The number one question (and hardest to answer) that we field at CL Industries is, “What color water will my swimming pool have with a particular finish.” We’ll do our best to answer that question here, and also give you some insight on the principles that guide water color.
Clean water in small quantities appears to be crystal clear to the human eye. Only when the quantity of water increases does it begin to take on color due its interaction with light. Our focus here will be solely on swimming pools, specifically ones finished with marcite or exposed aggregates (quartz, pebble, and polished marble). All of our pre-blended finishes at CL Industries use white Portland cement. Portland cement is known for its ability to be smoothly troweled as well as taking pigmentation from dyes. We mention portland cement because it provides the background color for our finishes (white unless dyed). The background color of our finishes is the number one determiner of water color. No matter what finish you choose the only possible outcomes are blue or green water with varying shades/hues.
Lets start with blue water. Pools come in all shapes and sizes, so we’ll focus on a rectangular pool that is 16 ft. by 32 ft (pools are really only limited by budget and backyard space). Most pools are designed with a length to width ratio of 2 to 1. Depths typically vary from 3 ft to 8 ft with an average of 5.5 ft. We’ll start with a white finish (our white back finishes contain no dyes). This pool will have light blue water. There will be a variance in shade of blue from shallow end to deep end. The deeper the pool the darker the blue. As light enters the swimming pool’s water, it is absorbed and bent in a phenomenon known as refraction. While the surface of the pool will reflect the color of the blue sky, much of the sunlight will penetrate the water’s surface and the red, yellow, orange, and green wavelengths of light will be absorbed giving the pool a blue hue. So if you are looking for the lightest blue water for your swimming pool you’d choose any of our white back finishes.
If you’re looking for a darker shade of blue without having to build an extremely deep pool you would look for a finish with pigment added. Our finishes that yield blue water would have blue or gray background colors. The rule of thumb here is the darker the background color the darker the shade of blue.
For those of you looking for a finish that will give you green water you’ll need to select a product with tan, brown or green background dye. Unfortunately green water carries a negative stigma, because it has been associated with unhealthy water in the past (If a pool’s water chemistry is neglected, the water can turn green from algae formation and become unsafe for swimming). Green water is achieved in a pool with healthy water chemistry due the interaction of the yellow hues in the tan, brown, and green pigments with a blue sky. This concept is fairly elementary here, with blue and yellow making green. Over the years we’ve seen some amazing pools with green water created by our finishes, so don’t rule out tan, brown, or green pigments.
We also manufacture finishes with black pigment. Black pigment yields a dark blue to teal water depending on the color of aggregates in the finish. We’ll talk about the effects of aggregates on water a little later in the article.
- SUN EXPOSURE AND ANGLE: Full sun exposure will give you the best results for vibrant water colors. If you have tall trees or a screened enclosure less light will reach your pool and the water color will be dimmer. Also if your pool is close to your home you’ll experience shading until the sun is overhead.
- LANDSCAPING: The color of the plant life around your pool will also influence your water color as you’ll see the colors in the reflections. Hardscaping plays a minor role, mainly in providing contrast.
- COLOR OF HOME: Depending on the proximity of your home to your swimming pool, the color of your home can also influence your water color. A yellow home reflecting into a swimming pool that would otherwise have blue water can appear to have green water at certain times of the day.
- AGGREGATES: All of our quartz, pebble, and polished marble finishes contain aggregates. From ceramic colored coated quartz, natural river pebble, and colored glass these additives will have a minimal effect on water color. The main impact is seen in shallow areas where the aggregates are visible. In deeper areas the aggregates are less visible and tend to blend in with the finish. You can really see the effect of aggregates when you have full sun and moving water in your pool. This creates beautifully lustered light prisms.
We hope this article has been helpful in your decision to select a finish. We highly recommend having your builder or applicator show you pools in person before making a final decision.