Old Indoor Gunite / Plaster Pool - What do we do?

Jon123

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2018
45
Massachusetts
Pool Size
20000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
Our pool was built around 1985. I believe the plaster is original, but it is starting to chip off quite a bit. I can see some previous owners have done some patches, and we have a few sections where the plaster has flaked off, including one or two larger sections (about 6-8 inch diameter). There is also a decent amount of discoloration and staining (looks like rust in some spots, others due to water) in some spots. See here.

You can see here for all the details on the pool including lots of photos.

We were considering re-plastering the pool, but as is often the case, we've had a few contractors out but they don't seem to agree on what the best course of action is.

There is re-plastering which we've received 2-3 quotes on, but some of them have said it's possible that during this process the tile and/or coping could fail and would end up needing to be replaced. This is effectively 2x+ the price if that happens.

Another contractor said not to replaster it, that it would end up failing faster, and to just patch the holes and if we wanted to change how it looks to paint it. On the forum, I've seen that painting would likely need to be re-done often (every 2 years or so), so that doesn't seem like a great option.

Any thoughts on what these guys are saying? Any options I'm not considering?

Lastly, on the decking, one of the slabs of concrete settled about 2-3 inches lower than the others. We received a quote to replace it, and it's quite costly (IIRC it was around $12-15k). I had a company out that said they can raise it using PolyLevel (basically mudjacking, but they use expanding foam instead of "mud"), and they quoted something like $3k to get it back to where it should be.
Photo here: Room
The questions on the decking are:
1. Does anyone have experience with this?
2. Any potential that this could damage the pool?
3. Any other options to consider?

Thanks!
 

PoolStored

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TFP Guide
Jun 24, 2021
2,763
Ashtabula, OH
Pool Size
30000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
CircuPool RJ-60
PolyLevel (basically mudjacking, but they use expanding foam instead of "mud"), and they quoted something like $3k to get it back to where it should be.

I can only speak to this part of your dilemma. I had 3 slabs of my outdoor pool settle, up to 2". They used PolyLevel, got 2 of the three back to level, the one with 2" got to within 1/8" of level on one end and level on the other. It worked great and I would do it again. Cost about $1900, Northern Ohio. Given your location, I'm not surprised at 3K. Not sure, if it would do any damage to your pool. The areas they did were not against the pool walls. YMMV
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
38,875
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
We were considering re-plastering the pool, but as is often the case, we've had a few contractors out but they don't seem to agree on what the best course of action is.

That is not surprising. Ask 3 contractors and you ill get three different answers. Each will propose what they are most comfortable doing, not what is best.

Does the pool leak water?

If the pool does not leak water then everything is cosmetic.

If the pool is leaking water then it needs some work.

There is re-plastering which we've received 2-3 quotes on, but some of them have said it's possible that during this process the tile and/or coping could fail and would end up needing to be replaced. This is effectively 2x+ the price if that happens.

You or a contractor should be able to examine the tile and grout and tap on each piece and see how secure they are. You can clearly hear the difference in the hollow sound when tile is not secure to the walls.

When you start doing work on an old structure you have to plan on opening up a can of worms and finding unforeseen issues. It is just the nature of the beast.

Another contractor said not to replaster it, that it would end up failing faster, and to just patch the holes and if we wanted to change how it looks to paint it. On the forum, I've seen that painting would likely need to be re-done often (every 2 years or so), so that doesn't seem like a great option.

That makes no sense. It sounds like a contractor who does not like to do replaster work.

A properly done replaster job with a full chipout of the old plaster is starting fresh and should be as good as a new pool. You want a full chipout using sand blasting or flat chisels, not pointed chisels that remove too much gunite. It is labor intensive and messy and the workmen need to be careful not to damage your tile or coping.

Any thoughts on what these guys are saying? Any options I'm not considering?

Your options are:

  • Do nothing if the pool is not leaking
  • Replaster with a fill chipout
  • Replaster with a full chipout and new tile and coping
  • You can patch areas every year or two and be in and endless cycle of pool repairs
 
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Jon123

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2018
45
Massachusetts
Pool Size
20000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
A properly done replaster job with a full chipout of the old plaster is starting fresh and should be as good as a new pool. You want a full chipout using sand blasting or flat chisels, not pointed chisels that remove too much gunite.
This is great info to have! My estimates are a bit old now (2019/2020), so I assume they're much higher now, but my quotes at the time were $15k (2 of them), and $11k. Both of these were for replastering with Quartz.


If the pool does not leak water then everything is cosmetic.
As far as I can tell there are no leaks yet. I have to add water a couple times during the summer usually, but I think that is fairly normal.

You can see some photos here (I just added some photos this afternoon showing the interior of the pool).

That's what I did and my ugly bullnose brick coping was undamaged.

Yeah, I don't love our coping, but I like it more than the cost to replace it right now.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
38,875
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
This is great info to have! My estimates are a bit old now (2019/2020), so I assume they're much higher now, but my quotes at the time were $15k (2 of them), and $11k. Both of these were for replastering with Quartz.

Those were decent prices at the time but probably did not include a full chipout.

You have gone 3 years with things the way they are so there is no immediate problem.
 
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Jon123

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2018
45
Massachusetts
Pool Size
20000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
After looking over the quotes now you're correct that they didn't include a full chipout. Any idea what kind of premium that normally costs over the estimates I've received?
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
38,875
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
After looking over the quotes now you're correct that they didn't include a full chipout. Any idea what kind of premium that normally costs over the estimates I've received?
Hard to say what a full chipout will cost in the east. Many contractors don’t want to do it and will price accordingly.
 
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