Pebble Tec vs. Pebble Sheen: What Are The Major Differences?


Pebble Tec vs. Pebble Sheen

When it comes to finishing and waterproofing the inside of your new or remodeled swimming pool, you have a number of different options to choose from. While standard plaster – which consists of cement, sand, and additives – is the most popular, Pebble Technology International (PTI) offers several distinct textures of pool finishes.

Developed over 25 years ago, Pebble Tec is the original pebble pool finish. Since then, PTI has developed three additional superior quality pool finishes, including Pebble Sheen, Pebble Fina, and Pebble Brilliance. If you’re stuck between choosing Pebble Tec or Pebble Sheen for your pool finish, you’ve come to the right place. The chief difference between the two products is the size of the pebbles. Pebble Sheen uses the exact same technology as Pebble Tec, but incorporates smaller pebbles to yield a slicker finish. Both Pebble Tec and Pebble Sheen are available in 16 brilliant color variations to achieve the look you want.

Let’s take a look at both of these products from Pebble Technology International in detail, along with some of their additional offerings, and why you should consider a pebble finish for your pool over a conventional plaster finish.

Pebble Tec

PebbleTec, Blue Lagoon Finish

Pebble Tec is the original aggregate pool finish, created over 25 years ago. The company invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into research and technology, which yielded the most durable and reliable pebble pool finish on the market. Pebble Tec is a combination of cement, sand, and aggregate (stones, pebbles) that have been collected from beaches and riverbeds around the world, in addition to pigment and various additives.

The product is mixed onsite and pressure pumped through a hose. Then, the technician smooths out the Pebble Tec over the walls and floor of the pool using a trowel. Once the material is even, the topmost layer of cement is hosed off to expose the pebbles and the pool is left to cure for roughly 24 hours. After it has cured, the surface of the pool is acid rinsed and treated to enhance the brightness of the pebbles.

This particular offering from PTI has a very earthy texture that consists of the largest pebbles of all their products. It is the ideal choice for anyone who wants a more natural ambiance for their pool or spa. Though Pebble Tec is more expensive than its other aggregate competitors, it is a superior product that can last three times longer than traditional plaster finishes.

The cost to have Pebble Tec installed is approximately $92 to $105 per linear foot. Though, the price varies based on region, labor, and the specific products you select.

Pros of Pebble Tec

  • Design Possibilities: When it comes to choosing a pool finish that compliments your home, Pebble Tec comes in a wide variety of appealing colors for homeowners to choose from. Colors range from almost black to nearly white, with dominant colors such as Blue Lagoon, Moonlight Gray, Jade, and Caribbean Blue. The design of Pebble Tec is perfect for anyone looking to bring a natural appearance to their pool, spas, or water features. To make your pool finish look even more bright and brilliant, technicians can add extra features.
  • Longevity: With the necessary maintenance, you can expect Pebble Tec to last 25 years or longer. The product is stain-resistant and provides a natural, non-slip surface that is incredibly durable. Pebble Tec has been setting the standard for excellent aggregate interior finishes for over two decades. Some aggregate finishes tend to slough – meaning the pebbles fall out, clog your filter, and leave a bare spot on the surface. However, Pebble Tec uses a specialized additive that prevents the pebbles in their finishes from sloughing.
  • Consistent Size: Each pebble that goes into Pebble Tec is screened three times. This process helps ensure that the size of the pebbles is consistent throughout your pool, creating a stunning, uniform result.

Cons of Pebble Tec

  • Cost: Pools that are finished with Pebble Tec are more expensive than other alternatives, especially those finished with plaster.
  • Surface Texture: If not installed properly, the non-slip surface may be rough on the feet. Although, the product is made with smaller pebbles and naturally tumbled stones instead of stones with sharp edges.
  • Professional Installation. Pebble Tec has to be installed by licensed, trained professionals and is not DIY friendly.

Pebble Sheen

PebbleSheen, Blue Granite Finish

The most popular pool finish from PTI, Pebble Sheen delivers the same natural beauty, technology, and inherent features as the original Pebble Tec with a more refined texture. Like Pebble Tec, Pebble Sheen comes in 16 gorgeous color options, though some feature small seashells (called Shimmering Sea) for added brilliance. The only major difference between Pebble Tec and Pebble Sheen is that the latter incorporates smaller pebbles to achieve a smoother finish. It also costs slightly more to have Pebble Sheen installed than Pebble Tec.

Additional Offerings from Pebble Technology International

Pebble Tec and Pebble Sheen aren’t the only offerings available from PTI, some of their additional products include:

  • Pebble Fina: An exclusive product line made from their smallest natural pebbles, Pebble Fina is enhanced with additives that increase strength and provide long-lasting durability. It incorporates the ancient Roman and Greek use of pozzolans (cement additives), to yield a stronger finish that resists etching. The product has the smoothest texture of all their finishes, with a tone-on-tone effect that has a very subtle pebble exposure.
  • Stardust: Stardust is a reflective pool finish additive that features a blend of some of the most brilliant minerals in nature. These minerals sparkle and create a reflective mirror effect on the surface of the water. This enhancement is specifically engineered for Pebble Fina finishes.
  • Pebble Brilliance: Pebble Brilliance is PTI’s newest finish that features a stunning blend of glass beads and natural stone aggregate. The addition of vibrant glass beads creates an infusion of wonderful color, yielding a uniquely vivid water color and an appealing pool finish.
  • Shimmering Sea: A sparkling shell blend that consists of cultivated abalone and mother of pearl, creating a subtle sparkle of color on the surface of the water. Shimmering Sea comes in all of the Pebble Brilliance finishes and a number of other finishes. Though, it can be added to any Pebble Tec or Pebble Sheen pool finish as well.
  • Luminous: Luminous is an iridescent glass bend blend that PTI offers as an enhancement to create a glistening effect on the surface of the water. This offering comes in three distinct blends: Blue, Jade, and Emerald.

Plaster vs. Pebble Tec Pool Finish

The product that you select for the interior surface of your pool is one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make, whether you’re building a new pool or remodeling an existing one. Plaster and Pebble Tec are the two most popular options for pool surfaces. Most older pools feature a traditional plaster finish, which is roughly ¼ inch to ½ inch thick of white cement, water, and white sand or marble aggregate.

Plaster has been used as a swimming pool surface coating since the 1960s, and has stood the test of time. Although plaster is much more affordable than Pebble Tec, it has a number of drawbacks that lead homeowners to consider an alternative. For starters, since plaster is porous it is highly susceptible to staining, discoloring, cracking, scaling, and collecting bacteria.

As a result, more chemicals are needed to properly balance the water chemistry in a plaster pool. Plaster is also the least durable of all the interior finish options, lasting only between five and 10 years before it needs to be re-plastered. Though, plaster comes in a wide variety of colors, allowing you to achieve the specific appearance you desire.

Pebble Tec, on the other hand, has gained popularity over the last several decades, and for good reason. While it’s more expensive than traditional plaster finishing, it is the highest quality pool finish available because of its durability and ability to hide chemical residue.

With the proper maintenance and care, Pebble Tec can last you over 25 years. It’s also available in countless color shades to fit your aesthetic desires. Although Pebble Tec may be slightly rougher on the feet, Pebble Sheen uses smaller aggregate to yield a smoother appearance.

Cost Comparison

To put things into perspective in terms of cost, the following table outlines price estimates for Pebble Tec, Pebble Sheen, and traditional plaster. These numbers are based on a pool remodel in Phoenix, Arizona that is approximately 900 square feet and has a perimeter of 85 feet. Your exact costs will vary based on where you live, the size of your pool, and any add-ons you select.

Pool Finish Estimated Cost
Plaster $3485
Pebble Tec $5625
Pebble Sheen $6570

Pebble Tec vs. Pebble Sheen

The decision between the Pebble Tec finish from PTI and their more enhanced Pebble Sheen offering is ultimately a matter of preference. Although it’s slightly more expensive, if you want something that is softer underfoot and more brilliant, opt for Pebble Sheen. Whereas, if you’re not too concerned about the texture, you can never go wrong with the original Pebble Tec to give you a breathtaking, earthy, natural pool finish.

Jessica Stone

Jessica considers herself a home improvement and design enthusiast. She grew up surrounded by constant home improvement projects and owes most of what she knows to helping her dad renovate her childhood home. Being a Los Angeles resident, Jessica spends a lot of her time looking for her next DIY project and sharing her love for home design.

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