ecoFinish Thermoplastic Swimming Pool Finishes Making Big Waves in Global Pool and Spa Industry
Those in the Canadian pool industry know how seasonal climate change can affect an inground pool surface - particularly the freeze/thaw cycle. It is one reason why many pool owners turn to specialists when they are finally able to see what lies beneath their cover when they open their pool in the Spring. ,
When the question of the day is repair or replace, what’s the best option?
There are several pool repair/replacement options availbe for failed and/or failing pool surfaces, which range from pool paint, plaster, marcite and vinyl liners to fiberglass and aggregates. In the past, pools used to be coated with a brilliant white rubber-based paint. This type of paint was known for its durability against stains and imperfections and, for having a silky smooth texture with a bright white appearance. In the 1980s, Government regulations banned many of the key ingredients that made these paints maintenance-free and reduced their performance. Blistering, chipping, peeling and fading started appearing on the pool surfaces in as little as six months; this forced many pool designers and builders to switch to plaster finishes.
Plaster has its own issues; it requires a long and complicated start-up process and it is prone to staining, popping off, shrinking and cracking among other things. When plaster, a mix of Portland cement and sand, is applied to a swimming pool shell, it requires at least two to four weeks of ‘cure time’. After the pool is filled with water, another phenomenon known as calcium leaching occurs and harsh chemicals are required to balance the pH levels. Once again, there is an additional wait time to normalize the pool water and enjoy a swim. For climate-challenged Canadians…this drastically reduces our swim time in an already short pool season.
A 1991 scientific research report published by the School of Building Construction at the University of Florida stated ‘The deterioration of marcite (plaster) has been found to be chemically related and due primarily to leaching of Calcium hydroxide (portlandite) from localized areas of pool plaster. Acidic pool water (pH less than 7.0) can wreak havoc on marcite and pool plumbing resulting in etching and staining. Proposed solutions to control the damage aggressive water can produce include: (1) paying careful attention to water chemistry to avoid unbalanced water conditions and (2) providing a chemically inert barrier between the pool water and the marcite surface.’
In 1991, no such thing as a worry free finish or barrier solution existed.
Years ago, the trend was to invest in a swimming pool-especially those folks who didn’t want to travel to or afford the additional maintenance of a cottage. As that generation became empty nesters when the kids moved away, many people started to fill pools in; pool ownership meant too much work for them or they had to pay someone else to ensure the PH levels were properly balanced. Remember when Realtors in the nineties dreaded listing homes with in-ground pools? Back then, homes with in ground pools proved difficult to sell unless there was a significant reduction in the selling price as pools were known to be a notoriously high maintenance luxury.
Two decades later and many of us are still dealing with failed pool finishes. History repeats itself and although the current trend to invest in home and backyard getaways continues to gain momentum, savvy pool owners want assurances that today’s products and services are better quality, offer more value for their money and, have an end result that increases family time and swim time.
As technology advances, options other than traditional pool surface repair methods are available. One recent innovative technology, specifically adapted from the powder coating industry, utilizes a revolutionary thermal spray system that incorporates the use of multiplex powders comprised of modified acrylic resins, specially designed to obtain a smooth thermal sprayed coating. ecoFinish finishes are multiphase, bond easily and flow wet to form smooth and continuous cured films. ecoFinish becomes a permanent pool liner for new build, renovations to existing, indoor/outdoor and commercial or residential pools and spas. ecoFinish thermoplastic finishes are gaining popularity around the world as they are designed to be worry free, fade, stain, crack, blister and peel resistant and, are installed in less time than traditional finish methods.
ecoFinish pool finishes are applied pneumatically- air and propane are required to operate the completely mobile spray system designed exclusively for the pool and spa industry. The ecoFinish thermoplastic powder beads are propelled through a patented applicator ‘gun’ and these tiny plastic beads are melted out as they pass through the gun and become liquefied and solidify when they hit the substrate.
ecoFinish Thermoplastic Coating Characteristics:
Good cavitation and erosion resistance
Outstanding flexibility between freezing and eighty degrees centigrade
Very high elastic memory
Excellent mechanical properties with sound chemical resistance
Zero moisture absorption and salt spray resistance
Tough and adherent coatings
High UV stability promotes better outdoor weathering properties
High impact wear and abrasion resistance
ecoFinish finishes are an eco-friendly alternative to traditional swimming pool coating options available on the marketplace today. ecoFinish is VOC free (volatile organic compounds) and contains zero solvents; if an ecoFinish pool finish ever has to be removed, there are no special considerations involved for its removal or disposal. Should pool owners want another colour ecoFinish installers simply reinstall the new colour with little time down. The installation process of ecoFinish is also ecofriendly in that it has a drastically reduced carbon footprint-thermoplastic does not require anything like the extensive mining effort necessary to extract the large amounts of material necessary for manufacture and, unlike the vast amount of waste associated with plaster and paint installations, ecoFinishapplications have minimal waste-even the thermal fabric can be reused.
Advantages ecoFinish Installations Have VS Cementitious Installs:
Clean- no mess, no mixing
Smooth continuous flow of application
No wait time, no curing time
Faster than traditional cementitious finish applications
2 person crew to install with no heavy trucking, no bags of concrete, no pump or mixer
No acid etching or burn in
Application can be stopped then started again with no visible cold joint
Less weather dependency
No misting or sun barrier in summer
Coating can be repaired without visible seams or joints
Does not require feathering
No special treatments of fill water
Does not stain from fallen organics
No downtime for clients to wait
ecoFinish allow colour continuity between different substrates with no mottling
Advantages ecoFinish has VS vinyl liners:
ecoFinish have no seams or joins
Will not rip
No unsightly wrinkles
Will not break down over time and become porous
Advantages ecoFinish has over fiberglass:
ecoFinish does not delaminate or break down
Can be used as a top coat to restore or protect top coat
Restore pools and spas in place; saves expense of removal and replacement
Thermoplastic finishes require less chemicals to maintain a PH balance.
Chemical reactions between the water and the cementitious surfaces cause a constant shift in pH levels. Pools finished with ecoFinish have no chemical reactions because they are non-porous and the substrates are sealed and protected. The target chemical balance for a pool finished in ecoFinish is simplified. Pool owners will find it very easy to maintain the proper pH and chlorine levels as the major cause of pH drift is now eliminated. Adding chemicals is safer and easier now; there is no reason to pre-dilute acid by mixing chemicals with water prior to pouring into the pool.
Application Techniques to Apply ecofinish Thermoplastic Spray Finishes
The application of ecoFinish is a safe process when the installer has complete training and a full understanding of the proper safety practices, understands the equipment and follows all of the recommended procedures.
Drain pool & inspect surface for necessary repairs
Pool professionals already have the knowledge required to properly assess the condition of pool surfaces. The surface or substrate of the pool or spa should be made as smooth as possible prior to application to avoid any imperfections showing through the finish. ecoFinish will cover spider cracks and minor pool blemishes however, if the pool shows signs of severe deterioration or etching, preparation must be performed prior to application to avoid noticeable imperfections that, if not prepared properly, will require extensive labour during the install. In other words, it’s far easier and more cost effective to repair the surface first than to try and fill any voids with ecoFinish later.
Surface Preparation of Substrates
Applying ecoFinish to the surface is a 2-3 day process in most cases. The pool must be clean and dry to apply the epoxies before installation can commence. The pool is drained first and the surface is etched or profiled when necessary, then cleaned with a pressure washer or TSP and allowed to dry overnight. All fixtures must then be covered or removed to avoid contact with the thermal epoxy. The hydrostatic plug at the bottom of the pool should be removed to stabilize ground water.
The timeline for an ecoFinish pool finish installation for an average size pool takes only three days from start to finish.
1st day: focuses mainly on preparation of the substrate surface followed with masking. 2nd day: epoxy first thing in the morning; 1st coat, known as flock coat, is applied when epoxy is tacky. 3rd day: top coat; pool clients no longer need to wait weeks to use their pool and the amount of chemicals needed to maintain the pool is greatly reduced.
ecoFinish is designed for new surfaces or resurfacing of:
Plaster, Marcite and Marbelite
Composite Pool Panels
Hybrid Pools with A Combination of Different Substrates
Different substrates require different application techniques; each technique varies to attain a unified finish throughout the entire pool. Hybrid pools (pools with two or more different substrates in its makeup) are perfect for ecoFinish applications as it enables colour continuity overall.
General weather conditions required for installation: air temp must be at least 5 degrees centigrade. Below this temperature, the pool surface could be coated provided the installer preheated the surface using the gun by passing the propane gun over the shell.
Proper Techniques for Thermal Tape Masking
Thermal Tape: masking protects tile and coping.
Once the substrate is determined to be sound, repaired and readied for the ecoFinish application, the next step is to mask all of surfaces that must avoid contact with the thermoplastic finish. What is masked: mask all tiles, copings, light fixtures, drains, fittings and anything that won’t be coated with ecoFinish.
A specialized heat resistant tape and fabric seen above is designed specifically for use with a the ecoFinish system. The fabric can be used continuously throughout the season; the tape is single use. The tape is used to define a line between the tiles and the pool surface; fabric is secured with the tape to cover tile lines and copings. What is not masked: entire pool surface area, steps and if applicable, the slide.
Best Practices: If you are providing your client with a new finish on an older existing pool or spa, it is best to remove the old fittings and replace these with new fittings. ecoFinish overspray is minimal because the settings can be set for the most economical method of application powder is melted out.
The epoxy shown here is used for ecoFinish and is a two component solvent-free epoxy resin which is specifically designed for use on concrete and similar substrates. When installed, epoxy provides an ideal surface for the ecoFinish to bind with.
Hot Flock Coat
After the application of epoxy is applied, the ‘first pass’ of ecoFinish is made as the epoxy begins to become tacky. This ‘first pass’ is referred to as a ‘Hot Flock’; a Hot Flock is the first minimal coat of ecoFinish powder applied lightly over the surface; this action embeds the ecoFinish into the epoxy to form a permanent mechanical bond coat.
ecoFinish installers aim to cover at least 80% of the pool or spa surface with the flock coat application. A side to side consistent motion passing the gun over the surface is necessary to apply the flock coat. Installers start at the bottom of the pool or spa and, gradually work their way up the wall with the application – this utilizes the heat from the gun as it radiates up the wall as well.
Application Techniques for ecoFinish Finish Coat
The finish coat is applied in the same manner as the flock coat
Best practices: a smooth continuous motion enables the installer to ‘melt out’ all of the powders and meld them together to achieve a smooth nonporous finish.
A different technique is used to if surfaces such as steps, ledges and benches require a non-slip coating; the thermoplastic material is applied after the first coats have been processed. Non slip surfaces are achieved when the trained installer purposely under-heats the material after it has attached to the first coats of ecoFinishresulting in a smooth but textured surface finish.
Recommended Guidelines for ecoFinish Installations
Preparation to ensure substrate is sound.
Mask off all surfaces.
Apply epoxy to clean dry surface.
Flock coat to create mechanical bond
Finish with final coat of ecoFinish
Benefits of ecoFinish Finishes:
Acid and Chemical Resistant
Salt and Scale Resistant
U.V. and Fade Resistant
Rust and Stain Resistant
Smooth to the touch
Very high elastic memory
Excellent Color Consistency on hybrid pool substrates
No Check Cracking (Crack resistant to -94 Degrees)
Highly Scratch Resistant
Chip and Peel Resistant
PH Neutral – Lowers Chemical Needs
No Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC'S)
No Heavy Metals
Eco-Friendly – Energy Efficient in both Manufacturing and Processing
ecoFinish captures the strength, durability and maintenance ease of old school finishes while maintaining the beauty and architectural color range of aggregate finishes. Customized decorative stencils and depth markers are available that work in conjunction with thermoplastic finishes. Trained ecoFinish Installers can achieve various effects such as two tone applications- the darker finish on the bottom gives the illusion of greater depth. Stairs and features can also be highlighted and the two tones meld together to appear and feel seamless.
ecoFinish carries a ten year warranty when installed correctly by a trained and Certified Installer.
ecoFinish finishes popular with pool professionals across the globe.
Three ecoFinish systems are currently available on the marketplace today: one system is designed primarily for smaller projects and detail work such as the restoration of fiberglass steps; renovations can be done onsite and in place. A standard model is also available and used for large pool projects and detail work enabling installers a coverage of 250 square feet per hour. The newest system was developed for high commercial output and enables installers to cover 450 square feet per hour.
Repair or Replace? With a Barrier Solution…The Answer is Simple.
Repair? Client’s who have a thermoplastic finish installed report that they experience a timely on-site renovation, save the expense of hauling away debris and, did not go through a long period of disruption. Pool owners enjoy the ease of a maintenance-free pool and spa, use far less chemicals and they will have a longer swimming season.
Replacement? Thermal spray technology is a relatively new methodology to the Pool and Spa Industry; thermoplastic is an alternative to traditional finishes and is designed for new build concrete, steel, aluminum, fiberglass and composite projects. Overall, thermoplastic enables Pool and Spa Professionals and their existing and new clients another alternative to traditional finishes.
One last word regarding the importance of long term water balance and proper chemistry…it is often overlooked despite the education, warnings and training of our clients. ecoFinish gives pool companies and their clients the assurance that owning a swimming pool and, caring for it, will be a joy and not a burden for years to come. Plastics such as ecoFinish are not only becoming the way of the future for many industries but...are now making big waves in our Canadian pool and spa industry.
Contact us today. See what all the best pools are wearing this season!