Tiling swimming pools

Swimming – and other types of pools are the ultimate wet areas for tiling. It is important to specify the appropriate materials to achieve a durable installation. Once filled, it is not easy to make significant repairs without taking them out of service for long periods.

Common issues and queries you can face

Immersion in water

Immersion in water requires adhesive unaffected by water

In a pool water is almost certain to penetrate the grout joints. Cementitious grouts are porous and allow water to soak through. Even when an epoxide resin grout is used, it cannot be guaranteed that all of the joints are perfectly filled.
The consequence is that:

  • The bond strength of the tile adhesive must not be affected by continuous immersion in water.
  • The pool must have a waterproof shell or layer behind the tiles.

Initial movement

Initial movement due to the weight of water and heat

The pool will be tiled when it is empty. Once the pool is filled there will be some movement due to the effect of water pressure on the walls and the overall weight of water in the pool. After filling, the water will be brought up to normal pool temperature and this will cause some further movements in the overall structure.

Effect of chemicals

The effect of pool chemistry on the grout

Chemicals added to the pool water tend to degrade cement-based grouts.

This is minimised if they are maintained at the ideal levels but the choice of grout and its chemical resistance are important factors for the durability of the installation.

Additional wear and tear

Certain areas are exposed to additional wear and tear

Certain parts of the pool are exposed to more aggressive conditions than others.
The grout on the pool sides at the waterline may be exposed to greater erosion from water movement.
Pool surrounds may undergo stringent and frequent cleaning regimes.

Walls in rooms containing pools will be exposed to constantly high humidity and also need to have good water resistance.