You and your family get a lot out of your pool. It's a place to wind down, a place to enjoy time with friends and loved ones, and a place to get exercise. For many people, the day they first put in a pool is one of their proudest days as a homeowner. Pool resurfacing is an important part of making sure that your investment lasts a lifetime and brings a lifetime's worth of enjoyment.

Because pool resurfacing is so important to extending the life of your pool and protecting it, we've compiled four of the biggest signs you need to watch out for that indicate it's time for pool resurfacing. We also talk about what exactly pool resurfacing is and why it's so necessary. Finally, we examine whether it's a good idea to try pool resurfacing on your own or whether you're better off hiring a professional to do it for you.

What is Pool Resurfacing?

Most pools are made of a concrete shell covered in gunite. This is the base construction layer. On top of that comes a special finish that can be made of a variety of materials. The ultimate durability and quality of the end product depends on what finish is used. When you have your pool resurfaced, you are essentially just replacing this finish layer. Most of the time there is no need to touch the shell.

What Are Pool Liners Made From?

  • Plaster - Some pools are made with pool plaster, which is cement mixed with sand or limestone. This is the most common type of pool finish and also the cheapest. It is fairly durable, but not as durable as some other surfacing options. You can normally expect a pool made with a plaster finish to last about seven years.
  • Fiberglass - A fiberglass finish is often used with aboveground pools. It is the least durable of the bunch and is usually not a good idea for use over concrete pool bases. This is the least expensive option and is made up of a fiberglass-based resin coated with special gels.
  • Pebble - A pebble finish is similar to the plaster finish with the addition of pebbles in the mix. The addition of pebbles makes the finish much more durable and it can be expected to last as long as 12 years. The pebbles also make the pool more stain resistant. This is a more expensive option, and some people do not prefer the feeling of the rough pebbles at the bottom of the pool.
  • Quartz - The most durable and expensive option available is adding crushed quartz instead of pebbles to your pool plaster. Your pool can be expected to last about 15 years with a quartz finish. Otherwise, it is quite similar to a pebble finish, though it is far more colorful.

What Happens if I Ignore Resurfacing?

If you ignore resurfacing for too long, there can be a lot of negative consequences. For one thing, the longer you wait, the more likely it becomes that problems with the liner will generate problems in the underlying base. When that happens, the cost of repairing the pool goes up astronomically. Problems in the liner can also result in injuries to swimmers if left too long. In a worst-case scenario, the pool will become completely unusable and could eventually collapse as constant leakage into the surrounding soil changes the pressure in and around your pool.

Does Your Pool Need it?

Empty pool

Does your pool need pool resurfacing? This is the important question, and there are a number of good, telltale signs that you should be looking for. If you notice any of these signs, it's probably time to invest in pool resurfacing.

1. The Texture Is Off

Person leaning at the edge of the pool

Have you noticed that the texture of your pool has changed significantly? The surface may start to feel rougher than it ever did. Even worse, the gunite underneath may be starting to show through. This change in roughness can be accelerated if the pH balance of the pool's water is off frequently. If you haven't been doing a good job of keeping it balanced, the water may deteriorate the pool liner at a faster rate than expected.

2. You Notice Leaking

Leaking is always a bad sign with your pool. If you have an aboveground pool, you may notice this particularly because of soggy ground around the pool. If you have an in-ground pool, you'll find yourself having to add water much too often. If you've noticed that you seem to be adding water more often than ever before, this is a good sign that you have a leak. Just like leaks in your home plumbing, leaks in your pool do not get better by themselves. They only get worse. Get your pool resurfaced to stop the leaking and save yourself an enormous water bill.

3. You Can't Get Rid of Stains

Pool texture

If you find yourself facing ugly pool stains that won't go away, this is a sign it's time for a pool resurfacing. Stains come from excess metal in the water, debris that's not cleaned away quickly, too much chemical in the water, or even algae. Keeping your pool regularly maintained and cleaned will minimize stains and be good for the life of your pool liner. Just be aware that even the best cleaning and routine maintenance can't put off the need for pool resurfacing forever.

4. Cracks

Your pool can suffer from different kinds of cracking and none of it is good. Structural cracks are the worst and usually coincide with noticeable leaking. Structural cracks mean that both the liner and the base are cracked. If this is happening, not only do you need pool resurfacing, but you also need to inject an epoxy and use some steel staples to fix the underlying base crack.

Less serious are what are known as "check cracks." This type of crack can be difficult to see unless the pool is drained, but you can find them if you look for them. They look like the cracks you would see on an eggshell when you knock it against the counter. They are the natural response of cement to temperature changes and are inevitable. When you start to notice a lot of these, it's time for pool resurfacing.

DIY vs. Hiring A Pro

Should you try to resurface your pool by yourself or is it better to hire a professional? Most experts will highly recommend that you hire a professional if you don't have experience and expertise already.

Here are some reasons why:

  • You may need a permit. Many cities require a permit to resurface the pool and have special requirements about where you may drain the pool water. A professional will know exactly what is needed and will have the expertise and knowledge to get things done quickly.
  • You have to work with dangerous chemicals. In order to thoroughly clean the surface before you refinish it, you will have to use trisodium phosphate and then apply a coating of muriatic acid in order to remove all the mineral deposits. These can damage the skin if they touch it and will harm your lungs if you inhale it. It may even be necessary to use a respirator in order to safely clean your pool. Professionals have the materials on hand to clean your pool safely.
  • It's a lot of hard work. Even if you are no stranger to hard work, you may find it hard to fit refinishing a pool into your busy life and schedule. If you have a plaster liner, for example, you will need at least a chisel and pick, if not a jackhammer, to remove all the plaster from the gunite. Then you'll have to get down on your hands and knees and use a wire brush to remove all the last of the material from the shell. This is an extremely taxing and time-consuming bit of work that could be done much faster and more efficiently by professionals.
  • Re-plastering has to be done just right. You need to make sure that your liner is perfectly even all around. It will take 2,500 pounds of plaster and about 3,500 pounds of white marble plaster to do the job correctly. That's a lot of lifting and a lot of hauling. You also have to make sure that the plaster does not set too quickly, so you will not be able to take breaks and will certainly need the help of at least one friend.
  • Water does not give you any grace. Once you try to refill your pool, every little mistake will immediately become clear. You may have to do the entire project again.

Conclusion

If you've noticed leaks, a change in texture, stains, or cracks in your pool, it could be time for pool resurfacing. If you put off this vital maintenance job, it could have serious consequences down the line and will certainly cost you more money. While it is possible to resurface your pool by yourself, in the end it is almost always a better idea to get professionals to do it. That way you can be sure it's done right from the beginning. If you take care of your pool and its regular maintenance you can expect to enjoy a lifetime of fun and exercise from this important household investment.

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