Tile Choice on a Fiberglass Pool: A Very Important Decision
Note: This is a guest post from Bob Ault, the man I consider ‘The Father of Fiberglass Pool Tiling’. For quite some time now, I’ve been pestering Bob about contributing a guest post here to our blog because I know he’s informed, opinionated, and GREAT at what he does. Over the past few years Bob and I have developed a friendship stemming from our desire to help elevate the education and information levels in the fiberglass pool industry. Despite the fact that we may disagree on a few points here or there, I truly believe Bob is one of the great ones in this industry and feel honored to have his thoughts on our platform here at River Pools.
To Tile or Not to Tile?
Are you interested in having tile on your fiberglass pool? You might hear this statement: “You don’t need tile.” I agree with that statement. I also agree with this statement: “You don’t need a fiberglass pool.” It’s all a matter of choice for you to make.
If you have decided to purchase a fiberglass pool and you are debating the question of tile, here are some things to consider.
1. Tile is more than an aesthetic addition. Body oils, dirt and mineral deposits will accumulate at the water line on your pool. The surface of your pool can be damaged by constant scrubbing or exposure to caustic substances. Hard bisque tile and silicone rubber grout can withstand this treatment.
2. Tile should not be installed at the factory where your pool is manufactured. Factory tile will be level with the lip of the pool. No installer can guarantee that your pool will be 100% level. The best installers in the country will be at least ½ in. out of level. This means that your tile will be ½ in. out of level. Your tile should be installed after the pool is in the ground and at least ¾ full of water.
3. You are probably dealing with an ethical contractor if he or she tries to talk you out of tile. They don’t want to sell a job function they don’t feel comfortable with. Do your research if your contractor tells you they can tile your pool. More than half of the fiberglass pool installers that say they can tile, do not know how to tile a fiberglass pool properly.
Never pick a contractor because they say they can install tile on your pool. Choose the contractor that you have researched and feel comfortable with. You have other options when it comes to tiling the pool.
The tile choice is your next decision. The color and the pattern are not the most important factors. The configuration of the tile will determine the final appearance. Will it fit properly on your pool? One of the beautiful features of a fiberglass pool is the variety of shapes available. We have 154 different pool models listed in our files. This is a general statement that will apply to most of these models. No pattern piece should exceed 2 inches in width. Some of the models can accept 3 inches in width and a very small number can accept 6 inches in width. I recommend that you stay with the 2 inch rule to be safe.
You’ve decided that you want tile, but the price is too high or the contractor doesn’t want to do it. You can do it yourself. Some of the best installations I’ve ever seen were done by homeowners. The right materials and the proper instructions can make this task easy. I can tile the most difficult pool in 4 hours or less, because I have personally tiled more than 5000 fiberglass pools. It will take you 2 days.