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Thread: advice needed large gap between coping and tile

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    advice needed large gap between coping and tile

    We are finishing up our pool and noticed the rather large gap between the tile and coping which is filled in with grout. In most places it is 1-2 inches. Is this going to be a potential problem down the road as there are already places were the grout is separating from the coping? Or is this just a cosmetic issue? What is a standard distance for this to be? Please see images. For reference the tile are 1inch squares. Also should this be fixed or is more trouble than its worth. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. image3.jpgimage2.jpgimage1.jpg
    40k gal freeform gunite sports pool 3.5-5-4, Tahoe blue Quartzscape, OK flagstone coping and decking,

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    jtaves85mcss's Avatar
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    Re: advice needed large gap between coping and tile

    Appears your tile guy used a heavily and coarsely sanded grout to fill the area above the tile. The grout manufacturer's instructions should be the first guide as to whether this is appropriate and likelihood of long life.

    I can tell you that IMO they ran the tile up to the highest point they could to keep the same height of horizontal tile run, given the variation in the the bottom of the coping stones. The first and second pictures show a gap that is aesthetically too large and less than workman like IMO. In looking at the third picture, it appears that another course of tiles would not fit above the existing install.

    Is the overall pool deck and coping course generally level over a 10 foot run along the sides and across the pool from one side to the other?
    Pool: IG 22k- 16x32 clipped corners- vinyl liner, w/ a great board. Built in 3/99, new to me 2/2011.
    Equip: Hayward 3600 DE filter, Hayward CL-200 Chlorinator (empty since 7/5/2013).
    K-2006 Test kit with Speedstir
    Located in Cincinnati, OH. TFP lurker since 9/2011, BBB interested since 5/2012 and converted 7/2013.

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    Kpag's Avatar
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    Re: advice needed large gap between coping and tile

    It doesn't even look like your tiles are even? Are they handmade tiles that aren't square? Maybe it's just the angle of the photo

    http://www.networx.com/article/signs-of-a-bad-tile-job
    IG ~12000 gallon 1988 freeform pool with IG spa, Hayward equip, Ecostar pump. Remodel done: NPT Arctic 1x2 tile in Lagoon w/ gray thinset & Light Pewter grout, French Gray PebbleSheen w/ grey fittings, Leuders buff eased edge limestone coping w/ Light Buff mortar, buff mastic

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    Re: advice needed large gap between coping and tile

    Quote Originally Posted by jtaves85mcss View Post
    Appears your tile guy used a heavily and coarsely sanded grout to fill the area above the tile. The grout manufacturer's instructions should be the first guide as to whether this is appropriate and likelihood of long life.

    I can tell you that IMO they ran the tile up to the highest point they could to keep the same height of horizontal tile run, given the variation in the the bottom of the coping stones. The first and second pictures show a gap that is aesthetically too large and less than workman like IMO. In looking at the third picture, it appears that another course of tiles would not fit above the existing install.

    Is the overall pool deck and coping course generally level over a 10 foot run along the sides and across the pool from one side to the other?
    Thanks for your reply. Yes the coping and pool deck are level all the way around it seems. The large gap runs all the way around the pool measuring 1inch-1.5inches depending on the thickness of the coping flagstone which varies throughout.

    When asked the PB dismissed it as that's the way it had to be done since the coping rocks are different sizes.

    Hmm seems strange since our spa tile is nested up perfectly to the coping all the way around.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Yes I see what you are saying. The tiles are perfectly square they are just installed it terribly. Would this be something that would be very difficult to fix? Would you have them redo this if it were your pool?

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Kpag View Post
    It doesn't even look like your tiles are even? Are they handmade tiles that aren't square? Maybe it's just the angle of the photo

    http://www.networx.com/article/signs-of-a-bad-tile-job

    Yes I see what you are saying. The tiles are perfectly square they are just installed it terribly. Would this be something that would be very difficult to fix? Would you have them redo this if it were your pool?
    40k gal freeform gunite sports pool 3.5-5-4, Tahoe blue Quartzscape, OK flagstone coping and decking,

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: advice needed large gap between coping and tile

    I would think that is almost certainly going to settle and crack and allow water to get behind the tile and under the coping. As you can see there are already gaps for the water to get behind everything. Although I have no idea what the "right" thing to do is.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Re: advice needed large gap between coping and tile

    Is that grout or colored mortar they used for the coping? If it's mortar it might hold up but you are probably stuck with it as is.
    18' x 36' saltwater inground vinyl pool

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    Re: advice needed large gap between coping and tile

    Kris, I'm just now in the pool building process, so I know nothing about this. But... I FEEL your concern. I would be worried. I think with the overhang of your coping (beautiful, BTW), it will all look fine. My worry would be over the water creep behind the tile, etc. and structural concerns.

    I'm so sorry you're having to worry about this. It seems like the pool builder should have told you what would happen with the waterline tile install by using the Flagstone you wanted. That's why we hire a pool builder, right? At least then you could have made an informed decision.

    I hope more experts on this site can give you the guidance you need. What do pool repair companies use to repair pools with leaks? Could a pool repair company advise you?

    I wish you all the best with this. Keep us posted and take care. Suz.
    Suz~Cypress area~ 2015 pool build. 23K gallons. IG swcg system. 35'x18'; 573sf; 104' perim; depth 4'-7'. Bubblers, sheer descents, 7' spa. Jandy: color LEDs; 2HP 2sp pump; 1HP 2sp pump; spa pump; 580 cartridge; 400K BTU; Dolphin M500; PS8; Inline chlorinator not used; Aqua Pure 1400. Blue Granite Sheen. Travertine deck. Lightstreams Peacock Blue TF-100, K-1766, SpeedStir

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    Re: advice needed large gap between coping and tile

    This is only an opinion. There are a million ways to do tile.

    I think that work is sloppy. The grout should not have been that wide. I believe it will start to fall out after a couple of freeze thaw cycles.

    As always, communication is a good thing. Tell your builder you are not satisfied at this point and can he suggest a remedy to make you happy?

    Listen to what he says and see if you can make it palatable to both sides. It's an expensive fix, of which the tile guy has some responsibility, too.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
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    Re: advice needed large gap between coping and tile

    Quote Originally Posted by duraleigh View Post
    This is only an opinion. There are a million ways to do tile.

    I think that work is sloppy. The grout should not have been that wide. I believe it will start to fall out after a couple of freeze thaw cycles.

    As always, communication is a good thing. Tell your builder you are not satisfied at this point and can he suggest a remedy to make you happy?

    Listen to what he says and see if you can make it palatable to both sides. It's an expensive fix, of which the tile guy has some responsibility, too.
    I still think it's mortar and not grout but either way it is sloppy and would drive me nuts.
    18' x 36' saltwater inground vinyl pool

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    Re: advice needed large gap between coping and tile

    It is colored mortar Texas Tan, we are going to have the pool builder bust that out and put an additional line of tile in there. It may be difficult to chip that out but in the long run it will protect from leaks and algae growth on the mortar. Thank you for the help anymore suggestions would be great
    40k gal freeform gunite sports pool 3.5-5-4, Tahoe blue Quartzscape, OK flagstone coping and decking,

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    Re: advice needed large gap between coping and tile

    finishing touches are everything in a pool - most of these workers are fast pace and have little concern for final appearance.

    I would do the same - rip it out, add a row and make it right.

    keep us posted!

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    Re: advice needed large gap between coping and tile

    Quote Originally Posted by SuzfromTexas View Post
    Kris, I'm just now in the pool building process, so I know nothing about this. But... I FEEL your concern. I would be worried. I think with the overhang of your coping (beautiful, BTW), it will all look fine. My worry would be over the water creep behind the tile, etc. and structural concerns.

    I'm so sorry you're having to worry about this. It seems like the pool builder should have told you what would happen with the waterline tile install by using the Flagstone you wanted. That's why we hire a pool builder, right? At least then you could have made an informed decision.

    I hope more experts on this site can give you the guidance you need. What do pool repair companies use to repair pools with leaks? Could a pool repair company advise you?

    I wish you all the best with this. Keep us posted and take care. Suz.
    Thanks so much Suz! It's been a process for sure. We are going to get some other opinions too thanks for the advice. I will keep you all posted.

    Erik is so right finishing touches are everything! Hope this turns out better than it is now.
    40k gal freeform gunite sports pool 3.5-5-4, Tahoe blue Quartzscape, OK flagstone coping and decking,

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    Re: advice needed large gap between coping and tile

    Update it appears as some areas are one inch or a little less so adding in the one extra tile might not work so well. We have two pool inspections scheduled to get some more opinions on this. Any recommendations or opinions? Im very disappointed at the thought of having to look at that ugly large mortar line for the rest of my life.
    40k gal freeform gunite sports pool 3.5-5-4, Tahoe blue Quartzscape, OK flagstone coping and decking,

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: advice needed large gap between coping and tile

    Tiles can be cut ....
    Jason, TFP Moderator
    18k IG pebblesheen pool, Hayward ProLogic P4 w/ T-15 SWG, Pentair 1HP 2-speed Superflo, Hayward 6020 DE filter
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    Re: advice needed large gap between coping and tile

    Quote Originally Posted by jblizzle View Post
    Tiles can be cut ....
    +1...
    18x36 vinyl / sport pool 5.5' deep / 1.5hp Tri-Star 2spd / Hayward c3030 325 sqft cartridge / ~15k gal / TF100

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    jtaves85mcss's Avatar
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    Re: advice needed large gap between coping and tile

    +1 on the level setting expectations based on materials used. +1 on the thought that another row wont fit without cutting, that is readily apparent in your pictures, which is why I question whether your deck is level.

    I'm would guess this isnt the first pool your builder has done with a tile water line and a stone coping. I am also thinking he has probably had a discussion with the tile guy and the tile guy is probably going to lose money in the deal at this point. I hope you are able to find an amicable solution.

    I see a difference in height of the mortar coat at the top that appears greater than the difference in the thickness in the coping stones. Picture 1 shows what appears to be a 3 inch gap, picture 2 shows less than one inch, picture 3 shows maybe 2.5 inches on the left to an inch on the right over one coping stone length.

    I would be looking for a laser level and someone who could run it right and confirm that deck is level. You may have two issues in play, difference in thickness and a level deck issue. Then again, maybe it's my old eyes and the small pictures.

    Sorry this is a concern at a time when you should be enjoying the pool.
    Pool: IG 22k- 16x32 clipped corners- vinyl liner, w/ a great board. Built in 3/99, new to me 2/2011.
    Equip: Hayward 3600 DE filter, Hayward CL-200 Chlorinator (empty since 7/5/2013).
    K-2006 Test kit with Speedstir
    Located in Cincinnati, OH. TFP lurker since 9/2011, BBB interested since 5/2012 and converted 7/2013.

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    Re: advice needed large gap between coping and tile

    Even if the deck is out of level I think it's past the point of expecting anything to be done about That. I would focus on the large mortar joint that the op originally questioned. As Jbizzle said above, tile can be cut. Ideally there would be an even joint between the tile and coping but given the unevenness of the coping material that might be unrealistic. My coping varies in thickness up to 1/2" and that is what my mortar joint varies. It is not overly noticeable like yours is. It will be a booger to fix but I would insist that it be chipped out and tiles added to within a reasonable distance to the coping. Perhaps within a grout joint in the tight spots but not more than 1/2" more than that where the coping stones are thinner. One thing to keep in mind is that if the present tiles are level and the deck is out the difference will show up in the added tiles. But that probably won't look worse and be as noticeable as the large mortar joint.

    One other option might be to pull the coping and replace it with a thicker material if the top of the tile is even with the top of the gunite shell.

    Regardless of methods it won't be easy or cheap but it can be fixed.
    18' x 36' saltwater inground vinyl pool

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