Using Ceramic Tiles in Swimming Pools…

Although we explained the inherent risks associated with using Ceramic Tiles in Swimming Pools, we just wanted to make you were the beneficiary of everything that we have experienced about this decision, prior to moving forward with its application.

We also realize that some suppliers and others may promote this but, we can’t guarantee that Ceramic products will hold up, because of our experience with Ceramic Products failing in a pool’s continually changing and irregularly managed water chemistry environment.

We’re hopeful that you can appreciated our efforts at bringing this to your attention and understand that these efforts are geared toward maintaining a lasting relationship, where the longevity and integrity of our work being constructed will provide you our Client with a lasting meaningful value.

When choosing to use Ceramic Tiles in swimming pools please refer to the following AIA Publication as offering further explanation:

Installation of Ceramic Tile in Swimming Pools, AIA/CES Seminar Outline © 2000 Richard P. Goldberg AIA, CSI

PRO’S AND CON’S Intl 3

  • Effects of moisture expansion
  • Product moisture absorption rate
  • Temperature and humidity effects thermal and moisture differentials
  • Delaminate from excessive differential movement
  • Does not withstand swimming pool chemical attack
  • Pigments color attack discolor when exposed to ultraviolet rays
  • Significant differential / Drying shrinkage, adhesion
  • Roughness or need periodic replacement / repair
  • Joint thermal or moisture movement
  • Gradual exposure to water pressure


Excerpt from report:

“Chlorine uses and depletes calcium during the disinfection process; calcium balance is essential to prevent calcium depletion and deterioration of cement mortars and grouts C. Water balance-the balance of the water is primarily responsible for problems with maintenance of ceramic tiled swimming pools. Acidity, alkalinity and the amounts of mineral salts (water hardness) in swimming pool water must be kept in balance to prevent, among other things, contamination and deterioration of Portland cement based grouts, adhesive mortars, and leveling plasters.

1. pH value -The term pH is used to measure balance between acidity and alkalinity of water on a scale of 0-14, with 7 indicating a balanced or neutral state. Swimming pool water needs to maintained between a pH of 7.2 & 7.8. If pH is too high (alkaline), mineral deposits will form on tile and grout, especially at the waterline. Mineral deposits may also form beneath the surface of ceramic tiles and exert pressure resulting in decreased bond strength or delamination. If pH is too low (acidic), etching and deterioration of Portland cement based materials will occur. If this condition persists, grout may become rough or completely deteriorated, leading to further deterioration of adhesive mortar and leveling mortars beneath the tile.

2. Mineral content (calcium hardness) -water hardness or the amount of calcium is defined as the quantity of dissolved minerals (calcium) in water. If the level of calcium is too low (below 200-250 ppm, pool water will use the free calcium present in cement grout, leading to deterioration and etching. Balancing minerals (calcium) will also reduce mineral deposits on ceramic tiles, grout, as well as prevents deposits and corrosion of pool plumbing.

3. Total Alkalinity -measures the amount of carbonates in the pool water, which are buffering agents that control pH. Low total alkalinity results in an acidic condition and unstable pH levels, resulting in corrosive effect on cement materials. 4. Metal content -Iron and copper are common metals occurring in source water. At low pH (acidic below 7.2) metals are in solution. At normal pH (7.2-7.8), metals are out of solution. Dissolved metals can be deposited as a stain on ceramic tile, grout, and pool fittings/ fixtures.”