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Thread: Loose tiles

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    Loose tiles

    Hello. I'm a new pool owner: 19,500 gallons/ Diving pool with spa attached/ Pebble Tech. We just recently moved into a home that was built in the 1980's. While we don't know for sure, it is possible that the tile and pebble tech may be the original.
    I'd greatly appreciate input regarding a few items:

    We noticed tiles (about 7 feet worth) are 'jetting' out on one side of the pool. One side of the pool sits a small bit higher than the other. We also have loose coping. Some is so loose that we are able to completely remove the stone and see the beam underneath. In one of these cases, we can see that the beam is cracked. Most all of the coping just visually looks like it would be a good idea to reseal them, as we have been told that it isn't good for water to sneak down between any crevices.

    One pool professional came out to give a bid and simply said that he could fix and replace the 'jetted out' tiles w ones that would match the others. And that he'd go around and reseal / adhere all of our coping. He never really addressed any other issues and didn't explain the reason behind the jetted out tiles.

    Another professional came out and spent about an hour exploring our pool and talking w me. He explained that he'd be happy to simply secure the loose stones and replace the tiles, but that he thinks that there is a very high possibility that at some point, the tiles on the other side will start to fall off. I asked why?? and he showed me that as he walked around the pool and hit on the coping with a tool, there were several hollow noises, which indicated to him that there is likely beam work that needs to be done all around. (I should also mention that both contractors stated that they'd redo the mastic around the pool also). And, we already saw the cracked beam underneath the 'completely removable' piece of coping around the spa.

    So...the second quote was much higher- included new coping (he said it's the same price for him to remove and put down new coping as it is to correctly clean and re-adhere old coping due to labor costs), fixing any beam problems, new tile, acid washing our pebble tech, and installing 3 new Main Drain covers to code. So---basically a pool that will look brand new... Yay but Yikes on the $$! I asked if it made sense to perhaps wait a while (to give us an opportunity to observe our pool) to see if the pool seems to move any more, as we didn't want to invest thousands and thousands of dollars to essentially do a pool renovation and then have the ground move. He told me that watching the pool wouldn't be a bad idea at all if it made us more comfortable. He also stated mud jacking as a way to solve any major issues that come up w regards to pool movement but he didn't think that would be the case. He went onto state that most major pool movement happens within a year or so after the pool is built (while it is settling). After, movement tends to be slight...although in some cases, Texas soil can dictate otherwise.

    Another note on acid washing: He mentioned that by visually looking at our pebble tech, he thinks that he can make it look almost brand new by acid washing and cleaning up. He did state, however, that if once they drained the pool and closely inspected the pebble tech, if it's not in a state to 'handle acid washing,' he wouldn't do it and wouldn't charge us for it.

    We'd appreciate any thoughts on the above, as we want to be efficient and effective w our money. And, we are newbies w no experience in pools so making such a big decision is a bit stressful unless professional input is provided by a trust worthy source. We've heard wonders about your site and are so happy to be here!

    Thank you SO much.
    Ynothd, McDaniels, Ky. 40152, pool 15'x42", 4000 gal, filter system SFS1000, pump type F1000C, gph flow 1075, cheap "inteck" type w/metal ring at top and side legs vinyl above ground pool "walmart special" my first pool

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    In the Industry
    duraleigh's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Sebring, Florida

    Re: Loose tiles

    Hi, Liz,

    Welcome to the forum. The second guy sure knows what he is talking about. The first guy might, too, but he didn't share that with you.

    Not many (if any) professional tile installers on here so we might not be the best resource. What the second guy told you about movement is sure correct, tho. To get a good installation, you must lay tiles on an inert (not moving) hard subsurface. Then if it moves after the install, it will surely crack.

    Posting up some detailed pictures might help a little. You could also post some pictures on That's about the best site for tile work on the net. They don't discuss pools too often but, if you give them some pics, they have some VERY knowledgeable guys over there.
    Dave S. - Forum owner
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Melt In The Sun's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Tucson, AZ
    11,200 gal, Pebble-Tec; Tristar 2-speed 1hp - Swimclear 325 ft2 cart - SWG - A & A in-floor cleaner - Heat pump. For the poolside cooking, a Yoder Wichita and a Big Steel Keg!
    TF Test Kits -- PoolMath -- Pool School
    Make each day your masterpiece. - John Wooden

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    Re: Loose tiles


    Thanks kindly for your reply!!

    I'll check out the tile website.

    I think my main question, based on what I've shared (in my initial post) is: "Is it really necessary to do the beam work, replace the coping and tile and acid wash the pool...." Sounds like our pool will be about as brand new as possible, which is AWESOME but EXPENSIVE
    Or, is it a better option to simply replace the nasty looking, jetted out tile and secure the coping. I am (was) hoping that someone out there may have experienced a similar situation (where tile and coping started to loosen and it was an indicator of beam issues...)

    Any input would be great.

    Also, has anyone had good or negative experience when acid washing older pebble tech?


    Ynothd, McDaniels, Ky. 40152, pool 15'x42", 4000 gal, filter system SFS1000, pump type F1000C, gph flow 1075, cheap "inteck" type w/metal ring at top and side legs vinyl above ground pool "walmart special" my first pool

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    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Plano, TX

    Re: Loose tiles

    Your experience sounds pretty familiar to me. I'm not a professional but I can tell you my story and the path my wife and I chose as homeowners faced with a similar situation. Someday I need to put some pictures together with the story but here's a quick rundown:

    We bought our house in Plano, TX (Dallas suburb) in 2002. House was built in 1994 and a ~12500 gallon pool with attached spa was added shortly thereafter (1994 or 1995) by Blue Haven Pools. We knew nothing about pools. I learned quickly in the first years of getting various equipment problems fixed that Blue Haven had/has a pretty bad reputation of cutting corners and being the lowest cost option to put in a pool.

    In 2004/2005, a few of the tiles on the wall between the spa and pool popped off. In hindsight, this was likely was an indicator of bigger problems but the pool repair folks that gave us quotes did not mention anything. We ended up just replacing a portion of the tile and resealing the mastic along the coping in 2005. Minimal cost and it looked ok.

    Fast forward several years, including some extremely wet years and some extremely dry years, and the unfriendly soils in north Texas did a number on our pool. By 2009, we had a laundry list of things to take care of:
    1. More tiles popped off along the spa wall.
    2. Concrete deck surrounding the pool cracked in multiple places
    3. Deck or pool shifted such that there was as much as 1 inch difference in the height of the coping and the surrounding deck
    4. Large vertical crack in the plaster on the spa wall eventually extending as far as 4 feet underwater
    5. Additional minor lateral cracks in the plaster along bottom of pool.

    From 2009 to 2011, I occasionally got quotes to get repairs completed but never got a good response from anyone as to the likelihood of whether or not the cracking would continue. In 2011, we finally bit the bullet and did a major renovation through Riverbend Sandler. The first step was they used a subcontractor to repair the cracks as best as possible. After chipping out some of the cracks, they turned out to be just surface cracks in the plaster which was explained as normal based on the plain white plaster being >15 years old. The major cracks in the spa wall had some type of adhesive inserted and staples (looked like rebar) were inserted. Then, the old tile and bullnose coping were removed and replaced with new tile and flagstone coping. We replastered with Riverbend's version of Pebbletec (I think it was called Riversand which is similar to Pebblesheen). Looks great.

    Today, the renovation is just about a year old and we couldn't be happier with the job that Riverbend Sandler did (no, I don't work for them ). Time will tell if we end up with more deck shifting and/or cracking but, right now, there are no signs of any problems. We did not get the deck repaired partially due to overall cost/budget and also as a hedge against the possibility of further movement. I figure if the deck continues to move, then we can address that when/if we address the deck cracks.

    Our neighbor had many similar issues and elected to go with what I believe was a less expensive option of a fiberglass overlay. That would not have been my preference but it works for them and it looks ok too.

    Oh, the joys of home/pool ownership...
    12000 gallon IG, RiverSand small pebble finish (similar to Pebblesheen?)

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    Re: Loose tiles


    Thanks so much for your reply!
    I'm so glad you are happy w your beautiful pool!

    We had another pool company come out today and basically said that there is no need to replace the coping right now...they can reseal the coping that's bad. And, if they repair only the tile that is 'messed up,' they can repair the beam (if needed) in those spots. This guy said that sure...down the line, we will probably need a renovation (like almost all pool owners), but since we just moved in....why not do minimal repairs and enjoy it as is until we need to do more! Also, he mentioned that our pebble tech is in good shape now, but is getting thin and it won't last forever... So, maybe when we need to replace the pebble tech is a good time to do a full renovation.
    Lots of research and prayers will hopefully lead us to the right decision!

    Thanks again and HAPPY/SAFE SWIMMING!!
    Ynothd, McDaniels, Ky. 40152, pool 15'x42", 4000 gal, filter system SFS1000, pump type F1000C, gph flow 1075, cheap "inteck" type w/metal ring at top and side legs vinyl above ground pool "walmart special" my first pool

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