In engineering terms, coping is a protective covering made of either stone, concrete, brick or terracotta, that’s placed on the exposed top of a wall, to prevent the seepage of water. This is pretty much what it is in pool terms too, except that pool coping forms a kind of lip at the rim of your pool, providing a neat seam between the pool shell and the surrounding paving.

Although we can’t deny that pool coping is a great opportunity to add a little decorative accent to your pool, its main function is to prevent water from getting behind the pool shell and to direct splashed water away from the pool and into deck drains or onto grass. As an added bonus, coping doubles as a great handle to grip onto in the pool before executing the perfect backflip! It also provides a non-slip surface on which to walk around the pool.

What Is Pool Coping Made From?

Pool coping is usually mounted on the bond beam, concealing the steel projecting from the pool’s walls and covering its concrete edges. It usually comes in one of three shapes:

  • Square Edge
  • Rebated Square Edge
  • Single Bullnose

Common materials for pool coping include natural stone, precast concrete and poured concrete, among others.

Natural stone

Natural stone or brick coping is visually warm, with a pleasing strength and texture. Preferred materials include quarried granite, limestone and natural fieldstone, all of which combine beauty with durability. When working with natural stone, it is very important to make sure you have consistent coping thickness.

Precast concrete

Precast concrete pool coping comes in a wide variety of colours, textures and patterns. It is often significantly cheaper than natural stone, and is easier to install.

Poured concrete

Poured concrete incorporates the coping right over the edge of the pool so that there is no break in the finish on the horizontal plane. If you only have a small area around the pool, this method can make it look much bigger.

Pool Coping For Vinyl Pools

Although vinyl pools aren’t very common in South Africa, and are usually situated above ground, they are sometimes used in-ground, which makes coping necessary. There are three main types of pool coping for vinyl pools:

  • Cantilever edge – formed foam is secured to the top of the pool wall before a concrete deck is poured right up to the foam. This creates a deck that comes right up and over the edge of the pool.
  • Top mount – this is the most common kind of coping for in-ground vinyl pools. It is also sometimes called half-round, or C-channel coping. It’s made from heavy, powder-coated aluminium, and serves as the form against which the pool deck can be poured.
  • Flat mount – this is actually a track to contain the pool liner. Traditional stone coping is then mounted on top.

If you’re building a pool for your family to enjoy this summer, and you feel as though you might need some advice to help you, well, cope, come and chat to the cool pool dudes at Pool, Spa and Filtration Supplies.