Coping with All Types of Pool Coping

Posted On : May 15, 2017

What is Pool Coping?

Pool coping is the band of material set around the perimeter of your pool and spa. Made from many different types of materials to achieve a unique look or design, coping provides the visual transition from the pool to your backyard.

Installation of pool and spa coping requires an expert, as the material will contract and expand due to heat and cold. In California we also must consider earth movement . Coping gives a cushion from breaking or causing waterline tile from popping into the pool.

Types of Coping Selections

Cantilevered Decking

Popular in the 1980s, a cantilevered decking design is created by pouring a deck all the way to the edge of the pool, eliminating a separate run of decking.

  • Pros: Visually it provides a continuous and clean look. It is less costly as you aren’t using multiple materials or various colors. You can easily achieve a stamped or patterned look in the material.
  • Cons: Unless it’s installed with deep knowledge of concrete and pool construction, cantilevered decking tends to crack. Unfortunately it cannot be easily repaired without showing patches. If a bullnose edge breaks, it’s an expensive repair compared to other materials like brick which can easily be replaced or patched.

“Unless the contractor included what is called a slip sheet under the deck and on top of the pool wall (bond beam), the deck cracks easily if there is any earth movement or deck expansion,” Scott McKenna, Gardner Outdoor and Pool Remodel

Brick Coping

Brick is the most common and popular pool coping material due to its versatility.

  • Pros: Brick coping comes in variety of colors. The edges can be square edge or bullnose (rounded). This type of pool coping has a rustic appearance and therefore hides blemishes easily. Brick is very affordable and you have a large choice of colors which allows a wide range of design.  
  • Cons: Since brick is made from clay and shale, it’s porous and chips easily. Careful installation is necessary. You want to avoid “pie cuts” around radiuses, where the grout widens towards the outside edge. A good contractor will cut each brick to create even grout lines that not only look great but ensure support for each brick.

Pour in Place Coping

Unlike a pour in place cantilevered deck, you can pour concrete just for the pool or spa coping areas. This method separates the deck with a mastic expansion joint — the space between the concrete and other materials — that surround your pool area.

  • Pros: We use foam forms to create different edging designs such as a bullnose edge. Pour-in-place pool coping allows for numerous color choices. You also have flexibility because we can create special radiuses, corners or unusual shapes.
  • Cons:  Problems can occur since this is an outdoor fabrication; it’s subject to weather conditions. Other coping materials are pre-made in a factory under perfect conditions. Pour in place pool coping can be expensive since installation is labor intensive.

Pre-cast Concrete

Concrete coping is typically made to order at the manufacturer’s facility. A template of your pool or spa is made so little to zero cutting is necessary during installation.

  • Pros: Since the fabrication is taking place under controlled conditions, the quality of the material usually very good.
  • Cons: Since pre-cast concrete coping is custom-made, lead times can be long as much as 8 weeks during the busy season. These lead times affect initial product order as well as replacement pieces.

Natural Stone

You can achieve a variety of pool coping designs with natural stone. Each individual stone has it’s own pro and con depending upon its composition. Before making a final decision on a specific natural stone, be sure you understand maintenance requirements and long-term results of your choice.

  • Pros: Natural stone pool coping products a high-end, luxurious look.
  • Cons: Stone samples may not match the actual stone delivered as each natural stone can vary. Stone material is more difficult to cut for a radius pool. Because stone is thicker, it requires a flat surface, meaning there is no elevation difference between the deck and coping. As a result, this may require adjusting the height of the pool wall. Some materials can chip or be sharp to little fingers, such as flagstone. Also, some pool coping stone comes with the added maintenance expense of annual sealing.

Before You Decide Consult An Expert

Before you decide on your pool coping material, be sure you understand all the pros and cons related to your backyard project. At Gardner we will present options that best fit your needs and budget.

“Before recommending coping, we need to ask a lot of questions. Will small children be using the pool? Is that a safety consideration? Would you prefer the coping or the waterline tile to be the focal point? Only after having a complete understanding, can we make informed suggestions,” Mark Feldstein, Sales Manager, Gardner Outdoor and Pool Remodeling…”