How To Clean Pool Tile

Pool tile is a classy type of finish used in concrete pools. Clean and sparkling pool tiling forms the backbone of the decor of your pool. If maintained well, your pool tile can go a long way in keeping your pool looking new. This article will go over the types of build-up on pool tiling, how to clean stained pool tiles, and some steps you can take to prevent staining.

Main Takeaways

  • Two common types of calcium build-up are calcium carbonate and calcium silicate, both of which manifest as white residue on tiles.
  • Build-up usually occurs due to excessive levels of calcium in the water and high levels of heat.
  • Methods of cleaning calcified deposits range from scrubbing with a pumice stone, scrubbing with a brush, using cleaner solutions, and working in batches for areas with heavy build-up.
  • You can prevent the worst of such issues with properly balanced water chemistry.

Types of Build-Up On Tile

Build-up on pool tiles occurs for various reasons, such as excess calcium, hard water, scaling, or staining. The most common build-up is calcium; it manifests in two ways: calcium carbonate and calcium silicate.

Calcium carbonate causes white “scaling” on the pool tiles. This phenomenon occurs when water with high calcium levels evaporates naturally, leaving behind a chalky coat on your pool tiles. It builds up in layers as a residue on your pool tiles and, depending on the level of build-up, can be tricky to remove if left untreated.

On the other hand, calcium silicate occurs due to sand and results in a sharp, crystallized residue. This can be caused by overly high pH or alkalinity levels in your pool water and is considered to be more difficult to remove.

Staining also occurs due to a general chemical imbalance, an algae infestation, or an accumulation of organic material such as dirt, leaves, or other debris left unchecked in the pool water.

Step-By-Step Guide: How To Clean Pool Tile

When tackling build-up related to calcium carbonate and silicate, it is best to arm yourself with a pumice stone and follow the steps below.

Step One: Assess The Damage

Scrap a sample of the residue or build-up from your pool’s tiling and consult a professional on the nature of the sample. Depending on whether it is an early sign of algae infestation, calcium carbonate, or calcium silicate, you can decide what steps to take next accordingly.

Step Two: Lower The Water Level

If needed, lower the water level until you reach the pool surface’s stained area.

Step Three: Use A Pumice Stone

Get a product especially sold for pool tile cleanings, such as a soft stain eraser or wet pumice stone. Rub the pumice stone or stain eraser gently over the build-up in circular motions. Removing calcium silicate is best done using this method. Work in small sections and remember that while using a pumice stone might be inexpensive, it is pretty labor-intensive and can be tiring.

Step Four: Use A Cleaning Solution

For more stubborn build-up, dilute some vinegar with water, soak a small rag or handkerchief with the solution and scrub it over the tile uniformly. Alternatively, you could use a pool brush.

Other Methods To Clean Pool Tile

Of course, using a pumice stone and vinegar are not the only options to clean your pool tiles. There are plenty of other solutions that may also be suited to help you get rid of those pesky stains.

Pressure Wash

Opt for pressure washing for a cleaning method that is easily applicable over a mass area. But remember that this is best done by a professional team since incorrectly applied pressure can damage or cause cracks in pool tiles.

Acid Wash

Try acid washing for excessive staining, general discoloration, and algae build-up. To acid wash, apply a diluted muriatic acid solution on the pool surfaces. Make sure you wear proper protective gear when handling acid. And always ensure that you dilute the acid by pouring the acid into the water, and not the other way around.

Keep The Pool Clean Of Debris 

The best way to clean your pool tile is to prevent it from staining in the first place. You should have a pool maintenance schedule that involves cleaning your pool, testing your water chemistry, and keeping it free of debris daily. This will lessen the chances of accumulation on pool tiles. It’s also a good practice to thoroughly deep clean the pool every now and then to keep it in pristine condition.

Brush Your Pool Regularly

Another prevention method is brushing your pool regularly. Brush the entire surface of your pool from top to bottom, shallow to deep, in uniform strokes towards the drainage area of the pool. Regular brushing of the pool’s surface discourages most forms of build-up in your pool.

Tips For Cleaning The Waterline

Most staining on your pool tiles will occur on the waterline. So, here are my top tips for cleaning the waterline if you’re having particular trouble dealing with this issue.

Clean Regularly

I cannot stress this enough. Cleaning is essential to prevent issues from occurring in the first place. And as soon as you notice any kind of staining or discoloration on the waterline, clean it! It is better to clean small levels of build-up rather than a large amount of scaling, which may require an acid wash. As a general rule, clean your waterline once every month or, at the bare minimum, clean the tiles at the beginning and the end of the pool season.

Brush Tiles

When cleaning the pools and dealing with calcium carbonate, use a stiff brush to clear the build-up. Brush in quick, circular motions. And in smaller areas, use a toothbrush or a pumice stone to scrub away the layers. While it may be time-consuming, work in small sections and ensure each area is thoroughly cleaned.

Use Patch Tests And Protective Gear

When using harsh and acidic products, do patch tests on a small area of the pool’s walls or consult an expert before cleaning waterline pool tiles to be safe. Wear protective gear and test the water’s chemical balance before using the pool again.

Get My Free Pool Care Checklist

Download my free, printable pool maintenance checklist to help you accomplish regular pool care tasks for any type of swimming pool.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long does pool tile last?

Pool tiling longevity depends on the make and model of the same. But generally, most pool tiles will last somewhere between 5 to 10 years. And as with most other pool materials, the lifespan of your pool tiling also depends heavily on how you look after it. To ensure the longevity of your investment, look after your pool tiles by regularly cleaning and brushing them. And make sure to use acid washing as a last resort.

Can you use vinegar to clean pool tiles?

Yes, vinegar is a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly solution for simple build-ups and mild staining. You can use it as a way to maintain your pool tiles or when you are dealing with mild build-up or staining. It’s a great way to keep your tiles free of bacteria and keep them clean and sparkling.

Can you clean the pool tile without draining the pool?

Yes. Most build-up on pool tiles will occur on the waterline. So, more likely than not, you will not need to completely drain your pool to scrub those stains. However, to really get rid of those stains and discolorations, you may need to drain your pool a bit. With that said, if you are dealing with stubborn stains and a lot of build-up, I recommend acid washing your pool, which does require you to drain your pool beforehand.

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