Pool tile advice

laurenLA

New member
Aug 31, 2017
4
los angeles
I live in LA and just put in a pool. My house is modern/ mid century modern and the pool is rectangular with a spa in one corner and a Baja step beside it.

I need to choose tile and I am really struggling. I don’t really want to pay for glass and am afraid of it falling off and don’t even really love it anyway- at least not the busy mosaic stuff I am seeing.

I am doing white plaster and have very light grey square edge coping. I want something really simple, clean and modern. The top of the spa wall between the Baja step and the spa will also need to be tiled and I don’t want it to stand out with crazy blue tile.

I like simple but I don’t want it to look like a public pools .
Any ideas? What about unglazed tile?
Does white tile look dirty? How about a light grey or aqua tile? Can’t seem to find either. Only white and light blue. I’d love any advice on tile companies and tiles. My pool guy recommends universal tile but anything is ok.

Thanks!
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
20,849
Bedford, TX
Lauren,

Welcome to TFP... I suggest that you post a couple of pics of where the tile is going, so that we can see what you see..

I am not a fan of small glass tiles either, but more from a maintenance point of view rather than what they look like.

As they say... a picture is worth a thousand words.

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
48,008
Tallahassee, FL
What do you think about this? Aqua Matte, 1/2" x 3-1/4" - Porcelain Pool Tile

Here is another site. The one says it is out of stock BUT look below it. There are several grays there.
Light Grey 4" x 4" Stone Mosaic Tile

Let me know what you are thinking. What did you like? Not like? let me get into your head so we can find something you like. Let me see your house and area to see what you are working with.

Kim:kim:
 

tstex

Silver Supporter
Aug 28, 2012
1,888
Houston, TX
I agree w Jim on buy for what will last the longest and be the easiest to maintain.

Big question: Are you going CL or Salt? if Salt, then your options are decreased.

As noted, post a few pics w what you have and suggestions can be offered, but need to know your water type.
 

bdavis466

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
Aug 4, 2014
5,529
San Clemente, CA

tstex

Silver Supporter
Aug 28, 2012
1,888
Houston, TX
Brian,

Both the stone manufacturer and all the PB's we spoke to stated that NaCl pools on soft unsealed stones like travertine is a no go - we live in a hot humid climate, so it maybe we diff where you are located. Here's right from the label:

"This is especially so around saltwater pools. Traditionally chlorinated pools pose little risk to natural stone. Salt can cause devastating damage to just about any building material whether it is metal, concrete or stone. ... Salt water pools and sea spray in coastal areas can threaten some stone surfaces."

TRAVERTINE PATIOS & SALTWATER POOLS
IS TRAVERTINE THE RIGHT CHOICE AROUND A SALT-WATER POOL?

There are some recent updates which involve natural stone patios near salt-water pools. We have had several requests for the UNIQUE Warranty Department to inspect premature decay which is occurring in Travertine patios. This decay is noticeable within as little as 6 months from the time of installation for untreated & unsealed patios. And the decay usually is affecting about 3 – 5% of the patio and only in select pieces. During the sales process we try to educate our clients about all of aspects of their backyard and swimming pool, and this subject always arises when dealing with saltwater pools. There is always a certain risk associated with natural stone, but choosing cosmetics and aesthetics over durability is normally what creates this issue. It is the policy of UNIQUE to highly discourage the use of flagstone and cantera stone products around saltwater pools because of their inability to withstand the long-term effects of saltwater. During these recent job site visits, it has become clear that saltwater can have similar effects on select pieces of Travertine patio. Although we feel the beauty of Travertine around our swimming pools is unsurpassed, these recent discoveries have motivated us to recommend additional maintenance for this surface when installed in conjunction with a salt-water pool. This maintenance and care will help to preserve the longevity of the patio. There are many solutions which range from a simple do-it-yourself sealant to more complicated processes which involve removing the salt system from the pool. There is a lot to understand about this decision which is why we’ve created this information page, and we are always here to help.

However, if the OP wants to go w salt and soft/natural stone, that's her prerogative.
 
Last edited:

bdavis466

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
Aug 4, 2014
5,529
San Clemente, CA
This is not a new argument and it's one that is constantly being brought up from Texas. Tile and stone are two different materials so don't get those confused as the OP is asking about tile choices and I never recommend a natural stone as a waterline tile. The bulk of the issue is not the saltwater, but rather the soft stone that is brought from local Quarries in your area.

A chlorine pool and a saltwater pool have no difference at all because chlorine consists of sodium hypochlorite, the first part of that being sodium(salt) and regardless of how you chlorinate your pool, you're adding salt. A chlorine pool will have a salt level that gradually Rises over the years and not only from the chlorine additions but also from nearly every other chemical that you add to your water - they all contain salt (chloride) to some extent.

In the case of tile, the typical choices consists of ceramic or porcelain, both of which are not affected by typical water chemistry in any way. What is affected is low-quality thinset and grout so the focus should not be placed on the tile but rather the installation practices and the materials used.

This conversation has come up several times on many different threads on this forum and the bulk of them all stem from Texas where the builders have taken a strong stance against salt water pools. Their argument is based largely on misinformation and lack of research which is unfortunate because the client or homeowner is the one that ultimately pays the price by means of a pool that is more time consuming to manage.

I've never built a pool that wasn't saltwater and I've yet to have an issue
 
Last edited:

tstex

Silver Supporter
Aug 28, 2012
1,888
Houston, TX
Thanks Brian - I do know the difference btw tile [man-made.usually glazed] and travertine/natural stone...Our travertine is from turkey.

there's a couple of pools in our nborhood that are saltwater and have had issues w travertine and "stainless" steel. however, what you say makes sense. I would not argue that a SWG and MA here and there is a lot easier to maintain then adding bleach and MA. we also have a lot of stainless steel doors in our summer kitchen too, which the pool is South of this area and the S winds dominate 11.5 months per year. This would be an interesting one to hear btw the two differing opinions.. .thanks again
 

bdavis466

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
Aug 4, 2014
5,529
San Clemente, CA
My point though - these pools that had issues, how do they know the salt water did the damage?

I'd bet money it was cheap travertine and low quality stainless steel.

I won't argue that salt is not corrosive (I live at the beach and rust is everywhere) but the quantity in a standard saltwater pool just isn't high enough to cause concern. Not to mention a manually chlorinated pool can contain just as much salt
 

Enjoying this content?

Support TFP with a donation.

Give Support

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
20,849
Bedford, TX
Tex,

Seems like the only place where pool builders have this issue is in and around Houston Texas... :scratch:

Wonder why that would be???

Jim R.
 

Watershow

Well-known member
Jun 10, 2020
200
Riverside County, CA
This is not a new argument and it's one that is constantly being brought up from Texas. Tile and stone are two different materials so don't get those confused as the OP is asking about tile choices and I never recommend a natural stone as a waterline tile. The bulk of the issue is not the saltwater, but rather the soft stone that is brought from local Quarries in your area.

A chlorine pool and a saltwater pool have no difference at all because chlorine consists of sodium hypochlorite, the first part of that being sodium(salt) and regardless of how you chlorinate your pool, you're adding salt. A chlorine pool will have a salt level that gradually Rises over the years and not only from the chlorine additions but also from nearly every other chemical that you add to your water - they all contain salt (chloride) to some extent.

In the case of tile, the typical choices consists of ceramic or porcelain, both of which are not affected by typical water chemistry in any way. What is affected is low-quality thinset and grout so the focus should not be placed on the tile but rather the installation practices and the materials used.

This conversation has come up several times on many different threads on this forum and the bulk of them all stem from Texas where the builders have taken a strong stance against salt water pools. Their argument is based largely on misinformation and lack of research which is unfortunate because the client or homeowner is the one that ultimately pays the price by means of a pool that is more time consuming to manage.

I've never built a pool that wasn't saltwater and I've yet to have an issue
Facing a similar problem choosing tile. My PB only recommends 6 x 6 inch tile for the waterline even though I found a pretty contemporary tile sold at Arizona Tile but is an 8 x 8. What do you mean by thinset? What kind of thinset and grout is best for waterline tile?
 

bdavis466

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
Aug 4, 2014
5,529
San Clemente, CA
Nothing wrong with 8x8 tile - porcelain being preferred. Be sure to follow the installation instructions and waterproof prior to installation as mentioned in the article posted earlier.

Thinset is the adhesive to secure the tile. The best thinset is Laticrete platinum 254 and their SpectraLock epoxy grout.
 
Thread Status
Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
It can take a long time to get an up-to-date response or contact with relevant users.