How to Replace Tile on a Pool

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Avoid costly repair bills by fixing your pool tiles yourself.
Avoid costly repair bills by fixing your pool tiles yourself. (Image: swimming pool image by Dubravko Grakalic from Fotolia.com)

Swimming pool tiles may fail for a variety of reasons. Some may crack or chip through ordinary use, while others may pop off because of hidden beam damage (the beam is the uppermost 6 inches of the pool wall where the tile and outer pool edge are located). Repairing or replacing tile is easy once you know the proper techniques, and understand the process. Most pool owners can substantially cut their pool maintenance expenses by utilizing this knowledge and performing their own repairs as needed.

Things You'll Need

  • Thinset pool mortar
  • Notched hand trowel
  • Pool grout (matching color, waterproof)
  • Grout saw
  • Grout float
  • Hammer
  • Chisel
  • Rag
  • Duct tape
  • Tarp

Lay a tarp around the area to be repaired. Pull any loose tiles free and set them aside. If they are unbroken, they may be used again after proper cleaning. Place the tip of a chisel into the crack or chip and twist forcefully to pop off any cracked or badly chipped tile.

Remove the grout lines surrounding all the tile areas to be repaired, using a grout saw. Avoid removing any grout from areas that will not need new tile. Saw down the grout to the existing mortar surface to ensure all the grout is removed. Wipe away any debris with a damp rag.

Chisel the mortar and mortar ridges away from the area beneath the tile. Remove as much old mortar as possible so that you have a clean base on which to apply new mortar mix. Vary the angle of the chisel and tap lightly with the hammer in all directions. Wipe away any debris with a damp rag.

Apply a thin layer of thinset pool mortar to all areas that will be accepting new tile, using a notched hand trowel. The peaks of the fresh mortar (notches) should be between 1/8 and 1/4 inches high. Keep in mind that the goal is to apply enough mortar so that the tile face sits flush will all surrounding tile surfaces. Too much mortar, and the tile will appear higher than the rest. Too little mortar, and the tile will sit lower than the rest.

Place the replacement tile onto the spread mortar ridges. Push gently so that each tile is flush with all surrounding tile. Twist the tile slightly each way to remove any air bubbles from beneath it. Make sure the tile is completely centered, so that the open grout lines are equal in width on all edges surrounding the tile. If the tile resides on a vertical face, apply duct tape to keep it in place until the mortar dries. Remove the tarp.

Apply grout the open grout lines once the mortar is completely dry (24 hours). Use a grout float, and make sure that the grout completely fills each grout line, with no air bubbles present. Press the grout in firmly, and apply from all directions. Smooth the grout lines. Wipe the face of the tile with a damp rag to remove excess grout.

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