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Thread: To tile or not to tile....that is the pebble question

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    Join Date
    Jan 2015

    To tile or not to tile....that is the pebble question

    I currently have a a pool that is your tradition gunite with tile around the water line edge. I would like to do a pebble finish with no tile, however the pool contractor is tell me that the pebble finish should never be out of the water. He says that if it is installed out of the water, it fades at a higher rate than under the water line. I have also read online some people have had trouble with stones falling out or degradation above the waterline.

    My father has a pebble coated pool with no tile. We live about 30 mins apart, in central FL, although I have significantly more sun on my pool than he does. His pebble finish is 20 or so years old and looks great, I have asked him about these issues and he has said that he has noticed no fading - he has lost a few stones here and there - but it is 1 here or 3 there and nothing you would notice.

    Earlier I read this Which discusses selecting tile or no tile based on scale accumulation and difficulty cleaning. However it does not address the fading and loss of pebbles issue.

    I am leaning towards requesting my pool builder install the the pebble finish with no tile, however I get the impression from him this would void the warranty.

    Any thoughts?

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    JayBauman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Katy, TX

    Re: To tile or not to tile....that is the pebble question

    Chemisty-wise, all the "magic" happens at interfaces. In a swimming pool, you have a water/air inteface at the top of your pool water line. This is where several phases are in equilibrium with each other and where you typically find build-up of "stuff". This "stuff" could be slimy, scaly, or anything in-between. Most people chose a tile waterline, since tile is rather robust and can be scrubbed or otherwise mechanically cleaned to remove any of the "stuff" that plates out at the boundary layer.

    Most pebble-type products that I can think of are mostly stone, so in theory, it should be possible to keep the waterline water/air interface free of build-up with proper (and frequent!) scrubbing. I have no knowledge on how the sun might fade the above-water part as compared to the below-water part, but I'm thinking it wouldn't be too bad.

    The biggest problem I could imagine would be the matrix (i.e. "plaster") binder that holds all the little pebbles in place. Most of this matrix will be at equilibrium and saturated with water (since it's in the water), but the exposed, above-water matrix will not be. I could see the "dry" pebble having issues, especially right at the interface where the "dry" pebble is adjacent to the "wet" pebble.

    There are already enough thermodynamic and biochemical intricacies to worry about when maintaining a pool. I recommend a tile or some other non-pebble waterline, since the durability has been proven across tens of thousands of pools.
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    JasonLion's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Silver Spring, MD

    Re: To tile or not to tile....that is the pebble question

    Pebble without tile is common enough. It should be avoided in extremely hot climates (think Las Vegas) with extreme sunlight, as that can cause cracking, but that should not be an issue in Florida. Without tile there will almost always be an obvious line where the water line commonly sits. That bothers some people, doesn't bother others.
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    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Friendswood, TX

    Re: To tile or not to tile....that is the pebble question

    I have a pebble beach entry. Over the last few months (since fill) there is a small color difference. However I don't think it is fading. If I overfill the pool or it rains the dry part of the BE will get darker for a while (even after water resides) and match the wet part.
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    pragmatic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Friendswood, TX

    Re: To tile or not to tile....that is the pebble question

    I would also advise against it. So many details at play. Why take a risk of problems for such a small change in aesthetics?
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  6. Back To Top    #6

    Join Date
    Nov 2014

    Re: To tile or not to tile....that is the pebble question

    One of the PBs we talked to said we could do this for the larger pebbletec, but not for the pebblesheen. He didn't give a detailed explanation why, but we ended up going with a traditional tile/plaster anyway.
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