Seeking Tile Alternatives

lhartnettMay 13, 2012

We have a Gunite pool in NH. Each spring we find quite a few of the small tiles that line the top of the pool are loose or already popped off. We have to retile maybe a 15% of the tiles each year. We'd like to simply replace all the tiles with something else that will require less maintenance. Any suggestions?

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Tiles in a properly winterized pool should not pop. Something is wrong here. Lets narrow it down some if we can. Its usually due to one of two main culprits.

I am assuming you have a concrete deck. Is the seal for the expansion joint between the deck and coping intact or is it split and letting water in between the two? Water can then wick in the thin set, not unlike oil in a Tiki torch. The water freezes and pops a tile when it expands.

Is the water level, at closing kept below the tile line? Surface water in the pool, when frozen, expands. This can cause the tiles to pop off or form cracks. A snow load on the cover can also bring lowered water up too! An automatic submersible pump on the 1st step or if you have a swim out with a step in the deep end (usually better because it's tile line usually has an extra inch or two of space to the step) keeps water off the tile. I like the Little Giant ACP-500 for this task. It has a low profile and can be completely submerged which makes it ideal when the pool hasn't been lowered at closing, making life a little easier for you.

Tiles are used at the water line because the sun and air would have a detrimental effect on the plasters used if constantly exposed at the water line. Tile is impervious to the effects. You have seen the effects of Winter when the situation is otherwise.

If the situation is not as I surmised, all the tile needs to be replaced. That 15% annually is excessive.


    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 5:55AM
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Are you talking about the little tiles in a mosaic tile?

My brother has had this problem every couple years with his mosaic tile. He's in the process now of having it all re-tiled with 6" tiles.

Or are you saying you already have 6" tiles and THOSE are popping?

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 4:20PM
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Thank you poolguy and banana. Poolguy, the seal between the deck and coping may very well be the culprit. Is this something we can seal ourselves with a particular sealant?

We do drain the water well below the tile line. There is snow depending on the year but never enough on the cover to pop the water up.

Banana, our tiles are the smaller tiles. We may look into having it retiled at somepoint. Last time we checked, our pool company charged $80 per hour and would only guarantee their work for 1 season.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 5:43AM
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Freezing weather causes ice. Ice expands.

If moisture got behind the tile and then froze, pop!

Any weight that press on the water level in the pool will make it rise by the amount of space an equal amount of water would take. Example: 64 lbs of anything press on the water's surface and the water will rise a total of one cubic foot. This is called displacement. A three inch snow load on a cover is going to press on the surface and cause the pool to rise in order to support the weight.

These are two ways tiles can pop off.

Whether you can do it yourself depends on your handiness and knowledge of masonry and self leveling caulking. A pro's fee is generally by the foot and will vary in both different markets and material used. I wouldn't have my Grandma doing it.


    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 9:30PM
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