There are all kinds of pool finishes available today from vinyl, to plaster, to gunite and cement. Each has their individual benefits and drawbacks. In recent years, one kind of pool finish has become more and more popular with pool owners: Pebble Tec.
What is Pebble Tec?
Pebble Tec pool finishes is similar to plaster or marcite. Small river pebbles are mixed with cement and mixed with dye at the truck on the installation site. Pebble Tec has its origins in Australia in the ‘60s where pebbles were mixed with cement to provide smooth and durable beach entries—the plaster ones that were being installed by craftsmen weren’t cutting it. This practice then began to be used in entire pools with smaller exposed aggregate. Over the next 15 years, this practice became widely popular for pools in Australia.
The technology made its way to the US in the ‘80s and has gained traction in the states ever since. The Pebble Tec company is based in Scottsdale, AZ.
Why Pebble Tec?
Pebble Tec is synonymous with quality. Only the finest pebbles and seashells are imported from around the world to create the different available product lines. These pebbles are collected worldwide along river beds and on beaches.
If you ever watch a video about an extravagant swimming pool, odds are it’s made with Pebble Tec. Because it comes in over 70 rich colors and has such a decadent finish, it’s known for being synonymous with quality and luxury.
Pebble Tec is also very durable and isn’t as susceptible to staining so maintenance is a breeze.
How is it applied?
Pebble Tec is brought in a truck and applied by license technicians. The cement and pebble mix are combined with water and additives in a unique formula, then pumped through a hose to the pool via high pressure. That mixture is then troweled onto the pool walls and along the floor by hand one area at a time to make sure it’s formed into an even surface.
The surface is then sprayed to expose the pebbles and remove the thin layer of cement that covers the aggregate. After hardening for 24 hours, it then receives an acid rinse. The final treatment is a special solution that is used to enhance brightness of the pebbles. A quick buffer and pressure water cleaning and the new Pebble Tec surface is ready to be filed.
Any special maintenance instructions?
Some pool companies and Pebble Tec themselves recommend that owners balance their pool using the Langlier Saturation Index, a system that takes into account pH, alkalinity, water temperature, chlorine, in addition to calcium hardness. It’s recommended for the first 30 days after Pebble Tec is applied that pH and alkalinity be monitored closely because they can directly affect the appearance of the surface.
It may help to maintain levels of pH, alkalinity, and calcium hardness towards the lower end of the index. Keep in mind, you may need to add muriatic acid to your pool 2 to 3 times per week during the first month. After 30 days, the pool needs to be checked 1 to 2 times per week and adjusted accordingly. If your Pebble Tec is a darker color (a deep blue or black), it’s more important to follow these instructions. DO NOT chlorinate the pool until the water is filtered and pH and alkalinity are balanced. Chlorine is highly reactive and can cause metals or minerals to precipitate which may lead to cloudy water, scale or staining.