No matter how clean and sparkling clear you keep your pool water, if the pool tile looks dirty or has a dingy white film along the water line, it spoils the whole effect. With a little effort and some smart preventive maintenance, you can make your pool tiles shine and keep that ugly "bathtub ring" from making the pool an eyesore.
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Removing and Preventing Oily Scum
Use a long-handled pool tile brush and tile cleaner to remove oily scum. Anything swimmers wear on their skin or hair usually ends up on the pool tile. Body oils, suntan lotions, creams, ointments or sprays will all float on the water surface. They combine with dirt and debris that blows into the water and eventually become a gummy film on the tile. Use a low-sudsing, non-soap cleaner such as Gysar F to remove the scum. It's a labor intensive job that may require heavy scrubbing, especially if you haven't cleaned the tile in a while.
You can prevent much of the scum buildup by adding enzymes to the pool water once per week. Enzymes break down organic material and keep oils and lotions from forming as sticky deposits in the first place. The oily molecules stay in suspension in the water until the filtration system can remove them.
Removing and Preventing Calcium Deposits
Calcium deposits on the pool tile show up as a dingy white or gray buildup along the water line. The best way to remove these deposits is with a pumice stone. This volcanic stone is harder than the calcium but softer than the glazing on the pool tile. The best way to scrub the pool tile with pumice is either to get down on your hands and knees along the pool coping and scrub from outside the pool, or to get into the water and work your way around the perimeter. After you've scrubbed off all the calcium buildup, you'll need to vacuum up the debris from the bottom.
Prevent calcium buildup by keeping the pool water in balance. Use a good test kit and check the chemical balance at least once each week. Ideal ranges are 1.5 to 2.0 parts per million (ppm) for chlorine, a pH range of 7.4 to 7.8, Total alkalinity of 80 to 100 ppm and total dissolved solids level of 1,000 to 2,000 ppm.
Restoring Tile With Heavy Stains and Deposits
If your pool tile has become so heavily stained and covered with deposits that normal cleaning won't take them off, it may be time to call in the professionals. Many pool service companies offer tile cleaning and restoration services similar to sandblasting. However, they use media that are softer than sand that won't cut through the tile glaze and ruin the finish, such as glass beads. These services can have heavily deposited tile looking new again in a matter of hours.