Finishing a swimming pool with waterline tiles instead of tiling the entire interior is a popular choice. It is not only aesthetically pleasing, it is also a cost-effective option. However, dirty waterline tiles can ruin the entire appearance of your pool and make swimming a whole lot less appealing.
Cleaning dirty waterline tiles comes hand in hand with pool ownership. The waterline is where the pool water meets the tile edge and it’s prone to getting grimy and discolored over time. If you’re not hiring a pool maintenance team to blast your waterline tiles clean, here are a few strategies to help you keep your tiles spotless all year round.
What is building up on your waterline tiles?
Waterline tiles are often subjected to scale or stains building up on the surface. Staining can occur due to a chemical imbalance or as a result of organic material such as leaves and soil clinging on to the surface for an extended period of time.
When the pool water naturally evaporates, calcium deposits can attach to the sides. This calcium scaling will appear as a white-gray colored scum and can be problematic to remove. Generally speaking, there are two types of scaling you may find on your waterline pool tiles:
1. Calcium Carbonate
If you have calcium carbonate scaling on your pool tiles it will appear as a flaky white crust on the surface. This will bubble up if you apply muriatic acid to the area. Calcium carbonate is fairly easy to remove with a pumice stone or a stain eraser.
2. Calcium Silicate
Calcium silicate is the more difficult types of scaling to remove and will appear as a white-gray scum. Unlike calcium carbonate, silicate won’t react to the muriatic acid when applied. This type of scaling is best removed with a pumice stone and a whole lot of elbow grease.
Find out more about calcium scaling here.
Removing stains and scaling from waterline tiles
Depending on the type of stain and scaling as well as how long you’ve left it to build up, cleaning your waterline tiles shouldn’t be too tricky but it can be time-consuming. For those with extensive discoloration on the surface, you may be better off working in small increments at a time. This will help minimize the amount of grime and algae accumulating in your pool at any one time.
Here are some steps you can take to clean your waterline tiles:
1. Clean up any organic materials
Clean away any organic material or debris that has built up on the surface such as soil, leaves or grass clippings. You can do this by hand or with a vacuum to speed up the process.
2. Brush your waterline tiles
Using a stiff brush, clean away the calcium carbonate working quickly in circulating movements. If the buildup is minimal and you are working in smaller areas, you can also try a toothbrush which is gentle on glass tiles.
3. Use a cleaner
In cases where your dirt and grime is only minimal, you can use homemade cleaners as such vinegar with water, baking soda and vinegar, toothpaste or even dish soap to remove the deposits.
For tough stains or calcium silicate scaling, you’ll need to clean the area using a pumice stone. To prevent scratching, it is important to work gently and keep the tiles and the pumice stone wet while you are scrubbing.
If these stains are proving to be too stubborn, you may need to use a commercial tile cleaner, stain eraser or a sulfamic acid based cleaning product. These are very harsh, acidic cleaning chemicals and should be used with caution. Always test on a small patch of your tile or speak with your supplier before applying. Wear protective gloves and ensure you wait a few days before using your pool.
4. Try soda blasting
If you have been unsuccess at removing the stains from tiles waterline tiles, you can try soda blasting. This technique is recommended over salt or glass bead blasting for waterline glass tiles and involves blasting baking soda out of a high-pressure nozzle.
This method of cleaning is typically a task for professionals, so consider consulting with a team before you try a DIY job.
Preventative measures for clean waterline tiles
Keeping your pool free of debris by regularly vacuuming and cleaning the surface is one of the best preventative measures you can take to avoiding grime and scaling on your waterline tiles.
Weekly pool maintenance cleaning tips can be found here.
Reducing the water level slighting to give your waterline tiles a thorough brush down at the start of every swimming season will also be beneficial.
Staining and algae growth can cause damage to your waterline tiles. Maintaining your pool chemicals at the optimal levels will help minimize and prevent long-term damage. This is irrespective of whether you own a saltwater or chlorine pool.
By regularly cleaning your pool and addressing any stains or scaling as they occur you can avoid the timely and expensive exercise of replacing and retiling the waterline of your pool.