Tips on tiles


Some great tips to help you choose your tiles.

The ancient Romans had some serious luxury available when they felt like a dip in the baths. Think vast columns and arches with marble and mosaics tile images. But even they might be inclined to envy the fantastic array of tiles available to the average modern pool owner.

The two most common types of pool interior tiles are ceramic mosaics and glass mosaics. The Pool Tile Company director Amanda James says ceramic mosaics should really be called porcelain mosaics, as they need to be very dense and have low water absorption for use in swimming pools.

Ceramic mosaics are the more traditional pool tiles. "Tilers like them because they bond really well to the shell of the pool and have stood the test of time," Amanda says. "They are normally cheaper to buy and lay than glass mosaics." The down side is that there is a limited colour range to choose from. "Glass mosaics have become more popular in the last 10 years," Amanda says. "Pool buyers like them because there is a huge colour range to choose from and a variety of effects such as pearl, crystal and gold available.  They shimmer and sparkle, bringing the pool to life."

A matter of size

Ceramic mosaic pool tiles range in size from 23mm square to 95 x 45mm rectangles.  Glass mosaic tiles range in size from 20mm to 48mm for crystal glass tiles. "Normally, you wouldn’t use a tile bigger than 100mm to fully tile a pool as it is too difficult to make it look good due to the curved bottoms of sprayed concrete swimming pools," Amanda says. "However, the most common sizes used for fully tiling pools are 20mm to 58mm."

Colour me beautiful

Amanda says the most popular colours for swimming pools are blue tiles. They are available in light to dark shades in both ceramic and glass. "Many people use white tiles to achieve a light blue water colour," she adds. Other popular colours for full tiling are aqua, black and charcoal tiles. "We have sold chocolate tiles to fully tile pools," Amanda recalls. "This gives the pool a green tone to the water. We have also sold red tiles to fully tile a pool!"

Get in shape

In the past pool tiles were traditionally square, but Amanda says that rectangular tiles have increased in popularity during the past five years. One thing that remains unchanged us that pool tiles are different to their indoor cousins. Pool tiles need to be fired at a high temperature and have low water absorption so wall tiles are unsuitable for use in swimming pools. They also need to be supplied in a sheet format (i.e. the tiles are typically supplied on a mesh backing) so they are easy to lay.

However, there are some similarities too. Just as there are different grout colours for indoor tiles, you can choose different grout colours for pools. But Amanda says the most popular grout colours used remain grey and white.

Latest trends

Amanda says the latest pool tile trend is the increasing use of mosaic blends. "Mosaic blends contain at least three different coloured tiles," she explains. "They can either be subtle such as the White Crystal Pearl Blend20mm or dramatic such as the Cuban 23mm.

While mosaic pictures were popular with the ancient Romans, today's trend towards minimalism means they're not a common sight in the average backyard pool. "Mosaic pictures are a very personal item in a swimming pool," Amanda says. "It is only a small percentage of pools that include them. The predominant design trend at the moment is minimalism, so most people don’t consider including one. The people who buy them usually like decoration and have a personal reason for incorporating their design into the pool or on the feature wall."


The benefits

Lining a pool with tiles has long been regarded as the superior finish due to their appearance, silky smoothness and superior durability. Amanda says fully tiled pools are the easiest to maintain and have the most positive effect on house resale values. "You also have the greatest control over the final water colour and let’s face it, the water colour is the first thing you notice when you look at a pool!" she says.

Not everyone has a concrete pool, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy their beauty. Amanda says the waterline of fibreglass pools can be tiled to make them look more like an in-ground concrete pool.

Regardless of what type of pool you have Amanda has a few tips for choosing the right tile for your needs. "If fully tiling a pool, it is best to look at a pool magazine and see what water colour you like," she says. "Then we can take a step backwards and figure out what tile will give you the water colour you desire. Sometimes it can be a surprising suggestion.

When choosing a waterline tile for your pool, you can choose a tile to:

1.Contrast with the water colour.

2.Match the water colour

3.Match the pool coping colour.

Amanda says the most popular option for waterline tiles is normally to pick a tile to contrast with the water colour. "For example, we sell a lot of charcoal waterline tiles to pick up the colour used as trim colours on their house. Charcoal tiles also tone in really nicely with blue water."


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