There’s a new surface in town: MicroGlass
There’s a new product for plaster pools that will significantly lengthen their usable lifespan. Suitable for any cementitious finish, including marcite or quartz plaster, pebble and other aggregate finishes, MicroGlass is a concrete hardener that can more than double a swimming pool’s usability.
Microglass is a silicate hardener that can be applied to both brand new or existing pools. It works by reacting instantly with the calcium hydroxide on the pool’s surface and micro-voids, converting it to calcium silicate hydrate, a much harder and more durable material. The product penetrates into the plaster matrix, making it resistant to etching, delamination, the formation of calcium nodules, and more.
According to Alan Smith, MicroGlass CEO, this is because the weakest part of a cementitious finish is the calcium hydroxide that is a component of any plaster material. Calcium hydroxide is soluble in water, and the normal dissolution of this chemical leads to many predictable future plaster problems.
Smith says until you can resolve the issues with calcium hydroxide, which makes up 24% to 26% of the Portland cement matrix, you are always going to have a problem.
“Concrete degradation is something everybody who deals with concrete knows about – from swimming pools to dams. Until you can get into the matrix and really change it, it’s kind of like rearranging the deck furniture on the Titanic – it’s not going to hold up.,” MicroGlass permanently changes calcium hydroxide into calcium silicate hydrate, however, so the plaster is essentially frozen in time, now resistant to the normal chemical changes that occur when plaster is submerged in water.
Smith emphasizes that MicroGlass is not a coating – it’s a penetrator, which changes the plaster into a ceramic-like material and increases the hardness from about a 3 on the Mohs absolute hardness scale to a 72 as it fills the microcracks and voids in the plaster to calcium silicate hydrate.
For brand-new pools, it’s a gamechanger in terms of reducing the work involved in new pool startups because it nearly eliminates the plaster dust associated with brand new plaster.
It should not be used on brand-new colored pools, however, because it reacts so quickly with the excess calcium hydroxide that it will turn the colored pools white. Colored pools can be treated with MicroGlass without issue after they have had a chance to cure underwater for 30 days.
MicroGlass is also a solution for pools prone to developing calcium nodules, preventing their reoccurrence once they have been sanded and the surface has been treated with MicroGlass.
In general, pools treated with Microglass don’t easily stain, are simple to clean, and have a reduced acid demand.
The product is made by Oxium Water Technologies, in Sarasota, Florida, and was developed by William Reed over 20 years ago to restore and harden old debilitated concrete.
Since then, Reed modified the formula and application process specifically for hardening and preserving swimming pool finishes.
Alan Smith of Alan Smith Pool Plastering in Orange, California demonstrates applying Microglass Application
Application is easy, and the company provides online tutorials or hands-on training for those interested in learning.
Materials cost only a couple hundred dollars for most pools, and it’s an easy sell if pool draining was already planned for an acid wash.
Meanwhile, applicators can charge anywhere from $600 to $800 for one hour of work – and it is a very simple application that any service tech can perform.
For those desiring assistance with the process, Devin Cahn Associates, DCA, a pool manufacturers’ representative, has 22 applicators located across the country that will provide training, trouble-shooting advice, as well as help with sales tips.
In a nutshell, the product is applied using a backpack sprayer and a paint roller.
For existing pools, an ideal time to apply MicroGlass is after a planned acid wash. Once the acid has been neutralized and the surface is dry (a gas torch can be used to accelerate surface drying), the product can be applied to the clean, debris-free surface.
MicroGlass is sold in gallon buckets, and for most standard sized pools, about 2 to 3 gallons (for $80 a gallon) will be all that is needed.
Shake the product for about 30 seconds, then stir to ensure it is well mixed. Pour the MicroGlass into the backpack sprayer, replacing the lid on the storage container. Bring a 1½-inch-thick nap roller into the pool, and gear-up with the backpack sprayer.
Application can be a singleperson operation, but the company recommends getting an assistant to help out, with one person working the sprayer while the other rolls it out over the surface.
One person can pump up the sprayer to get pressure, applying the product, while the other person uses the roller to back-roll all of the product – picking up any runs or puddles and providing even product distribution. Any accidental puddles will result in a cloudy, glazed appearance, so it is important to pick them up.
The product is sprayed evenly, beginning a at the tile while the
Alan Smith and his assistant work together applying MicroGlass
Alan Smith is the sprayer, while his assistant is the roller. Micro
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assistant follows a few feet behind, rolling over the fresh application. Keep pressure in the sprayer to facilitate spraying. A light mist of product is sufficient. The product can be applied over plastic fittings but should be ragged off immediately. Similarly, the tile should also be ragged off to prevent a cloudy glaze.
Once the walls are completed, begin spraying the floor, starting at the deep end. The surface will require about two to three coats, or until “the point of refusal’”— when no more product will absorb into the surface — has been achieved. Older pools with greater porosity will require slightly more product, and most jobs require two coats. Successive coats can be applied just minutes after the previous coat was applied.
The entire process should only take an hour and will provide many years of backyard fun — and a solid investment that will please all pool
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