How to Clean Pool Tile and Prevent Scale

When you’re the one with the pool that all your friends come to, you have to a take care of weekly pool maintenance. Of course, everyone knows to remove dirt, keep the water clean, and make sure it’s algae free. But how much do you know about cleaning pool tile and preventing scale? It’s the least fun part about owning a pool but it’s important to keep your pool looking and feeling clean. We’ll teach you about calcium build up, the best products to use, and how to prevent it.

Calcium buildup

Calcium buildup happens to every pool at one point or another. It’s the layer of white or grey-ish white grime on the side of your pool around the waterline. It usually builds up in your pool water when the pH levels are off and leave deposits on your pool tiles that won’t go away on its own. If your pH is less than 7.4 or more than 7.6, your pool is at risk of calcium buildup.

Learn more about pool chemistry.

There are two types of calcium compounds: calcium carbonate and calcium silicate.

Calcium carbonate forms white flaky scales that builds up into layers, leaving behind a residue that easily comes off tiles if cleaned regularly.

Calcium silicate is white-grey and harder to remove but takes longer to form. By the time it builds up on the sides of your pool, you probably have buildup elsewhere like your pipes and filtration system. This is caused by high calcium and pH levels in the water. Those two together requires more intensive cleaning methods.

How to remove calcium from pool tile

Calcium buildup can sneak up on you. One day you can be looking at your pool and notice a slight film starting to form on the edges and weeks later you may realize that you have thick calcium buildup. It’s easy to have your situation go from an early discovery to a serious situation. Luckily, there’s a lot of pool equipment out there that will enable you to learn how to clean a pool the way you want.
The main ways to clean pool tile is using pumice stone, muriatic acid, or bead blasting. Keep reading to learn more about these methods.

Pumice stone for pool

If you have caked on calcium deposits on your tile or concrete, you can use pumice stone to remove it. Pumice stones can never be used on soft surfaces like pool linings and must be used wet. They are ideal for dealing with stubborn calcium silicate because they remove tough scale. However, it takes some physical labor to use the pumice stone to remove stubborn calcium deposits.

The advantages of pumic stone is that it’s inexpensive and easy to find. However, they do wear out quickly and need frequent replacing.

How to clean pool tile with muriatic acid

Muriatic acid is a powerful pool cleaning method and is not meant for beginners. You can find muriatic acid at a home improvement or pool supply store. While vinegar and other methods allow you to get into the pool while you’re cleaning, you cannot do that with muriatic acid.

Muriatic acid can remove advanced calcium deposts that have been hardening for a long time. However, if it still can’t remove your calcium deposit, you can use a pumice stone to remove the remainder.

The benefits of muriatic acid is that it’s strong enough to remove serious buildup but it’s very dangerous and involves a lot of precaution.

Bead blasting pool tile

If the other methods we listed don’t work, or you’re too nervous to consider using muriatic acid, you probably need professional attention. You can hire a pool company to come to remove the calcium through a process called bead blasting or pressure washing. The process involves using a compressor to blast sand, beads, or other materials at the pool tile at high speed. The high speed and power scrapes the buildup quickly and you don’t have to spend time scrubbing the tile. It’s very effective but an expensive option. The advantage of this method is that the calcium buildup will be completely removed and you can continue good pool maintenance to prevent it from occuring in the future.

How to prevent calcium buildup on pool tile

As we mentioned earlier, calcium buildup is caused by an imbalance between the calcium levels and the pH of your pool. There are a couple tips you can implement to prevent calcium buildup in the future.

  1. Lower your pH of your pool water to be between 7.4 – 7.6.
  2. Install an automatic pool cover that will reduce evaporation. Water that evaporates can leave behind calcium.
  3. Use a pool clarifier to clump the calcium films together, then vacuum them away or let your filter take care of them.
  4. Brush your pool regularly to kep calcium from building up.
  5. Vacuum your pool everytime you brush it to pick up loose calcium.

How to remove scale from pool tile

If you have tile or concrete, a pumice stone is perfect for removing scaling. We recommend starting off by wetting your tile and your stone to prevent the tile from scratching. Put on a pair of rubber gloves, and keep pouring water over the tile as you scrape away at the buildup. It takes a lot of effort depending on how much buildup you have. As you keep washing over the tile, you’ll see flakes of white come off and the original tile color start to shine through. Keep going until you’ve reached your desired result.

After, take a brush and go over the entire area again to remove all the calcium that may still be sticking to your concrete or tile. Once that’s done, vacuum the pool to remove all the debris and dirt. That’s all it takes to use a pumice stone to clean your tile!

When using muriatic acid, the process requires you to be more careful. You can’t get in the water to clean the tile like you can with pumice stone. To use muriatic acid, you will need a container of muriatic acid, goggles, rubber gloves, a bucket, a measuring cup, a plastic spoon, a spray bottle, marker, and a nonabrasive scouring pad. Just the list of products should tell you that this is a serious cleaning method and acid is dangerous.

Before beginning, drain your pool a few inches below the scale line. You don’t want this acid combining with your pool water as it’s very dangerous. Next, put on gloves and step into an open area. Fill your bucket with a gallon of water and 8 ounces of muriatic acid. Slowly pour the acid into the water and mix it to combine. Transfer the mixture into a spray bottle and make sure to use the marker to label everything with “Muriatic acid” so you don’t accidentally contaminate anything else. Spray the pool tile and scrub with your scouring pad. Scrub one section at a time and rinse in thoroughly with water. Once complete, you can refill your pool, test the water, and balance as needed to make sure the pH levels are between 7.4 and 7.6.

How to clean pool tile grout

The grout lines between your tile can become dull over time dur to regular wear and tear. The key to making your grout look great again is to clean it thoroughly.
Drain your swimming pool if any of the grout is beneath the pool water. Make sure the grout is dry and sweep away access dirt that is on the surface of the tiles. Then mix a bucket of bleach solution using the instructions provided. Look here for examples of the types of bleach you can use. Mop the oxygen bleach onto the grout you want to clean. The bleach must remain wet to be effective so mop small areas at a time and allow the oxygen bleach to remain on the surface for 10-15 minutes. The longer it remains, the more effective it is. Once you’re ready to remove the bleach, brush the areas of the grout you want cleaned. Rinse the area with fresh water and repeat over every surface you want cleaned.

How to clean pool tile with vinegar

Cleaning a pool with vinegar and water can help remove calcium deposits. Start by draining your pool below the calcium deposits and pour vinegar into a spray bottle. Spray it on the tile and let it sit for 5 minutes. Use a heated rag, small towel, or soft brush to scrub a small area at a tile. Rinse the tile with pool water and continue until all the pool tiles are clean. FInish off by brushing all calcium off the tile and vacuuming the pool to remove all debris that may have entered the water.

Vinegar is most effective when removing light scaling, mostly calcium cabonate. It also allows you to get into your pool while you’re cleaning, which some harsher methods don’t allow. If you’re tackling heavier calcium buildup, consider combining this method with some of the other methods we’ve listed, such as the pumice stone.

Cleaning pool tile with baking soda

Baking soda and water can create a paste that can remove scaling and dirt from your tiles. It’s non-toxic and easy to do. Start off by mixing a proper ratio of baking soda and water to create a paste. Use a cloth and spread the paste on the tiles. If it’s hard for you to spread, you can use more water and less baking soda to create a spray. Regardless of the method, use a nylon brush to scrub the stained area until the deposits come off. Use a mixture of warm water and a cloth to rinse the mixture of your tiles. Vacuum the calcium that may have landed in the pool and voila, you will have clean tiles!


Cleaning pool tiles and preventing scaling is hard work when you’ve neglected regular maintanence. However, with this blog, we’ve taught you the basics to clean your tile and preventing scaling from reoccuring. You’re all set to have the best pool this summer!

Enjoy your pool!

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