Ok, so you passed on the new big screen TV, gave in on the weekend fishing trip with your best buddies and worked some extra hard hours so that you could get the pool resurfaced. After all you must put into priority what really counts most, right? Well never the less your pool has a new coat of plaster weather it’s a Quartz Finish, a Stone Finish or Conventional Marcite (is that stuff still around?) makes no difference. Hopefully you found the right contractor to do the job and everything went smoothly? Let’s leave that for another article. So your pool is filling and what you do next could absolutely decide how long your new plaster will look new and how long it will last. I kid you not, start-up, aka fire-up of the new finish is one of the most important parts of the re-plastering process.
I have found that although you may have used a reputable pool contractor to do a superb job of the actual re-finishing does not necessarily mean they will do a proper fire-up once the pool is filled. Might be that plastering is their forte and only offer the fire-up as a courtesy because there competition does, or they may not offer it all due to the liability of damaging the new finish. So it would certainly behoove you to know exactly what is necessary to safeguard the integrity and warranty of your pool finish. After all, that weekend fishing trip would look pretty good after having your pool refinished only to be stained, streaked and discolored.
The consensus has been: once the pool is filled you need to get the water cleared and balanced as soon as possible (contractor needs that check) That usually meant shocking the pool heavily, balancing the alkalinity, PH and vacuuming the pool to remove the plaster dust and any debris that might have entered the pool during the refill. All done in one day and usually on the day the pool was finished filling.
Back in the 70’s & 80’s the plaster of choice (only choice) was conventional Marcite and a recurring problem builders were having with the plaster was a condition known as spot etching. Some other conditions that were prevalent in these same pools were streaking, grey swirls and yellowing of the finish. Everyone in the industry had their own opinion or expert advice as to why this was happening, the only problem was that the industry as a whole could not agree on the “why”. The National Spa & Pool Industry (NSPI) as it was known back then, in conjunction with several pool builders conducted several tests on demo pools to try to come up with a common denominator that could explain the ongoing conditions affecting pool finishes.
Some of the first finger pointing pool was at the fact that Marcite used to contain Asbestos as part of the plaster mix, for OBVIOUS reasons the EPA had the Manufactures of Marcite remove the Asbestos and low and behold every old-timer in the industry blamed the removal off the Asbestos as the source of all plaster related problems. We know better today that was not true but unfortunately those old-school plasterers are not around anymore, huh? wonder why? So these demo pools were plastered, filled and monitored for about a year. After all the hoopla, all the finger pointing and all the data was in, guess what, the NSPI and the industry determined the common denominator was human error, labor defects, defects in the actual mixing of the plaster on the job-site, defects in the actual application of the plaster, defects in the hand troweling of the plaster as well as the condition of the trowels themselves. Last but not least and most prevalent was the start-up procedure done by most companies.
Houston we have a problem!
How can this be? Was echoed throughout the industry. We are the experts, we’ve been doing this for years and years without these problems, how could all of a sudden our time and tested techniques be the blame for all of our woes? Well like all trades that have have well skilled craftsmen they all had their industry specific niche. Pool plasterers were not born from the industry but transferred from the masonry, concrete and stucco finishing trades. After all swimming pools really did not have their own industry classification until the late 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Pools were being built by home builders who employed skilled craftsmen, skilled in block laying, carpentry, form work, concrete finishing and plastering.