Need Advice on Replastering

AlanHinAZ

Silver Supporter
May 17, 2014
7
Tucson, AZ
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
Thank you all for everything I know about how to keep my pool in perfect condition!

My pool was built around 1979, and based on the condition of the plaster when I moved into my house, I estimate it is now about fifteen years old (plain white marcite). It is still in good condition, just some minor staining and roughness and a ding here and there from a long history of maintenance errors. The configuration had obviously changed along the way, as the bottom drain and one of the four returns are unused, but the circulation is excellent with its one skimmer and a suction-side robot patrolling the bottom.

I had the tile blasted with kieserite a few years ago when I also had the caulking at the top touched up, still looks great. I replaced the single-speed pump with a VS but retained the 100-sq foot cartridge filter, which works very well but needs cleaning about every six weeks, so I'd like to upgrade to 150 or 200. I replaced the 500W pool light myself with an LED model but the niche is bare concrete and though it takes a top screw, there is no bottom tab so the light floats out a bit at the bottom. I've seen a two-part stainless steel ring with top screw and bottom tab (about $50) that could be fitted in to "fix" it in place, but I'd rather have it done the right way.

A few years ago I started noticing small black spots, starting with a persisent dime-sized bit on the deep-end seat that doesn't scrape off with a fingernail for diagnosis and doesn't respond to chlorine or ascorbic acid or vigorous brushing. Don't know if it's from rebar or a metal deposit or a particularly hardened bit of black algae, but barely conspicuous grain-sized spots growing around the rest of the pool seem to indicate black algae. The pool still looks great unless you look at it as closely as I do, but I'd rather take care of it with a full off-season replaster than with weeks of hard brushing at 30 ppm chlorine when I'd rather be swimming, and use the opportunity to do some other minor upgrades, like a proper niche and plastering over the main drain and unused return.

So here is what I think I need to have done (I'm pretty sure I can upsize the filter myself):
  • Chip out and replace plaster, possibly with quartz or pebblesheen or other product, retaining the existing tile
  • Install a proper niche and re-install the pool light
  • Get rid of the main drain and unused return
I'm more inclined to go with quartz than pebble, as I prefer a smoother surface. White is fine as I like the color I have when the sun is out and the colors I get from the LED at night. I'm intrigued by Aquabright since my plaster is in sound condition, but it would need to be smoothed out (sanded down and/or skim-coated?), and I'd worry about the quality of prep and application and availability of qualified and experienced companies serving my area. If I go with quartz, any thoughts on Diamond Bright and other brands? What about Pebblesheen?

Via PM if needed, any up-to-date advice on contractors serving Tucson known to do good work at a fair price and/or any I should avoid? I'd want to start on it after October and have it all done by April.

20210531_125415 resized.jpg
 

AlanHinAZ

Silver Supporter
May 17, 2014
7
Tucson, AZ
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
I haven't used it in ten years and never had a problem with proper circulation. My robotic cleaner runs whenever the pump does and circulates plenty while vacuuming the entire bottom, so I look at it as a roving main drain. I've read a lot of posts here advocating no main drains on new construction and getting rid of them at renovations, but I'm open to considering all the pros and cons of any different approach.
 

Bperry

Gold Supporter
Aug 20, 2020
1,071
Knoxville, TN
Pool Size
27000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
CircuPool RJ-60
I had what I thought might be black algae, and it didn’t take all that much effort to get rid of when it was some small spots. I think your plan sounds fine, except I’d treat the black algae and not wait. In my case it was only a few days of high chlorine (before I discovered this place) and scrubbing them with a brush.

If it’s not algae then than might be some other kind of plaster defect which seems like it could wait.
 

BassPlayingDude

Gold Supporter
Jun 13, 2018
439
Media, PA
Pool Size
9000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Bass,
Lots of pools don't have main drains and are working perfectly well. It is not crucial fr I circulation if there's a skimmer.
I am aware .. however, as a robot-less pool owner, I have found that by splitting suction 60%-40% between my skimmer and main drain the bottom of my pool stays MUCH cleaner. I can totally see how having a robot would mitigate that situation. I have also found that it gives me more flexibility for dealing with situations that may arise like needing to pump below the skimmer level for plaster repairs etc without having to resort to an external pump. All I was saying is that I would consider carefully before making such an alteration. Some people hate them because they regard them as a safety hazard for entrapment, but most new modern high-end pumps have a safety system that shuts the pump off if the vacuum suddenly changes, right?
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
44,871
Laughlin, NV
Pool Size
6000
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
but most new modern high-end pumps have a safety system that shuts the pump off if the vacuum suddenly changes, right?
No. The pumps that do have that are a mess to operate.

There is little need for main drains. About the only reason to have one is for more uniform heating of the pool from very cold water pulling from the main drain will help heat the pool water quicker.
 

BassPlayingDude

Gold Supporter
Jun 13, 2018
439
Media, PA
Pool Size
9000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Nice! Hadn't considered the heating aspect but that makes total sense with the heated water rising near the top and the colder water sinking to the bottom.
I learn something new every day on this forum! :thumleft: Perhaps my opinion is clouded by the fact that I had to search all over creation and eventually do some modification/ fabrication to find the proper O-Ring and float valve to get my main drain back in operation, so now I am playing with "pot odds" ;)
 
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AlanHinAZ

Silver Supporter
May 17, 2014
7
Tucson, AZ
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
I am aware .. however, as a robot-less pool owner, I have found that by splitting suction 60%-40% between my skimmer and main drain the bottom of my pool stays MUCH cleaner. I can totally see how having a robot would mitigate that situation. I have also found that it gives me more flexibility for dealing with situations that may arise like needing to pump below the skimmer level for plaster repairs etc without having to resort to an external pump. All I was saying is that I would consider carefully before making such an alteration. Some people hate them because they regard them as a safety hazard for entrapment, but most new modern high-end pumps have a safety system that shuts the pump off if the vacuum suddenly changes, right?
I split the suction using a Pentair VacMate, essentially a skimmer basket with a plate on top that lets me set the balance between skimmer and vacuum. I haven't tested it with water below the skimmer but if that ever happens and I still need to run the pump, I don't think it would suck much air if any if set for all vacuum. I could always set my VS pump to control the speed of the robot.
 

AlanHinAZ

Silver Supporter
May 17, 2014
7
Tucson, AZ
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
I'm pretty sure my main drain is plumbed into the skimmer, as one of the holes is plugged and there is only one pipe going into the pump. I'll probably leave the skimmer as is, and let the contractor figure out how to handle the unused drain line so everything is good even if the plug fails or is removed. Suggestions always welcome!

Another thing I would either plaster over or (less likely) find a way to utilize is what I guess to be a currently unused inlet for an automatic leveler, or perhaps it was some kind of equalizer line. It's about a half inch of PVC slightly recessed into the wall just below skimmer level on the pad side of the pool. Picture below, please chime in and tell me what it is or was. Edit: I forgot, that's a fill line plumbed to a valve near the pad that might have in turn gone to some sort of auto-level. I use it to supplement filling from a hose, so I'll keep it.

I haven't heard much praise for built-in auto levelers and various post-build solutions, both potential points of failure. Even with Tucson's very rapid evaporation, I don't mind keeping the level topped up and I have lots of folks who watch it for me when I'm away. Plus, it's easy to control my TA by how slowly or vigorously I aerate with the hose, so I actually prefer topping up once or twice a week to any sort of automatic slow drip.


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AlanHinAZ

Silver Supporter
May 17, 2014
7
Tucson, AZ
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
Update:

I now have a better idea of what I'm looking for, and have contacted an outfit who serves my area that folks here seem to like a lot.

My ideal finish would be a Wet Edge product, particularly Primera Stone (Tourmaline), Signature Matrix (Crystal Blue), and Altima (White), and I'm still open to Eco-Finish Aquabrite. The company I've contacted is the only one in AZ whose website shows Aquabrite, and they're listed on Wet Edge's website as an applicator. So I contacted them, and was told that due to pandemic demand and supply chain issues, they're only using their own finishes right now but given that I'm not in a hurry (I could start as late as February), they'll start scoping the job out and will quote based on what they have today, and we can modify it as other finishes become available.

Their own finishes include a marble/quartz plaster similar to Altima, and a mini-pebble finish similar to Pebble Sheen and/or Pebble Fina. The quote guy I spoke to is overseas on a job right now but he'll drop by when he gets back, and I'll drive up to the showroom in Chandler at some point to look at what they've got now and might get soon.
 
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