plaster discoloration and cracking

keithintxOctober 9, 2010

The pool was built two years ago. The plaster is Tahoe Blue Diamondbrite. Before the pool was filled, the plaster showed some spiderweb cracking on the sides and the steps. The builder said it should disappear as the chemicals came into balance? There is also a line where the pool fill was stopped while the plumbing was completed. What should be done to remove the cracking and the water line marking?

Photos during build:

Water Line Forming

Photos now:

Water line now:

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any ideas?

    Bookmark   October 9, 2010 at 7:54PM
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I am so sorry to see that and I would love to tell you oh sure that can be fixed easy with an acid wash... but I'm not a PB and to be honest, I don't know if there's anything you can do to fix that, short of replastering.

I just had my pool replastered and my PB told me, very clearly, not to stop the water fill once it started as that would leave a permanent water line. Slow it down, okay, but don't stop it. When they started filling the pool immediately after they replastered I was surprised -- I thought shouldn't they wait a bit and let it cure before filling it with water? But no, the PB told me that water helps it cure and the quicker it fills the better. Otherwise you may get those hairline cracks, just like you have. My PB has been doing this for over 50 years so they know and I can see from your unfortunate experience, they were right.

My PB did tell me the hairline cracks are a cosmetic defect, not a structural defect. Whatever, I wouldn't be happy either way. I would go after your PB and have them re-do it.

I know this is not what you wanted to hear -- and hopefully I'm wrong. Maybe someone can help you with easier remedy.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 1:39AM
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Sorry, but that looks horrible. I would demand a fix/replaster.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 4:22PM
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Was the pool (gunite) real dry when they did this work ? If so it may be the root cause as the dry concrete sucked all of the moisture out of the new surface and it cracked. I always have my pools sprayed a day before and also right before they do this work, helping the surfaces to bond more completely and effectively. Also was it dry (low humidity) the day or two while it filled ? I have gone as far as a light misting of the new surface with clean water to also help the issue. This is a tricky process but it works.
Hope you get an answer.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 5:53PM
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A windy plaster day will do it too.


    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 6:09PM
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I can't believe they stopped the water while filling to do plumbing?

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 7:52PM
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After almost three months, the plaster guy came around and said he would try sanding and/or acid washing. He said that he would talk with the builder. He said the cracking was spider cracking and shows up more on the Tahoe Blue.
I hope it doesnt take another three months to hear from them.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2010 at 10:16AM
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I still can not get an answer from the plaster guy. He came out about a month ago. He said that he would talk with the builder. Builder said the plaster guy was planning to acid wash. Am I stuck? Seems like I am being bounced.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2010 at 2:11PM
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These are good textbook photos that demonstrate closed shrinkage cracks. Your post is a good one for the general public and all of the comments here are good.

First, it is important to know the facts. All cementitous products experience cracking and pitting. What you do not see is called microcracking or microporing and is oftentimes resealed in the process of curing (via hydration) with the depostion of calcium hydroxide.

So, before we go any further, ALL CONCRETE IS CRACKED! ALL POOLS ARE CRACKED! ALL DECKS ARE CRACKED, ALL POOL INTERIORS ARE CRACKED! When the public can accept that fact things will make more sense. The perfomance of these cementitous products will depend on the level of expertise of those using these products to manage and/or reduce the likelihood of significant and/or structural cracks and defects that could lead to failure.

Initially, the eggshell cracking is a normal representation of shrinkage cracking that is macroscopic and reactive. Most of these macroscopic cracks will reseal as you can see but some may reseal with the appearance of the resealed crack still showing and in your case the white calcium hydroxide shows up against the blue interior.

It is impossible to know how deep these macroscopic closed shrinkage cracks are but some of them may only extend several mm into the substrate.

The National Plasterers Council considers these types of cracks cosmetic and not indicative of a defect in the surface coating.

Plaster coatings are very reactive and immediately start to cure upon application. High quality additives can be added to the plaster to slow down the cure rate and reduce the tendency of shrinkage cracking, but it still occurs.

Without knowing the mix or the conditions at the time of application it's impossible to know if other factors accelerated the curing of your plaster and the early onset of pronounced shrinkage cracking.

You should have have continuously filled the vessel to eliminate the chance of having a bowl ring that shows up when cementitious products are hydrated at different rates over a uniform surface. This is still considered cosmetic.

If your builder or the plasterer is a member if the National Plasterers council (NPC), you can request an inspection of our pool interior and a suggestive remedy to see if they will recommend remedy by the builder or plasterer. However, they may conclude that there is no defect of the pool interior and it is performing as intended and that you matter is cosmetic.

Two years have past, If you would have escalated this matter within the first 12 months you may have been in a better position for remedy by the builder or plasterer.

What I can tell you is that most of these cracks probably do not exist through the full thickness of the substrate and may be able to be removed with a light acid wash or even light wet/dry sanding as suggested in another post.

I would advise that you work with your PB at this stage and try to maintain a cordial relationship with them if possible and if they are reputable they will try to help remedy this to the extent that is reasonable for all parties.

Make sure your water conditions are acceptable.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 1:42PM
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I just had my pool remodeled and a Primera Stone plaster finish put on. I've got crazing running all over one wall - it was warm and sunny during the process. I avoided getting a water line by keeping a small trickle of water running into the pool during filling it (our water was trucked in). Maybe had the plasterer made an effort to keep the plaster damp and cool, the finish would not have cracked to the extent it did. I fault the contractor for not caring enough to make the effort to minimize it or to discuss the likely outcome with me first.

The big problem for consumers is that pool builders and plasterers don't tell consumers up front that we can expect cracks or crazing and how much we can expect. The pools we're shown when checking references aren't visibly cracked and the owner doesn't know about any cracks in the pools shown either so the conversation doesn't come up. The plaster samples the salesman shows us don't have cracks so our expectations are that there will be zero cracks - just like a paint job on a new car - no blemishes!

After the work is done and the pool owner sees cracks, the plasterer and pool builder claim that cracks are "normal" and full payment is expected. The consumer justifiably feels ripped off because we were led to expect a blemish-free job but in fact we are being charged full price knowing the finish is imperfect.

Contractors and homeowners need to honestly agree on expectations before the job is started.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2011 at 2:34PM
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The cracks may only be cosmetic, but that has no bearing on whether or not the PC should fix the situation.
What is going to happen when the owner goes to sell this home? No buyer is going to think that this is an acceptable plaster job. No one on this forum should convey that this is only cosmetic and therefore acceptable. This attitude is what is wrong with the people in this profession.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 9:45PM
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