Swimming Pool Paints: a buyer’s guide

how to select the proper pool paint for your applicationThere’s nothing like a new coat of paint to freshen up the look and feel of your pool.  Whether you need paint because your pool paint is fading, chalking, blistering, bubbling, or if this is the first time the pool will be painted – this guide will cover it all!

Selecting the proper paint and making sure you have all the necessary tools and accessories can help you avoid the costly complications that may otherwise occur.

In this detailed guide I’ll take you through the types of pool paint, the correct type for your particular application, the necessary amount of paint for your pool, surface prep, and tips on recommended accessories to help you succeed with your pool painting project.

Types of Pool Paint

There are three different types of pool paint: Epoxy, Rubber-Based, and Acrylic.  Selecting the correct type of paint for your pool is a combination of two variables: the type of pool surface you have (if your pool is unpainted) or, if already painted – the type of pool paint that was used when previously painted.

If your pool has never been painted before, you needn’t worry about using the same type of paint that was used before. Depending on your pool surface type, you can choose from these pool paint optionsFor previously painted pools, you should use the same paint type used before, or use a water-based acrylic, which will bond to any previous pool paint type used. Here’s a chart to help select pool paint, based on the previous coating type usedselection tool for pool paint typeEpoxy 

Super Poxy Shield epoxy pool paint is our strongest and longest-lasting pool paint. Used in new construction and on pools previously painted with Epoxy pool paint. It cures to a hard and non-porous surface that resists pool chemicals, UV rays, and automatic pool cleaning machines. One application can last 5-7 years.

Rubber-Based Paint 

Envirolon synthetic rubber-based paints are perfect for gunite, plaster, and concrete pools. It is easy to apply and cures to a smooth surface that is easier to keep clean.  No longer made with chlorinated compounds, our new synthetic rubber-based pool paint is low VOC. For those who like the original, our CRC Pro-Series rubber-based paint is an economical standard. Two properly applied coats will last about 2-4 years.

Water-based Acrylic 

Aqua Coat acrylic pool paint can be applied to any type of pool surface, as well as over any of the pool paint types. Since it’s water based, it can be thinned with water and even painted over a damp surface. It provides an easy to maintain enamel finish and has the fastest drying time of 3 days. Acrylic paint is best used in situations needing minimal down-time, and low cost. When properly applied, 2 coats should last 1-2 years.

Do I need to use a Primer?

A primer is necessary for the best bond to most unpainted pool surfaces. For acrylic or rubber-based paints, a diluted or full strength first coat will serve as a primer. When painting an unpainted plaster surface with epoxy pool paints, a coat of epoxy primer should be used.

buy epoxy pool primersFor rough surfaces, bare concrete or gunite, use the gunite primer before using epoxy paints, to fill in and smooth out the surfaces while improving the bond between pool and paint. Steel or aluminum pools require a special primer and process. Contact our pool paint experts for specific advise on these pool types.

How much pool paint do I need to buy?

This is a question whose answer depends on several things – the paint you are using, the amount of required coats, and the square footage of your pool. Once you have added up the square footage of your pool surfaces to be painted, divide that by the square footage / gallon of your type of paint – that will be how many gallons of paint you will need to buy. Remember that you may have to account for more than one coat of paint. Pitted, rough surfaces, and unpainted surfaces tend to soak up more paint per square foot.

Here is a helpful page that will help you calculate your pool surface area.

It’s always a good idea to buy at least 1 extra gallon of pool paint than you think you’ll need, so that you can paint it completely, all at once. If you fall short of what’s needed for complete coverage, the paint won’t be consistently applied. As you get close to the end of applying the final coat, you can roll on the pool paint more thickly, to use up excess supply, especially on steps and around the main drain(s).

Pool Painting Preparation

If your pool area is damaged, you will need to repair and fill any cracks, pits, or holes before prepping the surface.

To properly prepare the surface of a gunite or plaster pool, the first step is to safely drain the pool completely. The next step is to remove any invisible grease and oils that are on the surface. Using a flower watering can and a scrub brush, wash the surface with a Tri-Sodium Phosphate (TSP) solution, and scrub well. Rinse thoroughly.

prep kit for pool paintingAfter the surface is degreased, you are ready to remove mineral deposits and “etch” the surface. Diluted muriatic acid can be used, or use our easier and safer Sulfamic Acid cleaner. Etching the pool surface gives the new paint a rougher surface to adhere to. TSP and Acid can be purchased separately, but are conveniently sold together as part of our Surface Preparation Kit.

Fiberglass pools will require sanding (the entire pool) with coarse sandpaper, instead of acid etching; followed by cleansing with TSP, as described above.

Before painting, clean off the deck surrounding the pool, to prevent debris from blowing in the pool. Check the weather; no rain or high winds in the forecast. And, on all paints except Acrylic, you will need several days of drying time before and after painting the pool.

Pool Painting Supplies

  • 3/8″ nap paint roller, frame and extension pole
  • Paint roller pan or bucket with grill
  • Paint mixer drill attachment
  • Trim brushes for corners
  • Painter’s tape for tile line, lights, wall fittings
  • White sand for non-skid step areas

You can purchase these items separately, or you can just take the easy route and order one of our Pool Paint Application Kits.

OK, that’s enough information to get you started. Painting your pool is a quick way to improve the appearance of your pool. In most cases, you can paint your pool for less than $1 per square foot! Take a look at all of our pool paints and pool painting supplies, and start planning your pool painting project!

martin knows pool paints
Martin Ratchev
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


Swimming Pool Paints: a buyer’s guide — 16 Comments

  1. I have a pool that has water based acrylic paint over synthetic rubber over chlorinated rubber. I power washed the pool and all of the water based acrylic paint is removed. Now I have the synthetic rubber over the chlorinated rubber. I also have a lot of bare concrete. I would like to convert to epoxy and see you have Advance Plus for this purpose. I’m wondering if I need to prime the bare concrete before painting with Advance Plus.

    • Hi Dave, I don’t think you’ll need to prime it… but do the usual tsp – acid – tsp procedure on the entire pool, rinse and dry well. Other instructions are on the can. Advance Plus yep – that’s the way to go! Then two coats of a nice epoxy. With good water balance, it can last 7 years, with a hard thick ceramic like surface.

  2. Hello,

    I have a pool where the floor had rubberized paint and the sides are fiberglass. I power washed the floors and was able to get most of the paint off, but there were still areas where the paint would not come up. I would like to know what type of primer I should use before repainting my pool?

    • Hi Kameaka, no need to use a primer really, unless the surfaces are very rough and pitted. You can paint right over the old paint, but be sure that you are using the same type as before – you mentioned rubber paint, we sell two types, regular and low-VOC rubberized paints. Either would work. Use two coats after a complete drying of the pool. Also, be sure to scrub the surfaces with TSP, or other degreaser, before drying.

  3. Hi we have a concrete pool with the top 4 feet being galvanized steel. It had a liner on it but we’re thinking of painting it instead. Can you use pool paint on the upper section (metal) as well?

    • Kelly, if your pool did have a liner in it, it may be because of severe leaking problems between wall sections or between wall and floor…? I am familiar with your design of pool, it is not meant to be used with a liner, but they can have some leaking problems, which you could possibly fix without too much expense…? To answer your question though, yes you can paint both the concrete floor and steel walls, epoxy pool paint is best.

  4. Hi! I have a water based paint on my pool. Most of it is gone but there is a large area in the bottom that still has paint. We have done a TSP, acid wash and power washed the walls. I’d like to use a rubber based paint. 1. Will I have to completely remove the remaining paint, 2. Will I have to use a primer or should I just keep an acrylic paint?

    • Hi, I would stick with the Water based Acrylic paint. the rubber paint won’t bond well over top of the acrylic, and removing it all is a big job. Plus, the water based paint is a bit easier to use since the pool doesn’t need to be completely dry to apply. There is no conversion primer to go from acrylic to rubber, but there is one to go from rubber to epoxy.

  5. i have a gunite in ground pool and hot tub,. looking to remove tiles on top border as well as repaint.
    need to remove tiles. do you have tiles in stock?
    which plaster or whatever is best to build up area where tiles will be removed? i saw a tile called classique 6×6 upgrade. and some plain in a SEABREEZE SERIES that were 6×6. This is a glass tile. what cutter is best used to cut tile on wall to remove without damaging gunite wall. 1 layer of border Tiles right now are exactly even with gunite

    • Hi, we don’t carry pool tiles, but you can find some online, or from a local pool supplier. You can use a regular pool plaster mix behind the tile, to build-up and level the area behind the tile. To remove tiles from the wall, you can use a hammer and chisel, professional crews often use a small air activated (pneumatic) chisel for speed. You may knock off some of the base material while removing the tiles, but not much, it is replaced when you set the new tile. Large chunks or cracks, if any – are first filled with a hydraulic cement, and allowed to cure for a few days, before setting your tiles in a plaster mix. Or, if the mounting surface is smooth and level, you can use thinset mortar. Be sure the surface is smooth, with no bits of grout sticking up. Oh, pros also often use a 4″ grinder with a diamond blade to cut directly under the tile, before chipping the tile, to prevent cuts and chips to the plaster below, and to create a ‘shelf’ to set the new tiles on…

    • Hi David, probably you could use pool paint on a boat hull, however it is not made to stand up to ocean salt, barnacles, sharks, etc… but for the inside of the boat sure, for the outside, boat paint is probably better to use.

  6. Is there a rough surface epoxy paint that I can use on my fiberglass pool steps to take the place of the friction tape. The tape is gone or in the process of falling off and I need something to take it’s place.

    • Hi John, you can use epoxy pool paint, and add some very fine sand to create a non-skid surface. Steps would have to be prepped to include cleaning and sanding, and must be fiberglass, not ABS plastic steps, which cannot be painted. For ABS steps, sanding and reapplying an underwater non skid tape would be the ticket.

  7. Dear Sir
    I have a new concrete pool that has not been painted.
    can you tell me please what kind of paint do you recommend I use.
    I am looking for Burgundy color. Do you know any pool paint companie that sells such color
    thank you ver much James

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