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Pool Tile Selection

When it comes to tile and coping design options, the pool industry has experienced exponential growth in the past decade. Of course, it’s always changing, but as technology continues to move us forward, it increases our options increase. Consider pool tile, for instance. Just a few decades ago, our options moved from 6x6 glazed tile and unglazed porcelains to a wide variety of glazed porcelains with nice color palates and some interesting shapes and sizes. (Of course, glass mosaics have always been in the mix but nothing like we see in today’s market.) Flash forward to today and the options are mindboggling … and absolutely stunning. Incredible porcelains, glass mosaics, large format glass, stone of all types and sizes, and those are just the tile options. New and innovative materials for coping are hitting the market as well. What a blessing … and a burden!!!

The blessing of course is the extraordinarily beautiful pool and landscape designs we see popping up every day. And the burden is in making decisions as to whether or not some of these materials can survive the harsh conditions of a chemically treated, submerged environment, to say nothing about constant thermal changes.

Along with numerous tile and coping decisions are a multitude of great installation materials to choose from. High performance thinsets and grouts, synthetic systems, numerous waterproofing products, bumper to bumper installation systems; what used to be so simple has become so complex, or so it seems. The importance of a good installation goes without saying, as any good quality pool tile can fail with poor installation and curing practices, especially when working in extreme conditions. Conversely, the best systems and installation practices can still lead to failure with improperly manufactured tile, odds that go up significantly with glass tile, and exponentially with translucent glass.

Whether you’re coming from the perspective of a designer, landscape architect, supplier, manufacturer, builder, or installer, it’s becoming more and more evident, and important, that we realize the gravity of our responsibilities. The key is doing our due diligence in researching material performance for the intended use. And pools can be among the most caustic environments in the building industry.

What’s interesting is that as the product selection options increase, so do the entities vying for position to specify those products, and the one who absorbs the brunt of the responsibility for a long-lasting quality installation, the installer, is generally at the bottom of the list when it comes to decisions on material selection.

See Who’s Making the Pool Tile Selection?