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The Best Way To Clean Pool Tile At The Waterline

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for made purchases.

A pool should be the pièce de résistance of your property. The centerpiece where all the all eyes are drawn.

But when it’s neglected, there are few worse things on property than a dirty pool.

One of the necessary maintenance works that comes with owning a pool is cleaning the tile at the waterline. But what exactly is the best way to clean the pool tile at the waterline.

Keep reading to find out more about the optimal way to keep your pool tile clean.

What Is The Waterline, And How Do The Tiles Get Dirty?

The term ‘waterline’ refers to the level in a pool where the water surface meets the specialized waterline pool tiles.

Waterline pool tiles are usually a six-inch band of tiles, that line the perimeter of a swimming pool.

The tiles are used as a means of pool maintenance because they stop floating pollen, body oils, sunscreen, sweat and other chemical substances from forming a yellow mucous layer at the pool’s waterline.

If these tiles are not present, it’s much harder to remove these stains from the concrete or plaster walls of the pool.

Aside from preventing the build up of scum at the pool’s edge, waterline tiles keep the pool liner (see also ‘How To Install A Base For Your Above Ground Pool Liner‘) sealed, protecting the wall against erosion and cracking, or frozen water.

And of course for decorative purposes – adding style and character to the pool.

Waterline Problems

Now the pool owners out there will know that the 2 main waterline problems in a pool are staining and the build up of scales. 

The stains that appear on the surface of your pool are essentially the same stains that appear in your kitchen sink or bath tub over time.

But the colour of the staining can vary because of the pool water’s chemical imbalance.

The scales refer to the calcium deposits that linger on the pool wall, when the (hard) water evaporates. The calcium has the appearance of dried pale gray crust, which can be very difficult to remove.

Scales on a pool’s edge come in 2 forms, calcium carbonate and calcium silicate.

Calcium carbonate is whiter in appearance and appears around the brim of the pool. You can find out which kind of calcium scale it is by squeezing a few drops of muriatic acid onto the scales.

If it froths and fizzes, then the scaling is primarily calcium carbonate, which can be removed with a pumice stone. 

Calcium silicate has a pale-gray complexion and it also forms around the edge of the pool’s surface. It’s also far tougher than calcium carbonate.

Squeezing a few drops of muriatic acid onto calcium silicate will not remove it, and it’s this resistance that identifies which calcium it is. Even so, Next, you can still use a pumic stone to rub off the scum. 

The Best Way to Clean Pool Tile at the Waterline

With the staining and the scaling now identified, here’s how you should clean the pool tile. 

Little By Little – You shouldn’t try to do too much at once. Divide your pool into sections and begin working small sections at a time. This makes the cleaning process more structured, precise and thorough. 

Cleaning Supplies – With things like stains, a lot of products you already have in your kitchen cupboard can probably get the job done. For example:

  • Dishwasher detergent
  • Vinegar
  • Toothpaste
  • Borax
  • Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking soda)

Scrubbing the pool tile with an old toothbrush and any one of these stains will not only remove stains, but it will also save you taking a trip to the store.

However, if you encounter a tough stain or scaling, your dishwasher detergent won’t cut it.

You may need to pop to the store to buy a pumic stone and some heavy duty cleaning solutions like calcium releasers, which are made specifically for removing calcium from pool tiles at the waterline.

Another option you may want to try is a cleaning brand known for its ability to remove tough scale, it’s called The Works.

According to its website, the company has a long 50-year history of superb cleaning, also specialising in cleaning rust stains in toilets when used along with a pumice stone.

Limeosol is another popular option for heavy-duty cleaning.

Famed for its deep cleaning abilities, Limeosol can effectively and safely removing limescale, water stains, calcium and rust.

Should you opt for Limeosol or The Works as your primary cleaning choice, then use them before you add any chemicals to the pool.

In fact, you should wait two to three days after before you start adding any chemicals to your pool again.

Final Thoughts

So to recap; the best way to clean pool tile at the waterline is to first identify problem, is it staining or scaling?

Light stains can be cleaned using household cleaning items like dishwasher detergent and an old toothbrush.

However, to remove tough scale, you need heavy-duty cleaners such as Limeosol or The Works. 

But remember, keeping your pool well-maintained is better than having to fight off the algae and other scum that accumulates. 

author avatar
Anthony Barnes
Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age


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