How To Make A Gunite Pool Smooth

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Rough, bumpy gunite pool surfaces can be uncomfortable on bare feet and make cleaning difficult. But you don’t have to live with an unsightly, rough concrete pool shell. With the right techniques and materials, it is possible to resurface your gunite swimming pool and achieve a smooth, polished finish.

This article will explain the causes of surface roughness in gunite pools and provide actionable tips to help you transform your pool into a luxurious backyard oasis. You’ll learn proven methods like grinding, acid washing, re-plastering and more to fix rough patches, pits, and unevenness in your pool’s gunite surface.

We’ll also cover how you can ensure a smooth, even finish when building a new gunite pool. With a bit of effort and expertise, your rough concrete pool can become a modern showpiece you’ll be proud to show off.

Why is My Gunite Pool So Rough

Having a rough, bumpy gunite pool surface can be unpleasant and unsafe. Gunite, or concrete, pools rely on proper application and finishing techniques to achieve a smooth surface. If mistakes are made during construction, you can end up with a rough pool. These are a few common causes of roughness in newly constructed gunite pools:

  • Uneven application of gunite: If the concrete is sprayed on unevenly, thick and thin areas will cause bumps and pits.

  • Insufficient troweling: After spraying on the gunite, the surface needs to be carefully troweled smooth. Not spending enough time troweling can leave a rough texture.

  • Contamination: If debris, trash, or tools are accidentally left in the pool before the gunite is applied, they will create bumps in the surface.

  • Poor weather conditions: Wind, rain, or extreme heat during application can interfere with proper smoothing and curing of the gunite.

  • Low quality materials: Gunite that contains a lot of large aggregates or too much sand may be prone to roughness.

How To Make A Gunite Pool Smooth

Gunite pools need proper finishing to achieve a smooth, pleasant texture. A rough gunite pool surface can be uncomfortable on feet and make cleaning difficult. With the right techniques, you can turn a rough, bumpy pool into a relaxing oasis.

Existing Pools

Don’t settle for discomfort and safety concerns from a rough gunite pool. With the below mentioned techniques you can transform it into the smooth backyard paradise you deserve. Consult a pool pro to determine the best options for your situation.

Grinding The Surface

Using a concrete grinding machine is an effective way to smooth a rough gunite pool. Look for a reputable contractor with experience operating concrete grinders. They should utilize industrial grade equipment to evenly sand down high spots, bumps, and pits in the concrete surface. This leaves a uniform, smooth pool floor and walls. The process creates concrete dust, so the area must be cleaned thoroughly afterward.

Acid Washing

Another common way to etch and smooth a gunite pool is acid washing. This involves applying a diluted muriatic acid solution to the pool surface. The acid slightly dissolves the concrete, removing roughness and exposing the aggregate underneath. It’s important to take precautions like wearing gloves and goggles when acid washing. And always use an expert to calculate the proper acid concentration. Too strong of a solution can damage the concrete.

Re-Plastering The Pool

For very rough pools, re-plastering may be required. This entails draining the pool, sandblasting off the old plaster, then applying fresh plaster in a smooth, even coat. Various plaster options like pebble and quartz provide decorative looks too. The plaster cures smooth as glass, giving you essentially a brand new pool surface. Expensive, but very effective.

Regular Brushing

For light roughness, simply scrubbing the pool weekly with a stiff concrete brush can help gradually smooth the texture over time. It’s a light surface etching that rounds off bumps and improves traction. Robotic pool cleaners also brush the surface as they move.

New Pools

Following the below mentioned best practices will help any new gunite pool achieve an inviting, pristine, smooth surface that feels amazing underfoot. Be sure to hire an experienced pool contractor specialized in quality gunite application.

Careful Gunite Application

The first key is spraying the gunite concrete evenly across the entire pool surface. The gunite crew should apply a uniform depth of concrete over the steel rebar structure. Going too thin in some areas and too thick in others will lead to an uneven finish. The right nozzle pressure, application angles, and experienced motion is critical.

Thorough Troweling

After spraying on the wet gunite, expert troweling is required to smooth and compact the concrete. The concrete finishers must carefully glide trowels over the entire surface to fill in dips and knock down high spots. This closes pores and presses aggregates down into the concrete matrix. The troweling time and motion directly impacts the final texture.

Proper Conditions

Gunite application is very weather dependent. Wind, heavy rain, or scorching sun can interfere with proper concrete spraying, settling, and curing. Careful attention must be paid to the forecast. The concrete finishers also need to properly manage slump and set times based on conditions. This ensures adequate working time for smoothing.

High-Quality Materials

Low-grade gunite concrete with inferior aggregates and high sand content is more likely to produce a rough finish. Structural materials with targeted aggregate gradation contribute to smoothness. Using admixtures in the concrete to manage flow, setting, and strength gain also prevents issues.

Sealing and Plastering

After full curing, sealing the concrete with a bond coat and plastering over it provides the ultimate smooth finish. Varieties like quartz plaster provide a glistening surface. The plaster can be troweled to a glass-like texture. Through careful gunite installation and finishing, your new pool can be smooth from day one.

Types of Finishes for a Gunite Pool

There are several different types of finishes that can be applied to a gunite swimming pool to create a smooth, attractive surface. Consult with a pool contractor to select the best finish that matches your design vision, lifestyle needs, and budget. Proper application is key for a durable, attractive result.


Plaster is made from cement, sand, and lime and is troweled onto the gunite pool surface to create a smooth, resistant interior finish. Standard white plaster is the most common, but plaster also comes in colored varieties like blue, gray, and tan to give the interior a custom look. Different aggregate mixes can also create visually interesting textures. Plaster offers a cost-effective finish that is highly durable if properly maintained.

Cost-effectiveRequires occasional resurfacing
Smooth surfacePlain, basic look
Durable if maintained
Many color options


A pebble finish is plaster that has been embedded with small, rounded pebbles to give the pool a bumpy, stone-like texture. The pebbles are usually ceramic or natural stones that come in colors like tan, blue-green, or a mix. Pebble creates a decorative, softer feel underfoot compared to plain plaster. It does require more maintenance to keep the finish clean. The pebble color and texture hides underlying pool flaws well.

Visually interesting textureCan be sharp on feet
Hides underlying flawsRequires more maintenance
Softer underfootCosts more than regular plaster
Variety of color options


Quartz plaster finishes incorporate ground quartz rock aggregates that create a shimmering, luxury look. The glass-like quartz plaster is one of the smoothest finishes. It comes in light colors like white, pale blue, and silver-gray that enhance the sparkling effect. Quartz plaster is also highly durable. The downside is the higher cost compared to standard plaster.

Extremely smooth surfaceSignificantly higher cost
Sparkling, luxury appearanceLimited color options
Greater durability than plaster
Low maintenance


Tile allows you to fully customize your pool finish with endless design options. Ceramic, porcelain, glass, and natural stone tiles all work well. Larger tile dimensions help minimize grout lines. Tile is applied over a plaster base and is best for the waterline, benches, steps, and floor to add beauty and texture. The grout lines do require regular cleaning. Read our how long after gunite can you tile article for a complete, in-depth guide.

Fully customizable designsGrout needs regular cleaning
Luxurious visual appealTile can crack or chip
Excellent durabilityHigh installation cost

Exposed Aggregate

This finish starts by spraying the gunite concrete with decorative aggregates like seashells, stones, or glass mixed in. After it partially cures, the top layer is washed off to reveal the aggregates embedded in the concrete. This creates a slip-resistant, textured finish. It comes in various natural tones and patterns.

Unique, decorative appearanceDifficult to keep clean
Slip-resistant textureRough surface
Durable finish


Prefabricated fiberglass pool shells can be installed over freshly poured gunite to create a maintenance-friendly finish. The ultra-smooth fiberglass surface never needs plastering or resurfacing. Fiberglass pools offer durability, ease of care, and a range of color options. This is a more expensive but luxurious finish.

Smooth, glossy finishVery expensive
Low maintenanceCan be damaged by improper cleaning
Never needs resurfacingLimited shape options
Multiple color options


A rough, uneven gunite pool surface doesn’t have to ruin your swimming experience. While improper application or finishing can cause bumps, pits, and general roughness in concrete pool shells, there are solutions.

With grinding, acid washing, re-plastering, and careful brushing, you can smooth out imperfections and create a luxurious finished surface. For new pools, take steps like consistent gunite spraying, thorough troweling, and using top quality plaster to achieve smoothness right away.

While smoothing a gunite pool takes some investment, the comfort, safety, and aesthetics pay off for years to come. Don’t settle for scrapes and discomfort. Contact a qualified pool contractor today to discuss the best options to transform your rough concrete shell into a shimmering backyard oasis. The soothing, enjoyable pool you deserve is within reach with the right approach.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How do I make my pool plaster smooth?

Making a smooth pool plaster surface is not an easy job. It requires a lot of patience and skill. The best way to make your gunite pool smooth is by using an aggressive scrubbing brush, applying pressure as you go along. This will help remove any bumps or inconsistencies in the plaster surface. After the scrubbing process, use a trowel to fill in the holes and patch any rough areas. Apply thin coats of a high-quality pool finish product, such as Diamond Brite or Pebble Tec, over the entire area until it’s completely smooth and free from bumps. Finally, apply water sealant to protect the surface from weather damage and wear.

2. What causes pool plaster to become rough?

Pool plaster can become rough due to a variety of factors, such as improper mixing or application, inadequate curing time, pH imbalance, water hardness, and exposure to harsh chemicals. Poorly mixed pool plaster may contain lumps or inconsistencies that cause the surface to be rough. If the curing process is not done properly, the plaster will not harden properly and remain rough. pH imbalances can also cause rough patches on pool surfaces. Hard water can also leave behind calcium deposits that are visible as rough spots on the pool surface. Finally, if harsh chemicals like chlorine or acid are used in the pool regularly without proper maintenance, they could damage the pool’s finish and make it feel rough underfoot.

3. Can you fix rough patches in gunite pool?

Yes, rough patches in a gunite pool can be fixed. Gunite pools can develop rough spots over time due to wear and tear. To address this, you can resurface or replaster the affected areas. It’s advisable to consult a pool professional to assess the extent of the damage and recommend the most appropriate repair method.

4. What is the smoothest finish for a gunite pool?

The smoothest finish for a gunite pool is typically achieved with either polished aggregate or pebble finishes. These finishes use small stones or pebbles mixed with plaster, creating a smooth and durable surface that feels comfortable to the touch. Pebble finishes, in particular, are known for their durability and natural appearance, making them a popular choice for achieving a smooth and aesthetically pleasing finish in gunite pools.

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Written By Scott Keller

Scott Keller is an experienced pool industry professional with over 20 years of expertise in gunite pool design, construction, and maintenance.

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