Maintaining Glass Mosaic Tile

travelfeedsthesoul

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Jan 21, 2021
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Hi all,

Is there a recommendation on how to maintain or clean glass tile (weekly/monthly?) to where we don't have any minerals (calcium) build-up?

I want our pool waterline tile, rolled edge spa tile and spa spillway tile looking clean and shiny. :cool:

Feel free to suggest specific products and cleaners (brushes, solutions, etc).

Thanks!
 

JoyfulNoise

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May 23, 2015
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At the end of the day it all comes down to water chemistry and specifically saturation balance. Testing your own water is the only way you’ll ever be sure things are maintained properly. So, questions ….

What are your current pool water chemistry readings? (And if you’re not measuring that yourself then, as the kids like to say, you’re doing it wrong…)

What is the pH, TA, and CH of your fill water?

Let’s start the conversation there …
 

travelfeedsthesoul

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Jan 21, 2021
189
Sugar Land, TX
Pool Size
17500
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Chlorine
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Hi Matt - Thanks for your reply. I've read a lot about your expertise and knowledge so it's great to chat this way!

Yes I am testing my own water using the TF-100 XL with Speedstir. I perform the daily on daily and weekly basis.

Here's my latest test results:

FC: 4
PH: 7.8
TA: 70
CH: 275
CYA: 40

What is CSI? I'm not sure how to calculate or view it in the Pool Math app.

Thanks,
Neil
 

JoyfulNoise

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May 23, 2015
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Sorry, life got busy for a bit. Lost this thread in my list.

I think your water parameters are fine and as others have alluded to, keeping your CSI between -0.3 and 0 will help to reduce scale. The one thing that its going to bite you, like all pools, is evaporation, evaporite and efflorescence. Anytime water flows over tile and then stops, the remaining water on the tile surface will evaporate and leave behind all of the salt and mineral scale. There's nothing you can do about that. As well, when the tile grout gets saturated with water and then the water source ceases, the water in the grout will evaporate and draw up to the surface lots of calcium and mineral scale. That tends to look like white crust on the grout lines. Again, not much you can do to prevent it.

This is where you have to figure out your tolerance for tile scale versus your desire to do lots of tiling cleaning. Glass tile can be cleaned just like the tile you have in your home but it's probably best to use a simple acid solution to clean with in a pool so your don't get any weird chemicals in the water. As for the grout, you can use a pumice stone to very gently scrap away any efflorescence that shows up but be careful around glass as pumice will scratch it. If you really want to do a lot of work, you can look for tile and grout sealer to create a more hydrophobic surface that will repel water BUT those are very difficult to apply to pool tile and not make a mess of your pool water.

It's not going to be maintenance free, I assure of that.
 
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travelfeedsthesoul

Gold Supporter
Jan 21, 2021
189
Sugar Land, TX
Pool Size
17500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Sorry, life got busy for a bit. Lost this thread in my list.

I think your water parameters are fine and as others have alluded to, keeping your CSI between -0.3 and 0 will help to reduce scale. The one thing that its going to bite you, like all pools, is evaporation, evaporite and efflorescence. Anytime water flows over tile and then stops, the remaining water on the tile surface will evaporate and leave behind all of the salt and mineral scale. There's nothing you can do about that. As well, when the tile grout gets saturated with water and then the water source ceases, the water in the grout will evaporate and draw up to the surface lots of calcium and mineral scale. That tends to look like white crust on the grout lines. Again, not much you can do to prevent it.

This is where you have to figure out your tolerance for tile scale versus your desire to do lots of tiling cleaning. Glass tile can be cleaned just like the tile you have in your home but it's probably best to use a simple acid solution to clean with in a pool so your don't get any weird chemicals in the water. As for the grout, you can use a pumice stone to very gently scrap away any efflorescence that shows up but be careful around glass as pumice will scratch it. If you really want to do a lot of work, you can look for tile and grout sealer to create a more hydrophobic surface that will repel water BUT those are very difficult to apply to pool tile and not make a mess of your pool water.

It's not going to be maintenance free, I assure of that.
Would a weekly or bi-weekly scrubbing with one of those scrubbing mitts (see image) help keep the tiles free of calcium/mineral build up? No soap or anything, just a light scrubbing when we get in the pool on a Friday or something?

Though the answer maybe obvious (yes it would help), I'm just not sure about how stubborn calcium build-up is and if a basic scrubbing without any chemicals would help remove light or unseen buildup.
 

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JoyfulNoise

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May 23, 2015
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Tucson, AZ
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Would a weekly or bi-weekly scrubbing with one of those scrubbing mitts (see image) help keep the tiles free of calcium/mineral build up? No soap or anything, just a light scrubbing when we get in the pool on a Friday or something?

Though the answer maybe obvious (yes it would help), I'm just not sure about how stubborn calcium build-up is and if a basic scrubbing without any chemicals would help remove light or unseen buildup.

Minimal benefit. Mineral scale is harder than most scrubbing materials. And if you build up mineral grit in the glove it can scratch the tile. Rinsing the surface with fresh water from a hose will help but eventually the tile will get hazy. At that point you’ll need an acid cleaner to remove the haze.
 
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mmardini

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Jul 21, 2020
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Palm Springs, ca
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I have tried everything to keep my glass tile free of calcium build up, but it’s impossible if you have a water feature such as a spillway which I do from the spa to the pool (which I can’t turn off). I don’t have any calcium build up at the water line or anywhere else, just the spill way. I clean my tiles with a tile cleaning solution (acid free) and a tile brush about 5 times a week, and also use a tile cleaner with some acid about once a month or two. There’s still some calcium build up! I also tried a pumice stone (gently) and I kinda think it made it worse and was more tedious. My plan is to just keep cleaning the tiles to keep it at a minimum, and eventually have it bead blasted when it gets bad enough. It’s still super pretty though!!! No complaints here!
 
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travelfeedsthesoul

Gold Supporter
Jan 21, 2021
189
Sugar Land, TX
Pool Size
17500
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Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Would the eventual bead blasting damage the grout? Also, how much does it cost to get bead blasting done? I'm trying to weigh the manual work I'd put in over the years vs a 1 time cost of getting it done ever so often.
 

JoyfulNoise

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May 23, 2015
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Would the eventual bead blasting damage the grout? Also, how much does it cost to get bead blasting done? I'm trying to weigh the manual work I'd put in over the years vs a 1 time cost of getting it done ever so often.

The last time I paid for bead blasting it was around $4 to $5 per linear foot of tile. My pool has a 97ft perimeter and it cost over $500 to do my pool. You'll probably get away with 3-4 years depending on how hard your water is.

What is the pH/TA/CH of your fill water?

Do you have an whole-house water softener? If you have an auto-fill and a softened water line, then you might consider hooking it up to your water softener.

Also, if you go the hand cleaning route, you could try something like this -


It helps a bit with tile cleaning. I have one and while it's not as useful for me as my scale is a hard type that is acid-resistant, it does work well on calcium scale.
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
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May 23, 2015
18,801
Tucson, AZ
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It costs more to bead blast glass tile. I got quotes between 800-1100$. But all of my tile is glass tile. I guess they use a different (more expensive) medium when blasting glass tile to not damage the glass and take away the gloss

Everything costs more in CA 😉 But it is true that glass tile requires a softer media and the person doing the work needs to be skilled or else you’ll end up with “frosted” glass tile 😫
 
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