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ARDEX Product Spotlight: ARDEX X 60 PU FLEX

ARDEX X 60 PU FLEX Polyurethane Reaction Resin Tile Adhesive was launched earlier this year as a brand-new solution for tiling to problematic substrates.

Fibreglass, or GRP, is a common material and is often the tiling background in swimming pools and jacuzzies, and this presents a challenge for fixers as traditional cement-based adhesives are unable to adhere to it. Metallic bases such as steel and aluminium also pose a problem, normally requiring intensive preparation and priming before tiling; meanwhile PVC cannot be tiled at all using traditional adhesives. ARDEX X 60 PU FLEX has been specially designed to adhere to these substrates, and without priming too!

ARDEX X 60 PU FLEX is also ideal for moisture-sensitive materials and so is suitable for use with all tile types including moisture-sensitive natural stone and agglomerated tiles. It can also be applied direct to moisture-sensitive substrates such as particle boards, plasterboard and gypsum fibreboards, which would usually require priming first.

ARDEX X 60 PU FLEX has a pot life of 45 minutes, a working time of 60 minutes and can be trafficked and grouted after just 3 hours, and it requires no special application tools.

For further information, download our guide here or visit the ARDEX X 60 PU FLEX page here.

The ARDEX Guide to Tiling in Swimming Pools

Last month, ARDEX joined ISPE at the Walton Park Hotel in Clevedon for their 120th One-Day Seminar, where Shaun Howarth, National Business Development Manager, and Vince Ruffini, Contract Manager, presented and demonstrated ARDEX’s solutions for waterproofing water retaining structures.

In swimming pools, it’s not just waterproofing that presents challenges to installers. Ultimately, it is the choice of tiles, combined with the correct suite of preparation products, tile adhesives and grouts, that allows you to not only create an aesthetically pleasing design, but one which is also durable and will withstand the most demanding conditions for years to come.

ARDEX products have been successfully specified in hundreds of swimming pools, from domestic projects to the London Aquatics Centre for the London 2012 Olympic games. In this article, we’ll take you through our top tips for tiling in pools, and how you can get a long-lasting, durable finish.

Preparation, Preparation, Preparation

As with any project, preparation is key. The first step in any pool tiling installation is to evaluate the substrate and ensure it is flat enough to receive the tiles. According to British Standards, any deviations should not exceed 3mm when measured under a 2m straight edge. To be confident you’re starting with a flat, smooth surface, you should render the walls and screed the base.

This stage will also allow you to create ramps and falls if needed and adjust the inside measurements of the pool to match the exact length and depth required; this is particularly important in competition pools, which must be made within very strict tolerances.

A problem we sometimes see at this stage is that the screed or render hasn’t been able to create an adequate bond to the substrate, which is usually caused by poor preparation of the substrate. Make sure you avoid this by using appropriate mechanised surface preparation equipment to remove any loose, friable materials, and ensuring proper application of the screed or render.

Recommended ARDEX products:

  • ARDEX AM 100 Rapid Set One Coat Tile Render: apply 2-30mm thick on walls and tile in as little as 2 hours.
  • ARDEX A 38 Ultra Rapid Drying Cement for Internal & External Screeds: apply bonded 15-40mm thick on floors and tile in as little as 4 hours.
  • ARDEX S 21 Rapid Setting Floor Tile Bedding Mortar: make ramps from 3-30mm thick and tile in as little as 3 hours.
  • ARDEX K 301 Self-Smoothing Levelling Compound: apply 2-20mm thick on floors and tile the next day.


Swimming pools are required by British Standards to be watertight structures. If not, it is essential that a waterproofing product is used and applied over the entire area and at the correct thickness, otherwise there could be leaks, which are notoriously hard to find after the full installation is complete.

It is also important to use the correct reinforcement tape beforehand, and this should be applied to all the joints between walls and floors, and any inlets to the pool.

Recommended ARDEX products:

  • ARDEX S 7 PLUS Flexible Waterproof Coating for Swimming Pools: apply 2 coats and install tiles just 4 hours after the application of the second coat.
  • ARDEX WPM 200 Epoxide Liquid Waterproof Membrane: resistant to chemicals and the effects of moving water, and ideal for swimming pool drainage channels, plant rooms and balance tanks that do not require tiling.

Tile Fixing

You’re now ready to fix the tiles, and in the first instance you must select an adhesive that’s suitable for use in swimming pools. Products such as ARDEX X 77 MICROTEC Flexible Standard Set Tile Adhesive are not only compatible with these environments, but also provide a number of benefits for the fixer:

  • Fibre reinforced for enhanced adhesion and flexibility.
  • A 3-hour pot life and 60-minute open time allow more adhesive to be mixed and spread in a single batch, providing greater fixing efficiency over larger areas.
  • Up to 19m² coverage from a single bag when fixing mosaics.

Once you begin tiling, it is essential that solid bed fixing is achieved and that no voids are left beneath the tiles.

What About Tiling to Fibreglass Pool Shells?

Fibreglass (GRP) shells are a particularly common occurrence for swimming pool contractors and is often the tiling background in pools and jacuzzies. This presents a challenge for fixers as traditional cement-based adhesives are unable to fix to them. In 2018, ARDEX launched ARDEX X 60 PU FLEX Polyurethane Reaction Resin Tile Adhesive; specifically designed to adhere to problematic substrates, it can be used to fix tiles to fibreglass, steel and PVC direct without priming!

Tile Grouting

The most common problem we see at this stage is where the incorrect type of grout is selected and inevitably degrades and/or falls out of the joints.

It is important to distinguish between the two main types of grout. Firstly, there are cement based grouts, which can be used in fully submerged areas and where the pool water is balanced. For areas of moving water, around the pool edge for example, or in outdoor or salt water pools, you should always look to use an epoxy/reaction resin grout. These grouts offer excellent chemical resistance and high standards of hygiene and cleanliness but can be difficult to use; opt for ARDEX EG 8 PLUS for the best of both worlds.

Recommended ARDEX products:

  • ARDEX-FLEX Flexible Tile Grouts: cementitious grouts with built-in admix that are water repellent, dirt resistant and available in 35 colours. Select ARDEX-FLEX FS for joint widths up to 4mm wide and ARDEX-FLEX FL for joint widths 3-15mm wide.
  • ARDEX EG 8 PLUS Easy Apply & Clean Epoxy Tile Grout: combines the chemical resistance of epoxy grouts with the ease of application of cement-based grouts. Requires no special tools and can be cleaned off the surface up to 60 minutes after application.

ARDEX are a premium supplier of products for the preparation and installation of tiles in swimming pools. For more information on the full range of ARDEX products suitable for use in and around swimming pools, download our brochure here.

ARDEX Team Spotlight: Vince Ruffini (Contract Manager)

Vince Ruffini began his career at the age of 17 when he joined his father’s business, and together they offered full bathroom renovation and fit out services. He gravitated toward the tiling aspect of his work from the outset, and after 5 years he decided to become a teacher in the subject. He joined the Skills Centre in Enfield, and first set about gaining his own City & Guilds qualification in Wall & Floor Tiling before moving on to teach the Level 2 course himself. He taught up to 16 students over a 48-week period, covering all aspects of tiling from rendering and screeding through to the installation of natural stone and mosaics; he also offered private tuition for those looking to upskill in specific areas.

After six years the centre closed, and Vince went self-employed as a tile fixer. Sub-contracting for Bennett Homes, Urban Homes and Colonial Kitchens, he worked on commercial and domestic projects throughout the UK, including high-end properties such as Limehouse in London and Hopetoun House in Edinburgh.

Vince returned to his training routes several years later when he joined Hackney College. He once again taught City & Guilds Wall & Floor Tiling, but this time he covered both the Level 1 and Level 2 courses and was responsible for up to 50 students a year! Those that enrolled would have had little to no experience, but they’d leave with a diploma, a CSCS Card and all the skills they’d need to start or join a tiling business.

His time at Hackney College was very fulfilling, particularly for his involvement in their community outreach programmes where he ran a weekly mosaics class for children with mental health issues and physical disabilities. It was also rewarding to see many of his students’ works being recognised, with one mural hanging on the walls of London City Hall! In another example, an inter-college competition saw participants pitted against each other to create the best Olympic-themed mosaic artwork; judged by Bob Howard, a founding member of The Tile Association (TTA), Vince’s team were crowned winners for their depiction of the fencing sport, as well as the famous Olympic rings.

This however wouldn’t be the first time Vince crossed paths with the TTA, as he’d previously served as a Committee Member for two years. In yet another effort to improve the standards of training in his industry, he was instrumental in creating an Experienced Worker Route (EWR) course to allow experienced fixers to gain qualifications through a fast-track program. Following its development through the CITB, he then became the first person to trial the practical assessment of the qualification.

In 2016, Vince joined ARDEX as a Technical Service Representative. With his extensive experience in tiling, he quickly became a key contact for many contractors, specifiers and architects and assisted on technical queries, as well as helping with specification writing and site visits. He also had a significant involvement in product testing and the development of new products, including the launch of ARDEX X 60 PU FLEX Polyurethane Reaction Resin Tile Adhesive. Vince headed up product trials with pool and spa builders, and the feedback he gathered resulted in formulation tweaks to ultimately ensure the final product best suited the needs of fixers.

In 2018, Vince became one of ARDEX’s latest Contract Managers. His role of assisting customers through technical support has not changed, but he now covers the country and has a larger focus on training. From events at the ARDEXacademy to product demonstrations at local trade counters, he has trained countless numbers on not only how to get the best from ARDEX products, but also how to tackle the toughest tiling challenges. Not limited to contractors, he is also implementing a national distributor training program so sales staff are upskilled too, ultimately ensuring they can offer a better service to their customers in the long-term.

Over the course of his career, Vince has used his technical knowledge to support thousands in the tiling industry. From running training courses that prepare novice fixers for the challenges of their trade, through to technical support for experienced professionals, he has demonstrated a proficiency for sharing best practice throughout the industry.

The New Waterproofing Regulations & What They Mean To You

The British Standards Institute (BSI) has now released its latest codes of practice for BS 5385-1 (wall and floor tiling in normal internal conditions), and there’s been a step-change in regulations overseeing works in wet areas. Under the new revision, all substrates should be waterproofed before tiling, even in domestic locations. It’s a positive leap forward that will improve the standards of workmanship for clients across the UK, but what exactly does it mean for you, the professional tiler?

Why Waterproofing Has Always Been So Important

A wet area is any bathroom, wet-room, shower area or steam room, or any other location subject to frequent water contact. Though they tend to be tiled, the substrates being fixed to are often moisture-sensitive (plasterboard, plaster and even some proprietary backer boards); and British Standards advocate the use of tanking membranes to protect them.

This is because the tiles alone are not enough to stop water getting to the them. Cementitious adhesives and grouts are the popular choice for fixing them, and their porous nature allows moisture to pass through. Over time, water is absorbed through the grout joints and adhesive bed and then into underlying substrates.

If the substrate is not protected, it can cause damp and mould issues; and as time progresses, this can even transfer to adjoining rooms and/or cause the tiles to de-bond! Ultimately, you’re left with an unsightly and costly situation to fix.
It is a common misconception that cementitious adhesives and grouts are waterproof. Most are only water resistant, meaning they do not prevent the passage of water, but instead allow water to pass through without being affected.


Changes to British Standards

British Standards already advocated waterproofing in commercial wet areas. However, under the new BS 5385-1:2018 clause for Tanking, it will now also be a recommendation for domestic locations. So, whenever you’re tiling any bathroom, shower or other wet area, remember to apply a suitable proprietary tanking membrane system first.

By not following the BSI guidance, the consequences can be costly, not only in terms of your personal reputation but financially too. With the new standards in place, you could be as liable for repairs in domestic areas as you are for commercial locations; and not just for the tiled wet area, but in adjoining rooms as well.

Waterproofing is Quick and Easy with ARDEX WPC!

Fortunately, tanking a wet area doesn’t have to add much extra time, effort or cost. ARDEX WPC Rapid Drying Waterproof Protection Coating is easy to apply and allows tiling to commence after just 90 minutes! It even comes as a kit with a FREE roller sleeve and scrim tape for added convenience. To find out more about ARDEX WPC, and to watch a video of it in action, visit the product page here.

ARDEX WPC Now Available in White!

ARDEX WPC Flexible Rapid Drying Waterproof Protection Coating was first launched in the 1970s, and to this day is still a favourite amongst fixers due to its easy to apply formulation and rapid 90-minute tile-on-time.

It’s now available in a new White version which, due to its light colouring, allows fixers to see their setting out lines between the adhesive ribs, making tile placement easier and more accurate. It’s also ideal as a waterproof background for fixing light and translucent coloured mosaics.

Like its Grey counterpart, ARDEX WPC W creates a protective waterproof coating that stops moisture migrating from wet areas through to any adjoining rooms, and prevents any costly and unsightly water damage that could happen as a result. A recommendation under British Standards (BS 5385), any installation subject to frequent water contact should have the underlying substrate tanked; ARDEX WPC and ARDEX WPC W are the ideal solutions to ensure you’re working to these standards.

For more information, visit the ARDEX WPC page here or watch it in action in our video.

ARDEX WPC  W is available to purchase now, and you can use our online stockist locator to find your local distributor.