On a gunite or shotcrete pool, the waterline tile extends approximately 3” above the water, and 3” below the water. The tile acts as the barrier between the interior surface of the pool (plaster, pebble, or tile) and the coping or cantilever edge of your poured concrete deck. The tile creates a functional transition zone between the dry air and the constantly wet interior finish of the pool. However, this functional transition zone doesn’t have to be boring. Here’s some ideas for how you can integrate some extraordinary pool tile design ideas into your pool design.
Step 1: Select Your Interior Finish And Coping
First, get your interior finish samples and coping samples. This way, you can choose a tile that complements both. The last thing that you want is a pool that looks like 3 different people picked the plaster, coping and tile. It’s similar to when a bed has different color pillowcases, sheets and blankets.
Step 2: Decide To Stand Out Or Blend In With Your Pool Tile Design Ideas
Next, it’s time to make the biggest choice you’ll need to make relative to pool tile. Choose whether you want your tile to be a design feature or whether you want it to blend into the background.
A design feature will catch your eye when you look at it, and cause you to purposely spend time looking at the tile itself. Maybe a decorative glass that shimmers in the sun, or a multicolor mosaic pattern surrounding the pool. Whereas blending into the background would meant the tile blends effortlessly with the interior finish or the coping. With this method, the tile is relegated to its functional purpose, nothing more or less.
Step 3: Select Your Pool Tile
Once you’ve chosen the basic design theory you want to follow, it’s time to choose a tile. This can be one of the most overwhelming portions of either designing a pool or renovating a pool. The choices seem endless and the options seem to go on forever. However, you shouldn’t feel as though you have to choose common colors such as white or turquoise.
Unless you live in a place where the snow never flies, you’ll want to choose a frost proof tile for your pool. Make sure the tile selected is approved for use in swimming pools as well as approved for ‘freeze thaw climates’. It’s a good idea to choose 3-5 different tiles.
6 Trusted Tile Manufacturers
One easy way to select a tile that’ll meet these needs is to go to the big pool tile manufacturers. Here are a few tile makers that we’ve used on our past projects.
- National Pool Tile
- Classic Pool Tile
- Noble Tile Supply
- US Pool Tile
- Daltile (Caution, many non-frost-proof tiles)
- Modwalls (Caution, many non-frost-proof tiles)
Step 4: Order Tile Samples
If you think you’ve found the tiles you want, go ahead and order samples. There is no reason to ever choose a tile without seeing the sample in person. Sometimes the shade variation is not represented well on a computer screen. There is no substitute for seeing the real thing. Also, when ordering your pool tile sample, ask the manufacturer if there is a large variation in the tile colors or if the colors are stable from dye lot to dye lot. This will give you a good idea of whether the sample you receive will be representative of the actual tile you will order for installation.
Step 5: Choose Your Tile Grout
Now that you’ve chosen your tile, it’s time to choose grout. The grout manufacturer will vary by tile installer. Some prefer Arden grouts, others prefer Laticrete. For Laticrete grouts, you can order color samples here. Alternatively, Ardex grouts can be ordered color samples here.
Step 6: Contact Your Installer With Your Pool Tile Design Ideas
Now that you have your tile and grout selected, it’s time to pass these selections on to your installer. A quick note regarding availability. Even before the recent rush and materials shortages it was common for pool tiles to be out of stock or discontinued. The sooner you order your tile and take delivery the better. Once you have the selection made, order the tile and take delivery.
Pool Tile Design Ideas Summary
Now, you’re a professional at selecting pool tiles. Your mind is likely racing with pool tile design ideas. As a rule of thumb, always make sure you order samples before selecting your final pool tile. Also, unless you live in a hot climate, ensure your pool tiles are frost-proof.