Announcement of Pool Plaster Study

The research and consulting group onBalance has decided to conduct new plaster research studies to generate additional evidence regarding the cause of unsightly plaster discolorations and defects. The plaster issues of concern are gray mottling discoloration of white plaster, white spotting of both colored and white plaster, calcium nodules, spalling, flaking, and craze-cracking.

One aspect of the study will be to construct two demonstration pools, each with sections of various plaster formulations (color and white) and subject them both to aggressive and balanced water. The entire plastering process will be video-taped, and the ongoing water maintenance and monitoring will improve upon previous studies performed Cal Poly (NPIRC).

Although forensic studies and other evidence have already documented the above plaster/cement problems are caused by various improper material and workmanship issues (and not aggressive water), the onBalance group will move forward with this project because the National Plasterers Council (NPC) leaders won’t acknowledge that this science and evidence exists.

To date, onBalance has had failed white spotted (on both white and color) pool plaster analyzed by various professional cement petrographers a dozen times. In all cases, improper materials and finishing practices were identified as contributors to causing extremely porous and soft white spots (aka “spot etching”). Not a single study implicated LSI aggressive water chemistry as the cause. The consensus was that white spotting is not etching.

There is also an abundant amount of cement science and studies that has documented that graying, cracking, spalling, spotting, and efflorescence of cement surfaces involve poor materials, poor mixing, or poor workmanship practices; not by external water. If aggressive water caused the above problems, then all cement sidewalks should soon result with all those abnormalities when rained upon.

But to be clear, it is well-known that aggressive pool water will uniformly etch a plaster surface, and that overly saturated or hard water will deposit calcium scale onto a plaster surface which eventually discolors.  Etching or scaling are not a plaster defect.

For their part, it is unfortunate that the NPC has published “fake news” regarding the Cal Poly (NPIRC) test pool results, and some plasterers claim that aggressive water causes all the plaster problems mentioned above.

NPC leaders have been very silent after an independent 2015 review by a chemist (Dr. Marcelle Dibrell of Service Industry News) exposed that the NPIRC results DID NOT prove that water chemistry caused white spotting or spot etching. When honestly evaluated, the Cal Poly research actually serves to exonerate aggressive water chemistry as causing white spotting, gray mottling discoloration, calcium nodules, spalling, flaking, and craze cracking.

The NPC has also been silent regarding a published admission (2005) by the Cal Poly professors and a professional cement petrographer that the NPIRC Phase I study did not prove any specific causations (whether from chemistry or construction practices).

It is not surprising that NPC leaders won’t meet with the onBalance group to review and analyze the NPIRC study reports and forensic studies and analysis.

The bottom line is that NPC leaders are perfectly willing to remain silent about the science and keep everything unresolved. Why? Because they often win with that situation. Their plaster inspectors can inspect plaster problems, and easily convince unsuspecting and innocent pool owners and/or service techs (with false information) that aggressive water causes all those plaster problems. Even pool builders and material companies can be intimidated by them.

And in regards to onBalance’s new plaster study projects; there will be a written “study protocol” provided to the industry for comments and suggestions before the demonstration pool project is started.

Donations are needed to help fund this project.  IPSSA Region 7 Table Top committee has pledged up to $10,000 of matching funds for this ongoing project, and many service techs are contributing.  Plaster materials and various pool equipment has also been pledged from various companies to help fund this project.

The onBalance group is confident that this project will soon provide important and additional evidence in understanding the plaster problems identified above. 

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