The first APSP standard dedicated solely to a subcontractor trade is one step closer to being completed. The National Plasterers Council and the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals have collaborated to create the Board of Standards Review/APSP/ICC/NPC-12 American National Standard for the Plastering of Swimming Pools.

A draft is available to the public for comments, which will be accepted until June 22, 2015.

Currently, all APSP standards are geared toward a whole product (such as inground pools or drain covers) or an objective (such as energy efficiency or entrapment protection). This is believed to be the first that addresses a specific trade within the industry.

“I think the plastering industry should be applauded for stepping up and doing something that I don’t think anybody else has done,” said Jon Dongell, a key drafter and director of research and development at Pebble Technology in Scottsdale, Ariz. “What we’ve done is said, ‘This is going to be the practice. [For] the entire pool plastering trade, this is your common trade practice, materials and workmanship.’”

APSP/ICC/NPC-12 addresses workmanship during the application of plaster, with language largely provided by the NPC, while APSP implements the process for drafting accredited standards.

The two organizations began the effort after the group onBalance objected to the fact that the APSP Builders Manual contained a reference to the NPC Technical Manual. They decided to collaborate on a standard that APSP could sanction.

“It came out of the need to try to create a consensus approach to the plastering of pools,” said Carvin DiGiovanni, APSP’s senior director of technical and standards.

The standard is being constructed according to the accreditation procedures of ANSI, which requires that multiple parties be allowed to comment. How quickly the standard is released depends largely on the time needed to review public comments, but APSP hopes to receive ANSI approval this September.

The language is criticized by onBalance, which has long said certain plaster problems are caused by faulty application techniques, whereas in some cases plasterers maintain the problem is the chemistry.

During the initial drafting, onBalance presented about 50 pages of argument. The draft outlines things such as preparation, types and proportioning of cement and aggregate, and the appropriate pigments to use. However, the three principals of onBalance believe the standard should specifically address water-cement ratios, the use of supplemental water while troweling, the addition of calcium chloride and other issues.

OnBalance believes the writers are skirting the most important issues. “The proposed plaster standard will do absolutely nothing to solve plaster problems or the disagreements within the industry,” said Kim Skinner, a principal of onBalance.

Standard writers, however, state that issues such as supplemental water cannot be prescribed because of regional weather conditions. Other onBalance concerns are based on research not pertaining to immersed plaster, they said. NPC and onBalance disagree about research addressing calcium chloride’s effects on pool plaster.

Drafters also point out that language in the new standard will become legally binding in those areas where it’s adopted as code, so they believe the standard should start where there is consensus. It doesn’t make sense to codify things that are still hotly debated in the industry, they said.

“With this plaster controversy and conversation, we’re now trying to at least land on a basic standard by which we can now build upon, and I think that’s a good thing,” DiGiovanni said.

For a copy of the draft for review, contact APSP at (703) 838-0083, or visit