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Styling Your Tiling

Whether you dream of enjoying a backyard swim in a soft seaside palette for peak relaxation, or a modern poolside alfresco area for entertaining guests in summer, a tiled pool is always considered an Australian luxury. Here, Sally O’Brien speaks with Carl Yench, managing partner of Europe Imports, regarding current Sydney pool tiling trends and how to choose the perfect contemporary tiling to suit your pool needs for the many summers and style seasons to come.

In recent years, designers and builders are moving away from the signature light blue tiling typically seen in Sydney pools, and employing some creativity in modern pool tile design. “We see so many different types of projects and it’s always interesting to see what the customers, pool builders, architects and designers come up with in terms of pool design and mosaic finishes,” Yench says. “If I was to pick something to see more of, it would be more investment in bold choices. This is what really drives the pool design scene.”

A fully tiled pool imbues the modern home with a luxurious look and feel, and with glass tiling available in many colours and sizes, Australian pool design is very versatile. Your tile selection will impact your poolside design and outdoor aesthetic, which can make your tiling a difficult decision. Yench recommends choosing high quality tiling and finishes to allow your pool to withstand all style seasons. “[Tiles are] not only a functional component of the pool, but a crucial aesthetic element,” Yench says. After all, hotter seasons require hotter pool trends!

Images courtesy of Europe Imports

SPARKLING SYDNEY STYLE
With a move to a more neutral palette within modern homes, it should come as no surprise that many pool designers are opting to incorporate more muted colours.

“The majority of pools are done in one of fifty shades of blue, however, I have noticed a strong swing to the natural stone look range Zen,” Yench says. “Also, white, greys, blacks and dark tiles.”

“[Current Sydney pool trends include] symmetrical shapes, tiered pools with a raised spa or visible feature balance tanks,” Yench says. “In recent times we have also seen many projects with water views with darker, more natural looking pool water to match the water colour in the pool’s view.”

ENTIRELY IN THE TILING
No longer limited to a shade of blue, pool tiling now offers many design opportunities. When designing your pool’s finishes, it is important to note that selecting your underwater tiling differs from picking outdoor paving. “In natural stone pavers, qualities such as density, sealing, heat retention, production tolerances, colour variation and availability of auxiliary copings are the main areas to consider,” Yench explains. Pool tiling offers more variables, including porcelain or glass, grout choice and water colour. “With porcelain it is [important to consider] design, slip resistance, water absorption, calibration and compliance with ISO standards,” Yench says. “With glass mosaics, [you should consider the] adhesion area to [ensure it] meets Australian standards, installation specifications, warranty, longevity and aesthetics.”

Images courtesy of Europe Imports
Images courtesy of Europe Imports

When deciding on the pool tiles for your relaxing indoor or outdoor escape, Yench suggests it is best to decide on your preferred water colour first. “Everyone makes the mistake of thinking of the tile first, but you must start with the end in mind,” Yench says. “If you can picture the water colour you want to achieve you will broaden your design capabilities and open up many flowing and elegant options.”

When selecting more modern tiling colour palettes, it is recommended to work around a cohesive aesthetic with your pool’s surrounds. To achieve a cohesive look, Yench recommends selecting the correct grout colour, and harmoniously tying the mosaics into a feature outside the water including in cabanas, outdoor kitchens, or walls. “Also, selecting a grout that complements the pavers and the tiles which should also complement the house and surrounds,” Yench says.

Consistency is an important element in modern home designs, and is doubly important in the installation of pool tiles. “Joint consistency is very important on an aesthetic level as it will be noticeable once the sheets are grouted in, especially if the grout choice is highly contrasting,” Yench says. “There are some mosaics on the market that sport mosaic sheet mounting technology that will stretch and deform with heat.” For the illustrious appeal of clean lines and uniformity, Yench recommends using the Ezarri Jointpoint system, which was specifically developed for submerged conditions, and an experienced tiler. “The rest will look after itself,” Yench says.

TILES THAT LAST A WHILE
“Glass tiles will last the life of the pool,” Yench says. To ensure the longevity of your tiling it is best to first utilise high performance grout and high-quality finishes. Whilst this will ensure your pool has the best durability, there are a few tricks to keep your tiles sparkling.

Yench recommends correctly following instructions when adding chemicals to your pool. “I have met many people who will just add a bag of salt and let it sit on the pool floor,” Yench says. “This should be dissolved in a bucket first and evenly distributed into the water.” He also recommends not allowing your pool’s PH levels to dramatically increase or decrease. “Employ pool professionals to visit once a month to ensure that your balance isn’t out of control,” Yench says. Beyond that, the water of your pool will impact your maintenance needs. “It is very important to understand the nature of the water and how it might affect the finish of your pool,” Yench says.

“Sometimes there are special considerations that need to be made regarding water chemistry before construction,” Yench says. “It’s always important to consult with your pool builder.”

Images courtesy of Europe Imports
Images courtesy of Europe Imports

Some issues that will require extra tile maintenance include:
• Soft water can cause erosion of grout and calcium to leech from the joints or walls. Soft water is not good for pools in general and reaction resin (epoxy) should be considered.

• Wet edges are subject to thermal shock (rapid heating or cooling), areas like this will experience additional stress.

• Saltwater pools need special attention due to the corrosive mineral levels.

With a myriad of tiling choices on offer to the Australian homeowner, your pool colour and ambience can be as unique as your home. “Aside from the technical detail, tiling is all about foresight and planning on an aesthetic level,” Yench says. To create a pool look that is durable and stays on trend, consider your water colour appearance and discuss the tiling to best suit your needs with your pool builder.

Images courtesy of International Ceramics