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The Department of The Interior (Pt. 2 - Traditional Plaster)

Updated: Jun 27, 2023


Last week, we talked about quartz aggregate. This week, we’ll talk a little about the most ubiquitous pool interior finish of them all: traditional plaster, AKA marcite. As we mentioned, the classic beauty of a white plaster finish is undeniable, and it’s still the most popular pool finish.

So let’s get to it:


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What is Plaster (Marcite)?


Plaster is what most people think about when they think about the interior of a swimming pool. That swimming pool you grew up in was most likely plaster, as were the community pools of your youth. But what we refer to as plaster is actually a building mixture known as marcite. This material is so common in pool construction, and has been used for so long, that the terms “marcite” and plaster” have become virtually interchangeable.*


*Here’s where it gets tricky: quartz aggregate is really just plaster, too. In fact, if you read our last article, you know that “quartz aggregate” is simply the term for marcite that’s been blended with quartz and other additives. All you really need to know is that “traditional pool plaster” means marcite and “quartz aggregate” means marcite with colored quartz and silica added.


At any rate, whatever you decide to call it, it’s a fairly straightforward mix of Portland cement, marble dust and different types of fortifying agents.

Mixed with water, it becomes a smooth, white material applied directly to the pool’s gunite surface.


Why is it so popular?


Simply put, it’s the cheapest option, and it does what it’s supposed to do. This alone explains its popularity through the decades. The truth is, even with an ever-increasing range of pool finishes, traditional plaster interiors still hold their own in the market.


However, there are certainly trade-offs for this up-front affordability and reliability, especially as newer methods seek to improve the durability and longevity of traditional plaster. New pool buyers should be aware of the following three things when considering a traditional plaster interior:


1.) Plaster isn’t going to last as long as other finishes. Expect a plaster interior to last roughly 5-7 years before it needs to be replaced (though diligent water quality maintenance may extend this by a few years). Compare that to a quartz aggregate finish that can last 20+ years, and it’s likely that over the pool's lifetime, repair costs could be higher with a traditional plaster finish.


2.) Traditional plaster is more susceptible to blemishes and damage than the harder interiors (quartz, pebble, etc.).


3.) While plaster can be dyed with a range of muted dyes (sands and grays are particularly beautiful), colored plaster tends to streak and show blemishes/defects if too much color is applied to the mixture. Because of this, traditional plaster finishes have less color options than other finishes.


So that’s plaster in a nutshell. Much like the original Ford Bronco, the Chuck Taylor All Star and the record player, some things stand the test of time - regardless of newer technology - because they're simple, elegant and functional. Most importantly, we build a ton of them, and customers are always thrilled with the results. Next week we'll discuss pebble interior finishes. See you then!


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