If there is one problem with the trend toward increased pigment use in cementitious materials, it’s a tendency for the colors to fade. The phenomenon is known as carbonation.

“The No. 1 beef about the products is carbonation,” says Greg Garrett, owner of Applied Materials Technology, a manufacturer and consulting firm in Chandler, Ariz. He has traveled the nation, studying the problem extensively.

Garrett describes the condition as a reaction between carbon dioxide (CO2), water and the pool surface. “It’s happened with carbon dioxide — carbonic acid and other carbons — and principally the calcium hydroxide, or other calcium components, which are in the mix,” he says. “It can happen underwater and in all types of environments.”

Over time, the CO2 in the air reacts with the components in the mix, which lightens as it forms calcium carbonate. Plasterers and pool builders call it “fading,” but the colors are actually turning white. Garrett says some manufacturers are starting to respond by including proprietary “protection mechanisms” that help slow down the process.

“It’s the new wave in pigments,”

Garrett says. “They create these protection mechanisms, so the pigments will help slow down the carbonation. You can’t stop it completely, but you can slow it down to a degree that by the time it’s prominent, the pool will need refinishing anyway.

“Otherwise it can happen fast,” he adds. “In some cases, 60 to 90 days.”


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The increasing use of pigments in pool surfaces and hardscapes is leading the industry into a more colorful 21st century.


  • The color invasion

A look at how pigments are being used in and around pools today.

  • Pros and cons

The benefits and negatives of the various types of plaster pigments.