New Surface Procedures

Plaster Break-in

The new plaster break-in is one of the most important examples of your professionalism and knowledge of pool and spa maintenance. By following the procedures outlined in next sections, without taking shortcuts, you will find new plaster break-in is an important part.

Why Break in Plaster?

There are two basic reasons to break in plaster rather than just turn on the pump and start swimming. The reasons are:

  • Remove the plaster dust from the water.
  • To balance the water chemistry so that water itself does not destroy a good plaster job.

Plaster Break-in Procedure

The break-in procedure is the same for a new pool or a replastering of an older pool. To accomplish this simple task, keep a step-by-step list of break-in procedures, detailing the brand names of chemicals used and the daily break-in schedule.

It is important to document that you followed the break-in procedure that was agreed upon. Keep a clipboard in the equipment area to list each action taken each day as the break-in proceeds. The notes should include the date, time, weather conditions, test readings, and chemicals applied or actions taken. This is important because plaster discoloration or roughness often are the result of a faulty break-in and it is much easier to blame that process than to investigate the plaster job or other hidden mistakes.

Break-in step by step

After any new construction of a pool, there are two basic reasons to break- in plaster. First, to remove the plaster dust from the water, which will otherwise settle and build up as hard, rough scale. The pool is filled with water before the plaster dries, so the actual drying (curing) takes place underwater. Adding the water before the plaster dries allows it to be pushed into place against the pool shell, pressed evenly by the weight of the water. It doesn't shrink, become brittle, or crack. The second reason to break in the plaster is to balance the water chemistry so that the water itself does not destroy a good plaster job. Therefore, the break-in process is designed to create plaster-friendly water that is neither etching nor scaling. There are many variations to the steps needed for a successful break-in of new plaster, but here are a few recommendations.

New Surface Start-up

You now have a newly plastered pool and you probably have a few questions regarding the care of your new finish. The following suggestions will help you understand a few areas you need to pay special attention to. Please remember that these are generic suggestions and you should always consult your service company for specific instructions based on your pools specifications.


After your new finish is completed a hose is placed at the bottom of the pool with a clean soft cloth wrapped around the end to diffuse the water entering the pool. You must not stop the water at any time or move the hose for any reason this could result in damage to the new finish. The water should not be stopped until the water level is at the middle of the skimmer face and or the middle of your perimeter tile. NOTE: Do not walk on the new finish or allow your pets to walk on the new finish. This will result in foot prints and or marks in your finish that may not come out.


The start-up procedure plays a critical role in the cosmetic appearance of any new finish for years to come. There are several approaches to initial start. The main objectives are to balance pH, total alkalinity and calcium hardness levels and to remove the plaster scale (dust) created by fresh plaster and water. NOTE: Colored Plaster will require different care then white plaster.

It is important that the finish is brushed twice daily for the first week and once daily for the next two weeks. The finish can be vacuumed also however use a brush vacuum and not a wheeled vacuum. A wheeled vacuum can leave marks and is not recommend to be used for the first 30 days. This is also true for an automatic vacuum. Here are a few items that we recommend that you do not use for a period of time

  • Do not use heaters for a minimum of three weeks.
  • Do not turn on any water features such as fountains and or waterfalls that aren’t necessary until the start up procedure has been completed.
  • Do not use any type of vacuums with wheels for a minimum of three weeks.
  • Do not add any chemicals unless they are diluted in a pail with pool water before adding them to you pool.
  • Do not mix any chemicals together at any time while adding them to your pool. DANGER - CHEMICAL REACTION
  • DO NOT ADD SALT to your swimming pool for 30 days after the filling of the swimming pool If there is a chlorine generator installed on your swimming pool

Startup and Maintenance Procedures for Aggregate

  1. After the finish is exposed, let it air dry for as long as conditions will allow. Delaying the fill water a few hours or until the next morning will reduce the occurrence of shade variations (Mottling). Care must be taken not to over-dry the plaster and cause shrinkage cracking. There are no substitutes for experience and knowledge of local conditions in determining how long to let plaster air dry.
  2. Pre-filter the water with a carbon tank and use a sequestering agent to eliminate stain-causing contaminants.
  3. Start the circulation system as soon as possible using the main drain line. Do Not start the system until the water level is above the return inlets. Circulate the pool continuously for the first 3
  4. On the first day test and record chlorine, pH, total alkalinity, calcium hardness and temperature levels. Adjust pH to 7.2 to 7.4 and the Total Alkalinity to 100ppm. Dissolve all chemicals in water first and allow sufficient time for each chemical to be fully dispersed before adding others. Do Not add chlorine or calcium chloride.
  5. Brush the entire surface twice each day for the first 3 days. Clean the filter as needed.
  6. On the second day, repeat steps 4 and 5 above.
  7. On the third day adjust Free Chlorine: 1.0 to 3.0 ppm Ph: 7.4 to 7.6
  8. Total Alkalinity 80 - 120 ppm
  9. Calcium Hardness: 200 - 400 ppm
  10. Stabilizer: 30 to 100 ppm
  11. Adjust the pump timer to normal operating hours.
  12. Do not install automatic pool cleaners for 28 days.
  13. Do not vacuum the pool with a wheeled vacuum for 14 days, to avoid leaving "Wheel Marks". Brush type vacuums may be used immediately.
  14. Brush pool walls and floor daily for the first 2 weeks.

Important Note: these suggested guidelines are based on feedback from our customers throughout the nation. They represent an average of what has worked best for the majority and do not guarantee you will not experience common plaster phenomenon such as staining, mottling, efflorescence and scale. Water supplies vary from one municipality to the next and therefore common sense, experience and good testing procedures must be followed. Refer to the N.S.P.I. guidelines on start up and chemistry for more detailed information.