Pool Tile Design Ideas, Types, and Pros & Cons of Each

Written by Michael Dean
January 16, 2024

swimming pool tile with a pros and cons checklist

Tile is a really popular option for many pool owners to install in and around your pool. It can be a good option for the shell of the pool, as an accent on the walls, or around the deck. Any way you look at it, I’ll walk through all the main benefits of putting tile in your pool, some watch-outs, design inspiration, and some tips for installing tile in your swimming pool. Ready? Let’s get started.

Main Benefits

Here are some primary benefits of tile over other finish options.

Aesthetic Appeal

This is entirely in the eyes of the beholder, but for some prospective pool owners, the shine and vibrant color of the tile can be a more attractive option. There are a lot of color combinations, sizes, and configurations you can choose from for a unique design (more on that below). For others who want more of a rugged or matte look, tile may not be the best option.

Easier to Clean

Tile is typically easier to clean than exposed pool plaster, which can be a plus for some pool owners. It is a lot easier to wipe away dirt, grime, mold, and any pink slime or other bacteria that may accumulate in the pool. Although, if that happens, you may want to look at your pool maintenance routine. Read my article on how to clean pool tile for more tips.


Tiles are widely regarded as one of the more durable options for pool finishes. Even if a few tiles chip or break, you only have to replace that section of the pool finish, vs. resurfacing the whole pool, which you’ll need to do with aggregate or plaster every ten years or so. Granted, your tile will become pretty outdated every ten years, but from a repairs standpoint, it can be less of a headache in some situations.

Watch Outs

The main potential downside with a tile finish is cost. If you go the route of ceramic tiles, they can be an affordable option for lining the walls or stairs of your pool. However, glass pool tile will be more expensive and likely cost more than a plaster or aggregate pool finish.

Types of Pool Tile

There are a few main types of pool tiles, each of which I have some design samples below.


Ceramic tiles are the least expensive option and are generally used in many commercial pools that you see at hotels, gyms, and other establishments. Because they are ceramic, these tiles can be designed into any color or pattern you want, so style versatility is pretty broad. The only downside is they look the cheapest among other types of tiles, which can take away from some of the aesthetics around your swimming pool.


Glass mosaic tiles are typically the most expensive of all types of pool tiles, but are also quite elegant and versatile in terms of design. If you’re looking for a lot of shine and a modern, elegant feel, glass is definitely the way to go.


Stone pool tiles like slate, sandstone, travertine, granite, and others are great options, particularly for the pool deck or patio. If you’re looking for a more natural vibe, I recommend using some stone.

Pool Tile Design Ideas

roman style swimming pool with tile

Here is a swimming pool I built where I used tile underneath the columns and pool coping to give it a unique Roman bath aesthetic.

fish mosaic and tile in a swimming pool

I love the mix of tile and plaster finish in this pool I installed for a client. The fish imagery is cool, too.

pool with bridge and wooden deck

Here, I’m use tile as an accent underneath a central platform in the swimming pool.

Here you see an intricate glass mosaic tile design around the spa area, although with more subdued colors than some of the other pool tile design ideas on my list.

Photo credit: Lightstreams All Glass Pool Tile

These blues, purples, and greens really shine in the sunlight. This is a great option to mimic if you want a vibrant dark blue color.

The combination of textures here with the stone and tile make for a unique look that really pops.

Photo credit: championpools.com

Tile is more of an accent on this pool, the spa, and the stairs. I also really like the stone coping on the deck.

Two different types of tile here, but this is what the “blues” look like, with all different shades.

A very vibrant glass mosaic tile design that covers the entire pool shell.

Photo credit: bestpooltiles.com

Here, the builders got more creative with a custom design surrounded by stone on the deck.

Photo credit: Tile Outlets of America

Here is a good look at a pretty typical design trend of tile above the waterline.

Photo credit: Next Luxury

And lastly, I really like the diagonal tile configuration in this pool, making for a very unique feel.

Installing Pool Tile

Installing mosaic tiles and new coping is a tough job to DIY – you’ll definitely want a pool builder for this job and be thinking about it during the initial design phase.

For an existing pool, a tiling upgrade can take about a week or two, depending on the contractor you go with. New pools should follow the typical 6-8 week time frame, depending on the type of swimming pool you are installing.

For upgrades, the pool first needs to be drained. Then the pool shell needs to be cleaned, which the professional you hire should do for you. After that, your tile is ready to install.

Like I said earlier, if you are building a new pool and want to incorporate tile, talk with your pool builder when you are scoping out design requirements and tell them about your color preferences, pattern preferences, and provide examples if you can.

Need Help Building Your Pool?

I offer design consulting services to help you build your ideal pool. I'll work with your contractor, create build-ready designs and specs, and much more.

Have any questions on pool tile designs? Let me know; happy to help. Be sure to check out all of my advice on pool designs too.

Scroll to Top