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Human beings have made ceramic tiles for over 4,000 years. Tiled surfaces have been excavated and discovered from Egyptian Pyramids and ancient ruins worldwide. It only follows that one of the elementary design techniques from history has evolved along with one of the oldest recreation activities and amenities of humans, the swimming pool.
Swimming Pool tile in the United States throughout the golden age of swimming pool design and construction in the early 20th century was purely utilitarian. Tiles were applied to the perimeter of the waterline to stop the “scum” line or ring from attaching to porous swimming pool surfaces, rendering them difficult to eradicate. These tiles were not offered in various colors and designs but were considered maintenance items. As pools and designers became more astute and daring concerning their swimming pool designs, pool tile became more of a decorative item. New patterns and colors and hand-painted or one-off decorative designs became more available and were used to adorn swimming pool designs. Commercial and competition pools were entirely tiled from floor to wall to make them water-tight and to have swim lanes and targets for competition. Perhaps the pinnacle of the all-tile swimming pool appears at the Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle, in which Vermont marble tile elegantly adorns the floor and walls of the nearly 350,000-gallon masterpiece. Today, glass is used to achieve beauty and elegance, often blended in custom color mixes and other stone and ceramic tiles to produce breathtaking patterns. Mosaic swimming pool tile patterns can be as simple as sea life and as elaborate as Persian rugs and oil paintings by the masters. Craig Bragdy Designs of Wales designs and installs hand-painted ceramics for swimming pools that are truly amazing. These tiles from the United Kingdom utilize larger pieces of ceramic as opposed to 1”x1” or ¾”x ¾” tiles which gives them a lifelike quality. While installing an all-tile swimming pool today can be expensive, many homeowners are opting to tile select areas of their swimming pool, such as their sun shelves or the seating areas inside their hot tubs. There is no doubt that swimming pool tile has an elegance all its own, representing the finest swimming pool surface in the world.