When building a custom pool, a major consideration you must make is what kind of pool finish you want: plaster, aggregate, or tile. Say you want an aggregate finish, specifically a pebble finish. One of the most popular companies that specializes in pebble finishes is Pebble Technology International (PTI).
PTI offers many lines of pool finishes, but two of their most popular pool finish products are their PebbleTec Original finish and PebbleSheen. They also offer PebbleBrilliance and PebbleFina, but I’ll save discussion on those for another day.
Selecting the right pool finish can make a large difference on your pool’s aesthetic, durability, feel, and longevity. So between PebbleTec’s Original vs PebbleSheen, which one is the better option for you?
In this article, I will compare these two lines of finishes from PTI so that you might better determine which one you prefer.
PebbleTec Original overview
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PTI’s Original finish (which I will refer to as simply “PebbleTec” from now on) is what they are known for. This product has been around for over three decades, and PTI has perfected it over time.
The PebbleTec finish is an aggregate finish that uses cement, sand, and various pebbles from around the world to create the most natural looking pool finish on the market.
These materials contribute to a very natural beach side look for your pool that is both inviting and luxurious to swim in. People who want more than just a generic plaster finish tend to prefer this more natural look.
PebbleTec is mixed onsite, as is all the other pool finishes PTI provides. You can customize it further by adding more additives to achieve a new color or shimmer to the aesthetic.
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PebbleSheen is a newer offering from PTI, yet it has quickly become a favorite among new pool owners. The biggest difference between the PebbleSheen and the original finish is the size of the pebbles.
Whereas the original uses normal-sized pebbles, PebbleSheen uses smaller pebbles. The pebbles are even buffed beforehand to ensure they are smooth and have a sheen to them, hence the name. This can make your pool more pleasant to touch while keeping the natural beauty that PTI offers.
And just like PebbleTec, you can mix in some additives to change the color and sparkle of your pool’s finish.
Comparing them head on
Appearances matter a lot, and it’s true of pool finishes as well. Other than the cost, this is often the biggest determining factor whether you go with one finish or another.
Since a pebble finish can last for decades and is expensive to resurface, you’re basically stuck with your decision for a long time, so selecting a finish that gives the aesthetic that you want is crucial.
When it comes to color options, PebbleTec has slightly more than PebbleSheen. It has 18 different finishes, including bright green, deep navies, striking greys, and crystalline blues. That said, PebbleSheen isn’t far off with its 16 shade choices. The quality of the selection is comparable between both finishes.
Then there is also the size of the pebbles – regular-sized compared to mini-sized. If you prefer the natural look of regular-sized pebbles, then go with PebbleTec, otherwise stick with PebbleSheen for mini pebbles.
Both PebbleTec and PebbleSheen are pebble finishes, offered by the same company no less. Therefore they are both known for their long-lasting durability, which is to say a very long time compared to plaster finishes.
The claim is that these pebble finishes can last anywhere from 15-25 years. This is assuming you are taking care of your pool by brushing it at least once a week and generally using it as intended.
If there is a defect in the pool finish, then PTI offers a limited 5-year warranty where they will either repair or replace the defective materials.
The biggest difference between PebbleTec and PebbleSheen is how they feel to the touch. Since PebbleTec uses regular-sized stones, it feels basically like how you’d expect when your skin rubs on rocks: rough, coarse, and hard.
PebbleSheen uses mini pebbles in its aggregate. The pebbles are even buffed beforehand to make it even smoother. This gives the PebbleSheen a much smoother feel compared to PebbleTec.
If you want something smoother and more comfortable for your feet, go with PebbleSheen instead.
That said, the smoothness of the PebbleSheen may become a tripping hazard compared to the rougher surface of the PebbleTec finish. If slipping is a concern, then go with PebbleTec.
Between these two pool finishes, the PebbleTec original finish is the slightly cheaper option, and the PebbleSheen the more premium option.
That said, pebble pool finishes are much more expensive than plaster, so both of them are considered luxury finishes in the first place.
And if you are in the market for a luxury finish, I don’t think the cost is going to be your limiting factor, rather how the finish looks and feels.
But if you are already stretching your budget and need to save money somewhere, then go with PebbleTec as it is the cheaper of the two.
Of course, the exact costs will differ depending on where you live, how large your pool is, the cost of labor, and which installer you decide to hire (or if you are doing it yourself, which is not recommended).
Taking care of a pool’s water chemistry is hard enough work, let alone physically cleaning the pool yourself. So I’m sure you want a pool finish that is low-maintenance.
Pebble pools generally require little upkeep; you just need to brush the pool surface at least once a week, with a more thorough cleaning every 2-4 years or so.
The PebbleSheen actually requires a bit more work to keep clean since its smooth surface collects more water than PebbleTec. You may need to thoroughly clean it every six months.
If you want a pool finish that is no muss no fuss, then PebbleTec original finish is the one you want.