How to Paint a Pool

Refresh the Inside of Your In-Ground Pool

Painting a Pool

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Project Overview
  • Working Time: 4 - 8 hrs
  • Total Time: 1 wk
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Estimated Cost: $150 to $200

Your in-ground pool’s idyllic look—tropical blue or shimmering white—may have faded. As long as the water is in good condition, the cause of this dingy appearance is the pool’s finish on the sides and bottom.

Pools are constantly subjected to UV rays, chlorinated water, and user activity. So it’s no wonder that the average rubber-based pool paint lasts just about four to five years.

You can paint your pool in about a day or two. As with nearly every other type of paint job, the secret to beautiful, long-lasting results is preparation. If you properly drain and clean the pool, the paint application itself should go fairly quickly. 

The Best Pool Paint

One of the best types of paint you can use for a pool is rubberized pool paint. Because it is designed for pools only, it adapts to the needs of pools. It expands and contracts; it is tough; it resists mold, mildew, and fungus; and it is not affected by pool chemicals.

Rubberized pool paint works well on new, unpainted pool surfaces. It’s also ideal for painting over existing rubberized paint because the new and old paint chemically fuse.

This paint cannot be used over previous epoxy or acrylic pool paint. It cannot be applied on fiberglass or vinyl-lined pool surfaces.

How Much Pool Paint to Use

Purchase one gallon of paint for every 300 to 350 square feet of pool surface, depending on manufacturer specifications. Remember that two coats will be necessary when calculating how much paint is needed.

Pool Paint Calculator

Use this formula to determine how much paint your pool requires:

  1. Multiply length x width of pool
  2. Multiply length x average depth of pool x 2
  3. Multiply width x average depth of pool x 2
  4. Add the totals from steps 1 through 3
  5. Divide the final number from step 4 by 300 or 350, depending on the paint coverage listed on the paint project
  6. Double the final number from step 5
  7. Round the final number from step 6 to the nearest gallon—this is how many gallons of paint you'll need to purchase

Recommended Conditions to Paint a Pool

Avoid painting your pool in direct sunlight. For this reason, it’s best to paint in the morning. Paint during temperatures above 50°F and below 85°F. The surface must be completely dry. Also, do not paint if you expect precipitation within a day or two.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Roller frame
  • 3/8-inch lambskin roller cover
  • 3-1/2-inch paint brush
  • Nylon-bristle cleaning brush
  • Roller extension pole
  • Submersible pump
  • Discharge hose
  • Nylon rope
  • Pool brush
  • Shop vacuum
  • Tarp or sheet plastic
  • 5-in-1 tool


  • Rubber-based pool paint
  • Mineral spirits or paint thinner
  • Citrus based degreaser/cleaner


  1. Drain Pool

    Plan well in advance, because draining the pool is a long process. Depending on the size of the pool, it can take as long as 16 hours. 

    1. Skim the pool by hand to remove large debris.
    2. Turn off and unplug the pool filter.
    3. Attach the discharge hose to the submersible pump.
    4. Extend the free end of the discharge hose to a street gutter, sanitary sewer, or to an area that can be irrigated with water of this quality.
    5. Lower the pump to the bottom of the pool with nylon rope, making sure that the pump’s cord extends outside of the pool.
    6. Plug the pump into a ground-fault interrupter (GFI) outlet.
  2. Scrub Pool as Water Drains

    As the pool drains, use the pool brush and extension pole to scrub the sides of the pool. You do not need to constantly be at the pool, but stay nearby.

    Scrub downward and let the debris fall into the draining pool water. The submersible pump will discharge some of this debris, but expect to clean up much of it by hand at the end.

  3. Scrape Paint

    With the pool dry, inspect the walls and bottom for flaking or peeling paint. Scrape with the 5-in-1 tool.

  4. Clean Pool

    Sweep up debris from the bottom. Clean the pool with the citrus-based degreaser/cleaner, using the nylon-bristle cleaning brush. Hose the sides with fresh water and pump the water out. Make a final cleaning with the shop vacuum. Let the pool thoroughly dry.

  5. Prepare For Painting

    Attach the paint frame to the extension pole. Add the roller cover. Set yourself up at the bottom of the pool, near the drain, with all the necessary tools. Cover the drain with a tarp or plastic.

  6. Cut In Paint

    Cut in the edges with the paint brush. Edges may include:

    • Under bullnose
    • Up to tile coping
    • Around pool ladders
    • Around drains
    • Up to steps or ledges that will be painted a different color
  7. Roll Paint on Pool

    Apply the rubberized paint to the pool by rolling it from top to bottom. Do not use a thick coat. Instead, apply two thin coats. Applying a single heavy coat may cause the paint to fail. Do not thin the paint.

    Work quickly and in small areas, maintaining a wet edge. If an area is already drying, avoid painting over it, as this can cause pockmarks and a rough texture.

  8. Cleaning

    Clean up with mineral spirits or paint thinner.

  9. Let Paint Cure

    Rubberized pool paint does not cure by evaporation, as do water-based paints. This solvent-based paint can take up to 7 days to fully cure before you are able to fill the pool with water again. Directing large fans to ventilate the pool will expedite the drying process.