Using 2 Different Tiles at Waterline - Sizing Discrepancy - Thoughts?


Well-known member
Jan 20, 2017
St Augustine, FL
I wanted to start a separate thread from our build thread to see if others have dealt with our issue.

I wanted to use Lightstream glass tile as the entire waterline tile but the cost of the tile and the labor just made it too costly. The design woman at the pool supply store (where PB sent us to pick out materials) suggested using the glass tile as an accent tile on the waterline by having one of the 6x6 tiles every 4 or 5 tiles. It was a good compromise and saved us over $3000. We found a ceramic tile that compliments the glass tile beautifully and even better was that it wasn't an upgrade.

A few days ago we received the shipment of the ceramic tile and I was setting some out and placing my sample of the glass tile in line to see how the waterline would look when I noticed the tiles were 2 different sizes.

I figured tiles had a universal size much like lumbar. A 2x4 isn't a true 2 inches by 4 inches but regardless of where you buy it, it will be the universal size.

Turns out the ceramic tile is 5 13/16" and the glass tile is 5 15/16". While it doesn't sound like a lot, when it is being set in a straight, level line, you will def notice the grout line being un level.

My first thought was to level the bottom edge in the water and have the unlevel part be up top since the coping and ledger stone at the spa stick out and would hide the top edge. Plus not a lot of light gets up there so wouldn't be easily seen.

However, one problem is that on the back edge of the pool we have a 2 foot tall 10 foot long accent wall. The front of this wall is going to be tiled with the Lightstream tile and directly buts up to the waterline tile. So if the top edge is unlevel, it will def show on the wall.

If we do the unlevel grout on the bottom, I am concerned that it will drive me nuts bc you can see it.

The solution I came up with was to only use Lightstream glass tile as the waterline tile where the wall is. That way the grout lines would all match up. However, the waterline will now be 4 ceramic tiles, 1 glass tile everywhere until the wall where the waterline changes to all glass. Will this look too odd?

If we go the route with glass waterline just at the wall, the issue is now that I need 8 actual glass tiles (2 sq ft) to be able to do this. These tiles are made to order and are supposed to be shipping out this week. Still waiting to hear back from the rep there about getting 8 tiles added even if they are just samples.

Any thoughts? Has anyone ran into this issue personally and if so, what was your solution?

Here are the pics showing the difference

Uneven side

Showing this side is flush

Showing how the waterline is going to look with the 2 tiles


Well-known member
Jun 22, 2016
I still think separating the lightstream tile from the backing and tightening the grout lines is the best bet for the best fit. Alternatively just split the difference with the overhang on the top and bottom (lightstream tile centered). It won't be noticeable to anyone but you. As you may have seen in my thread, I can use some of my own medicine on that point.

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LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Sep 22, 2015
Bixby, Ok
When our waterline tile was installed, the installer did a terrible job- it was not level. At the time, the PB said it had to be level around the top as that would affect the deck install. If you level around the top, I don't think it will be horrible around the bottom as this will be underwater.

I did have someone tell me they used LS at the waterline and wished they had only used it in full water situations as it was difficult to keep the scum line clean...


Well-known member
Jun 22, 2016
I did have someone tell me they used LS at the waterline and wished they had only used it in full water situations as it was difficult to keep the scum line clean...
I can appreciate this comment. Our glass iridescent tiled spa is certainly the most maintenance needy part of our pool (from the spillover), only 30 days in.

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Bronze Supporter
Jun 21, 2016
I would not remove the lightstream from the backing and try to install it that way. Having done a number of tile projects, I think that would make it very difficult to install correctly.

I would be inclined to either split the difference or put all the excess length at the bottom as it is under water and will be encapsulated a bit by the pool plaster. I think irregularity will be more noticeable if left at the top (unless you have a track for an autocover or similar that would hide that). Also, I think the vertical grout line between the nonglass and glass tile will help mask the difference in height (ie it would be more obvious if the nonglass tile were abutted against the glass with no gap at all).

Don't worry too much -- I am certain once the pool is complete and filled with water you will be very happy with the overall effect and not notice this later. We had a number of small ooops along the way that were frustrating but a month after the pool was complete we had already forgotten about most of them.