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Good Plasterers Speak Out

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Good things are happening in the pool industry.  At the Western Pool & Spa Show in Long Beach last month, several knowledgeable pool plasterers publicly stated that improper plastering practices will lead to various discolorations and poor quality pool plaster.

Ed Rock, owner of San Rock Plastering in Los Angeles County, taught a class on proper and improper pool plastering practices. He stated that if his troweling crew “burns” (overly late hard troweling) the plaster and causes graying, it is not just time for a re-plaster, but also time to retrain his crew.  He also stated that “organic” color pigments, while inexpensive, are extremely problematic (severe mottling, spotting, or blotchiness) and should not be used in swimming pool applications. 

It was pointed out that adding calcium chloride (hardening accelerator) to color pigmented plaster (including in quartz and pebble applications), and adding water to a plaster surface while troweling is detrimental and will lead to white blotchiness or spotting.

In our (onBalance) class on plastering, a plasterer commented that he does not add any calcium chloride to his plaster mixes because of the problems that can be caused. Many plasterers are now using a “non-calcium chloride” accelerator with great results, especially with color pigmented plaster. It was also acknowledged that calcium nodules are due to delaminations and cracking issues.  

Several plasterers (and many service techs) stopped by our booth to mention that they have had great success using the “Bicarb Start-up” program on their newly plastered pools (including Quartz and Pebble). They are amazed on how there is no plaster “dust,” and that dark colored plaster jobs remained dark and uniform. They changed to the Bicarb Start-Up because of problems with the “Acid Wash” and "Acid Bath" program which often results in light colored blotchiness or streaking that develops later.

It was very refreshing to hear plasterers acknowledge that certain plaster discolorations and defects are due to poor plastering workmanship or materials, and not due to unbalanced water chemistry maintenance, start-ups, or high cyanuric acid levels.

An article in the March 2014 issue of Concrete International (ACI) also points out the importance of proper troweling techniques and timing, and not adding water to the finish while troweling in order to avoid color variations (mottling) in cement flatwork applications. 

Plasterers with integrity (like Ed Rock) accept responsibility for plaster defects, and won’t blame innocent service techs and pool owners who maintain the water chemistry. And because of that, they are more motivated to teach and ensure that their finishers follow proper plastering procedures.

Consequently, quality plasterers have few problems (if any) that begin to appear a few weeks after completion, such as gray mottling or white spotting (spot etching). When nothing goes wrong, there is no need to blame someone. The above bodes well for our industry if more leaders from the plastering industry speak out and teach others in an effort to improve plastering standards.

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Comment by Kim Skinner on May 2, 2014 at 11:55am


You're right, that video speaks for itself!

That plaster guy troweling and splashing water on that pool wall (in your video link) probably has no idea what that does to a plaster surface in regards to durability and discoloration issues. He obviously hasn't been taught or trained correctly. Splashing water on a plaster surface and troweling is one reason for plaster discoloration problems.  

That improper practice is exactly what causes poor quality pool plaster finishes that can deteriorate quickly and produce white porous spotting and streaking on white and dark color pool plaster, including quartz finishes. And those unfortunate issues can show up within in just a few short months after the pool is filled with balanced water. 

It is sad that there is a lack of understanding on the part of some pool plasterers. 

Comment by Mark Pristine on May 2, 2014 at 6:38am
For some reason the link in my first comment was acting up and only opened when I RIGHT CLICK on it and choose OPEN LINK IN A NEW TAB or WINDOW!

This one works correctly.
Comment by Mark Pristine on May 2, 2014 at 6:14am
Great News Kim!

I love it how so many plaster companies swear they never practice poor workmanship techniques yet this demo video which was shown at the 2013 Western Pool and Spa Show tells a different story.

I must point out that in the Los Angeles and surrounding areas such as the San Fernando Valley there are a number of plaster companies that may use some of the same workforce where a plasterer may work for more than one company due to not enough work at one company or the companies may be family related in order to have stable income and a perfect example of this is shown by the shirts that this crew is wearing.

When one of those companies was questioned about certain practices in their workmanship mainly the addition of calcium chloride on a botched gray plaster job, it was of no surprise that they immediately denied any improper workmanship practices and refused to answer any further questions stating to contact Greg Garrett with the NPC if we had any questions regarding their practices.

Instead of hearing the generic reply from The NPC regarding proper techniques depending on which "Edition" they are backing at the time, it is so much easier to let picture speak for itself.

You can judge for yourselves folks!

My guess is if they respond to this it would sound something like, "Oh, those guys don't work for us anymore".

LOL, Yeah right...

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