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8 min read

Bridging the Gap Between Aesthetics and Safety with Pool Coping

Pool Coping
Pool Coping

8 min read

Bridging the Gap Between Aesthetics and Safety with Pool Coping

Bridging the Gap Between Aesthetics and Safety with Pool Coping

Pool coping—the caps lining and securing your pool shell's edges—is a key swimming pool design feature. Its installation, which bridges the gap between aesthetics and safety, requires special attention, particularly in material selection and installation steps. So, how can you be sure you’re making the right choice and how is coping installed? Follow along with our guide.

What is the purpose of pool coping?

Pool Coping

The primary purpose of pool coping is to showcase a sleek, finished look. You can’t allow grass and soil to line the sides of your pool when you have an inground pool. Otherwise, dirt, grass, and insects will, without a doubt, end up in your pool.

By extension, coping was designed for safety purposes too, meaning it must be made with a material and shape preventing or limiting the risks of slipping. 

Naturally, the aesthetics of it all often trump anything else. When purchasing pool coping, style tops everything, especially for matching colours between the coping, the liner, and the deck. 

Coping remains essential when it comes to the finished look of the pool’s edge since an unparalleled finish is often the missing link between the pool and the backyard. 

Picking Out Pool Coping: Factors to Consider

Pool Coping

Consider the following five factors when picking out your pool coping:

  • Budget 

  • Durability 

  • Aesthetics 

  • Maintenance

  • Size 

Now then, let’s delve into more detail by listing material options and the pool coping tile sizes retailed in stores.   

Materials

Granite

Granite is likely to be the most interesting noble pool coping material. Why? Because it’s a granular rock, it's naturally anti-slip. On top of that, it’s available in several nuances and veining, to give your poolside a one-of-a-kind look.

Granite can be cut and trimmed to meet the exact style you’re looking for. 

Concrete

Concrete is one of the most beneficial materials, as it’s: 

  • Long-lasting

  • Resistant (physical impacts, harsh weather)  

  • Budget-friendly 

  • Aesthetic 

Furthermore, given its texture, it’s naturally anti-slip. It very much resembles brick coping but is available in a wide range of sizes and finishes.

Last upside: Concrete is unbothered by salt and water. As such, this material is ideal for capping a saltwater pool’s edge.

However, concrete can give your home a contemporary-like look. Said style may not suit your backyard or house in general. To offset said characteristic, bear in mind that concrete can mimic natural materials perfectly, adapting to all landscapes.

To wrap up the maintenance side of things, note that concrete coping doesn’t require any sort of regular maintenance and can be easily cleaned using:

  • Soap

  • Water 

Travertine

Travertine pool coping is made of limestone. Commonly used for poolside landscaping, travertine coping has the following characteristics:

  • Naturally anti-slip

  • Retailed in an array of colours (brown, yellow, cream, pink, beige)

  • Modern-looking 

Above all else, note that travertine pool coping models aren’t all priced the same. There are, based on the roughness of the stone, factors to be considered, which would ultimately make one model better than the next. And, since travertine is porous, it will make it so that you will need to apply a sealant. 

If, for whatever reason, you don’t want to have travertine coping around the edges of your pool, but a lookalike material, you can always turn to stoneware. 

Stoneware

Stoneware can mimic travertine pool coping to perfection but can do so for wood, concrete, and stone as well. It’s a safe choice given the following: 

  • Durable

  • Waterproof

  • Non-abrasive

Made of clay, feldspar, and quartz, it withstands harsh weather, physical shocks, scratches, and chemical products. In terms of value-for-money, it’s just as favourable.  

Slate

With a foliated feature and a crude characteristic, slate puts forward a contemporary style that’s especially appealing. However, in order for such stones to resist water, as well as any chemical product used for pool maintenance purposes, it’s best to purchase already-treated stones. 

As for colours, slate will typically be available in darker hues. Note that darker shades exposed to sunshine will make it so that the slate coping is scorching during the summer sun.

Lastly, as with concrete, slate is very easy to clean. 

Sizing

There’s a wide range of sizes available, and thickness isn’t predetermined. As such, you’re free to choose whatever best suits you. However, to help you out a bit, we can simply say that, in terms of resistance, the thicker coping, the better.

However, the coping's thickness will affect its weight. Heavier coping may be harder to install. As such, you have to find the right balance between material resistance and ease of installation. As for dimensions, pool coping typically comes in the following sizes:

  • 30 x 45 cm 

  • 50 x 33 cm 

  • 25 x 60 cm 

  • 25 x 50 cm 

Albeit, size isn’t as important as the pool coping shape. Edge caps have either a: 

  • Straight edge

  • Rounded edge (bullnose)

Without a doubt, rounded-edge pool coping is safer. Given that the risks of falls are an ever-present factor poolside, bullnose coping is often preferred based on aesthetics too.

When and How to Install Pool Coping

Pool Coping

The first step consists of assessing your needs in terms of coping quantity based on the size of your pool’s perimeter. As a precautionary measure, plan for more rather than less.

How to Cut Pool Coping Corners or Bullnose Edges

Instead of cutting the coping stone, you can always buy a cornerstone. Should said piece not be available, note that, from the get-go, cutting coping tiles is a delicate process.

To cut a bullnose edge, you must use an angle grinder, and then a sledgehammer to remove the largest chunks. Once the edge is shaped, use the angle grinder again to give the stone’s edge a nice and smooth finish.

Proceed carefully so as not to damage the side of the pool. Hence why it’s best to hire an experienced professional who has liability insurance in case of damages. 

Finishing Stage: How to Grout Pool Coping Tiles

Step 1: 

  • Joint knife 

  • Pail 

  • Bucket

  • Trowel

  • 8 mm joint trowel 

  • Multipurpose grouting sponge

  • Masonry ruler

  • Long and thin pieces of wood

  • Clamps 

  • Pool coping grout

The paste used for the coping joints will naturally be a waterproof grout, one specially made for poolside coping.

The ruler and pieces of wood are to be positioned in the gap right above the pool’s edge. Neglecting to do so would result in grout dripping into the pool water.

Step 2: Prepare and apply grout

Get a joint knife, and in a bucket, mix the ingredients until you have a smooth grout paste. Make enough grout for five or six joints at a time. Take your time. There’s no need to rush. 

Using the joint knife and joint trowel, fill in the gaps between each coping tile with grout. The joint trowel should fit both the length and width of the grout joint.

Once you’ve finished the five or six joints, go back to the first one, and clean the sides for a finished look. 

Step 3: Finish and seal joints

Finish your grout joints using a multipurpose grouting sponge. You can pinch the edge of the sponge to better clean either end of the grout joint. With the rougher side of the sponge, clean the excess grout off the coping tiles.

Step 4: Remove the wedges

Once all the grout joints are done, you can remove the pieces of wood wedged into the underside of the pool’s edge, as well as the clamps. You can then proceed by cleaning beneath the coping with the multipurpose grouting sponge to remove any grout residue found beneath the coping.  

Step 5: Respect the drying time

Under proper sunshine, the grout joint drying time is roughly four to five days. Afterwards, you’ll be set to apply a sealant. Note that based on the coping tile material, applying a sealant is not an option, but a must. As we mentioned earlier, this will be the case should you have opted for travertine coping.

Step 6: Add waterproofing coating

Once the grout joints have cured, clean for pool coping and the grout joints using a brush and hot water. Prepare the waterproofing product. Allow it to dilute in the water, then apply it over the coping with a paintbrush or paint roller.

Albeit milky in colour during its preparation, the product will be clear once applied. A little tip for you: Don’t skimp on quantity. Coping stones are porous and must be shielded against water. 

The coating will be:

  • UV-blocking 

  • Shock-resistant

  • Scratch-resistant

  • Stain-proof 

  • Waterproof 

Also, depending on the type of pool coping you have, you may need to apply an oil-repellent product (stone coping, for example), as well as an anti-rust spray (Kandla stone, for example).

Repeat the process about once a year to ensure your coping is always effectively sealed. 

Pool Coping Maintenance: How to Clean Pool Edge Tiles Effectively

Pool Coping

Upon purchasing your pool coping, ask the sales associate, or installation contractor, what type of product works best with the pool edge tiles you chose. Doing so is important as some chemical products can, for example, damage your granite coping.

Should you want to avoid using any sort of chemical product to clean your coping, there are alternatives, such as using black soap and water. Black soap isn’t abrasive and works well enough on materials like concrete. Once cleaned, rinse your coping with clean water and enjoy your time, poolside!

Before we wrap it up, avoid time-saving techniques such as pressure washing. Doing so risks damaging the material with which the coping is made. This is likely to be the case with natural stone coping, which is porous. Use a standard deck brush instead.


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Last modified 2024-04-19

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