In this guide, we ’ll show you everything you need to know about pool coping, from its benefits and functions to its styles and materials. You’ll also learn how to install it yourself or hire a professional contractor, how much it costs and how to keep it in good shape for years.
In architecture, “coping” is the capping or covering of the top of a wall, to prevent water damage and make it look more attractive. In the same way, pool coping is the decorative edge around an inground pool, covering the underground wall of the pool. When a person sits at the edge of a pool to dangle their feet in the water, they are sitting on the coping.
Coping protects the upper edge of the pool wall, and does other important jobs as well. It’s needed for the safety and operation of a pool and is part of what makes a pool look and feel inviting for swimmers.
Why Pool Coping is Necessary
Pool coping protects the pool wall, and directs spilled or splashed water away from the pool. It’s necessary in two important ways:
- Improves the pool appearance. Pool coping can be made of a huge range of materials in nearly any color or style. It completes the visual design of the pool, and ties it in with other landscape and design elements.
- Improves the pool usability. Some people find that the edge of a pool gets more action than the middle of it. People will sit on the coping, or hang off of it with their bodies in the water, or lean on it while resting. Because it’s the threshold for entering the pool, the coping makes the pool edge comfortable, inviting, and enjoyable.
- Protects the pool shell and wall. The coping prevents water from seeping in behind the pool shell and causing damage over time.
- Directs water flow. The coping causes water to flow away from the pool and toward your deck drains. The edge of a pool may collect water splashes and drips, but the coping keeps water moving away from the pool.
- Improves safety. Coping makes the pool edge less slippery, making it safer to enter and exit the pool.
- Reduces debris. Coping reduces the chance that leaves, grass, and other debris will get into the pool.
- Provides access to pool maintenance components. Pool coping can cover a pool’s less attractive mechanical components at the water’s edge, while still providing easy access for maintenance.
Know Your Options for Pool Coping
Now we know all the critical jobs that coping does, it’s time to look at how it’s made. Pool coping can be made of tile, brick, stone, cement, composite, and even wood and other materials. Pool coping can be part of your:
- Pool design. Architects and Professional installers will offer a wide range of coping options.
- Landscape design. You can choose your own materials for custom-made coping that matches your existing landscape features.
Pool Coping Ideas for Inspiration
If you’re looking for some inspiration on how to design your pool edge with different types of pool coping, the following are types of pool coping that are commonly used:
Concrete is one of the most popular and versatile materials for pool coping. It can be poured onsite or pre-cast into different shapes and sizes. Concrete coping can be smooth or textured, colored or stained, patterned or plain. It can also be molded to create different edges, such as bull nose, eased or cantilevered. While concrete coping is durable, easy to maintain, and affordable, its main con is that it absorbs the sun’s energy and can get heated, making it uncomfortable to walk on with bare feet. Additionally, concrete may crack over time due to weather changes, and it may fade or discolor due to sun exposure or chlorine.
Pavers are another common choice for pool coping. They are pre-cut pieces of concrete or stone that are laid in a pattern around the pool. Pavers come in a variety of colors, sizes and shapes, such as square, rectangle, circle, herring bone, fan, cobblestone and more. Pavers can create a natural or elegant look for the pool edge. They are durable, easy to install, and affordable. However, they may shift or settle over time, and they may stain or crack due to weather changes.
Natural stones are a premium choice for pool copings. They are natural materials that are cut and shaped into different sizes and styles. Natural stones include limestone, sandstone, slate, flagstone, travertine, granite, etc. Natural stones offer a unique and elegant look for the pool edge, with various colors, textures, and patterns. They are also durable, slip-resistant, and heat-resistant. However, they are also expensive, heavy, and require regular sealing to prevent fading, staining, or erosion.
Brick is a classic choice for pool coping. It is a type of clay that is fired and shaped into rectangular blocks. Brick coping can create a traditional or rustic look for the pool edge, with warm colors like red, brown, or tan. It is also durable, easy to install, and relatively affordable. However, it may chip or crack over time, and it may absorb heat or water if not sealed properly.
How to Choose Pool Coping
Choosing pool coping is not only a matter of personal preference, but also a matter of practicality. There are several factors you need to consider when choosing pool coping, such as:
- Budget. Pool coping can vary widely in cost depending on the type of material, size of the pool, complexity of the design, and labor involved. You need to set a realistic budget for your pool coping project and compare different options within your price range.
- Style. Pool coping can enhance or complement the overall style of your pool and landscape. You need to choose a style that matches your vision and taste.If you’re looking for a modern pool edge, consider options such as natural stones like slate and granite, or materials like concrete or pavers with straight edges. For a natural look, consider options such as natural stones like flagstone or sandstone, or brick with curved edges, to achieve a seamless blend with your landscape.
- Function. Pool coping can affect how you use your pool edge. You need to choose a function that suits your needs and preferences. For example, if you want a comfortable place to sit or hang on the pool edge, you might opt for bullnose coping with rounded edges. If you want a sleek place to enter or exit the pool, you might opt for drop-face coping with 90-degree edges.
- Maintenance. Pool coping can require different levels of care and upkeep depending on the type of material, exposure to weather conditions, and usage frequency. You need to choose a maintenance level that fits your lifestyle and expectations. If you prefer a low-maintenance pool edge, consider options such as concrete or pavers that are easy to clean and repair. For those who appreciate the natural beauty and unique character of stone or brick, natural stones like granite or limestone and brick with curved edges offer a timeless look that requires regular sealing and cleaning, but the effort is worth it for the durability and elegance they bring to your pool. Find out about the maintenance cost of the material of your choice, before buying it.
Comparison Chart of Pool Coping Materials
To help you compare different types of pool coping materials, here is a chart that summarizes their pros and cons:
|Concrete||Durable – Easy to maintain – Affordable – Versatile – Customizable||May crack over time – May fade or discolor over time|
|Pavers||Durable – Easy to install – Affordable – Versatile – Replaceable||May shift or settle over time – May stain or crack over time|
|Natural Stones||Unique – Elegant – Durable – Slip-resistant – Heat-resistant||Expensive – Heavy – Require regular sealing – May fade – stain or erode over time|
|Brick||Classic – Durable – Easy – to install – Relatively affordable||May chip or crack over time -May absorb heat or water if not sealed properly|
How Much Does Pool Coping Cost?
Pool coping can vary widely in cost depending on the type of material, size of the pool, complexity of the design, and labor involved. You need to set a realistic budget for your pool coping project and compare different options within your price range.
As an estimate you can expect to pay between $30 and $50 per linear foot to install pool coping. This includes both material and installation costs. However, this is just an average estimate that may not reflect your specific situation.
Here are some factors that can affect the cost of pool coping:
- Material type. Different types of materials have different prices per square foot. For example, natural stone is usually more expensive than concrete or pavers.
- Material quality. Higher quality materials may have better durability, appearance, and performance than lower quality materials.
- Material availability. Some materials may be more readily available than others in your area, which can affect their supply and demand.
- Pool size. Larger pools require more linear feet of coping than smaller pools, which increases the material and installation costs.
- Design complexity. More complex designs may require more cutting, trimming, or customizing of the coping stones, which increases the labor and material costs.
- Location. Different regions may have different availability and demand for pool coping materials and contractors, which can affect their prices.
How to Install Pool Coping
Installing pool coping is not a DIY project for most homeowners. It requires skill, experience, and proper tools and equipment. It also involves working with heavy materials and concrete that can be dangerous if mishandled. Therefore, it’s best to hire a professional pool contractor or mason to install your pool coping. The exact steps for installing pool coping may vary depending on the type of material and style you choose.
Here is a general overview of how pool coping is installed:
- Step 1: Lay the coping foundation. Even if the patio deck pavers will be laid on a bed of sand and gravel, the coping stones need a concrete base. The size of the concrete beam will depend on how large the coping stones are.
- Step 2: Prepare the beam. The concrete beam needs to be leveled, smoothed, and cured before the coping stones can be placed on top of it.
- Step 3: Layout the coping stones. The coping stones need to be arranged around the pool edge according to the desired pattern and style. They also need to be cut or trimmed to fit any curves or corners.
- Step 4: Coping stone installation. The coping stones need to be secured to the concrete beam with mortar or adhesive. They also need to be aligned, spaced, and leveled properly.
- Step 5: The expansion joint. The expansion joint is a gap between the coping stones and the patio deck pavers that allows for movement due to temperature changes. The expansion joint needs to be filled with flexible caulk or sealant to prevent water from seeping through.
How to Maintain Pool Coping
Maintaining pool coping is essential to keep it looking good and functioning well. Pool coping can be exposed to various elements that can damage it over time, such as water, chlorine, salt, sun, dirt, debris, algae, etc. Therefore, you need to take care of your pool coping regularly.
The main 3 tips on how to maintain pool coping are:
- Clean your pool coping regularly. Use a broom or a leaf blower to remove any dirt or debris from the coping surface. Use a hose or a pressure washer to rinse off any residue or soap. Use a mild detergent and warm water solution to scrub off any stains or buildup with a pool brush or a sponge. You can also use baking soda or vinegar to spot-clean any stubborn stains.
- Seal your pool coping periodically. Apply a water-based sealer formulated for use on natural stone, tile, brick, or concrete, depending on your coping material. Choose a breathable sealer that can help minimize freeze-thaw shifting and cracking, and is salt-resistant. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how often and how much sealer to apply.
- Repair your pool coping promptly. If you notice any cracks, chips, loose stones, or missing grout on your pool coping, you should fix them as soon as possible. You can use mortar or adhesive to fill in any gaps or secure any loose stones. You can also replace any damaged stones with new ones that match your existing ones.
Pool coping is an important part of your inground pool design and maintenance. It protects the pool wall, directs water flow, improves safety, reduces debris, provides access to maintenance components, improves appearance, and improves usability.
Pool coping can be made of various materials, such as concrete, pavers, natural stones, brick, etc. It can also come in different styles, such as bullnose, eased, cantilevered, etc.
Pool coping can vary in cost depending on the type of material, size of the pool, complexity of the design, and labor involved.
Pool coping requires regular cleaning, sealing, and repairing to keep it in good shape and prevent damage.
We hope this guide has helped you understand what pool coping is, why it’s necessary, how to choose it, how to install it, how much it costs, and how to maintain it.
If you have any questions or comments about pool coping, feel free to contact us. below.
Happy swimming! 😊
PS: Please note that while this guide provides general information on pool coping ideas and options, installation and maintenance instructions may vary depending on the specific material and product you choose. We highly recommend consulting with the company from which you purchased your pool coping materials for more detailed and tailored instructions. Each product is unique, and following the manufacturer’s recommendations can ensure proper installation and maintenance for the best performance and longevity.