How to Remove Calcium Scale from Pool Tile Quickly and Easily

Swimming as a recreational activity is the fourth most popular overall, and the first most popular for those aged 7-17, in the United States. According to the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, 309K public and 10.4M residential pools exist throughout the country. Because of the popularity of swimming, and the large number of swimming pools, it’s important for US pool owners and operators to know how to best maintain them. Though there are a plethora of maintenance issues with which to deal, knowing how to remove calcium from pool tiles is a particularly important one.

Why Calcium is a Problem

Two types of calcium can cause problems with pools. Sometimes deposits consist of a fine film that builds up in layers, leaving behind a residue that easily comes off tiles if they’re cleaned regularly. This is called calcium carbonate. Sometimes buildup results in sharp, crystalized and sandy particles that attach to the tiles, caused by high calcium and pH levels in the water, and which requires more intensive cleaning methods. This is calcium silicate.

Learning how to remove calcium from pool tiles early can save both time and money. Often referred to as calcium scale, it gets worse the longer it’s left. Ignoring it will cause damage not only to pools, but to pool equipment as well. Regularly cleaning any scum lines – usually presenting as white or light gray deposits – will keep the buildup at bay and make pool tile scale removal easier. Sometimes it just involves cleaning the deposits with a soft cloth. Since this is easier done when in the pool, it’s a chore that can keep the cleaner cool on a hot day.

How Pool Tiles Differ

Pool tiles differ distinctly from building tiles. Two specific factors involve their resistance to sunlight and exposure to substances, including pool water and the chemicals it contains.

Exposure to Sunlight

Bathroom or kitchen tiling tends not to be exposed to sunlight for long periods, whereas outdoor swimming pool tiles are. For this reason, pool tiles are normally glazed. Because of this, they tend to resist fading, warping or cracking due to exposure to sunlight.

Exposure to Water & Chemicals

Though spills occur on indoor tiling, these normally get cleaned immediately. While liquid spills may cause grout on these tiles to break down, it won’t damage the tile. Swimming pool tiles, however, form a bond with the tile’s adhesive material, and further, they usually have water absorption rates of less than 0.5%. Swimming pool tiles must also resist erosion and pool chemicals.

How to Remove Calcium from Pool Tiles

Sometimes the best way to remove calcium from pool tile involves first contacting trusted pool professionals to check the chemistry of the pool’s water, as they can then advise the best technique to remove calcium from pool tiles. If a solid white or grayish crust forms along the waterline, determine what caused it with a pool water test. Normally calcium remains in a solution, but when the residue hardens, cleaning it with a simple kitchen scouring pad along the water line is usually good enough, though cleaning agents specific for tile and grout are also helpful. Regardless of the advice followed on removing calcium buildup, pool tile scale removal will always take at least a bit of physical labor.

Calcium Removers

Non-toxic calcium removers offer a method of pool tile scale removal that doesn’t affect a pool’s pH or damage the tiles. To access the tiles with calcium buildup, however, the water level must be reduced. Use putty knives or scouring pads to remove the thickest of the crust, then apply the liquid calcium remover and soak it for several minutes.

When the calcium remover bubbles, the cleaning agent is doing its work. Use a scrubbing pad or brush to remove additional layers of calcium buildup on the tile. As calcium deposits come in layers, each layer requires further scrubbing. Once the calcium is scrubbed away, let the tile dry. Applying a sealer will protect against further buildup, though make sure to follow the instructions carefully.

TLC Surface Cleaner

A heavy duty liquid cleaner for pool walls and surfaces, TLC Surface Cleaner offers a new, thicker no-run formula that clings longer to clean better. TLC removes grease, grime, caked-on oils, water line rings and scale in one operation, and restores original sheen to fiberglass, acrylic, ceramic, vinyl and the pool surfaces. Its heavy liquid adheres readily to any surface and bubbles as it attacks dirt and grime. When TLC has stopped bubbling it can be easily rinsed off.

Usage: Always wear rubber gloves with a sponge, cloth or soft brush for application. Allow 3 minutes while it bubbles then scrub briskly.

Muriatic Acid

Should other cleaning solutions not work, try a solution of muriatic acid mixed with water. Swimming pool stores carry muriatic acid. Take care and use gloves, however, as the muriatic acid can cause irritation or burns should it come into contact with skin or eyes.

Pumice Stones or Nylon Brush Cups

To remove caked calcium deposits, a pumice stone and a bit of hard work can do the trick when removing deposits from pool tiling or concrete, though pumice stones should never be used on soft surfaces like pool linings. When working with stones, ensure they’re wet, otherwise they may scratch the tiling.
Another similar method of pool tile scale removal uses a cordless drill and nylon bristle brush cup or wheel that can scrub buildup away. Never use steel cups or wheels, however, as this can cause rust to gather at the bottom of the pool or damage the pool’s tiling.

Pressure Washing

Also called bead blasting, this method will remove the most persistent blemishes or buildup from calcium deposits, and is perhaps the best way to remove calcium from pool tiles. Rent a pressure washer from a hardware store or, if worried about dislodging any loose tiles, hire a professional to do it. Professional pool companies use magnesium sulfate in compressors to remove calcium buildup quickly and efficiently. It involves much less work, though it will inevitably cost more.

Contact the Pool and Spa Professionals at Halogen Supply

If you need advice or help when looking into how to remove calcium from pool tiles, contact us at Halogen Supply today to speak with our support staff. As experts with an average of over 20 years’ experience in all things swimming pools, they can answer any of questions you might have about swimming pools or spas and their upkeep.