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Where do I start?

Building a new swimming pool or renovating an existing pool can be quite a daunting process, especially if you haven’t done it before.
It is also very exciting!
So, firstly congratulations on your decision!
You’ve come to the right place!

This page covers common questions that our lovely customers ask when they enter our showroom, when they are just beginning their journey.
Some customers feel a little overwhelmed at first as they are not sure where to start.
We hope this page helps you get started so you will be able to enjoy the decisions you will have to make along the way.

Let’s get started!

Help me! have just signed a contract with a pool builder. I need to make choices fast
Check your contract to confirm what is included. Here is a helpful SPASA checklisticon to indicate hyperlink opens in new tab of important points to remember before signing a pool building contract.
Many customers realise their first job is to decide what pool water colour they desire (e.g. blue or green or turquoise etc. light, mid or dark water).
If fully tiling the pool, most people then choose the interior mosaic pool tiles because it’s important to know what colour your pool will be when making other choices.
Next they choose their stone or porcelain coping and a matching tile or paving stone for the pool deck. If a waterline tile is included in the contract, then people usually choose that next, see our ceramic waterline tiles or glass waterline tiles.
Also see below where we explain the difference between the two.
The pool feature wall cladding (if choosing natural stacked stone) is generally best selected last if required. This is a general guide only. The order of selection may vary for individual projects or depending on your pool builder.
What is pool coping?
Pool coping is the stone or porcelain tile product that forms the very top edge of the pool. Coping is what you sit on when you are dangling your toes in the water and is usually uniform around the perimeter of the pool. You can choose coping that overhangs the edge (usually by about 30mm) or a coping tile that wraps itself down into the pool with varying depths. These are variously called rebated edges, drop face coping or mitred edges. There are also rounded edge tiles and pavers, usually called bullnose or square edge options.
See our large selection of pool coping tiles and paving.
How do I choose which coping tile is right for my project?

Typical priority factors for choosing coping include:

  • Cost
  • Aesthetics and colours of the surrounding stone or porcelain tiles and pavers
  • Maintenance preferences
  • Slip resistance
  • Texture and feel of the stone or porcelain coping under foot

Some coping tiles are solid, traditional and formal, while others are refined, modern and streamlined. Coping choices are sometimes dictated by the situation. For example, Grande 100mm drop face coping has a cool, modern, monolithic, industrial look and can sometimes conveniently negate the need for a waterline tile but it may be inappropriate if you have small children as it makes it harder for their little hands to grip onto the edge of the pool. Most customers find the perfect coping edge for their project after giving consideration to aesthetics and to practicality.

What is the difference between a ceramic mosaic tile and a glass mosaic tile?
Ceramic mosaics are easier to lay and are more economical to buy with prices ranging from $50m2 to $90m2. There is a range of colours available including stone look natural mosaics. Glass mosaics have a more modern and reflective appeal and tilers need more time and specific adhesives with which to lay them. The price of glass waterline tiles range from $60m2 to $110m2.
Should I choose a glass or ceramic waterline tile band?

Basically, you will be able to find a ceramic or a glass tile that can blend, contrast or feature on your waterline. Whether you choose ceramic or glass, both will protect the waterline which is the area where any dirt, calcium build-up (if applicable), body oils, sunscreens etc. congregate. The waterline needs to be cleaned regularly and a tiled waterline is easier to clean than a cement-based waterline.
See the selection of waterline tiles that are currently on offer here at Pool Tile Company.

What is a waterline tile?
Dark Blue & White Diamond CB800 used as waterline corners

Dark Blue & White Diamond CB800 used as waterline corners

A waterline tile provides the final finishing touch for your pool. Aesthetically, it allows you to match or contrast your pool watercolour and the pool’s surroundings. Waterline tiles also avoid having a dry, washed-out look between the coping and the water which can occur with render finishes.

 On a practical level, tiles are easier to clean than cement based rendered surfaces such as pebblecrete used in concrete pools. Waterline tiles greatly increase the ease of cleaning the scum that deposits on the walls of the pool at the waterline. On fibreglass pools, waterline tiles give the illusion that the pool is constructed from concrete, as tiles are synonymous with concrete pools. Additionally, they protect the gel coat from the sun’s rays.

In general, there are two types of waterline tiles available, ceramic mosaic and glass mosaic tiles. A mosaic tile is generally any tile under 100mm in size. They are normally supplied with a backing to form a sheet of tiles, around 300 x 300mm in size. These sheets are sold by square metres. Your waterline is measured in lineal metres and you will need to decide how deep you want your waterline tile to be. Often the whole sheet (approx. 300mm) is used as this gives you some leeway if your water level drops. The submerged part of your waterline tile can disappear to the eye from a distance. Your pool builder will know how many square metres you need or we can help you work it out.

What is the difference between natural stone and porcelain? Which is right for my pool?

The main difference is that porcelain is a man-made product whereas Mother Nature herself is largely responsible for natural stone tiles.

An advantage of porcelain tiles over natural stone tiles is that porcelain has very little porosity which makes its outer layer impervious to deep staining. It can still be marked and can get dirty, so outdoor porcelain tiles still need to be cleaned.

Natural stone tiles and paving should always be sealed in order to help stop marks and stains from penetrating into the stone.

Natural stone has beautiful variations due to the way it is formed and each stone type has a different feel and aesthetic, with positives and negatives, from varying coolness underfoot to differing porosity.

Porcelain production has come a long way and there are outdoor porcelain pool tiles that convincingly mimic the looks of different natural stone tiles. There are also porcelain tile options for those who prefer uniformity.

If a piece of natural stone tile is chipped, the colour is uniform throughout the stone tile whereas if a porcelain tile chips, it can be more obvious as the surface and the biscuit part of the tile often differ in colour.

Pros and cons of stone and porcelain tiles
Natural stone coping edges are one piece of stone cut from large blocks of stone.

Porcelain can be more difficult to cut than stone.

Natural stone is generally more expensive and more difficult to care for but it is the incredible look of real stone tiles that makes them still so popular after thousands of years of manufacture.

If you are in South East Qld you can come into the showroom or otherwise please ask for samples to be sent to you, most people are either drawn to one or the other once they see and feel the products.

Be sure to also check out our information regarding Natural Stone Tiles and Pavers and Outdoor Porcelain Tiles and Pavers on this website.

I have a specified price point for products written into my contract from the pool builder. What does this mean?

Most pool builders specify a price point in their contracts. Many pool companies base their quotes on entry-level products which give customers the ability to easily compare different quotes. Some pool builders base their prices on mid-range products.

Either way, most customers find it beneficial to be aware of the price range in which they have been quoted. Most customers then choose the products that suit the needs of their project and find that if there is a variation in price, it is not usually too prohibitive.

Most pool builders are flexible with changes in product choice, however, it is definitely worth checking with your builder if you upgrade in any situation. For instance, if quoted on a ceramic waterline and wanting to upgrade to a glass waterline tile it is advisable to check the implications on your final costings. Also, if choosing a grande coping edge, it is also worth a phone call to your pool builder to check whether this will be appropriate for your pool, as it may affect the water level and where your skimmer box is positioned.

Some customers happily adhere to their budget as there are beautiful products available in different price ranges. There are also many customers who choose the products that they want to walk on, sit on and look at, into the future, even if there are added costs above the initial contract.

What is a Skimmer Lid?
Skimmer Lid with Silver Travertine inlay

Skimmer Lid with Silver Travertine inlay

Many pool builders now include a Skimmer Lid and Recess Tray (see our selection), or a blank Hide Skimmer lid kit into their quotation. This is a smart, sought-after product as it is a safe, seamless and stunning alternative to the plastic skimmer box cover used in the past.

There are two options. A Skimmer Lid which comes with the natural stone or porcelain product, which you have selected from our range, already installed. The other option is a blank Hide kit which allows your tiler to easily fit your chosen piece from the tiles you have purchased from us, or an alternative tile choice, on-site.

The recess tray accommodates the lid and protects the surrounding tiles as you lower your skimmer lid back into place. A convenient, clever product that allows your pool deck to be one coherent space.
In the circumstances where it is not specified in the quote, many customers choose to purchase this product as it helps form a finely finished pool area.

We need the pool's surrounding area tiled, what should we choose first? The stone paving tiles or the pool interior tiles?

Many customers need to choose an outdoor paver or tile which tones with existing patio tiles or interior tiles. In this case, many people attend to this choice first. We have an extensive range of natural stone tiles and porcelain tiles which all have matching coping edges. Our customers often bring in a sample of the tile that they need to match, which helps a lot when choosing complementary tiles. Alternatively, we give sample tiles for ease of matching when the customer is back at the project site. Note that we don’t give whole tiles as samples we give out sample pieces.

I don't want any on-going maintenance, what should I choose?

The bad news is all products will need cleaning at some stage. The good news is that porcelain is less porous and therefore requires less attention. If you want a natural stone, perhaps granite is an excellent choice for you.
Although granite needs sealing (like all-natural stone does) it is a very durable and dense stone which means it takes more time for stains to penetrate, giving you a larger window of opportunity to attend to any necessary cleaning.

There are some natural stones, like Himalayan Sandstone, which need more TLC ie. cleaning and sealing, so keep that in mind when making your selections. Regarding the waterline, the bad news is whether you choose no waterline tile, or a ceramic or glass waterline tile, this part of your pool needs regular cleaning. The good news is a tiled surface will make cleaning easier.

I am renovating a free-form (curved edged) pool, what do I need to consider?

Renovating an older style pool which often was designed with curves can be challenging, frustrating and costly. The rounded shape means that the coping pieces need cutting which adds to product and labour costs. Sometimes the pool beam is wider than the coping edges that we hold in stock (ie more than 400mm deep).

Please don’t despair, there are still options available to you. If you have time, we can always organise a custom order for the sizes you need. Often people choose a travertine product as the beautiful 30mm thick coping edges are tumbled on all four sides giving more flexibility of use and they are also available in 600 x 400 x 30mm which has assisted so many renovations.

Travertine is also easy to cut which helps when there is so much cutting needed. Either way, we can help you choose the right products for you. The best advice is to start the process of making your selections at least 12 weeks before you need the products just in case a custom order is the only option for your project.

An experienced pool renovator is highly recommended as unforeseen and unpredictable complications can arise. You’ll soon forget the inconvenience and cost when you are gazing upon your newly refurbished pool.

The surrounding area needs a specified depth of tile due to house entrance points or due to other reasons, does this affect the choices available to me?

The quick answer is Yes. Most of our tiles are 20mm thick with the exceptions of travertine which has 12mm and 30mm options and Himalayan Sandstone which has a 15mm option.

Does my coping edge and matching tile have to be the same thickness?

The majority of new pools built today have the coping and the surrounding tiled area of the pool flush/level as this maximises the perception of space and flow. Most of our coping edges and matching tiles are 20mm thick with a few exceptions which have thinner options to cut down on price. If laying on a concrete base which is the norm and the preference for longevity, your pool builder or tiler will adjust concrete levels to accommodate the tile thickness. The fact that varied thicknesses of tiles exists is a good reason to make your coping and surrounding tile choices before the pool beam and apron are poured.

My pool builder needs the products delivered as soon as possible and I haven't made any choices yet. Will this affect the choices available to me?

Yes, perhaps, sometimes.
At The Pool Tile Company, we aim to have our range in stock and ready to be delivered within a day or two of ordering and payment. However, on occasions due to a rush on a particular stocked product or in the extremely busy period (Sept, Oct and Nov), there are at times unavoidable delays as we await the arrival of new stock. If you have very specific needs i.e. special sizes, profiles, or cutting needs or if you have your heart set on one product only it is a very good idea to plan ahead, make your selections and place your orders ahead of time.

Some Natural Stone and Porcelain products can vary from batch to batch, we always endeavour to supply our customers with matching coping pieces and surrounding tiles. This is yet another reason to plan and order ahead, to enable us to put the matching stock aside for your job, especially if a large quantity is needed. If the situation does arise where you are pressed for time, there are usually similar products available and we pride ourselves in assisting our customers in coming up with solutions to their challenges.

I want to renovate and tile the pool myself, what advice do you have?

We suggest using a pool renovating specialist if undertaking a refurb of your old pool or at least encourage you to procure some advice and quotes as your first step. However, if you are ready to attempt it yourself, we can assist in the selections of your tiles and the appropriate glues and grouts to use and their corresponding necessary quantities.

My old pool needs renovating. I'm not sure what needs replacing and what can be salvaged. Where should I start?

Step one should be to seek advice and quotes from a few pool renovator specialists. Sometimes when removing the coping, the existing waterline can be compromised, just as sometimes removing the waterline tile can compromise the interior finish. Pool renovation is not an easy task and having someone there who can predict the pitfalls and deliver eventual jubilation is definitely advisable. Start making your selections as soon as possible after you have been advised as to the existing renovation parameters.

Should I choose stacked stone or mosaic tiles for my pool feature wall?

Most pools have a pool feature wall behind which pool filters can be hidden and on which a water blade or feature can be placed. If there is a water feature planned, it is highly advisable to protect the wall from the elements by either cladding in stacked stone or by tiling with a ceramic or glass mosaic. If you choose a stone cladding, a natural aesthetic is brought into play, as cladding is able to marry your pool area to your garden and outdoor area.

A glass mosaic will add pizzazz and a modern edge to your pool wall and there are many options available if you want your wall to be a dazzling feature. If you choose to tile your pool wall in a mosaic, it is often beneficial for that tile selection to be chosen first as that dictates your waterline choice. Most stacked stone wall cladding can look awesome with most waterline tiles as the distinction between pool and wall is usually apparent and therefore not especially fraught with complications. However, having said that there are combinations that look superior and sublime when paired together.

I still have some queries that weren't answered on this page. What should I do now?

Please contact The Pool Tile Company as we have some very helpful and knowledgeable staff who are waiting to assist you with all of your questions!