Many in-ground pools feature beautiful, multi-colored ceramic or glass tiles that look great if kept clean and well-maintained. But if the tiles aren’t maintained, they can become stained or covered in buildup. Fortunately, you can take some quick, easy steps to clean the tile and bring it back to its original luster.
But before we talk about how to clean that tile, let’s get some basics out of the way.
There are several types of buildup that can be caused by calcium, heat, hard water, and stains. Calcium buildup is the most common and comes in two forms. The first, calcium carbonate, deposits a fine film over the pool tiles and leaves behind a residue that builds up in layers. If you clean your tile regularly, it should come off the tile easily. If it builds up, acidic solutions can take care of it. The second type of calcium buildup, calcium silicate, is made up of sand which produces a sharp and crystalized buildup caused by high pH and calcium levels. It requires more intensive methods of cleaning.
Calcium buildup is a white and scaly buildup caused by high pH or alkalinity levels in your pool water. This causes calcium carbonate to separate from the water and stick to the pool tile.
You should choose a pool cleaning brush designed for your type of swimming pool. For instance, if the tile is in a plaster pool, you can use a pumice stone or a hard bristled brush. However, for a fiberglass pool, accidentally brushing the liner with a hard brush can cause damage. For this reason, it is best to use a textured, soft sponge on your water line tile in fiberglass pools.
Cleaning pool tile is easy and should be a regular part of any well-rounded pool maintenance routine. It will not only extend the life of your tile but also reduce the lifetime maintenance costs because you won’t have to replace tile pieces as often. Most stains and buildup can be cleaned similarly.
To clean your pool tile this way, you will need vinegar, fresh tap or hose water, and a pool brush. Start by mixing the water with the vinegar and then use it to gently scrub each tile with the brush. In cases where the tile is regularly cleaned, this is likely enough to keep your pool tile sparkling.
You’ll find cleaning products sold specifically for cleaning pool tile. To rid your tile of calcium buildup, look for stain erasers made from soft abrasives that remove the hard substance from your tile. For concrete pools, you can use a wet pumice stone on the wet tile for a similar effect. Other tile cleaning products are chemical-based and can dissolve calcium scale or buildup when applied directly to the dirty tile. Check your pool supply store for specialized products.
If vinegar or store-bought cleaning products don’t work, the next step is to use a mixture of muriatic acid and water. You will find muriatic acid at your local pool store. Be sure to wear gloves and be careful when using the acid because it can cause burns and irritation if it comes in contact with your eyes or skin.
You can also use a pressure washer to remove stubborn stains or buildup. If you don’t have one, you can rent one from a local hardware store. It’s important to ensure that your tile is in good shape before using the pressure washer because loose tiles can become dislodged during the process.
If you can’t get your pool tile clean with any of the above methods, it might be time to schedule a pool maintenance appointment with a local pool technician. They have expertise and experience—along with a few tricks up their sleeves—and will use it to help solve the problem. Many local pool companies offer this service as a one-time appointment.
By taking proactive steps to keep your pool tile clean, washing and vacuuming it may be all you need to do to keep it looking refreshed and inviting. Ideally, this will be a part of your weekly cleaning routine. As with other types of cleaning tasks, the more often you do it, the less time and effort it will take you!