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Old 12-12-2006, 09:13 PM   #1
Mike In AZ
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Pool Tile Help

I'm attaching pictures of some tiles that were damaged by my 3 little cherubs. The way the mortar looks behind the vertical tiles looks funny in terms of it being a round circle versus actual grooved mortar, which I guess I'm used to seeing on flat surfaces. The small tiles on the top at the edge of the spillover were damaged once before and re-set, but the vertical tile damage is new. I haven't allowed the water to overflow from the spa into the pool since this happened, which was yesterday. I have a few questions:

How would I re-set the tiles (thinset, mastic, etc.) for a pool ?

Maybe take all the tiles off the top 2 rows and re-set them since there might be more damage I can't see and/or come up with some sort of intermittent single mosiac 6x6 tile throughout the tile field ?

Does anyone know of a decent pool tile company in the Phoenix metro area that I can take some tiles with me and try to match the color ?

The good news is I received my Felker TM-75 this past week at that killer price ! Thanks folks.
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Old 12-13-2006, 08:40 AM   #2
bathroomremodeler
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Mike,

I admit, I have no pool experience (I do bathrooms), but would know to tell you to stay away from mastic. Using thinset ... possibly with an additive would be the way to go. You may want to pick at the rest of the tiles to see if they are in trouble or not.

I would be surprised if you could match exactly the colors of the replacement tiles, but give it a try. If not, then you could consider mosaic.

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Old 12-13-2006, 09:52 AM   #3
nforcer2
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use a premium thinset that is already modified. even though it is above the water line you dont have to worry about reemulcification.never ever use mastic around water! better yet, never ever use mastic at all. not sure about your tile issue.
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Old 12-13-2006, 10:08 AM   #4
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looks like the tiles were installed with the doughnut trick which is putting a circle of thinset on the back off the tile leaving it empty in middle then when tile is squished into place it forms a suction bond as the air is forced out,holding vertical tile in place,thats why you see the round section of thinset left under the tile.
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Old 12-13-2006, 10:11 AM   #5
Shaughnn
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Hello Mike,
I set a lot of pool tile early in my career. The vertical tile were "spot set" so that the installer could press them into the arc of the spillway. It's a very large tile for a curved spillway, so I can understand his method though I wouldn't have used it myself.
Chip away the setting mortar at the vertical tiles and take a good look at it. Is there sand mixed into the mortar or is the grain very fine. Often, pool tile is set with a bed of "pure" cement over a brown coat of mortar. It looks to me though that your tile was set with thinset. An inspection will confirm either for your own knowledge. It looks to me that the two tiles under the spillway (left side if you are facing it) are loose and will be coming away eventually. Give them a wiggle and see if they don't move.
You'll need to scrape away the old mortar under the absent tiles. Grey Versabond will work here, though you may have trouble matching grout joints without spacers. For the arc of the spillway, set a course of tile in place with a teeny bit of extra mortar and use a strap (rope, belt, garden hose, etc.) to compress the tiles into a smooth arc. The clean them up and install the spacers. For the spillway itself, you should be able to backbutter the 2" tiles and set them into a burn-coat of thinset. Use a flat piece of wood to press the tiles into the original plane of the spillway. This is going to be your most critical area as the flow of water over the spillway will depend on your precision.
Grouting pool tile can be done with a store-bought grout but most all of the pool work I've done involved mixing it from scratch using Portland cement (white or natural) and 100-grit white silica sand or Dolomite.
Best of luck,
Shaughnn
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Old 12-13-2006, 11:26 AM   #6
stonemason777
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I would have personally preferred the dolomite! Try a pool up here - you have to really know what you are doing. My first trade barter job was an outdoor jacuzzi/pool and it had the same spillway!
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Old 12-13-2006, 11:28 AM   #7
Shaughnn
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Sean,
Whether Dolomite was used or not depended on the effect desired. Dolomite has a nicer reflective quality but is a more coarse grain.
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Old 12-13-2006, 04:21 PM   #8
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Tec

Tec has some really NICE products for pools. Here, we usually straight admix with the superflex. Guaranteed!!!! Especially with that tile. Unfortunately we have only half the year to do such work so usually I sell the sealant/caulk jobs with it if I'm there a couple of days. Grout - well, as I said - personally I prefer the dolomite but grout does contain all properties and modifications to perform as well and even better.

Nice pool by the way.
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Old 12-13-2006, 04:33 PM   #9
Mike In AZ
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Awesome Shaughnn. Great advice. Those 2 inch tiles on top (not the ones over the edge obviously), are they pre-made that size or is it a matter of cutting 6x6's down to size ? Also, the 2x2's hanging over the edge have a bullnose on them obviously for the effect, and that's my problem. The kids get carried away and somehow grab the edges, and up they go. Are there alternatives to putting bullnose tiles that small over the edge ? Maybe slightly larger ones that can handle it a little better, or a different kind of spillway that has a one piece design that won't get destroyed as quickly ? That might be a custom design issue, and more expensive.

Thanks Sean, and yes it is a pretty cool pool (literally right now-at 58 degrees). I need to drain it to get the water hardness down and re-treat the water, and that might be when I try this project because there ain't no way I'm getting into that water now. Seems it will be easier to do the strap technique Shaughnn mentioned if I'm almost at eye level versus working above it. I already lost my cellphone bending over the pool to collect the lost tiles !
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Old 12-13-2006, 04:39 PM   #10
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Mike,
The entire spillway can be removed down to the gunite shell and the reconstructed with whatever spillway material you would like. If you want to replace the blue bullnosed 2" porcelain tile, you shouldn't have too much trouble finding something comparable, but you'll need to contact swimming pool contractors to get the best selection. For some reason, not many tile showrooms stock or show swimming pool tile. It's kind of a specialty product, but there really is oodles to choose from once you locate a source.
The 2"x6" tiles at the spillway were cut down from 6" field tiles.
Best of luck,
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Old 12-13-2006, 08:31 PM   #11
Mike In AZ
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I took one more photo of the back of some tiles, some of the mortar I took off behind the tiles (lower left), and a few pieces of the grout (lower right). The mortar used to set the tiles has white on top, but definitely looks more like regular cement underneath it as I chipped it off. How can the 2 exist like that ? The grout is not coarse like what the dolomite was described as.

Shaughnn, assuming I can get the old mortar off, what method would you use to set the tile ? It seems the doughnut method as it was described leaves some air pockets along the corners. Once I get the mortar chipped off, do I trowel a bed of mortar to make it solid all across, or backbutter each tile and push it on again like it seems was done ? I also checked more tiles, and more were loose as you suspected. There's about 8-10 vertical tiles off now. Thanks.
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Old 12-13-2006, 09:45 PM   #12
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Mike,
When your pool was built, it happened in stages. First, the rebar shell was sot with gunite (a very dry cement mix) and trowel to the rough shape. Then, your tile and coping folks come in and the gunite shell is leveled by building up the low spots with mortar. Here is when your coping is installed, or in your case, the salt-finish decks are poured. The tile guys then burn a "brown coat" into the gunite shell where the tile will be going, beneath the coping. This creates a plumb and smooth surface for the tile to be set to and the tile is set immediately into the brown coat so that the bottoms can be trimmed off cleanly. The tile is then grouted. This is also the time that they build out the spillway and tile it. Finally, the plaster folks come in and work their plaster right up to the finished tile and before they leave they throw water hoses into the bottom of the pool to start filling it up.
If you are seeing layers of different mortar on the back of your tile, it's because it's pulled away some of the brown coat or even the gunite with the thinset. That's a very strong bond, similar to a weld! It says good things about the timing of the tile crew, especially in the Arizona heat.
Resetting the tiles will require cleaning as much of the old mortar off of the tiles and the area to be set. Then lay down a bed of tacky (not sloppy) thinset and push the tile into place using the remaining tiles as a guide for plumb and alignment. If you can duct tape a piece of floating plastic in place to catch dropping thinset, you might avoid possible staining of your plaster. But sending the kids to the bottom of the pool with a nylon brush should work just as well.
Hope that explaination helped?
Shaughnn
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