Having your own swimming pool can be a luxurious and comfortable escape in your own backyard! For some, the design of their own pool can be a reflection of their favorite getaway. It can be designed to remind a tropical paradise like the Caribbean, the aqua waters of the Mediterranean or the neutral colors of a Tuscan villa.
As one of the most aesthetically pleasing aspects of a home, the pool area can also become your favorite place to gather with friends and family, host fabulous birthday parties or simply fire up the grill for an al-fresco dinner. A beautifully designed pool is more than just an extension of the architecture of a home, but rather a giant magnet that draws attention to your yard!
Check out our Selection of Pool Tile!
One of the first design elements to draw the eye to a swimming pool is, of course, the tile! However, choosing the perfect one to suit your style and needs can be a little intimidating. You still have a lot to decide even after you’ve set your budget and chosen your preferred style. Which materials can you use for a swimming pool tile? What are the most common sizes? How about the latest color trends?
To help you design the pool of your dreams, we listed what we believe are the most important aspects to consider when shopping for pool tiles. Let’s dive in!
What are different kinds of pool tile?
Like everything else in pool design, you have many choices when it comes to tile. Designing a pool means you have to pick tiles for the flooring, walls and the waterline, as well as any steps or benches you may include. The factors to consider when choosing tiles might be different for each area.
Inlaid tiles are underwater, recessed into a fiberglass pool mold so that it’s flush with the pool’s surface. Inlaid tiles include walls, floors, and the surface of any steps or seats of a swimming pool.
Waterline tiles are adhered to the surface of the pool, usually as a 6” strip running along the waterline. This strip of tiles help you achieve a premium finish in your pool by lining it, and serves as a great design element in your pool design!
Do I Want a Waterline?
To decide if waterline tile is something essential to your pool, consider the big picture: how does your deck design, coping, or landscaping influence the overall aesthetic? Waterline tile is normally half submerged in the water allowing for the top 3 inches to be visible (with the other 3” under the water), but 3 inches can have a powerful impact on your overall landscape design!
It’s not just about looks when it comes to choosing waterline tiles - there’s a practical element to this detail. Discoloration can occur at the point where the water ends, thanks to sunscreen, pool chemicals, body oils and dirt. Kind of like a ring around the collar! Adding tiles around the waterline is a nice way to camouflage this transition and trick the eye, so that you will never see a difference in color!
If you are working with a budget but love the look of an elegantly tiled pool, simply tiling the waterline can be a smaller investment than fully tiling the pool bed. The decision is yours!
Pool Tile Ideas by Material
There’s no golden rule when choosing a tile material for your swimming pool. The variety of options await you and you will surely find something that will fit your style and your budget.
Glass pool tiles were traditionally used to decorate the water line instead of being the main covering for swimming pools, with the exception of some luxury hotels. Well, that is changing! The decrease in prices for glass tiles, amazing finishing effects and ability to offer more colors and styles for pool design make glass pool tiles trendier than ever! Browse Glass pool tiles for more ideas!
Specially treated non slip glass tiles are the perfect finishing touch to your dream pool, especially if you’re looking to cover the stairs in the pool. While glass is often the most expensive type of pool tile, these tiles provide a variety of finishing effects such as crystal, pearl, and gold. These can shimmer and sparkle that make your pool come alive! Glass mosaics are also ideal for anyone who wants to create a depth of illusion in their pools. They are easy to clean and maintain compared to natural stone, and can withstand more pressure than their porcelain counterparts.
When it comes to waterlines, glass mosaic tile is surging in popularity because of its beautiful transparent body and wide variety of rich colors, which perfectly reflect sunlight and mirror the movement of water! This element can truly enhance your backyard pool into a shimmering oasis that will entice you to spend more time outdoors!
Short answer: glass swimming pool tiles safe are easy to clean and maintain, and are a cost effective yet gorgeous option for your pool.
Porcelain tiles are less porous and stronger than their ceramic cousins, making them a great option for almost all climate conditions. Easy to install, easy to clean…but are they an ideal pool tile? Smaller scale porcelain tiles follow the recommended guidelines for pool installs, but most larger format porcelain tiles are not considered an ideal pool wall or flooring material. The best bet is to always check the Area of Use and ensure that it is recommended for full submersion in a pool install.
You can create this minimalist and serene pool look seen on Architectural Digest with Ionic Herringbone Sand Porcelain tiles!
We love porcelain tiles as a pool surround - think a wood-look plank decking or porcelain tiles that mimic stone to create a beautiful patio! They can be the perfect finishing touch to your pool area, as they stand up to changing weather conditions and are ideal for outdoor installation with a long lifetime.
When it comes to creating a safe pool environment, slip-resistance is one of the most important factors to consider. You want to make sure you are using materials rated for outdoor use and wet areas.
Wood-look porcelain tile is considered a great alternative to natural wood that can become slick and slippery when wet. The textured tile provides a higher slip-resistance than smooth surfaces that can increase the chances of slips and spills.
You can achieve a rustic, earthy Zen look or a Mediterranean feel by your pool with natural stone tiles, including slate, granite, limestone, bluestone and certain kinds of specially treated travertine. The result is often a natural look that blends in with your patio or deck! Compared to their porcelain counterparts, stone tiles are an upgrade on the price spectrum, though. Their biggest drawback is the effort it requires to keep clean. In the end, stone swimming pool tiles do provide a beautiful natural appearance that particularly complements pools with an organic design style!
Honed tiles that are suitable for outdoor use provide the best grip and slip resistance for areas that get wet, like a pool deck or surround.
Whichever material you go for, look at the area of use on the product page to make sure it can be used in a swimming pool! (Do not forget to consider your budget when looking at different materials too!)
Size Matters When it Comes to Choosing Pool Tiles
The size of your tiles is also very important when it comes to ensuring the lifetime of your pool!
Large format tiles are a big no for swimming pools! Large format tiles and long rectangular tiles are more prone to cracking due to thermal shock from changing temperatures. They also tend to be less stable due to their larger size which can lead to fractures.
Going the opposite direction is really the best choice for your pool tiles- think small when it comes to your swimming pool tiles! Swimming pools are all about making an impression, and mosaic tile is sure to stand out! Especially if you’re keen on designing detailed and captivating patterns, we advise you stick with mosaic tiles with small chip sizes. Smaller tiles are perfect with irregular pool shapes too (free form, kidney) because they are easier to wrap around curved bottoms and corners.
Whether you have an elevated spa, infinity pool edge, or walls above the surface, waterline tile is an important design element to draw your eyes on a swimming pool! When it comes to waterline tile, a very popular trend is using larger brick-shaped subway tiles or mixing shapes and different size tiles in modular designs.
Swimming Pool Tile Ideas by Design
It is not enough for you to pour water into your pool to make it look good. The pool tiles can speak volumes about your aesthetic abilities and style! Swimming pool tile options provide ample opportunities for design creativity. In fact, many pool buyers find picking out a design is one of the most enjoyable parts of the pool construction process!
What is Your Color?
Choosing tile size is one thing, but deciding on the color that best defines the pool’s mood is critical. The color matters because of the reflective effect that water has on swimming pool tiles. You may also want to consider what color will suit your surrounding landscape as well as the color of your stone coping and feature walls (if you have any).
Blue swimming pool tiles offer a lot of options to enhance the beautiful color of the water in your pool!
Blue: Do you find yourself dreaming of the deep ocean, or smooth turquoise waters of an island? It is possible to turn the color of your water into a rich ocean with dark blue tiles inside your pool. Or create an ‘under the sea’ vibe with bright tones of blue for a more tropical feel!
White: If you’re keen on a clean, uniformed appearance, white pool tiles inside the pool can guarantee you that unique impression. You also get the illusion that your pool is bigger than its actual size. Luxury hotels and spas often use white mosaic pool tile because white denotes purity and tends to make pool water appear sky blue – a favorite color of travelers looking to take it easy!
Finish off Glacier Natural White 1X1 Frosted Glass Tile with Glacier Black 1X1 Polished Glass Tile to create this old school pool look!
Earthy tones: Do you prefer a more natural pool design? Or want your swimming pool to blend seamlessly with your backyard? Consider a stone or stone-look porcelain tiles on the waterline in understated earthy tones that will add a subtle touch to design and blend in well with your deck.
Red: It isn’t commonly used, but using red is a way to build an exciting designer pool! Since water movement impacts the color, a fountain or waterfall is a great place to add red or other vibrant colors due to the light prisms created by the water!
Green: The water will still look blue, but take on a relaxing tone with green tiles under the water and make your yard feel like a tropical escape!
Give your pool a playful feel with Glacier Aqua 1X1 Polished Glass Tiles!
Dark tones: Turn your pool into a mysterious, mirrored and moody aesthetic with darker tones – an ideal for a modern backyard. Mosaics in shades of iridescent black or dark green yield to a natural water style and color that’s similar to a high mountain river or lake! Dark colors inside a pool alter the depth perception making the water appear deeper too.
The color of your waterline pool tile has an impact on the visual perception of your pool water too. One approach is to use waterline colors that complement other aspects such as the coping, deck surface or the trim colors of their house. If you prefer to make the waterline the focal point, this is where glass mosaic tile is an especially good choice because of its eye-popping allure! Consider an iridescent glass mosaic tile which changes tones based on the angle of light. We promise that this ever-changing appearance adds additional beauty and interest to your pool and entire landscape!
We love the dazzling detail that Diamond Sky Glass Pebble Mosaic Tile adds - a perfect option to create an eye catching waterline, in any color that you choose!
Glass mosaic tiles that you pick for your waterline won’t completely change the color of your water, but will give it a jolt. This is because waterline glass tiles capture the sunlight and mirror the water’s movement. If you want the effect of that color in the entire pool, consider using the color for inlaid tiles instead.
Don’t forget about the coping!
We’ve covered the importance of the waterline and picking your pool coping is just as important! Coping tile is the one that adds function for swimmers when entering or exiting the pool - it provides a smooth grip for wet feet as they transition from the water to the pool surround and is essential to reduce slips and spills. Not only is this a crucial safety element when it comes to your pool design, but it is the finishing touch that ties together your outdoor living area!
When choosing your coping and patio tiles, making sure they are non-slip is an important safety factor. Outdoor-use porcelain tile is considered a slip-resistant material that can be safer than slick surfaces like wood or concrete.
This wood look Tribeca Miel porcelain pool deck is a seamless transition from the pool tile to the coping as a sturdy outdoor tile option!
Let Your Inner Artist Shine!
Underwater murals are your chance to let your inner artist shine under the water! Combining art with functionality, these custom tiles can be installed as waterline or wall decoration as well as at the bottom of the pool. If you love nature, bring the sea creatures inside the bottom of your pool to give your swimming pool a gorgeous statement. You can even add your own personal stamp to your pool by adding your favorite picture, your logo or a custom shape of your choice that will last a lifetime.
This custom flower pool mosaic tile makes the most creative statement to give your yard a stunning focal point!
You can also highlight the steps and benches by choosing from thousands of fish, mermaid or turtle murals to make your pool design stand out! This gorgeous backyard pool is the next best thing to a tropical resort vacation with an elaborate mosaic pattern of shells, coral, and sea creatures that feels like snorkeling through a turquoise ocean!
How to Clean Pool Tile -
Having a pool isn’t just swim-up margaritas and floating in the water - there’s maintenance and upkeep to consider. Choosing pool tiles that will be easy to clean is a great way to ensure you get the most enjoyment out of your pool! That means the tiles you choose need to stand up to sun, chemical treatments, organic build-up like algae, and cleaning practices like scrubbing and pressure washing.
One of the biggest questions is always what type of grout to use for swimming pool tile? Yes, pool tiles need to be grouted as well! Epoxy grout is the best choice for swimming pool tiles, as it is waterproof and highly durable - the right combination of tile and grout can ensure your pool will be in great shape for years!
However, some pool tiles, especially glazed and polished glass, benefit from having a hydrophobic (or water repellent) sealer applied before you add the water. This helps reduce water stains and calcium build up that can increase the need to clean your pool.
Home Depot provides a great Step by Step guide to ensuring your pool water is safe and clean, starting with testing to ensure
One of the most common pool cleaning issues is the buildup of calcium scale or deposits - that flaky white film that you can see in pools. It can dull your beautiful tiles, irritate your skin, and hard deposits can even cause clogs or damage or your pool filters. LayorCare offers a heavy calcium releaser treatment that can remove deposits while keeping the tile itself safe from rough cleaners! Other cleaners like Pool Time, Guardian Pool, and POOLIFE, are intended to keep your pool calcium free while maintaining the integrity of your tile and grout!
A pool scrubber or automatic pool cleaner like an Aquabot rover is also a good investment because you can largely set it and forget it - ensuring any algae or scale build up is scrubbed away without having to handle the brush yourself!
This is where the smooth surface of glass comes in especially handy - just as a glass tile backsplash or shower wall is easy to wipe down and keep clean of soap scum, your pool walls and floors will be a snap to clean as well!
When comparing your pool tile choices, look for important quality indicators first. Always check the areas of use for your preferred tile, as they have to withstand the regular heavy wear and pressure from swimming use.
Pretty is good, but safety is most important! You need to make sure that the tiles you install provide a firm grip to the feet, especially on the stairs inside the pool.
Installing pool tiles is a project you cannot embark on every year. Also to save on the repair costs, choosing tiles that come with a lifetime guarantee.
Get ready to step into your own personal paradise!
Choosing your pool tiles can be an enjoyable journey, but it can also be challenging when you learn how many options there are! Having considered all these factors above, we hope you now have a better picture of what may work for you. Whenever you’re ready to build your unique swimming pool, you can contact us and let us help you with your design!
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