Swimming Pool Start-Up Procedure

The CDC says COVID-19 cannot survive in properly treated pool water

Swimming Pool Start-Up Procedures from National Plasters Council

To download or print the information on this page, use this link: National Plasters Council (NPC): Swimming Pool Start-Up Procedures. To see daily water chemistry and maintenance, go here: National Plasters Council (NPC): Daily Water Chemistry and Maintenance.

Get Adobe Acrobat Reader button

The pool finish will start to hydrate immediately after mixing, with the majority of hydration taking place within the first 28 days. This critical time period is when a finish is most susceptible to staining, scaling and discoloration. Proper start-up procedures including timely brushing and constant monitoring and adjusting of the pool water is mandatory. The following recommended start-up method is based on procedures shown to produce the best aesthetic results. In addition, wheeled cleaners should not be placed into the pool until after 28 days, the pool heater should not be turned on before all plaster dust is gone, and no one should walk on the pool surface before the pool fills with water.

Due to unique local water conditions and environmental factors, parts of these recommended start-up procedures may need to be modified to protect the pool finish. For example: filling the pool with extremely low calcium hardness, low pH or low total alkalinity levels may necessitate changes to these procedures. Brushing and monitored chemical adjustments will be mandatory by the homeowner or a trained pool technician during the service life of any pool surface. ALWAYS ADD A CHEMICAL TO WATER, NEVER WATER TO THE CHEMICAL.

Pool Filling Day

  1. Make sure the filtration equipment is operational.
  2. Remove all floor return heads and directional eyeballs (if appropriate and recommended in your geographical area).
  3. Based on temperature and type of finish, fill the pool to the middle of the skimmer or specified water level without interruption as rapidly as possible with clean potable water to help prevent a bowl ring. Place a clean rag on the end of the hose, always placed in the deepest area, to prevent damage to the surface material. If a water truck is required, 24 inches (60 cm) of water should be placed at the deepest area for a water cushion. Wheeled devices should not be used in the pool until after 28 days.
  4. At no time should any person or pets be allowed in the pool during the fill. Do not allow any external sources of water to enter the pool to help prevent streaking. It is recommended that you do not swim in the pool until the water is properly balanced.
  5. Test fill water for pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness and metals. Record test results.
  6. Start the filtration system immediately when the pool is full to the middle of the skimmer or specified water level.

1st DAY (It’s vital to follow these steps in order - prior to proceeding to the next step)

  1. Test pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness and metals. Record test results.
  2. High alkalinity should be adjusted to 80 ppm using pre-diluted Muriatic Acid (31-33% Hydrochloric acid). Always pre-dilute the acid by adding it to a five gallon (19 L) bucket of pool water.
  3. Low alkalinity should be adjusted to 80 ppm using sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).
  4. pH should be reduced to 7.2 to 7.6 adding pre-diluted2 Muriatic Acid if the alkalinity is already 80-100 ppm.
  5. Brush the entire pool surface thoroughly at least twice daily to remove all plaster dust.
  6. Although optional, it is highly recommended to pre-dilute and add a quality sequestering agent using the recommended initial start-up dosage and then the recommended maintenance dosage per the sequestering agent’s manufacturer.
  7. Operate filtration system continuously for a minimum of 72 hours.
  8. DO NOT add chlorine for 48 hours. DO NOT turn on pool heater until there is no plaster dust in the pool.

2nd DAY - Brush the Pool

  1. Test pH, Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness and repeat steps of 1st Day except for Step 6.
  2. Once the alkalinity is adjusted to 80ppm and the pH is adjusted to 7.2 to 7.6, then adjust calcium hardness levels to a minimum of 150 ppm. (Caution: Adjustments requiring more than 20 Lbs of CaCl2 should be pre-diluted and added in 10 lbs increments - morning and afternoon)

3rd DAY

  1. Test pH, Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness and repeat 1st Day Steps 1 through 6.
  2. Pre-diluted chlorine may now be added to achieve 1.5 to 3 ppm1. NO SALT SHOULD BE ADDED FOR 28 DAYS.
  3. Brush the entire pool surface thoroughly at least twice daily to remove all plaster dust.


  1. Test pH, Carbonate Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness and repeat 1st Day Steps 1 through 5 every day for 14 days to help prevent the scaling of the pool surface.
  2. On the 7th day, if there is any plaster dust remaining - remove it using a brush pool vacuum.
  3. After the 4th Day - calcium levels should be adjusted slowly over the 28 day period not to exceed 200 ppm
  4. After the 4th Day - adjust cyanuric acid levels to 30 to 50 ppm based on the primary sanitizer of the pool (pre-dissolve and add through the skimmer).

Purchase "Taking Care of Your Pool DVD" from the National Plasterers Council here.

Download the "NPC Pool Interior Finish Disclosure" here.

PRODUCT INTENDED FOR USE IN ACCORDANCE WITH STANDARDS ESTABLISHED BY THE NATIONAL PLASTERERS COUNCIL. FINISH MUST BE APPLIED CONSISTENT WITH APPLICABLE BATCH FORMULA CARDS. NOT TO BE USED ABOVE THE WATER LINE. PROPER WATER CHEMISTRY BALANCE REQUIRED AT ALL TIMES. OTHER LIMITATIONS MAY APPLY. SEE LIMITED WARRANTY FOR DETAILS & ADDITIONAL PRODUCT APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS. Due to a variety of influences, your actual pool finish & water color may differ from the images shown in this brochure. Images & color samples are featured for inspiration & to show a range of design ideas for your NPT pool finish. Always check a sample of the actual product prior to purchase or installation. Some finishes may include seashells which cannot be guaranteed against degradation or loss of color. www.nptpool.com

View Pool Finish Catalog
Pool Finishes
Designer Surfaces
Outdoor Living
NPT Showrooms