Differences Between Pool Surface Materials

Choosing from the many different swimming pool surface options can seem confusing for pool owners, which is why we are here to make the process easier.  While your pool’s surfacing acts as a barrier between water and the underlying concrete which would otherwise soak up all of the water from the pool and leak, the particular surface that you choose can have additional benefits and downsides.

We can choose specific textures for better grip when swimming, for better comfort, or so that the pool surface doesn’t build up algae or require thorough cleaning as often. Some surfaces will require more upkeep but will have a more pleasing aesthetic, and others will be more expensive to repair or replace if anything should happen. The following is all you need to know about the different pool surface types.


Plaster Surfaces

Plaster pool surfacing is the cheapest option by far, at around $4 per square foot, and it comes in a wide range of colors since the installers can mix different dyes into the plaster for the desired color. The downside of plaster is that colors may quickly discolor and fade, with the average life expectancy of these surfaces being around 7-10 years, depending on the amount of regular maintenance the pool receives. Algae also grows a lot easier on plaster than other surfaces, so it is important to monitor the water quality of the pool.

Pebble Surfaces

Although slightly more expensive (around $5 per square foot), compared to plaster, pebble surfaces are more durable, last longer, are more comfortable on your feet, and require less maintenance. They are also much more resistant to chemical damage, stains, and algae growth, and you can choose the specific pebble size and color that will match the surroundings.

Ceramic Surfaces

You can choose ceramic tiles that are either glazed or unglazed, where glazed tiles have a shinier look and are more waterproof than unglazed tiles. Ceramic options generally have the longest lifespans out of all pool surface options, with many lasting for over 20 years. They can also be the most expensive choice, depending on the price of the tile and the shape and mosaic design you want for your pool.

Stone Tile

Stone gives a more natural look than ceramic, however you will be limited in terms of color selection. And you may want to keep in mind that stone will have a rougher surface which will be harder on wet feet and also harder to clean, since algae can stick more easily to rougher surfaces. 


Quartz surface options are definitely at the higher end of the spectrum, where quartz crystal is mixed with a colored cement that highlights the crystal. This option is great for its long life, however if any cracks or damage do occur to the cement, it can become an expensive repair since matching the cement colors can be difficult.

Glass Tile

Glass tile is most likely the most expensive option on this list; however, it is the most durable and will not need replacing unless physically broken, and even that is difficult to do. Its only downside is that if it does break, you will then have broken glass in the water which can be a headache to clean up, however its resistance to UV, heat, and chemicals, and the smooth texture that is easy on feet cannot be ignored. Glass is also extremely easy to clean compared with cheaper plaster options.