It’s that time of year when lifestyles move into outdoor spaces.  We once again enjoy the blue sky and starry nights, and lazy days by the pool.  For those who are building a new home complete with a pool, or those of you planning a pool for your current home, the surrounding paving and the pool tiles are a major consideration and can greatly affect the outcome both aesthetically and in terms of functionality.


When planning outdoor paving around a pool, anti-slip and heat absorption are very important. At KWD we are always conscious of specifying materials that are not too slippery when wet and that don’t absorb a lot of heat so they can be walked on barefoot. Porosity is also important as you want to ensure the pavers don’t stain easily.


The type of water that will be used in a pool can affect the life of the pavers, so you need to ascertain whether the pool will be salt water or chlorinated as water will react with the minerals in the pavers. We always ensure the surface is prepared properly before the stone is laid and that they have been treated with a penetrating sealer followed by a final acid wash and seal (depending on the type of specified stone).


There’s a wide range of pavers that can be used. We favour using natural materials as we believe they are ideal for an outdoor environment like a garden. We generally specify natural stone like limestone, granite, bluestone, marble and quartzite. Bluestone does heat up though so it’s more suited to pathways, particularly in Melbourne where traditional homes use a lot of bluestone. It works really well in a crazy paving format.


It’s also important to research where the stone is from and what the mineral content is of the natural stone, for example, bluestone from China versus bluestone from Australia will have a different mineral content. The way the surface ages will be different. There may be rust coming through and more efflorescence depending on the porosity.


We usually recommend using a lighter coloured stone around a pool. Even if you want a grey stone, there are some lighter greys that are a denser stone that won’t absorb heat like bluestone will. The size of the pavers should really be determined by the style of the home. For more contemporary homes we’ll often import 3m slabs of stone that we have cut into coping tiles for the project.

For infinity pools you can either clad it with the same tiles used in the pool or you can use dry wall cladding which is relatively easy to install. There are many ways to add a feature to an infinity pool.


From a design point of view, it’s important to make the paving look as organic as possible. So it looks part of the landscape (not necessarily part of the house) and like it’s always been there.

Explains Kate Walker, “Swimming pools are the perfect way to create an identity in an outdoor space. Tiles can significantly alter the feel and the atmosphere. Selecting the right tile is a very important decision as they are expensive and time consuming to replace. You also want to ensure they are good quality so the colour won’t fade, and of course having a professional tiler is of the utmost importance.”


There are quite a few options for tiling a pool. According to Ryan of Aquacon Pools, “The standard pool tile is generally a ceramic 48mm square tile which comes in a range of colours. Other options, which increase in price based on both the cost of the tile and the labour cost for installation, include a 19mm square glass mosaic tile which comes in various blends of colours and shades and one of the growing trends at the moment is the use of large format natural stone tiles like limestone. Budget plays a major part in the choice of tile, and of course the aesthetic you are hoping to achieve. The majority of clients we talk to at the moment are steering toward lighter shades of blue. And while it might seem odd when you look at white, light grey or charcoal tiles, once they are laid in a pool they create a surprising colour and look really effective. A charcoal tile gives off  more of an emerald colour and white creates a really bright blue effect. Pool tiles, if installed correctly, will last the life of a pool, so choosing the perfect tile is very important.”

You can also take the pavers you are using into the pool in a large format (provided you have a square base pool). It looks incredible and gives a seamless look and the pool becomes integrated into the landscape. Be sure to dip seal the stone to make sure it is sealed properly.


It’s often difficult to judge how certain tile colours will look in a swimming pool filled with water. Searching through many different tones of blues and greens from numerous samples and glass mosaic swatches can make the decision even more confusing especially when you also need to consider how colours can change when in water.


And on top of that, it’s important to remember that the colour of your pool can be affected by a number of different outdoor elements such as the colour of the sky at any given time, shadows from nearby buildings and even surrounding vegetation, and the depth of the pool.

Deep green mosaics add style and bold interest to a swimming pool, making quite a tropical statement and effectively contrasting with a timber deck. A blend of light blue shades will give an iridescent and cool tone to the water. Dark turquoise tones create a moody feel while crystal mid-blue tones perfectly reflect the colour of the sky and creates a resort-style feeling to the space. The safest colour, and most beautiful in our opinion, is teal.


To achieve an elegantly finished pool, there are a few tricks of the trade to consider:

  • Carry the coping material into the waterline of the pool.
  • Start the pool tiling just under the waterline (this helps reduce the build-up of ‘scum’ at the waterline).
  • Don’t be afraid to use a mottled tile.  Tiles look very different when under water.
  • Understand that tiles change the colour of the water. If you are unsure, order a square metre of the tiles, and create a “pond” in the yard, and fill it with water.  This will give you an indication of what the water will look like.
  • Remember that depending on the light, the tiles will appear to change colour (in sunlight versus in cloud cover).
  • Dark coloured coping will retain heat, whilst pale coloured coping reflects the light so it will create glare.
  • Pool copings can be created from any stone by a stonemason.  Various edges can be achieved, from square-edged, to rounded bullnoses.

For more information on paving and pool tiles, contact the KWD team on 5974 1800.

Images: Aquacon Pools; Brent Lukey; Tile Junket; Andy McPherson


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