Beautiful pale sandstone and a salt water pool may feel like the closest your backyard will get to the beach – but is it going to be a lasting design choice? Salt water pools, though attractive for a number of reasons, are not known for being kind to many natural stone products. Sandstone in particular requires extra care to ensure your pool design stands the test of time.
How does salt water affect natural stone pool tiles?
Salt water is a popular alternative to traditional chlorination. A special filter converts salt into chlorine, ensuring your pool remains clean without too much maintenance and protecting your skin, hair and eyes from relatively harsh chemicals. With only a tenth the salinity of seawater, a salt water pool won't quite emulate the ocean, but will feel much more natural and comfortable than chlorinated water.
That said, salt has a storied history as one of the most powerful forces in nature. Just look out to the rocky coast – the wild stone faces on the headlands are marked by the destructive forces of salt, wind and waves. No matter the material – metal, concrete or stone – salt has the potential to deal considerable damage over time.
The same can happen to your natural stone pool tiles. As water enters through the pores of the stone, it carries salt with it. The water will typically then evaporate, leaving behind salt which crystalises and expands. This expansion of salt can present as:
Is sandstone more susceptible to salt damage?
Salt damage can happen to any natural stone product, but some sandstone may be more vulnerable.
Because sandstone is porous, water penetrates it more easily. Naturally, this means there's more opportunity for salt to enter the stone and wreak havoc. While the beautiful pale colours of sandstone mean you're less likely to notice salt staining, structural damage is hard to ignore. Ask your stone supplier about high-density, quality sandstone tiles to mitigate some salt damage risk.
In addition to selecting a trusted stone supplier, there are effective ways to protect your sandstone pool pavers from salt damage.
How can you protect sandstone pool tiles from salt damage?
Protecting pool tiles is a common concern for pool owners. Even the most naturally resilient stones will typically require sealing at the water line. When surrounding your pool with sandstone, sealing is more important than ever.
It's important you seal each sandstone tile thoroughly to prevent serious salt damage. The type of sealant you choose is also critical: topical or impregnating.
A topical sealer is applied to the surface of your tiles and may be used after the tiles are installed. This sits on the surface of the stone, like a lacquer, and creates a solid barrier against moisture and other elements. However, it's possible that any salt already present may become trapped in the upper layer of the stone and delaminate the sealant when it crystalises. Furthermore, some topical sealants can make the surface of the stone slippery, which is definitely not ideal around a pool.
For this reason, you need to use an impregnating (or penetrating) sealer. These products penetrate the stone and create resin bonds below the surface, making it impossible for moisture to enter while still allowing any present to evaporate. The icing on the cake: impregnating sealants require less upkeep as they are not worn by general surface cleaning and usage.
Nothing should stand between you and your dream pool design. For high quality stone and protection advice, reach out to the BauMart team today.