Like many other pool or hot tub maintenance issues, the most important part of keeping your perimeter tiles looking great is being proactive. It's not unlike keeping your teeth looking nice; you have to brush them to avoid major problems later.
Tip #1: Brush Regularly
What's a regular basis? Well, that depends somewhat on your swimming habits and your local climate. Once a week is typical, but you might want to brush twice a week (or more often) during the hottest months or if there’s too much debris around.
What you'll need:
- Pool tile brush or pool tile scrubber (with extendable pole if necessary)
- Simply scrub around the perimeter tiles (and if there are tiles within the pool or hot tub, down to the water line).
Be sure to use a brush or scrubber specifically designed for pool/hot tub tiles. It's also wise to test the brush on extra tiles or tiles in an inconspicuous place just to ensure it doesn't cause scratches.
Tip #2: Protect Your Tiles by Covering Them
Protect your tiles, physically. When you're not using the pool or hot tub, keep those tiles covered. While many people understand the importance of pool and hot tub covers for pools and tubs themselves, they don't always get a cover big enough to protect their perimeter tiles.
Tip #3: Keep Your Water Balanced
Keep your chemicals balanced! That's just good advice in general, because it will keep your swimmers happy and healthy. It will also reduce deposits on your perimeter tiles. This proactive tip will serve you very well in the end. The following paragraphs explain how to keep your chemicals balanced.
You'll need to monitor both the water chemistry values, which includes its chlorine (or bromine) levels, total alkalinity, pH, and calcium (water) hardness.
Calcium hardness refers to the amount of calcium dissolved in the water. This is of particular importance when maintaining your perimeter tiles, because much of the chalky white residue that can build up is calcium. However, if you don't have enough calcium, that can cause other problems such as excessive bubbling, leaching, corrosion and etching. See, if water is lacking in calcium, it will begin to pull calcium from the stone, concrete, and metal it meets, which can have a devastating effect on your pool or hot tub's attractiveness. Calcium hardness should fall between 150 and 399 ppm.
Balancing pH and total alkalinity are complicated (and interconnected) processes. The pH of the water describes the relationship between acids (low pH) and bases (high pH). The balance between these two should fall between a pH of 7.2 and 7.8, with 7.4 being the holy grail of pH readings. This balance makes the water most comfortable for swimmers.
Here's where things become more complicated. Another word for "base" (the opposite of acidic) is "alkaline." Total alkalinity measures the total amount of alkaline substances in the water. Your pH reading only measures what is essentially the difference between acidic and alkaline substances, not the actual amounts of each. So why is total alkalinity important?
If you don't know the total alkalinity, it will be impossible to add anything to your pool without drastically affecting the pH level, and rebalancing it without knowing total alkalinity is arduous. Total alkalinity should range between 80 and 150 ppm. While you can maintain the total alkalinity at a wide variety of levels, it will affect how alkaline and acidic substances affect your pool or hot tub pH balance, so keep this in mind.
Tip #4: Use the Right Cleaners
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your tiles are still going to experience buildup of some type. Of course, sometimes, we just don't feel like putting forth our best effort! Being proactive is great, but knowing how to polish those tiles up after slipping is also important. There are many types of tile cleaners, but we want to pause on calcium releasers. Various vendors offer calcium releasers, so read the packaging carefully to determine whether it's right for your particular hot tub or pool perimeter tiles.
It's always a good idea to test out any new substance on an extra tile, so keep some handy!
In addition, if you need some help (or just wish this were convenient) check out pHin! Hot tub and swimming pool maintenance is easy with pHin. It monitors water quality, notifies you by smartphone when you need to add chemicals, and then ships you just the right amount.