Art & Decorative Tile Techniques: Decorative Pool Tile Installation
Pool coping can be simple to extravagant and everything in between. We wanted the coping to have a squiggly shape and overhang the pool slightly, and we needed it to support and conceal the cover track. To do this, I built a plywood form and cast a contoured coping with a stainless-steel reinforced latex mortar bed. Just prior to placing and finishing the mortar, I spread a layer of latex thinset mortar over the top of the tank to bond the concrete tank and the coping together.
The tiles set over the concrete tank are finished with damp-cured plaster-a process that requires tile adhesives that can be submerged. Depending on the thinset mortar used, curing may take up to 28 days. Photo 6 shows soft plaster being cleaned off a tile. After cleaning with a damp sponge, a trowel was used to tighten and smooth the surface of the plaster. To cure the plaster properly, the pool was filled with water immediately after the trowelling was done.
Getting all the details right took a lot of time and energy but the last grout-cleaning task was a pleasure. It involved using a utility knife and a white scrubbing pad to remove the last traces of grout from the waterline tiles. With a cold beer within an arm's reach up on the coping, and my legs dangling from the noodle keeping me afloat in front of my work, I can't think of any other tile work that was as enjoyable.