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Swimming Pool Coping Options – Which To Choose?

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Pool coping options might not be the first thing you think of when you decide to build a new pool or renovate an existing one. But it’s among the most important pool-related decisions when it comes to long-term enjoyment.

Pool coping doesn’t just maintain the health of your pool. It can also help protect the health of the people enjoying it.

Coping offers beauty, functionality, and value to your pool. And you’ll soon see how to choose the best coping options for your needs.

What Is Coping on a Pool

If you’ve heard of coping before then it was probably in the context of aesthetics.

Coping is the technical name for the capstone that runs alongside the edge of a pool.

It’s the edge that sits between your pool and the rest of your property. Coping often works on a visual level to transition between the pool area and the surroundings. For example, people looking at pool deck ideas often use the coping style to help them decide on a deck. In this context, someone might go with a classic earth-tone coping in order to work with the rustic charm of darker woods.

However, there’s more to coping than just aesthetics.

  • Pool coping helps to keep water from splashing out of your pool and outside debris from sliding in.
  • The coping also acts as a stabilizer to secure the foundation of your pool against the weight of the water within it.
  • Finally, coping provides a safe non-slip surface to keep people as safe as possible.

Options for Pool Coping

There are a fair amount of options to choose from when you’re looking at coping. However, it’s always important to consider technical issues. The nature of your environment might limit what you can use or change their price points. These are all elements that you need to consider. And among the most important questions to ask a pool builder before getting your heart set on a specific design.

It’s also important to keep future plans in mind when you’re thinking about financing a pool. For example, if you’re choosing coping based on a future deck design then make sure to budget for both of them even if you’re only starting out by installing the coping. With those points in mind, you can begin by considering the four main choices for coping material.

Concrete

concrete pool coping being set
Concrete can be shaped into any form you want, this allows you to have almost any finish you want that best compliments your pool design.

Concrete pool coping is one of the most popular choices for good reason. The relatively inexpensive nature of concrete makes it a great way to keep your pool costs down. But concrete also adds a classic look to your pool. The material seamlessly transitions between surfaces. And that transitory effect can even provide some nice optics when you’re showing the pool off to friends.

Brick

ladder going into pool with brick pool coping
If you utilize bricks in your outdoor space or you home is made of them, having them as your pool coping can be a nice touch to tie all the elements together design wise.

Brick is one of the less commonly used options. But it can be a fantastic choice if you also have a brick grill or firepit. The combination of multiple brick-based designs can provide a comfortable and appealing atmosphere. It can also give a firm and reliable structure for your pool. There are a wide array of color and style options of bricks to enhance the visual appeal of your inground pool which is why it is a popular pool coping option.

Pavers

concrete pavers used as pool coping
Concrete pavers a very versatile option for coping as there is a huge variety of sizes, shapes and colors available to choose from.

Pavers are, technically, a form of concrete. But pavers differ enough from standard concrete coping that they’re generally considered to be their own unique entity. One of the main differences with pavers is that they come in the form of tiles rather than a single solid piece of concrete. This makes pavers much easier to repair if a single tile is damaged. And pavers are themselves more damage-resistant than standard concrete. They are also available in a variety of colors to ensure they suite your overall pool design. However, pavers come with the downside of being a little more expensive than standard concrete.

Natural Stone

natural stone as pool coping
Using natural stone often has a very dramatic effect on the design of the pool and is a great option when you want the coping to be a highlight of the pool.

Natural stone is a broader subject than you might imagine. The category encompasses any type of stone that you might find in nature. This includes everything from limestone to marble. And each form of natural stone has unique advantages. For example, marble provides durability and a style that wouldn’t look out of place in ancient Greece or Rome. Travertine is naturally slip-resistant thanks to the fact that its grip increases when in contact with liquids. And while sandstone erodes over time, it also provides an increasingly beautiful display during that process. Any natural material will add to your backyard aesthetic and makes for a visually striking type of coping.

Finishing Options

The finishing options will help you finalize a specific style. This will help your coping fade into the scenery, stand out, or sit somewhere in between.

Rounded/Rolled/Bull-Nose Edge

rounded edge pool coping pavers
A rounded shape for your coping has safety benefits, as well as offering you a smoother look. It also makes sitting on the edge of the pool more comfortable.

These three terms refer to a soft-looking, rounded edge finish. On a purely aesthetic level, this type of finishing can make the pool area seem more complete if there aren’t a lot of other accessories in the area. And on a utilitarian level, the lack of sharp edges can make your pool area safer.

Square Edge

square edge pool coping
Square edges offer a more sharp and modern look around your pool.

As the name suggests, a square edge finish creates sharp 90-degree angles around your pool. In effect, this makes the edges of your pool square. Many people find that this design provides them with a clean, sharp, and modern feel. It also has the advantage of being easier to clean and maintain. The sharp edges don’t give much room for debris or pests to collect.

Drop Down

stairs with railing going into pool
A drop down edge effectively hides the edge of the pool liner and brings the outside elements of the pool closer to the water’s surface for a more integrated look.

Drop down finishing incorporates sloped, angular, cuts. The end effect is a finish where the coping will “drop down” the pool wall, hiding the edge of the pool liner. As with a rounded cut, the lack of sharp edges helps to protect the overall safety of you and your guests. One of the best safety tips for pool owners to keep in mind is that you should always reduce the number of tripping hazards. But there’s more to drop down finishing than utilitarian rewards. You also benefit from a softer feel as the drop down designs provide a smooth transition between your coping material and the water.

What To Look For in Your Coping

In addition to materials and finishing, you should also think about what coping features are inherent to those options. And consider how any additional options like automatic pool cover systems will work with these qualities. The following elements can drastically change how you relate to your pool and its accessories.

Stain Resistance

Most of the pool coping options are naturally stain-resistant. However, some do a better job than others. Natural stone in particular is usually the absolute best at fighting off stains. The porous nature of stone helps the coping repel any type of potentially staining liquid it encounters. However, manufactured materials like concrete can also have additional stain-resistant coatings applied to them.

Slip Resistance

Natural stone once again shows its value when you look at slip resistance. The same porous, textured, surface that provides stain resistance also helps with slip resistance. And you’ll find some of the same options hold true for slip resistance in manufactured materials that you found with stain resistance. You can generally have special coatings or textured finishes applied to manufactured surfaces to provide slip resistance.

Durability

Pool coping is inherently durable due to its underlying purpose. After all, you need a durable material to hold up under the strain of both large amounts of water and earth. But the upper rim of the coping is a little different. You don’t just want it to maintain its structure. You want the coping surface to resist the types of chips and dents that often build up over time. There’s not a huge amount of variation in the durability of the most popular coping materials. But pavers, arguably, have a slight advantage over the rest.

Stability

As with durability, most of the coping options are inherently stable. The strongest natural stone pavers such as marble and granite do have some advantages over the rest. The marble structures of ancient Greece, many of which still remain intact, provide strong evidence of natural stone’s stability. And of course rocks themselves often remain stable over millions of years. But while stone might have some slight advantages, most of the coping options are relatively comparable when looking at overall stability.

natural stone pool coping on a small raised wall
Coping is what links the outside elements of the pool with the water itself. This allows you to either make those elements dramatically separated or seamlessly connected and all options in between.

Putting Everything Together To Finalize Your Coping Options

Now that you’ve seen the pool coping options it’s time to really consider them within the context of your own home. Take a moment to think about how you use your pool today and the ways that might change in the future. Now consider how coping would work with those decisions. When you’re sure of the right choice, take action and create your perfect pool.

Disclaimer:
This blog is based on information available at the time of publishing and for the purpose of sharing information with the public related to swimming pools and projects that can be financed through Viking Capital. Although we strive to be complete and accurate, it is not information that is verified or maintained. It should not be relied upon for making financial decisions. An investment such as a swimming pool is significant. Viking Capital recommends consulting with a financial professional regarding your financing decisions and with pool professionals regarding pool options. To learn what financing options are available for you today, please apply with Viking Capital and you’ll receive your free loan consultation. Click Here to Apply.

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