Whether you are renovating an existing pool to become a backyard beauty, or installing your brand new dream pool, you must consider several factors and design elements. You need function and safety, combined with an aesthetically pleasing design, to create the perfect space to relax. That is where pool coping comes into play. If you are not familiar with pool coping yet, this guide will help you understand what it is, why you need it, and what options are available.
Why Pool Coping?
Coping, in construction and architecture, refers to the protective lip or cap on the top of a wall. It is commonly curved or sloped to divert water away from the building. When an inground pool is built, the bond beam, or the upper surface of the wall, often has exposed steel. Exposed steel can present obvious safety issues and is not particularly stylish or aesthetically pleasing. Therefore, pool coping is installed on the wall to protect it from the elements and give it a polished look. Pool coping doesn’t just add an extra layer of protection to the wall – it’s where the pool’s structure and surrounding deck meet – the finishing touch on your pool. Although there may be exceptions for coping, such as pool waterfalls, vanishing edges, or other special features, it generally goes around the entire perimeter of the pool.
Structure and Performance
A pool’s coping is what separates the swimming pool’s shell from the surrounding surface area. It helps protect the pool’s structural integrity by stopping water from getting behind the pool shell, which can cause damage. When your coping is installed correctly, any water that gets splashed out of the pool will flow away properly and into nearby drains.
In addition, because pool coping is designed to slope away from the pool, it plays a small role in pool maintenance. The slope can help prevent runoff water from rain or even your watering hose from making its way into the pool. It also helps keep debris (such as grass, leaves, dirt, etc.) from entering your water. In addition, coping can provide an attractive yet easily accessible cover for your swimming pool’s mechanical components, such as your automatic pool cover.
Safety and Ergonomics
Pool coping typically extends slightly over the pool, which gives swimmers a safe, sturdy place to grip when they are in the water. The coping gives them a way to pull themselves out of the water when there are no steps or ladders nearby. Outside the pool, people can relax and dangle their feet in the water. This is an excellent way for parents or supervising adults to be close to the water and cool off a little while also keeping an eye on swimmers even if they do not want to be in the water themselves. If a deck does not completely surround a pool, the coping provides a convenient footing to walk around the pool. If you prefer to keep a lush grassy lawn just outside your pool, a durable coping perimeter also provides a buffer between the swimming pool and your grass.
How to Choose Pool Coping
As with any major investment, there are various essential factors that you will need to consider before you choose your pool coping. Ask yourself some important questions and discuss these factors with your pool designer:
- Price: Affordability is important, of course, so not only should the material be within your budget, but so should maintenance. How much care is required? Can you easily and affordably replace or repair the coping if necessary? If repairs are necessary, are you comfortable doing it yourself, or will you require a professional?
- Safety: How slip-resistant is the material? Will it be safe for everyone that will be using your pool?
- Durability: How long does the material generally last? Is it resistant to any extreme weather conditions in your region, pool chemicals, salt (if you have a saltwater pool), or other elements?
- Style: Do you like the overall look of the material? Does it look good and blend naturally with your landscaping and deck? Will you be pleased with this style in the long term?
Keeping these essential points in mind while researching your pool coping options and overall design elements will help you make an informed decision.
Pool Coping Options
There are numerous beautiful options that you can use to customize your pool when you choose the coping. Contractors will install traditional pool coping directly onto the bond beam. It is versatile and can be cut and shaped to fit your desired style.
Concrete pavers come in many sizes and colors, though squares and rectangles are very common. They are durable, water-resistant, and salt-friendly, making them a good option for all pool types. In addition, they require minimal maintenance and are easy to repair or replace if necessary.
Bricks also come in a variety of sizes and finishes, such as traditional or antiqued colors. Bricks are durable and can withstand chlorinated pool water. They are affordable and readily available. It’s easy to replace them if a few individual bricks get damaged, making them a budget-friendly option. You will just need to caulk and seal them when you make repairs.
If you want to go for a more natural aesthetic, you have a lot of options with natural stone. Slate, limestone, marble, granite, travertine, and flagstone are all popular choices. Natural stone can be a bit more costly than pavers or brick, but it adds a distinctive and unique beauty that requires little maintenance. Some stones are very durable, like sandstone or granite. Other types of stone are more porous and may require extra sealant.
Composite materials, such as pre-cast concrete, are popular for pool coping. You can find them in various shapes like corners, curved sections, or straight lengths. They are easily shaped and modified to piece together before being sealed for a polished and cohesive look. Moderately priced, composite materials are water- and salt-resistant and even more durable with a quality sealant.
Although more expensive than traditional coping, custom-poured concrete is another way to completely customize the finish and style of your coping for a gorgeous and distinct swimming pool. The contractor will build a mold around the perimeter of the pool, allowing you to integrate your deck and coping with a style that suits your needs. Custom coping is an excellent choice for fiberglass or vinyl-lined pools or for individuals who desire a seamless look. Another benefit of poured concrete is that it often makes a smaller area look much bigger.
Can You Build Pools Without Coping?
The short answer is yes, it is possible to build a pool without coping. Of course, with an investment like a pool, that is not always the easy answer. You may be able to design a discrete deck that also acts as coping. The edge of the decking will need to extend over the edge of the pool, around the entire perimeter, which can provide a seamless, modern look.
It may be more feasible to skip pool coping if you live in a warmer region with mild winters and stable soil. Soil that experiences minimal expansion and contraction is less likely to cause deck issues. In this case, coping-free pools are more common, as the deck provides the functional, safety features of coping. For whatever reason you choose to forgo separate coping, whether aesthetic or otherwise, you should ensure that your deck is installed properly and is designed to serve double duty.
Pool Coping is the Finishing Touch on an Inground Pool
Whatever pool coping you choose, remember that it is the finishing touch. It needs to be practical, functional, safe, and ideally – visually appealing. You can consult with your pool designer or contractor to discuss your deck, landscape architecture, and other style preferences to create an affordable and stylish pool. Once you have finalized details and the pool is finally installed or renovated, your job is to keep it maintained so you and your family can enjoy the pool for years to come. Maintenance requires cleaning the pool and deck, balancing chemicals, and keeping the water clear of debris. If you have the right pool tools on hand, you will always be prepared.
ProTuff strives to make your job easier by providing superior pool tools with a lifetime guarantee and a free replacement warranty. You won’t find another deal like this on the market. You can visit our storefront to find all your pool essentials. If you have questions about our products or pool maintenance, contact us today to speak to a friendly employee and learn more about pool care.
Disclaimer: Pool ownership and maintenance is very complicated, and we know every situation is unique. While we’ve done our best to cover the best practices here, we encourage you to reach out to ProTuff directly at email@example.com with any specific questions you may have.