Darlington Designs

A beautiful new pool finish can elevate any pool design, adding a whole new level of style and charm. From the straightforward simplicity of classic plaster to a kaleidoscopic blend of tile, the choices are practically unlimited! The finish you choose will depend on the effect you want to create for your outdoor space. 

With so many gorgeous finish options offered today, it’s important that you pick one to match your pool design aesthetic. 

At Darlington Designs, we build pools that will complement the personality of your home. Our customized approach means that every pool is different—making your outdoor area a unique space where you can relax and enjoy special moments with loved ones. 

The Ultimate Guide to Swimming Pool Finishes

The right pool finish can add that extra something that will make your pool truly stand out. Explore the different swimming pool finish types below to decide which option would work well for you. 


A timeless option, plaster is one of the most popular pool finishes, consisting of Portland cement, water, and marble dust (or silica sand). Traditional white plaster gives your pool a classic, smooth appearance, which has remained in style even as other finish fashions have come and gone over the years. The most inexpensive option typically lasts between five and seven years before any signs of wear become visible. 

Plaster can also be mixed with colored pigments to add dimension and drama to the poolscape. You can choose from a variety of options. For example, a medium grey finish gives the water an alluring blue tint, while deeper shades create a sense of depth in the pool. A dark pool finish will make the most of the water’s reflective qualities, mirroring the space around the pool. A black finish is often used to imitate the look of a natural body of water. 


As the next generation of pool plaster finishes, aggregate finishes combine plaster with small pieces of quartz, granite, river stones, or glass beads. These finishes offer a luxurious pool surface with greater resistance to chemicals than plaster would be by itself. A gorgeous array of colors and textures allow aggregates to be custom-blended to create a truly one-of-a-kind style. 

Woman with a white, blue and red sombrero relaxes as she puts her legs into a pool with a shimmering tile interior. Aggregates can look like a myriad of pebbles worked into a pool surface. Pebble surfaces have been on the rise over the past decade, partly thanks to the slight texture that helps prevent swimmers from slipping. Over time, the color of the finish becomes richer. 

Aggregate is known for its striking beauty and sturdiness. As long as the pool chemistry is maintained properly, it should remain in excellent conditions for decades. 

There are two types of aggregate surfaces: polished and exposed aggregate. 

    • Polished Aggregate 
      This type of aggregate contains finely crushed stones such as quartz, granite, or marble. Once the aggregate finish has been applied to the pool shell, it is polished to create a smooth surface. The flecks of color give the finish a soft, glossy sheen while extending the life of the plaster by 12-20 years. 
    • Exposed Aggregate
      A similar mixture to polished aggregate, exposed aggregate typically contains small river pebbles or glass beads. Once the mixture has been applied, the finish is power washed with water and muriatic acid. This process removes the top layer of the aggregate, exposing the rich colors beneath. 

Additionally, this adds texture to the bottom of the pool, making it safer for people to move around. 

Aggregates are made from different materials, affording a range of styles:

    • Pebble Finishes
      Pebble finishes have a rustic look, which makes them a popular choice for tropical or lagoon-style pools. 
    • Glass Bead Finishes 
      Glass bead finishes catch the sparkle of the sun’s rays, giving your pool a three-dimensional effect. Glass bead always adds a touch of elegance and is often preferred for contemporary pool designs. 
    • Quartz Pool Finishes 
      Quartz pool finishes also refract sunlight and deliver strength, beauty, and resilience to the pool’s interior. Quartz is more expensive than alternatives such as marcite, but they last much longer (think 15-20 years longer)! 

If you’re interested in learning about the other options in aggregate mixtures, please be sure to schedule an appointment with us, as this is not an exhaustive list! Aggregate is the most popular type of finish we use at Darlington Designs.


One of the most durable pool finishes, tile offers a stunning array of design possibilities. Pool tile is often used as an accent for the pool’s waterline, floor, or steps. With its glossy appearance, tile enhances the water’s reflective properties while achieving an artistic, upscale look. At Darlington Designs, we’ve seen clients choose tile (in conjunction with plaster or aggregate) for a gorgeous waterline in their spa or infinity pool. 

Made in different colors, designs, and textures, tile can be applied in a variety of ways to produce different effects. If you’ve decided on tile for your pool design or remodel, you’ll be excited to find out that in addition to a rainbow range of color choices, you can innovate with a pattern or design as well. 

Many pool owners enjoy mosaic patterns featuring dolphins, turtles, or tropical fish to add an extra aesthetic pop to the swimming pool. With the vast selection of options available, tile allows for maximal customization by offering nearly endless combinations. Here are the main options in tile types: 

    • Glass Tile
      Thanks to its mesmerizing appearance and resilient qualities, glass tile has become all the rage in recent years. Glass tile can manipulate and magnify light, giving your pool a bright, shimmering surface. And because it’s impervious to moisture, glass tile won’t erode or stain. 
    • Ceramic and Porcelain Tile
      The least expensive tile finish, ceramic and porcelain are also some of the most popular tile types. Ornate patterns can be hand-painted on ceramic tiles for a bold, creative look. 
    • Stone Tile
      Like granite, marble, slate, and limestone, stone tile helps the pool to blend with its natural surroundings. It also matches well for homes with a modern architectural style. 

Trust the Experts at Darlington Designs 

When it comes to building your dream pool, you shouldn’t trust just anyone to do the job. Adding a new pool finish is no different. Darlington Designs is an experienced pool builder with the expertise necessary to ensure a quality, one-of-a-kind pool finish that will last the test of time. 

We take a customized approach to all our design-build projects because we believe that every pool should match the vision of its owner. If you’re ready to start exploring the possibilities, we invite you to contact us to set up a design consultation. 

You can also learn more about the pool design and installation process in our complimentary eBook, “38 Questions to Ask Your Pool Contractor.”