From the Floor Up

The One Question That Will Solve All Your Pool Dilemmas

Posted by Daltile Team on Jul 23, 2015 7:30:00 AM

Making Choices about Pool Liners, Shapes, and Depths

If deciding to install an inground pool in your backyard wasn’t a big enough decision, there’s more. Have you considered shape? How about depth? And what material will cover the inside of the pool? The pool liner should be the least of your worries. The answer to this simple question will make designing your pool a snap. So, "What's most important to you?"

Quartzite in Golden Sun flagstone

What’s the most important to you?

The answer to this one question weeds out much of the extraneous so you can focus on what really matters. It all comes down to picking your battles. Do you want a backyard oasis that will transport you to a tropical paradise the moment you step outside? Is your first priority a pool that doesn’t take up all your free time to maintain? Or is your key focus creating a mini waterpark in your backyard for your kids?

Narrow down your priorities to one of three things and just about every decision will fall into place with barely any work on your part.

Color Wave in Rainforest interlocking mosaic

Durability and Low-Maintenance

If simplicity is your thing then all you have to do is pick between a fiberglass pool and a plastered pool with tile liner. They both require very little repair over the years and just about last forever.

Look at the ancient Roman and Turkish baths—the tile from these is still around and looking great. Pool tile is placed on top of your base surface (cement or plaster) and protects it from damage and wear. Tile is also a preferred surface because it is smoother than many other liners and is easier on your feet. Pool tile is very easy to clean. It’s probably one of the lowest maintenance liners you could choose. It is a front-end investment, but pays for itself as the years go by.

Fiberglass pools are relatively new to the pool scene. They have only been around for the last 10 years or so, but they’ve taken backyard water play by storm. They are very easy to maintain and rarely need repair. They come prefabricated and are quick to install. Smooth to the touch, they are simple to clean and don’t harbor dirt and algae like some other pool surfaces.

Blue 2 x 2 tiles accent the pool steps


If you have a vision for your pool, you probably want the ability to customize it to your heart’s content. If you want a uniquely shaped pool go for either the vinyl lined pool, a poured cement pool, or gunite sprayed pool liner. Further customize your design with tile.

The vinyl lined pool is very similar to an above-ground pool. It can mold itself into unique shapes better than any other liner. It sits on a custom-built frame in the ground so it lets you have whatever shape you can dream up. It is not as durable as other liners, however, and needs to be replaced about every 10 years.

Poured cement pools require forms and these can be standard rectangles or custom-built to your specifications. They are very durable but have become less popular with the rise of gunite pools. Gunite is a cement mixture that is sprayed onto a rebar frame for your inground pool. They are very easily customized for shape and are the most popular type of pool today.

Cement and gunite pools can be covered in custom tile that makes your oasis one-of-a-kind. Glass tile mosaic is the traditional pick, but you can shake it up with different shaped tiles like linear, brick joint 2 x 1s, random mosaics, pebbles, penny rounds, or baroque tiles. Materials available for pool tile include more than just glass. Try porcelain or stone for a wide range of styles and looks that will make your pool different. Even stone tiles can be a good option for pool liners. Check manufacturer recommendations to ensure you select a tile that is approved for pool liners.

Uptown Glass in Pearl Blue

Pool Fun

If fun is your objective, consider the shape, size, and depth of your pool carefully to maximize the play.

Pools that are circular give you the most play space. Anywhere from 18 to 30 feet in diameter is best. Depths should be at least three feet and no more than five feet.

Consider your pool liner too. A smoother surface of tile or fiberglass is friendlier on toes than a rough surface that might scrape tender wet skin. Mosaic tile is a great option for this type of pool because it has narrow grout joints that further increase the smooth surface of your pool liner. Large format tiles—over 15 inches—also reduce grout joints and give you lots of design possibilities to choose from.


Make your pool decisions simple by narrowing down your top priorities. Pick a primary purpose and let it guide all your choices and it won’t be long before you’re sitting poolside with a cold drink in hand.

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Topics: Pool Tile

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