How your pool looks and feels is a major part of an enjoyable swimming experience, and yet so many people get caught up in just the swimming aspect that they forget about the walls and the floor of their pool.
While a standard plaster finish can get the job done, it is very plain and lends to a forgettable experience. When your pool looks just like everybody else’s pool, all of your swimming sessions will start to blend together and you’ll wish you had a more interesting swimming environment.
One way you can improve your pool’s aesthetics is by having a variety of colors and textures, and this is possible with an aggregate finish. Aggregate finishes are made of a mixture of pebble and plaster, and can make your pool look much more natural and aesthetically pleasing, as if you were literally swimming at a beach in the Carribean for example.
If you’re in the market for an aggregate pool finish, then chances are you’re getting a PebbleTec finish. PebbleTec created the first ever aggregate finish, and since then they have been the leading brand when it comes to pebble pool finishes. They offer a variety of color options and textures, but they can be a bit pricey.
In this article, I will discuss whether PebbleTec finishes are actually worth it, their pros and cons, and whether or not you should go with them or not.
What is PebbleTec?
Before I discuss the pros and cons of PebbleTec finishes, for those unaware, I want to briefly talk about what PebbleTec is exactly.
PebbleTec is short for Pebble Technology International (PTI). They were founded in 1986 in Scottsdale, AZ, and were credited with creating the first ever aggregate pool finish.
Since then PTI has become a globally recognized brand with quarries all over the world. Whether you’re living in North America or Europe, if you want a pebble pool finish, you’re probably getting a PebbleTec finish.
As for what an aggregate finish is, it is essentially cement, sand, and aggregate (pebbles and stones from riverbeds and beaches all over the world), along with pigments and any additives mixed together.
The technician will mix these materials onsite, pressure pump it onto your pool structure with a hose, and then smooth it over the pool walls and floor with a trowel to even it out. The very top layer of cement is removed to expose the pebbles underneath, then left to cure for at least 24 hours.
Afterwards, the finish is acid rinsed and treated to bring out the pebbles’ luster. It may be buffed to further smooth it out and make it less rough to the touch.
So now you know a bit about PebbleTec and their process, let’s talk about their pros and cons.
Wide range of colors to choose from
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Pebble pool finishes, especially the ones from PebbleTec, don’t look like a standard pool. Instead, the pebbles make your pool walls and floor look like you’re swimming in an outdoor oasis.
As mentioned above, the finish consists mainly of aggregate (pebbles and smooth stones), cement, sand, and various pigments and other additives.
The pigments are fade-resistant and can drastically change the color of the finish. This not only enhances the finish itself, but also the water that it will surround.
Some additives that you can add are seashells and glass beads to add even more light-catching elements to the finish.
I recommend you check out their various finishes, click into them and look at what color options are offered.
From Carribean Blue, which makes your pool look like you’re on a vacation swimming in the Carribean waters, to Blue Lagoon or Sky Blue, which makes your pool look exactly like its namesake, there are plenty of options that can make your pool look like it belongs in a high-end resort.
If the materials used in the finish haven’t clued you in yet, aggregate finishes are extremely durable. In a well-mainted pool, it is estimated that a PebbleTec finish can last upwards of 25 years, possibly even longer.
Whereas I rarely hear about plaster lasting that long, most plaster finishes last half the time an aggregate finish lasts if you’re lucky.
Aggregate finishes are stain-resistant, able to withstand impacts, and don’t even need much maintenance for upkeep. PebbleTec sources their aggregate from beaches and riverbeds all over the world, so that they not only look exotic, but are as durable as they are beautiful.
PebbleTec has quarries all over the world. Other companies that offer pebble finishes cannot compete with how widely available PebbleTec is.
If you’re vacationing in another continent and you notice the resort you’re in has a pebble pool, chances are that is a PebbleTec finish.
Even when you’re back in the States and you’re looking to build a pebble pool, chances are that the only high-quality option is PebbleTec. Seriously, they are everywhere.
PebbleTec offers a limited 5-year warranty on their pool finishes. This covers material defects or errors in the installation, but does not cover user error.
So if the pool finish has problems through no fault of your own, then PebbleTec will repair or replace the defective parts.
However, if the damage is caused by improper maintenance or you physically damage it in some way, then you’re out of luck.
The textures can be hit or miss
A common complaint people have with regards to pebble finishes is that is pretty to look at but not enjoyable to stand on.
Even though I defined aggregate as “pebbles and stones”, I’m not talking about jagged rocks that would slash the heck out of your feet.
Some of these rocks are small enough to get stuck under your fingernail, and depending on the product line, the stones may even be polished beforehand to make it smooth and shiny.
Even though it is not the gem-sized rocks you collected from the lake or riverbed when you went camping as a kid, the end product is still made of stone, meaning it is very hard and can be tough on feet.
If this is a concern, definitely go with a smoother finish such as their PebbleSheen line. Otherwise, consider wearing some underwater footwear to protect your feet.
Pebble finishes are at least twice as expensive as plaster finishes. The exact price will depend on your location, cost of labor, and the exact finish you decide on, but expect to pay a premium price.
The argument here is that even though you’re paying double, an aggregate finish should last at least twice as long as plaster and should look as good as the day you got it the whole time.