How to Replace and Repair Pool Tiles

This article will describe how to replace and repair pool tile above the water line and also below the water line.

Yes, it is possible to stick tiles back on even underwater.

Hopefully you have saved the tiles that came off or you have enough new ones on hand. Clean them as best you can without breaking them. Get as much of the old cement off the back of the tile as is possible. They can be placed in the dishwasher if you have one. Squirt cigarette lighter fluid (naphtha)on the back to clean any suntan oils off and let them dry without wiping.

Lay out your tiles close to where they will be installed so you can grasp them quickly. Do not touch the back of the tiles so as to not get finger print oils on them. Once you start applying the 3M 5200 adhesive caulk the task will move along quickly so be prepared. The caulk dries very quickly.

Follow the directions on the caulk tube to get the flow started. Once you have the material coming out of the nozzle, place a bead around the outside back face of the tile. Leave about a quarter inch gap so the water can get out once you press the tile in place if you are doing this under water. Otherwise you don't need to leave a gap.

Make sure you have plenty of caulk tubes to finish the job. After a day or two of set up time in the pool, you can go back and use more caulk in the gap between tiles. You will use it as grout so to speak. Best to use rubber gloves if you need to wipe the bead. If you get it on your hands it will have to wear off, takes a long time.

Things You Will Need

  • 3M 5200 Adhesive Caulk
  • Regular size caulking gun
  • Naphtha cleaning solvent.


  • This marine grade polyurethane material, 3M 5200, is usually obtainable from a marine supply store or is obtainable over the Internet.
  • This is a permanent fix so you will not be able to undo it once it's done.
  • It may be a good idea to practice first if you are apprehensive about doing this task.
  • I've done this, it is doable.


  • Since this caulk material is expensive and seldom used it has a tendency to go bad in the tubes sitting on the shelf. In other words is sets up in the tube and the tube is therefore worthless. Be sure you are able to return it or better still open and try one of the tubes before you leave the store. If you do this you will obviously need to hurry to your job site.