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There is no need to get into hot water when tiling a swimming pool

Martin Pouncey and Alan Collins, technical training managers at Instarmac, provide a simple guide to the complicated job of tiling a swimming pool

Ok, so we know you aren’t going to be tiling a swimming pool every day of the week, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared for the future. It would be a shame to turn away a project such as this because you don’t feel comfortable tiling the area.

Follow our simple guide to make light work of tiling swimming pools or permanently wet areas.
As some of you might be aware, swimming pool construction is governed by BS 8007: Code of Practice for Design of Concrete Structures for Retaining Liquids. This standard clarifies how such constructions must be carried out and how to test for water tightness.

As far as fixing tiles is concerned, you must confirm that the swimming pool construction has been carried out correctly and thoroughly tested before any tiling begins. There are also some basic time frame principles you should be aware of:

  • The construction itself must have had a minimum 6 weeks to cure and harden
  • Any further renders or screeds used must have had a minimum of 3 weeks to cure
  • Tiles should be fixed and allowed to fully cure before grouting – usually a minimum of 3 days
  • The construction must then be left for a minimum of 3 weeks before water is introduced (no greater than a depth of 750mm per day)

The methods used to create a watertight construction can differ. It’s important that you check the surface to be tiled is suitable to receive a cementitious tile adhesive and has been prepared correctly. Remove laitance from the renders or screeds and clean off any mould release agents that may have been used when building the shell – power washing is often good enough to prepare the surface.

Although adhesives and grouts normally used to tile a swimming pool are classified as water-resistant, it’s important to remember that this does not mean they will prevent water from passing through. This only means that they will retain their strength and adhesion when fully immersed. If a waterproof grout is required, or it’s known that aggressive chemicals are going to be used to clean the pool, or power wave machines are incorporated in the design, then we would advise you use an epoxy grout.

When it comes to choosing the tiles, we recommend low absorbency tile, ideally with less than 0.5% absorption. Absorbent surfaces should be allowed to dry and then primed using ProPrimer.
Dilute the primer 1 part to 3 parts water and allow to dry. Tiles must be fixed using a highly modified cementitious adhesive in accordance with EN 12004, and capable of constant immersion. It is essential that a full bed adhesion without any voids is created. and we would always recommend you tile to a 3mm bed depth.

If movement joints are required, you can check out BS 5385 for further information, or, of course, contact us and we will talk you through this and any other stage of the tiling installation.

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