By Tim Long
It should be noted that not everything must be the same. Sometimes even simplest changes, such as the direction of the tile can make all the difference in the world. Doing so may add visual interest by emphasizing a new direction for the eye to follow. On a recent project we used a diagonal placement of tile to achieve a stunning look over what was a dated and overwhelming feel of the brick!
Brick can be a wonderful construction material, but in this case, the builder used too much brick. In dealing with an natural elevation change present in the yard. The builder created a wall, raised bond beam, to retain the soil of the yard, which sloped toward the rear entrance of the home. This raised area was now home to a spa, itself raised slightly, and a small entertaining area. This area space is accessed by a series of steps to the left of the spa. The wall began with the steps, ran underneath the spa and extended to the far side of the pool where it similarly descended back to the elevation of the home. For all of this the builder used a red brick, both as coping on the pool wall and as a face to the wall itself. The only exception being a vertical band of tile below the spillway of the spa. The effect of this much dark brick was to overwhelm, putting the entire backyard out of balance.
In approaching this project, our client asked us to update the pool’s overall appearance, especially the brick wall. To do so required numerous visits to various material suppliers until we found a coping treatment and tile selection that matched the clients taste while lightening the pools appearance.
After much searching and deliberation, we finally settled on a 6″ x 6″ light tan and gold tile, which came with wide variation in color for the pool water line and a matching 12″ x 12″ for the wall. The tile was complemented with 24″ bull-nosed travertine coping. Travertine was also used to create a new extended spillway.
The existing brick face was left in place, but was coated in mortar. In doing so we were creating a new tile beam, which is usually necessary in renovation work, but particularly in this case. Over this rough brick we needed a smooth and level surface for installation of the tile.
Our 12″ tile was centered on the wall between the water line and the spa spillway. The initial tiles set are the most important, as they establish the pattern for the entire wall. We chose to lay the wall tile on diagonals. This would create a simple but interesting pattern, which would contrast nicely with the lines of the pool.
The actual setting of these wall tiles was time consuming, requiring a number of cuts in the tile, particularly where the wall angled in and out from the pool. After the tile was set a topaz colored grout was applied. This color matched perfectly with the tile making the grout lines all but invisible.
Eventually the wall was completed along with the coping and water line tile. The effect new tile, particularly against the against the color of the water was visually stunning!