Your Guide to Swimming Pool Coping

Posted by Blue Haven Pools on 08/14/2020

pool coping

If you plan to install a concrete pool, inground pool coping is a must-have. While it boosts the visual appeal of your pool, it also helps prevent moisture from damaging the pool’s shell. The great part about coping is that it can be fully customizable in different styles and materials.

With so many options, it can be overwhelming to decide which inground pool coping is right for you. However, we’ve broken down the most common styles and materials used in the industry below.

What Is Pool Coping?

Pool coping is the material used to separate the swimming pool shell from the surrounding surface area as it helps protect the pool from moisture all in one seamless look. Coping acts as a shield against loose debris such as leaves or dirt and unwanted water that can damage your pool’s shell and lead to cracking. While it serves an important purpose for longevity, it also helps transition your swimming pool to your deck or surrounding landscape. Pool coping comes in many different shapes, colors, and styles and the combinations are limitless.

Purpose of Pool Coping

Aesthetics

Pool coping can enhance both your pool’s appearance and usability. With a range of colors and materials to pick from, you can connect your pool to the rest of your landscaping seamlessly. By adding coping, people can relax by sitting on the edge or relax up against it.

Functionality

Pool coping is used to direct splash water away from your pool and into the nearest drain. Coping also serves other purposes as well, including:

  • Keeping dirt, grass, and leaves from entering the pool.
  • Minimizing the risk of slipping near the pool and improving pool safety.
  • Blocking water from entering behind the pool shell and causing damage.

Pick The Right Pool Coping Material

red tile pool coping

Before choosing your inground pool coping, there are several important factors to keep in mind. Have you considered style? What about safety? Speak to your pool designers to get more advice about what to look for in your coping.

Durability

Choose a material that’s going to last for years. It’s important to pick a material that can withstand the chemicals in your pool water and the unfavorable weather conditions in your area. Make sure the material is salt resistant if you have a salt-water pool.

Safety

Pool safety is always a top priority when designing a pool. During the hot summer months, you don’t want a pool coping that absorbs that heat. Make sure the material is slip-resistant and sturdy. For everybody to enjoy the pool, it must be accessible to everybody.

Heat Absorption

During the summer months, your deck can get hotter depending on what material you use. The more heat your coping absorbs, the more uncomfortable it can be on your bare feet. Natural stone or concrete in a lighter color will absorb less heat, but every material is different.

Style

You want your pool to seamlessly fit in with your yard. A contrasting coping style can disrupt the rest of your backyard’s theme. Make sure your pool coping blends with your landscaping and other design features.

Affordability

Identify a material that’s within your pool budget. After the cost of installation, you must factor in maintenance costs. If damaged, can the material be replaced or repaired within your budget?

Pool Coping Materials

There are a wide variety of materials to choose from when picking a pool coping. Depending on your pool design and surrounding areas, some materials look and feel better. Below are some of the most popular pool coping materials.

Travertine

This type of stone is known for its rich tones and natural variations of shade. It adds warmth and resonates elegance around your pool. Travertine is both heat- and slip-resistant. However, the pores in travertine can absorb water, which is helpful during the summer, but it can also collect dirt, which reduces the look of the stone.

Porcelain Paver

Despite a little maintenance, the porcelain paver is anti-slip and hard-wearing. Porcelain is low maintenance and easy to replace if cracked. It’s also scratch- and stain-resistant. Despite its cheap maintenance, porcelain can change colors or crack over time when exposed to cold or hot temperatures.

Marble

Known for its classy and glamorous look, marble can give your pool the stunning view you’ve been looking for. Marble will also absorb heat and is highly durable in any environment. Although marble can be very expensive to install, it’s still a low-maintenance material.

Flagstone

example of flagstone swimming pool coping

With its earth-tone colors and warm textures, flagstone is the preferred coping material. Flagstone is also durable and easy to install. It’s important to note that flagstone can get very hot during the summer months and can become slippery when wet.

Concrete Coping Materials

There are several different styles of concrete copings to choose from. Concrete can give your pool the seamless flow you’ve been looking for in your backyard. With several styles available, there’s bound to be a look that’s perfect for you.

Poured Concrete

This style creates a seamless edge between the pool and your patio. This coping is great for blending your pool into the rest of your landscape. Poured concrete can look nice aesthetically, but it can be expensive to install and can crack during extreme temperatures.

Precast Concrete

Precast is a versatile coping with many patterns and textures to choose from. It also blends well with other stone and concrete materials. Although it’s cheaper to install, it doesn’t flow consistently like poured concrete and can also lead to cracking.

Concrete Pavers

example of concrete pavers swimming pool coping

Concrete pavers come in many colors and textures and are more affordable than natural stone pavers. Pavers are less expensive for maintenance and are more durable than other concrete copings. However, concrete pavers are more expensive to install than poured or precast concrete.

Inground Pool Coping Styles

With several styles to choose from, you can find one that fits your taste.

Cantilever

 example of swimming pool cantilever coping

Cantilever or “square edge” coping uses foam to create a finished edge for concrete to pour over. A modern style, the coping is flat on both sides, creating a flush 90-degree-angle finish that makes the edge appear thicker. The cantilever coping is loved for its low maintenance as it doesn’t tend to shift over time. A beautiful finish, cantilever comes with a rough surface and can be irritable to the skin and can have an inconsistent finish after pouring.

Bull-Nose

example of swimming pool bull-nose coping

Bull-nose is a style that refers to the roundedness of the coping’s edge. Some people prefer bull-nose because of its rounded edge compared to the right-angled finish that can be sharp and hurt swimmers. Bullnose provides an overhang creating a lip. The standard overhang for bullnose coping is 1.5 inches but it comes down to preference. The maximum bullnose overhang is roughly 3 inches. The popular coping design comes in several variations, including:

  • Full bull-nose: This style has a full curve at the edge of the coping.
  • Half bull-nose: This style has half the coping edge rounded off.
  • Flat bull-nose: This style is completely flush with the rest of the deck.
  • Raised bull-nose: This style gives the edge an added lip to add appeal and direct water flow.

Rough-Cut

example of swimming pool rough-cut coping

Rough-cut comes from a rough stone that can be made from brick, concrete, stone, or flagstone. The coping style gives off a natural and organic look. This style of cut is usually featured around waterfalls or other water features.

Rolled-Edge

Rolled-edge coping can be made from natural stones, concrete, or brick. With a slanted edge, it’s perfect for diving and other swimming activities. With its edges upturned, it gives swimmers something to easily hold onto.

Top-Mount

Also known as “C-channel,” this coping style creates a gentle protruding edge that slopes away from the water. It’s perfect for directing splash water toward drains.

Flat-Mount

Flat-mount coping is used for securing the pool liner to the pool frame. After the mount is added, you can add your desired paver or stones as the coping around the pool.

Pool Coping Repair

swimming pool coping repair items

After your pool is installed, maintenance is needed to keep your pool looking beautiful and clean. Pool coping maintenance depends on what material you have as your coping. Concrete coping tends to lead to cracking if not maintained properly. Other materials like marble or porcelain can change colors due to temperature fluctuations. Stone materials like slate or rough-cut can lead to chipping, which can be dangerous around bare feet.

Common Causes of Cracking

If your pool coping is made with concrete, it may experience cracking within its lifetime. This can be caused by several factors, including:

  • Expansion or contraction from the surrounding deck area.
  • If you live in a soft soil area, settling soil or pool can lead to cracking.
  • If your pool has improper drainage for pool water.

Pool sealant is a great way to protect your pool from shifting and increase the longevity of your pool. With the sealant applied, it helps reduce moisture from entering through cracks. The sealant also allows for the concrete to expand and contract to reduce the risk of damaging the pool and surrounding deck.

Coping Maintenance for Stone

For stone coping, the mortar around stones tends to crack and crumble. This can be caused by shifting soil underneath the pool. It’s also recommended to wash your stone coping with a pH-neutral cleaner. Make sure your pool is clean of leaves, as leaf mold can lead to permanent stains on the stone. A pressure washer is also approved for cleaning grimy areas on your coping.

Your Coping, Your Style

With so many different materials and styles to choose from, the coping around your pool is limitless. However, it’s important to keep in mind that some materials have minor flaws. Nevertheless, it shouldn’t stop you from designing the pool of your dreams. There isn’t a right or wrong way to design your pool — it’s your pool!

Contact Us Today

In addition to essential pool cleaning supplies, we also offer general pool services and repair. Send us a message, give us a call at 405-844-7500, or drop by and see us at our Blue Haven location in Edmond!