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Waterline Pool Tile - Matte or Shiny for Salt Water Pool?

We have not noticed a difference in a saltwater pool over a traditionally chlorinated pool when it comes to tile selection.

All tiles rated for pool use are tested to stand up against chemicals, saltwater, and freezing. Weather matte finish or glossy tiles are affected about the same when it comes to salt water.

All tile will develop a light scaling right at the waterline over time. Salts and calcium in the pool water are always in solution, or in other words, suspended in the pool water. But when the water touches the tile, then some calcium and salt deposits can cling and dry leaving behind a very slight film. This is usually very slight but can build up over time.

Another reason we get scaling on the tile over time is because, it is right at the surface of the water where a lot of the chemicals in the water come into contact with the air, causing a slight chemical reaction. This reaction can create a light scaling.

Also keep in mind, a saltwater pool and a liquid chlorine treated pool both have a good amount of salt in the water. We sometimes see a whitish light film develop on pool decks where pool water splashes onto the deck over time and evaporates, leaving behind a light film.

What often is more of a problem than scaling, is the presence of oils that mix with dirt to create a dirty film that adheres to the waterline tile. This is caused by natural body oils but is more of a problem when suntan lotions and other applied body oils. This is pretty easily removed with a light brushing using liquid detergent. Adding some available enzymes to the water also helps a lot.

The whole reason that tile is installed on any pool is because these conditions are anticipated, and so when scaly deposits or oily film deposits develop, these expected issues can be addressed easily, as tile is easy to clean.

Having said all of that, I don’t think it would make a noticeable difference whether you choose matte finish or a glazed finish.


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