, blow off the pool deck with a leaf blower or a garden hose, to keep wind blown debris from blowing in on your about-to-be-painted, or your just-freshly-painted, pool surfaces. Also, tie up the dog. Seriously.

For pool paints that require multiple coats, follow the appropriate directions and never rush a second coat of paint if the first coat is not ready. It can take 2-8 hours for a coat of paint to dry; depending on temperature, wind and humidity. Work fast, but steadily, and monitor the amount of paint that you are using, so that you don’t end up running short on paint, or having much left over.

Don’t forget to have fun! While painting is a serious task, if you ever wanted to add any stencils or patterns on the pool walls or bottom – this is the perfect time!  There are many neat ideas that people have come up with for making their pools looks more fun – anywhere from stencils, to scatter painting, logos, to full-on artistic murals! It’s your pool, paint it how you like it!

Step four: After Painting the Pool

You have finished painting the pool. Looks good doesn’t it? You can now remove any painter’s tape. Before thinking about doing anything crazy, like filling the pool with water right away – make sure you have given the paint sufficient time to dry. Usually this is 3-5 days, but make sure to double check the directions on the specific paint type you’ve used. If you get any rain or moisture during the drying time, make sure you are removing the water as fast as possible and allowing for extra dry time if the rain lasts for more than an hour or two.

Step five: Filling the Painted Pool

When the pool paint is completely dry:

  • Fill the pool with water without stopping until full
  • Balance the pH, alkalinity, and hardness levels
  • Apply the appropriate levels of chlorine
  • Start up the filter system
  • Resume your normal chemical maintenance

Enjoy your Painted Pool!

If you’ve stayed with me through these past two blog posts, you’ve successfully purchased, painted, and refilled your pool! Now the only thing to do is to enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Happy Swimming!

martin knows pool paints




Martin Ratchev
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


How to Paint a Pool in 5 easy steps — 4 Comments

  1. Hi,
    I’m Bob from Ramona (near San Diego), CA. I want to repaint with epoxy, but I have two large eucalyptus trees within “blowing distance” of my pool. I can basically guarantee that if I paint the pool, I’ll get leaves, berries, and probably twigs in it. Since I can’t stand sentry with a leafblower for 48 hours worth of paint/dry/repaint/redry, can I put a mesh safety cover over the freshly painted pool until it is at least no longer tacky (if not fully cured)? I understand this will be difficult to keep the cover off the paint, but if that could be done, would having that kind of cover hamper drying or damage the cover (given the VOCs from the epoxy)?

    • Hi Bob, I did that once, used a mesh safety cover during and after painting, due to spring debris. And if you do it carefully, with 2 people, the cover probably need not touch the pool floor. Attach one side, or one end, and two people can pull it across. It may dampen the dry time a small amount. I think we set up a fan in the deep end, and left the shallow end cover corners open, as I recall. It worked well! But, I don’t recommend painting under cover – we were pretty high from the fumes! 😉

  2. Hello I’m from Phoenix az I have a window to paint my in ground pool from 4am to 8am temperature 81 to 88 after that the temperature goes up and will be in the 100 will the pain be okay and or will anything happen to the pain in the pool in the heat some people suggest or recommend not to paint its touch up not painting entire pool.all the bottom of the pool,around 4 inches up the wall and top edge around the pool.will it be okay?I want to do this in the earlie morning 06/30/17

    • Hi Christine, best temperatures for painting a pool are 60-80 degrees, and cool mornings are best. I think the paint will be OK if you are able to put it down in the early morning hours, before temperatures climb near 90. It will be mostly dry in a few hours. If just spot painting, perhaps you can shade the areas, with small tables or something to block direct sun, if that’s an issue. Not the best time of year to paint, in Arizona, probably march or november are the best months – but, I think you’ll be OK if it gets 4-6 hours of dry time before you hit 100, but on the other hand, i could be wrong! Hope it turns out OK, I’m fairly certain it will, but calling the paint manufacturer would give you more accurate advice.

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