Pool Tile Coping Repair Everything you Need to Know

Tile patterns have come a long way from the 6″ x 6″ blue standard. Pool Tile from all over the world provides an endless palette of color, shapes and sizes. Pool tile differs from bathroom tile in that it is formulated to be frost free, a term meaning that it is resistant to chipping from ice damage. It is more than likely that your tile is six inches in height, although it occasionally is installed in 12″ depths. Sometimes they just continue it down and all the way across the pool or spa. Pool Tile provides an attractive accent to the pool’s edge while allowing for an easily clean-able surface to catch oil and dirt. Without pool tile, there would exist a difficult to remove bathtub ring. Vinyl liner pools don’t have tile, but it can be added with a special hanger.

My Tile is Falling Off.?!? This could be a result of bond failure of the “mud” that was used to set the tile originally. Look behind the tile for a horizontal crack. This could be evidence of a cracked beam. “Popped” tile could be the result of not having caulking in the expansion joint between the coping and the deck, allowing water to run behind the tile and freeze. Water freezing in the expansion joint itself, or a joint that is not “true”; where the pool and deck are touching, will also cause pool tile to fall off, and create beam damage. (the “beam” is the top 6 inches of the pool wall, where the tile and coping are) 

If just the tile has fallen off (and not the old mud) The pool tile may be temporarily re-grouted back in place. Use waterproof tile grout. Or thinset mortar cement. If small amounts of the wall is missing, you would want to parge this back up before resetting tile. Use a hydraulic cement. Use small rebar, or pieces of heavy steel mesh if the missing amount is over 2″ deep. If the beam behind the pool tile is loose and crumbling, it needs to be removed and rebuilt before putting on new pool tile. Again, use some steel and hydraulic cement to rebuild the area.

How do I replace some Tile.?!? To replace the pool tile, first remove the old mud far enough back so that the new tile will not stick out. Make sure that no “nibs” of grout or mortar and sticking up. A nice ledge on the bottom is good to help support the tile and keep it from sliding downward. When the surface is prepped, mix up your mud. We recommend the use of a Thinset mortar, or a Marcite plaster mix. Use a notched trowel to spread a layer of Thinset Mortar, so the peaks of the ridges are no higher than 1/8″. Push on the pool tile and gently knock it into place using a rubber of wooden mallet. Adjust grout joints so they are equal. The Thinset should be thick enough so that the tile does not slide downward. If so, you may be able to use strips of duct tape to temporarily tape the pool tile in place, one end of the tape in the middle of the tile, and the other end affixed to the coping stone above it. 

My Tile has white deposits.?!? Known as efflorescence or scale, mineral salts such as calciumand magnesium may come out of the grout or from the setting mud and deposit on the front of the tile. It may also originate from the pool water. Pool tile efflorescence can be scraped off, and/or “burned” off with acid. To scrape off tile scale, use a strong putty knife or flathead screwdriver. Most pool tiles are not damaged by this activity, but use caution. Muriatic acid can be sprayed on with a small, clean spray bottle, and then splashed off with pool water. Several applications may be necessary to completely remove tile scale. It can be used straight or diluted with water. Use extreme caution, following all recommendations of the acid manufacturer with regards to mixing, application and the use of personal safety equipment. The best solution of the removal of tile scale may be a mixture of acid washing and scraping. Some areas of the country are served by companies that will bead blast the pool tile (a form of sand blasting) that will remove the scale quite effectively.

My Tile is cracked.?!? This may be caused by a cracked bond beam, or perhaps from freezing surface water pressing against the pool tile during expansion. Or maybe it wasn’t Frost Free pool tile to begin with. If a tapping with a screwdriver produces a hollow sound the tiles are not bonded properly to the beam and will soon be falling off. Any water splashed or rained into a crack in a tile will serve to loosen the tile further, especially as this water freezes and expands. If the crack is large enough, it could be filled in with waterproof pool tile grout, as a stopgap measure.

My Tile has a dirty “scum line”; How do I clean my pool tile.?!? Cleaning pool tile to remove the bathtub ring can be accomplished with an abrasive cleaner such as Comet. Use a stiff brush or a abrasive scrubber to apply the cleanser. Don’t use too much cleanser, just enough to do the job, and if you use Biguanide sanitizers, don’t use a chlorine based cleanser such as Comet, but a phosphate based cleanser like “Off the Wall”.


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