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Pool Painting Tips & Tricks

By Kevin Harrington

Let the Surface Dry

The type of coating being applied will dictate how dry the surface must be. Acrylic paint can be applied to a damp surface; however, it must be completely dry when using epoxy paint. In any case, check the instructions on the product label to determine the dryness requirements. Moisture may still be present even if a surface looks and feels dry; use the following steps to test for dryness:

  1. Use duct tape to affix 2-sf sheets of clear plastic to three different areas of the pool—one to the floor in the shallow end, another to the floor in the deep end and the third on a wall in the deep end that receives shade.
  2. After the plastic sheets have been applied, wait four to five hours.
  3. After the waiting period check inside the plastic for any signs of moisture from condensation.
  4. If moisture is present, remove all three areas of plastic and let the surface dry for another 24 hours. Then, repeat the test.

Applying the Paint

When applying the pool coating, it is important to adhere to the recommended coverage. Paint that is applied too thin will not provide adequate coverage or yield a long-lasting result, whereas a thick coat may cause air bubbles, "alligatoring" or blistering.

Avoid painting if the temperature is below 50 F, above 85 F, or if the overnight temperature will drop below 50 F. If the temperature is above 85 F, the paint can blister. Temperatures under 50 F will cause the paint formula to become more "viscous" or thickened, making it difficult to apply evenly.

A water-based paint will be susceptible to freezing, which can change the formula properties. Pool paints are designed to dry and cure within a defined temperature range. The chemicals that make up the paint require the proper temperature to bond together and adhere to the surface. If the paint is not able to cure, uneven coverage, peeling, bubbling, cracking and other problems can occur.

In addition, do not paint in direct sunlight as it will affect adhesion, primarily because it causes the paint to dry too quickly. The solvents in the formula will not be able to evaporate properly and result in adhesion failure. High temperatures can cause the paint to bubble and blister, which results in peeling once it cures.

To apply pool paint correctly, it is important to use these best practices from the field:

  1. Sweep or use a leaf blower to clear away any remaining leaves, paint chips or debris before starting to paint.
  2. Use masking tape to protect any areas that are not to be painted (e.g., tiles or fittings). To avoid getting paint on larger areas, cover them with plastic and tape.
  3. Paint around small or hard-to-reach areas (e.g., drain openings, corners and ladders) using a paintbrush.
  4. Use a roller to paint larger areas, beginning with the walls.
  5. Once the walls are complete, move to the floor and start at the deepest section.
  6. Always paint toward the shallow end, and plan to finish at a ladder or stairs to exit the pool without stepping on the wet paint.
  7. Refer to the product recommendations to determine if a second coat is necessary. If so, allow for the proper drying time as per the product's instructions. Then, follow the same application steps.

Pro Tip: If rain interrupts the pool painting progress, a good rule of thumb is to add one day for the surface to dry for each day of rain.

Opening the Pool

You may be eager to refill the pool once you have finished painting the surface so it can be opened quickly for use. However, allowing adequate drying time (specified on the product label) is the last step to a successful pool paint application. To be certain, it is a good idea to repeat the dryness test mentioned earlier. After confirming the new coating is completely dry, the pool can be refilled using a constant, steady stream of water. The pool's water chemistry should be routinely monitored to keep the paint looking new and vibrant. Should levels go out of balance, the water may appear cloudy or the paint may wear too quickly. It is very important to keep water chemistry in balance to avoid problems such as "chalking." Making sure the water chemistry is balanced is key in pools and spas that are painted.


Painting pools is one of the most economical ways to keep them looking good and performing well. Repainting the pool also offers the opportunity to discuss renovating the pool's surrounding decks. Acrylic water-based deck paints can upgrade and renovate many different types of surfaces. Proper planning, surface preparation and using best practices from the field will help ensure amazing results. Before embarking on the next pool painting job, take the time to get a paint chip analysis of the paint currently on the pool surface and choose a paint that is formulated with quality raw materials and best manufacturing processes to achieve the best results and complete the job successfully.

Kevin Harrington is the division manager of the Ramuc Pool Paint Company, located in Rockaway, N.J. As an industry veteran, he has vast product knowledge and extensive industry experience making him the go-to person for those seeking expertise in aquatic coatings. For more information, visit ramucpoolpaint.com.