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Pool Tile 101: Benefits, Options, and Maintenance

When undertaking an outdoor renovation, the pool and its surrounding areas should be top of mind for architects. Choosing the right pool tile is essential to create a modern, timeless pool that will be the centerpiece of your project. Tiled surfaces, both in and around the pool, can provide a clean, contemporary look, in addition to lasting quality. And, the process of installing, maintaining, and repairing the tile is simple, so you can keep that gorgeous pool looking great for years to come.

Photo features Peaceful Sea in 1 x 2 mosaic on pool lining.

Benefits of Using Tile

One of the most notable characteristics of tile is its versatility. By adding tile to the pool area, you'll be able to give your outdoor space a custom, one-of-a-kind look. And whether you opt for a standard tile installation or a custom pattern or design, there are many other advantages to installing pool tile. For instance, tile is a very long-lasting material. If you stay on top of necessary maintenance, tile will hold up well to natural elements and years of family fun in the water.

There are many types of tile you can install in and around your pool. If you're looking for a tile that you can extend from within the pool to the surrounding area, glazed porcelain is great option. It's durable, easy on the feet, and offers a beautiful underwater shimmer, making it a common choice for pool owners. On the other hand, if your patio is already complete, and you're just giving your pool lining a face lift, glass mosaic tile may be the way to go. Glass tile is not only durable, but it's reflective, making your pool seem larger and deeper than it actually is. Available in rich colors and unique designs, glass mosaic tile will set your pool apart from the rest. You'll want to avoid tile designs blended with stone, and always check the manufacturer recommendations before including tile on your pool's lining or deck.

With the range of tile types available, you are free to fully customize your pool by creating your own design and pattern. Try coming up with a geometric pattern or a custom mosaic that includes an image of tropical fish. With a little creativity, tile can help you can turn a standard pool into a magnificent piece of art.

Generally, tile requires very little upkeep. When you purchase tile, it will come with specific maintenance directions. You may have to make sure you reseal your pool tile after a certain amount of time, but this step is worth it to keep your tile looking shiny and new for many years.

Great Tile Options

Finding the right tile takes time, careful research, and an understanding of the look you're trying to achieve - not only in the pool itself, but for the surrounding areas as well. Features around your pool, such as a deck, hot tub, or fountain can also benefit from tile.

There are many tile options that are suitable for use in and around swimming pools. For example, the Quarry Naturals line from American Olean offers a handcrafted look, and is available in solid colors or a slightly striated textured surface. The tile sports a cushioned edge and unglazed surface to make it suitable for outdoor patio and pool areas. Ceramic tile can also be used for with, and around, a pool. Available in many different shades and textures, ceramic tile will easily be able to match your design needs

When ordering pool tile, be cognizant of the abrasive grain and specify your preference. When installing, be sure to use a latex modified thin-set. Take special care when grouting with darkly pigmented colors, in which case a grout release is recommended to prevent finely powdered pigments from sticking to the tile surface.

Pool Tile Repair

Any in-ground swimming pool will require maintenance as it ages. As the ground around it begins to settle and roots grow, minor cracks and shifts in the pool walls can cause damage to the pool tile. If this does occur, it's important to take precautionary measures to minimize damage. This will help to save other mortar and tiles from being affected. A lot of pool tile repairs can be done yourself, so it's a good idea to purchase extra tiles at the time of installation to make sure you have some on standby. Otherwise, finding the right color and style years down the road can be a challenge.

Below are some quick tips on effective, safe pool repair. Before you jump the gun and start replacing tile, be sure to refer to the tile manufacturers' recommendations on specific repair techniques and requirements. If you're ready to make some improvements, here are some great tips to follow:

  • Lower your water level to expose the damaged tiles.
  • Use a hammer and chisel to pry off any damaged tile pieces or exposed mortar.
  • Mix a small amount of manufacturer-recommended swimming pool plaster with any necessary additives.
  • After you spread and smooth the plaster, let it dry for 24 hours.
  • Spread the thin-set over the plaster and on the back of your individual tiles, then press them into a position that's level with surrounding tiles.
  • After the thin-set is dry, spread pool tile grout into the joints between the tiles with your fingers.
  • Once the tile is in place, let the grout set for the recommended period of time.

How to Find Professional Help

Although it's possible to pull off a pool tile project yourself, some tile installation and repair projects require professional help. By hiring a pool installation professional, you'll be able to have the job done by an expert. There are certain factors when it comes to successfully tiling a pool that can be complex, and pool and tile contractors receive ongoing training on installation requirements. When looking for the right contractor for your job, ask if he or she is certified by The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals. The association has been around for more than 50 years and is dedicated to providing resources to consumers.

If your pool is in need of a special touch, consider adding tiling in or around it. In addition to its attractive aesthetics, tile offers many benefits, including long-lasting durability and easy maintenance. With the right tile for the job, you can achieve the modern, eye-catching look you're going for.