Newbie Questions: Waterline tile for dark water

michtxAugust 10, 2012

Hi Everybody!

We're 2-3 wks away from construction start on a gunite pool. I'm in the process of choosing coping & deck stone and waterline tile and would love your input.

We're on a ranch in Central Texas. Home is contemporary white limestone block on the edge of a bluff with the back facing due west - killer sunset views! The pool is geometric, infinity edge with a perimeter overflow spa and long tanning ledges along the east (house side) and north sides.

We want to create a contemporary, seamless and zen-like simplicity of the outdoor space with a dark water pool to maximize reflections. We will be using travertine pavers or Leuderstone (16" by 24" or similar) in a shade slightly darker than the house rock for coping and decking.

As for the waterline tile, my thinking is that you have two choices; first to either blend or compliment the coping, or to consider the tile as part of the water feature and blend it to water color. We will be using Black Pearl Pebble Tec.

My design instinct is to blend tile with coping because it is above the water and will give a more seamless look if blended to the coping color. But I am wondering if this same tile will not look good on the spa's overflow walls against the dark pool water. However I would like to use only one type of tile on waterline and perimeter overflow spa to mix as few materials as possible. I would love some experienced advice on which would create a more seamless and quiet look.

I can only figure out how to attach one photo to this post, so I'm including a photo from of a pool we admire.

Many thanks in advance for any input!


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We picked our tile to match the plaster color and then picked coping stone to match the tile. I don't think there is a right or wrong way to do it but we wanted a more natural look so we wanted it to blend together. However there of plenty of pools on here that look great that went with blue colors for the tile to match the water color, regardless of what stone they were using.

West facing back yard in Texas makes me think "hot". I would put some thought into water temperature management since you are using black plaster and plenty of umbrella sleeves in the deck or other means for shade.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 11:13AM
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When we were choosing our tile the one I really wanted to get was a charcoal gray. That would also be a good look with a really dark pool plaster I think. However, with our north TX water it would have turned out to be high maintenance, so we went with a tile similar to our stacked stone. We did not consider blue tiles.

Here is a link that might be useful: My Pool

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 12:02PM
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I have a plaster pool, the plaster was medium to slightly darker than medium "gray". The goal was for a dark pool, not a bright blue pool.

I wanted a natural stone at the waterline versus a fired tile, I used a dark gray or "light black" tight-grained slate as the waterline tile.

The overall look is very nice, the slate has a natural look to it, and the color blends well with the dark water.

I'm in New England, the tile has been terrific through maybe 8 winters? No spalling or flaking.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 2:05PM
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Thank you all for the input! Beautiful stonework on your pool Sherry. I was able to find an outdoor rated porcelain tile available as a mosaic running bond subway pattern in a natural stone pattern that has light grays, creams and ivory. It does a beautiful job of transitioning from the light cream travertine to the dark PebbleTec in the shallow ledges - fingers crossed!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 1:19PM
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Please post some pictures when done!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 1:34PM
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hi, i love your rock work. are these natural stones? did they do any type of waterproofing before they put the ledger stones up? also does it have mortar/grout in front of them? i'm building a raised bond beam wall and would love some tips on it.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 2:57PM
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Thanks, michtx & Karen, The stacked stone is Oklahoma Flagstone and the mortar is just on the back half so that you don't see it. It doesn't require waterproofing, a lot of people use it for coping around their pool.

I have some pictures of it being built on my website.

Here is a link that might be useful: My Pool

    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 10:33PM
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Take a look at MD 680 by Stone Ventures

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 3:57PM
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