Follow Me

Subscribe by Email

Your email:

Browse by Tag

Pool Q & A

Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

Glass Tile In Swimming Pool Design, What You Should Know


Alka Pool Construction, an award winning swimming pool design and construction firm, offers an "Insider's Guide" to selecting glass tile for your swimming pool project.

Alka Pools ConstructionAward Winning Design By Alka Pool Construction, Ltd.

One of the hottest trends in pools and home décor these past few years has been glass tile.  In our area of Vancouver, BC Canada it has been an ever growing trend that sets the style setters apart from the followers. 
Glass tile is a beautiful product that comes in so many shapes, colours and textures.  It can change a pool from a basic backyard oasis to an elegant, stunning work of art.
It can run from affordable to the extremely expensive and everything in between.  But one thing that remains is the ability to transform any poolscape from drab to fab instantly.
Ok, not really instantly but you get what I mean.  A few tips for pool owners to consider when looking at glass tile;
  • Tile today comes from all over the world.  Here in North America we see a lot of glass tile come from China, Mexico and Italy.  Each have different qualities to attract Consumers.  Some are clean lines and elegant while others have more of a handmade artesian quality.  The style possibilities are endless.
  • What’s your style?  Consider your options;
    • Glass tile comes in clear, glass with white backing, opaque glass (venetian), rough glass and a whole host of various style, shapes and sizes. 
    • Some are straight and consistent in sizing/shapes, while others have a more haphazard look to them.


Tile Samples By Alka Pool 

  • Think about what you like to see.  If you like the refraction of light to bounce off the tile pick one that is either all clear or clear with a white backing.
  • Only want the smoothness of glass but not the transparency? – pick a venetian glass.
  • Take time at the selection stage to do your research.  Whichever style, size or colour you choose, remember your personal style and the environment in which you are using it.  If you like bold colours, purple maybe a great option, if you prefer a more monochromatic in style, matching the tile to the surrounding decking colours would suit you better.




  • Most common sizes we see installed in pools are 1”x1” and ¾”x ¾”.  However, you can also get 1”x2”, 3/8”x3/8” and other sizes.  When looking at glass tile keep in mind a few facts.  If you can see-through the tile you will be able to see the thinset bed as well. So the white or grey thinset will show through and alter the colour of your tile accordingly, regardless of grout colour.  If you have a see through tile try to keep the grout the same colour as the setting materials for consistency of look. 
  • Find a tile in your budget and consider the additional costs;
  • Glass tile pricing ranges greatly.  This is because of where tile is manufactured, how far it travels to us and as always the quality.  You can even get glass tile with gold specks. It’s best to understand how much area you are tiling in square feet or square meters before you start shopping.  That way when you are presented with prices you can do a quick calculation to see if it is in your budget.  If you find you are totally in love with a tile out of your budget consider using it as an accent only to limit your costs.
  • Glass tile is harder to install than regular ceramic or porcelain tile so your labour cost will be higher as well.  This is due to the fact that glass tile has to be cut by hand and in individual pieces to fit in places where a full tile can’t be used, especially in the curved corner of a pool where the floor meets the wall.
  • Also of consideration is an anti-fracture membrane.  This membrane is applied immediately over the mortar bed and provides a bit of flex for the tile.  In frost/freeze climates this is a must on tile bands and particularly any tiled areas which are above ground like vanishing edges.  While these precautionary steps add to the initial investment it contributes to a lasting product.  Many glass tile manufacturers insist on using this product under their tile.
  • It’s wise to have a sample sheet for your tile setter to see when they price out your project.  This way no one has unpleasant surprises.
  • Not all tile setters are skilled in glass tile and not all know what setting materials to use.  Glass is smooth and so creating a solid bond for an underwater application is essential.  Using the right setting materials is critical. Ask your tile setter if they have had experienced in setting glass tile in underwater applications.  Some tile manufacturer’s, such as Bisazza, offer training certification courses in glass tile installation.
  • To mesh or not to mesh…
    • Most tile comes in sheets, generally a 12” x 12” square, held together on a mesh backing or a paper/plastic facing.  For underwater applications a paper/plastic facing is ideal.  This allow the setting material full contact with the tile.  With many mesh backings sometimes the glue used to stick the mesh to the tile is over applied in the manufacturing process.  This limits the bond of the setting materials to the tile.  While mesh is the more popular backing available and often the more affordable choice, care needs to taken to determine whether it is suitable for underwater applications.   Some tile distributors/manufacturers have glass tile on mesh which are guaranteed for pool installation.

 Alka Pool Tile Photo


  • When considering where in your pool, whirlpool or waterscape you will want glass tile, think about the practical use of it.  Glass is very slippery so on steps might not be the best choice.  Adding one or two rows of a non-slip tile for safety can help.  If you are installing glass tile in a whirlpool you might not want to install a tile that has sharp edges; sitting or leaning your back on these types of tiles can cut a person’s skin as grout wears over time.  These are better suited to a tile band where people rubbing up against is not an issue.  Rub your hand over a non-grouted sample.  If you can feel rough edges poking at your skin you will feel the same on your whirlpool seat.


Alka Pool Image - Tile  

Glass tile is a wonderful and beautiful surface.  My personal favourite and a top 10 trend as rated by the Master Pools Guild for 2013.  I see this stunning finish to be even more popular in the future as prices and options in North American are becoming more consumer friendly.  There is no better way to bring that resort feel to your home than with a glorious glass tile pool and whirlpool - by Carla Sovernigo-Pawella - President, Alka Pool Construction.


For more information on the advantages of working with a Master Pools Guild member builder, please visit our About Us page.   

What Is Geothermal Technology And Will It Heat My Swimming Pool?


Lately, geothermal technology has been receiving a good bit of attention in the press.  Master Pools Guild member Geremia Pools, Sacramento California, has been a pioneer in this technology, an early adaptor and a integral member of the industry propelling the technology forward.  But how can that help you economically heat your pool?  Let us explain:

Geremia Pools. CA Design and Construction By Geremia Pools, CA USA

The earth is constantly absorbing heat from the sun.  The term “geothermal” means “the heat in the earth.”  In  many areas the  temperature of the earth, just a few feet below the surface, really does not vary as much seasonally as you might think.  These areas work extremely well for geothermal technology which, in heating mode pulls heat from the ground and unheated pool, and in the cooling mode does the opposite transferring heat from the house to the pool and the ground.   As we stated earlier, Geremia Pools stays on the cutting edge of this technology.  

What is so unique about Geremia’s  GeoSmart Technology is that by using your pool, they are able to dramatically reduce the system's installation cost verses a traditional geothermal system. Their patented equipment connects the system to your pool thereby reducing the number of in-ground panels required. You will find this to be a much more efficient way to lower installation costs while maximizing the energy saving potential for your home.

Geremia Pools

Pool Design and Construction by Geremia Pools, CA  USAP

"GeoSmart Technology will redefine what a swimming pool's overall value is to its owners," says Mike Geremia, President of Geremia Pools. "It is a hidden asset that will yield a good return. By installing our GeoSmart Technology system when building a new pool or remodeling an existing one, pool owners will reduce their home energy bills by up to 70% per month."

The technology not only heats and cools the water in your pool but it also works to help heat and cool your home reportedly saving home owners up to 70%.  For more detailed information click here to access the GeoSmart website.

Homeowners should investigate Federal Tax Credits available on the total investment of this hybrid geothermal system as well as the Property Accessed Clean Energy (PACE) finance program, that can  offer financing  up to 100%  for energy efficient improvements that are permanently fixed to residential property.

Geothermal systems have been recognized by The Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as the most environmentally friendly, cost effective and energy efficient heating and cooling technology available today.  

We invite you to visit our resource library for more information on designing your swimming pool!

What is a Weir Wall?


When swimming pool design includes an infinity or vanishing edge, the term weir wall will also be used in the discussion.  A weir is a barrier across a body of water, designed to alter its flow characteristics. Weirs are commonly used to alter the flow of rivers in order to prevent flooding and to help make rivers easier to navigate.   

Weir Wall  This swimming pool designed & constructed by Lifetime Pools, Palo Alto, California

In the case of a swimming pool, weir walls take the form of obstructions which cause water to pool behind them, while allowing water to flow steadily over their tops.  So “weir wall” is the technical name for the visible wall that forms part of the exposed end of a vanishing edge design.

MoreheadNight  This pool designed & constructed by Morehead Pools, Shreveport, LA

What Does It Cost To Build An In-ground Swimming Pool? by Lombardo Pools


Which Swimming Pool Is Right For You?

The Two Biggest Factors

The addition of an in-ground swimming pool can be one of the best investments you make when it comes to the value of your property. It can also add new elements of enjoyment, fitness and an active lifestyle to your family’s daily routine.  Of course one of the first questions I am asked as a swimming pool builder is “What is the price tag?”  There are dozens of contributing factors but typically, the cost of building an in-ground swimming pool can range from $25,000 to more than $100,000 with much depending on the type of swimming pool you select (Gunite, Fiberglass or Vinyl Liner). Nationwide, you will find the average cost of pool construction varies widely by location.  Working with a reputable, experienced swimming pool builder is your first step in insuring your project will meet your dreams as well as stay within your budget.


Lombardo Swimming Pools - Charlotte NC

Factor #1 Selecting Your Type of Pool

There are three types of in-ground pools in widespread use: vinyl-lined pools, fiberglass shell pools and concrete (gunite) or (shotcrete) pools. My company builds only (shotcrete) pools. Over the past 30 years I have built all three types. I will give you a brief description of the other categories as fair and balanced as I can.

In-ground vinyl-lined pools are varying types of permanent kit pools.  The walls may be of varying grades of coated steel or plastic composite.  These pools will typically have either a sand or vermiculite bottom to shape the floor, followed by a vinyl liner.  Although many builders have been very creative, these pools are limited to shapes and design by the panels available. The location of these pools is limited as well.  Placement of water features is also somewhat limited when working with this type of pool.  Expect to replace the liner every 5 – 7 years (based on my personal experience).

One Piece Fiberglass pools.  When our company was introduced to the one piece fiberglass market over 20 years ago, we thought we now had the perfect mix.  Price point wise these pools filled the gap between in-ground vinyl liner and custom concrete pools – at least as far as price point goes.  It is our belief that “all pools have a place in the market.”  My personal opinion on fiberglass is, they are limited to current shapes and design.  The salesmen claim that fiberglass pools never have to be refinished however; the gel coat interiors will not look the same 15-20 years after installation. All protrusions are done with a gasket and compression type fitting along with an adhesive sealant, similar to vinyl liner pools. It has been my personal experience that these seals/gaskets do go bad and will need attention years down the road.  So the sales claim that it “never needs to be refinished”, doesn’t hold water.  No pun intended.  Should a fiberglass pool need to be drained, special attention and care must be taken to avoid damage.  Fiberglass just is not as strong as concrete.  

Concrete  swimming pools, often referred to as “Gunite” or “Shotcrete” are a pool owners most customizable option.  Imagination, builder knowledge and budget are the only limitations when designing a concrete pool.  From the simple family swimming pool to the pool at the Bellagio, if you can dream it, it can be built with concrete.  The pools are permanent pools not kit pools.  They are built to last a lifetime. Concrete pools can become structural retainer walls unlike the other two types. They can be built virtually anywhere with proper engineering.  Unlike the other pools, concrete pools can, if desired, be remodeled to take on a whole new look.  We recommend these pools for people that dream for the pool that has never been built.  This homeowner plans to be in their home for at least 10 years.  The price point for these types of pools, within our market here in North Carolina, starts at $30,000 and is as unlimited as your dreams.  From small to large the design options are endless.  Shotcrete pools can be accessorized with lighting, fountains, grottos, waterfalls, diving rocks, attached spas, structural retainer walls, automatic controls, automatic covers, the list goes on and on.   Your swimming pool design professional can work with you when selecting those options that are most important to you now as well as discuss additional phases of your project that you could plan to add at a later time.  For example, your current “wish list” may include an outdoor kitchen adjacent to the pool area but your budget may require that plan be implemented next season.  Work with a design professional now so those long term plans are included in your overall backyard design concept.


Factor # 2 Location

You are undoubtedly aware that construction costs vary across the country.  Another contributing factor to the cost of your swimming pool is the location of your house on your property.  An in-ground pool must be excavated, and types of soil, the water table, and property access can impact construction costs.  There are also permitting elements that will come into play.  Again, working with an experienced, local builder will save you money, as they are most familiar with your geographic area as well as the local permit application process.

To sum it up, there are two primary factors that will affect your swimming pool construction bottom line.  Your location is not a factor of which you have much control.  Size and choice of materials, along with extras like lighting and automated controls however, are factors that can drastically impact your budget.  A local, swimming pool professional is equipped with the experience and the expertise to help you navigate this process successfully ensuring that you reach that backyard paradise with both your dreams and your budget intact. 


This article contributed by Keith Lombardo, President, Lombardo Swimming Pools, headquartered in the Charlotte, NC area. Keith Lombardo is a board member of the Master Pools Guild, award winning swimming pool builder and second generation swimming pool business owner.

How Long Does It Take To Build A Swimming Pool?


Lombardo Swimming Pool DesignAward Winning Designs By Lombardo Swimming Pool

OK, you have made the decision to have a swimming pool built & the first question you have is, “How long will it take to build my pool?”  Everybody wants to know the answer to this question, and rightly so. This is an exciting time in the process & you are ready to see those dreams become your Backyard Reality! While time of year and geographic location play a major role in the time involved in swimming pool construction, let’s review a few additional determining factors:


Weather is the number one factor affecting completion dates of an inground swimming pool projects. Construction and rain do not go hand in hand.  Temperature fluctuations in early spring and late fall can also impact the time line. Your experienced builder will be able to guide you with estimates based on your specific area.


Permitting is an area where your builder’s expertise will help immensely.  Your builder will be able to tell you typical time frames associated with permitting processes unique to your particular area.  An experienced, knowledgeable, local builder will be prepared and able to assist in navigating this process and will have a solid handle on typical time frames at various times of the year.  Your builder will also have experience working with local officials in areas that may require additional permitting such as historical areas, areas adjacent to wetlands, sites on or near ocean front access etc.

The Site

Site selection is another factor for consideration.  Obviously, the easier access the least impact to construction timelines. Again, builder knowledge here is essential.

Lombardo Swimming Pool Gold Award Winner


Your swimming pool design choices will have an impact on your project timeline.  Detailed tile work, specialty finishes, automatic covers, attached spas, in-floor cleaners, the list goes on & on and that is a GOOD thing.  You want your swimming pool to be everything you imagined. Sometimes, this means developing a large design plan that can be implemented in phases that accommodate budgets & desires. Your builder is experienced in handling unique features and working on projects that encompass multiple phases.  He will be able to give you guidance on timelines based on your selections and his expertise.

 Lombardo Swimming Pool Design View 2

Final Word

So what IS the average construction time for building an inground swimming pool?  We suggest you start with an expectation of approximately 60 days.  Your builder will customize your construction calendar based on all the criteria discussed above.  Just remember, the better qualified builder will be able to provide you with the most accurate forecasting when it comes to construction time lines and will also provide you with a finished poolscape you and your family will enjoy for a lifetime.  Select your builder wisely and enjoy!


This article contributed by Keith Lombardo, President, Lombardo Swimming Pools, headquartered in the Charlotte, NC. area.  Keith Lombardo is a board member of the Master Pools Guild, award winning swimming pool builder and second generation swimming pool buisness owner.

All Posts