Since the ancient Greek and Roman baths, tile has been used to signify luxury and natural beauty, and tile has always been used by artists to create magnificent murals and works of art.
In swimming pools, tile is used in a number of ways and for different reasons:
- Pool water line tile for an easily cleanable surface.
- Pool trim tile on steps and benches for accent, and also to highlight step edges.
- Pool mosaics (sea animals or designs) embedded into plaster.
- Glass tiled pools.
- Swimming pool deck tiles.
Perimeter Pool Tile
When a concrete pool is built, after the gunite or shotcrete is applied, but before the plaster is put on, the tile and coping crew arrives and affixes the coping stones and perimeter tile to the top of the pool wall, and place any trim tile or accent tiles. When they are done, the pool is ready to be plastered, which is feathered up and around any tiles. Pool tile can be a 6”x6” solid piece, or 1”x1” tiles, or mosaic pool tiles are also common. Pool tile must be “frost-free” to withstand the aqueous environment. Glazed ceramic, glass, stone, and some composite material tiles can be used as swimming pool tile.
Pool Tile Replacement: Pool perimeter tile and coping typically lasts 20-25 years, before cracking and loosening occurs, or it can remain intact for longer. To replace, the plaster is cut at the bottom of the tile with a handheld rotary grinder, and then the tiles are chipped off the wall with a pneumatic hammer. The base is cleaned up, removing some of the old mortar bed, so the new tiles will lay flush. New tile is affixed with mortar cement or plaster mix, and once set, spaces around the tile are re-grouted with a waterproof tile grout. Pool tile replacement generally runs about $20-$30 per linear foot, depending on the cost of the selected tile.
Pool Trim Tile
Pool trim tile is commonly placed at the edge of steps and benches, as accent trim, but also to highlight the edge of the step, and give some sense of depth. Trim tile is normally used sparingly, but can be expanded into wider bands, or can be used on both horizontal and vertical step surfaces, or bullnose tile can be used to wrap the edge of a step. Adding accent pieces to the walls and floors can also be used to add color and to catch the light. Raised walls or infinity pool edges are commonly covered in trim tile.
When pools are replastered, trim tile is cut around carefully to preserve the trim design, or it can be knocked off and replaced with the same or different trim tile before replastering the pool.
Pool Mosaics – Pool Tile Designs
Add some whimsy to your pool by adding turtles, rays or tropical fish to your pool surface. Mermaids, tropical flowers, abstract design; even logos can be added to pool walls and floors before the pool is plastered, or re-plastered.
Pool Mosaic Designs: There are dozens of pre-fab designs that can be used, but design options are limitless when you hire a talented tile artist, who is familiar with “free hand” tile creations for walls and floors. And because it’s set in the plaster, it’s as permanent or temporary as you want it to be; when you Replaster, you can decide to keep the designs, remove them or replace them.
Pool mosaics can add hundreds or thousands of dollars to your pool plaster job, depending on the scope and size of your design. You can add a few small sea creatures for just a few hundred dollars, or you can go big, and cover large portions of the pool walls and floor.
Glass Tile Pools
All tile pools are every pool owner’s dream, and the usual tile used are small glass tiles on a mesh backing. Smaller tiles allow a good fit around curved surfaces, and they are available in a large array of colors and reflective qualities.
To completely tile a pool in glass tile is not a cheap proposition; it can cost $10-$20 per square foot, depending on the cost of the tile, but produces a beautiful and long lasting surface.
Glass tile pools require a minimum of care. If the grout becomes stained, it can be lightly acid washed a few times. After a number of years, the pool surface should be re-grouted, which is a large job, but not very expensive or labor intensive to complete. Care should be taken to walk gently on a tiled pool when empty, to avoid slipping and to avoid cracking unsupported tiles.
Swimming Pool Deck Tiles
Covering bare broom finished concrete with large patio deck tiles can bring new life to a tired old pool deck, and is another use of tile around a swimming pool.
Wood deck tiles are also popular, especially as a way to cover old and spalling pool decks, and many composite material deck tiles are also available.
Glazed tile is usually too slippery to be used around a pool, but unglazed outdoor floor tiles can be used in sizes from small or large squares or irregular shaped tiles to mimic stone pavers. Other common materials are fired ceramic tiles or terra cotta tiles.