The 3-Part System for Successful Pool Tile Installations

Tiling a pool is a great way to enhance a property and adds value by showcasing intricate detail and design. In fact, according to Bankrate, a pool can increase a home value by 5-8%. Not only are tiled pools beautiful, they require very little maintenance compared to plaster or aggregate pools. An accent band can be added to the waterline, or the entire tank shell can be tiled with stunning results.

Whether you tile the whole pool or only a portion, using the proper products from start to finish is key to a successful installation. However, it is very important that the pool is well maintained. Poorly kept pools can deter future homebuyers.

Here are the products and steps to take to ensure your pool tile will perform well and endure with long-lasting beauty:

Part 1:  Crack Isolation and Waterproofing

The first step in preparing the pool for tile is to waterproof and prevent concrete cracks. TEC® recommends Triple Flex™, which is a cementitious crack isolation and waterproof membrane that should be installed directly onto the concrete shell. The unique cementitious waterproofing of Triple Flex allows it to be used under a latex-modified mud bed of Floor Mud mixed with Xtra Flex. The additive mixed in with the floor mud strengthens the mixture and allows substrate flatness requirements to be achieved. For any tile that has all edges under 15 inches long, the requirements are as follows: no more than 1/4” substrate variation in 10’ and no more than 1/8” substrate variation in 2’. For any tile that has at least one edge over 15 inches long, the requirements are twice as strict: no more than 1/8” in 10’ and no more than 1/16” in 2’. After the latex-modified mortar bed is complete, a second layer of waterproofing is required using HydraFlex™ membrane. HydraFlex has twice the crack isolation properties as leading competitors and will provide a watertight membrane. Two coats of 25 mils wet thickness are required.

Part 2: Select the Right Mortar

When choosing a mortar to set your pool tile, remember to think about the size of the tile. If all edges of the tile are under 15 inches, the TEC recommends its Super Flex mortar. Super Flex exceeds the strictest requirements of ANSI A118.15 American National Standard Specifications for Improved Modified Dry-Set Cement Mortar. When mixed per data sheet instructions, Super Flex has unsurpassed bond strength while also being flexible enough to handle 1/16” in-plane movement of the tile. It is also the preferred option for all glass mosaic tiles. However, if at least one edge of the tile is over 15 inches, 3N1® is the preferred mortar for pool installations. 3N1 also exceeds the strict requirements of ANSI A118.15 and is ideal for installing large and heavy tile (LHT) on floors and walls. It has excellent non-sag and non-slump properties that make installing much easier.

Part 3:  Fill the Joints with Grout and Sealant

When choosing a grout to finish the pool tile installation, Power Grout® is the premier solution for all submerged applications. It is a premium cementitious grout that can be used in joints as small as 1/16” and as large as 1/2”. Power Grout is crack and shrink resistant, stain-proof, and efflorescence free. It requires no sealing and exceeds the requirements of ANSI A118.7 American National Standard Specifications for High Performance Cement Grouts for Tile Installation when mixed according to the product data sheet instructions. It is very important that you do not overwater. Doing so will weaken the grout. If you are looking for a complete chemical resistant, 100% solids epoxy grout, AccuColor EFX® is the preferred solution. It exceeds ANSI A118.3 Specifications for Epoxy Mortar and Grout when mixed according to product data sheet instructions. AccuColor EFX has superior UV stability which reduces yellowing. But be cautious, you’ll want to avoid allowing AccuColor EFX to harden on the tiles. Once hardened it will be very difficult or impossible to remove. Finally, any change of plane or movement joints must be filled in with sealant. AccuColor 100® is a 100% silicone sealant that allows for 25% compression AND 25% expansion. It also offers permanent flexibility and is resistant to weather. All movement joints are specified in the TCNA Handbook section EJ171 and must be honored throughout the entire installation.

Just remember, while there are many products that you will need to complete the full pool tile installation, TEC has you covered. From cementitious waterproofing to silicone sealant, we can help make your pool installation both functional and beautiful. For an extensive guide to pool and water feature tile installations, please review our Installation Guide or talk to an expert directly at (800) 832-9023.

Posted by
TEC Staff