Acid washing pebble tec

mrsfluff

Well-known member
May 7, 2015
58
jackson nj
I am doing research on the effects of acid washing pebble tec. A couple of years ago, my pool guy - who I trusted implicitly - suggested acid washing my pebble tec plaster. He said it would brighten it up. Ok. Sounded good. Well, it appears not. My plaster is now ruined. There is a clear pattern where acid wash would sit SLIGHTLY longer than on other areas. In other words, on the flatter surfaces. It's not on the walls at all but for one little round spot over by the light on the deep end which I noticed on the day the acid wash was completed. But I discount that as an outlier. The damage overall wasn't immediately evident. It got increasingly worse last year and this year. And I'm told it can continue for several years. This season, I felt pebbles on the steps and found them in the pump basket. My pool guy - now out of business, no less - claims that the damage is from hose water or chemicals or the age of my plaster. My plaster was perfectly intact until the wash, my chemical use has been consistent since the pool was built, and hose water? I'm told that isn't even possible. So...is acid wash indicated to brighten up pebble tec? Cuz the only brightening I have now is what looks like a disease where the pebbles fell off, leaving darker blotches all over the stairs, on the shallow end by the stairs and beyond, trailing down from the shallow end all the way to the drains and around the drains. It's an eyesore. I'm just beside myself. Any feedback is greatly appreciated.
 

YippeeSkippy

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 17, 2012
11,538
Evans, Georgia
Oh dear, MrsFluff.... I'm sorry to tell you but acid washing takes off some plaster. It shortens the life of your plaster. It shouldn't be done without good reason.
Which is my question- Why did you have it acid washed??

Maddie :flower:
 
  • Like
Reactions: mrsfluff

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
10,556
Northern NJ
Acid dissolves plaster. How much plaster gets dissolved depends on the strength of the acid and how long it sits on the plaster. The pebbles are secured by the plaster. Remove plaster and you can loosen the pebbles.

During pebble plaster installation acid washing is used to expose the pebbles. You have to know what yiu are doing to use acid on plaster, especially pebbles.

Your pool guy did not know what he was doing.
 
  • Like
Reactions: mrsfluff

mrsfluff

Well-known member
May 7, 2015
58
jackson nj
Oh dear, MrsFluff.... I'm sorry to tell you but acid washing takes off some plaster. It shortens the life of your plaster. It shouldn't be done without good reason.
Which is my question- Why did you have it acid washed??

Maddie :flower:
Hi...and thanks!
I explained in my post that my pool guy suggested it to "brighten up" my plaster. He'd been so good with everything else, he was one contractor - maybe the only one - I trusted. Always doing right by me. I went along knowing nothing but what he told me and I had no reason to doubt him. Now my plaster is ruined and I am devastated. He came and looked when the discoloration first started that season but it was really hard to ascertain that it was acid wash damage at the time. It was all weird and bumpy and blackish-greenish. The spot was right where the return water flow ends. But I think that was combo of missing pebbles and the removal of the mineral canister. The heavy metals can do that. At least temporarily. And the blackish-greenish was indeed temporary. I tried to take underwater pics but they came out awful. I was truly perplexed at the time. Then, after the blackish-greenish disappeared in that very small area, the pebbles coninued to fall off in all the flat areas where the acid wash would have laid or trickled down. Now it looks like a disease. But pool guy insists he had nothing to do with it. I've been told by plaster veterans that even when done 100% right, it's contraindicated for pebble tec. Pool guy suggests that it was hose water or chemicals. I know it isn't. The pattern of missing pebbles is SO obvious. I'm devastated. Now what? Do you know if the plaster can be sanded down, essentially smoothed out. I admit, I do not like the pebble tec. It's so rough and damaging to feet and fabric. Would never recommend it to those with kids. I'm hearing from plaster guys that it's not used as much as it used to be. Diamond Brite seems to be the ticket.
 

mrsfluff

Well-known member
May 7, 2015
58
jackson nj
Acid dissolves plaster. How much plaster gets dissolved depends on the strength of the acid and how long it sits on the plaster. The pebbles are secured by the plaster. Remove plaster and you can loosen the pebbles.

During pebble plaster installation acid washing is used to expose the pebbles. You have to know what yiu are doing to use acid on plaster, especially pebbles.

Your pool guy did not know what he was doing.
Apparently, he didn't. He claimed to have done acid wash on many other pools, pebble included. But now I wonder. And who knows if they had any problems. He's a very nice young man, not in business a long time, but maybe a little overzealous trying to expand his services. Some of us end up the guinea pigs. I told him that I wasn't looking to sue him, and I'm not, but that I wanted him to step up and do the right thing. It's what I expect of him. We shall see.
 

sktn77a

Gold Supporter
May 16, 2010
1,418
Chapel Hill, NC
Acid washing will certainly "brighten up" old stained plaster - it essentially "burns off" the top layer revealing the clean plaster underneath (and talking a couple of years off the life of the plaster). "Bad pool chemistry" - the incompetents excuse for all pool issues! It sounds like your guy used way too concentrated a solution and didn't apply it evenly. Quite common. Not sure if there's a simple solution without being there and/or seeing some pictures.
 
  • Like
Reactions: mrsfluff

mrsfluff

Well-known member
May 7, 2015
58
jackson nj
Acid washing will certainly "brighten up" old stained plaster - it essentially "burns off" the top layer revealing the clean plaster underneath (and talking a couple of years off the life of the plaster). "Bad pool chemistry" - the incompetents excuse for all pool issues! It sounds like your guy used way too concentrated a solution and didn't apply it evenly. Quite common. Not sure if there's a simple solution without being there and/or seeing some pictures.
The funny thing is that my plaster was fine the way it was. But after a dozen years, it sounded like a good idea to freshen it up. Of course, after the pool was filled, it looked great. Bright and clean. But by the end of the pool season, around August, I think it was, that first weird dark blue-greenish discoloration presented in one small area where the return water drops off. I do think that part of it was from removing the mineral cartridge earlier that year. Because that discoloration dissipated over time. But as that went away, the more widespread blotches of a deeper tone of turquoise started to become evident. At first, I thought it was actual discoloration, more of what I had already seen. But upon closer inspection, I realized it was from missing pebbles. On a cloudy day, it looks horrific. On a sunny day, it's a bit less noticeable. Either way, however, it's ruined. And I'm afraid it's going to get worse. No, he didn't know what he was doing. We was putting himself out there, expanding his services without ever really doing his homework. He claims he'd acid washed other pebble pools, but how many, what specific kind, & how they held up? I have no idea. Like I said, I trusted him, he had proven himself for years prior and I had no reason to doubt him. I will say this. I am a firm believer in karma. If he fails to step up, this will not serve him well going forward.

When I open my pool in the spring, I will take photos and post back here. Hopefully, you'll catch them. In the meantime, I'm hoping to gather feedback from as many folks as possible. I want to have a body of knowledge behind me. I asked him to do his own, independent research as well. He keeps blaming chemicals & hose water...and, as you aptly pointed out, that's a convenient excuse. He's a very smart young man. He knows darn well acidic hose water nor chemicals could suddenly cause that kind of damage, especially how it is concentrated in all the flatter areas.

Thanks much for your input!
 

YippeeSkippy

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 17, 2012
11,538
Evans, Georgia
Initially, before the acid wash, were you seeing this discoloration? You mention using mineral cartridges. Could you have been seeing metal stains on the pool plaster and that was why you decided an acid wash might help that??

Maddie :flower:
 
  • Like
Reactions: mrsfluff

mrsfluff

Well-known member
May 7, 2015
58
jackson nj
Initially, before the acid wash, were you seeing this discoloration? You mention using mineral cartridges. Could you have been seeing metal stains on the pool plaster and that was why you decided an acid wash might help that??

Maddie :flower:
Hi there!

No. It wasn't for that at all. My plaster was fine prior to the acid wash. My pool guy suggested it to "brighten up" the plaster. After so many years, you think that maybe it was once was brighter...but that is likely an illusion.

I had a few tiny little rust stains from metal. One was from an umbrella screw in the shallow end...and I forget what the other one was, but it was something I fished out fairly quickly but that had already leached rust. That was on the deep end so no biggy. The rust from the screw, I removed with Vitamin C. My plaster was otherwise perfect with one poorly troweled area (crappy workmanship). That was the area that got all funny (blue-greenish-blackish), right where the return water drops off. My pool guy said I didn't need the mineral cartridge...and he was right. It's a gimmick. But he did remove it that same season. SO...it cudda been a reaction to that, but who knows. The funky color did go away. Meanwhile.....the areas where the pebbles were falling off started becoming very noticeable. But not all at once. It appears that the areas that were most affected just kept losing pebbles until they now look like a darker version of the (turquoise) plaster. It looks like a disease. The steps; the area beneath the steps going outward a bit into the shallow end; the area where liquid would naturally run down the steps (which is where that poorly troweled spot is); and then a trail going all the way down from there to the two main drains where it is then clearly around the drains. The pattern is SO obvious. Chemicals nor hose water could possibly have done that. Impossible, I'd say. I WISH I had taken photos before we put the cover on last week. Dang!