Installing and maintaining a swimming pool requires careful planning and attention to detail. One essential aspect of a well-built pool is the coping, which covers the pool’s edge and helps to protect the structure from water damage.
In this article, I’ll go over my step-by-step process of installing pool coping and provide further information on the importance of pool coping, the costs of installation, and whether you should go the DIY route or hire a professional.
- The materials used for coping are brick, natural stone, concrete, pavers, and porcelain.
- Pool coping offers your pool aesthetic appeal, protection for and from the water, and safety and durability for swimmers.
- Pool coping costs depend on the type of material used, with natural stone being the most expensive and concrete being the most economical.
Step-By-Step: How to Install Pool Coping
Here’s my handy step-by-step guide on how to install pool coping.
What You’ll Need
- Your chosen pool coping material
- Construction adhesive
- Measuring tape
- Rubber mallet
- Masonry saw
- Safety goggles
Step One: Measure and Mark
Measure the distance around the pool edge where the coping will be installed and use chalk to mark a line along the edge of the pool. This line will act as a guide for the placement of the pool coping. Make sure this is a concrete base, and calculate according to the size of the materials you will be using.
Step Two: Prepare the Surface
Clean the surface around the pool where the coping will be installed using a brush or a wet sponge. Ensure that the surface is level and free from debris. If necessary, use a saw to remove any protrusions or sand it down using the sander to make sure the surface is as even as possible. A smooth surface is essential for the adhesive to adhere well.
As a safety tip, wear a face mask and safety goggles when using a sander – it’s dangerous to inhale the fine dust in the air.
Step Three: Apply the Adhesive and Install the Coping
Apply construction adhesive to the underside of the first coping stone. Place it at the starting point of the chalk line, ensuring it is level and flush with the edge of the pool, and use a mallet to tap the stone firmly into place.
Make sure to use the right type of adhesive for the coping material being used. Some materials, such as natural stone, may require a specific type of adhesive to ensure a strong bond.
Step Four: Continue Installing the Coping
Apply the adhesive to the next coping stone and place it next to the first one. Work your way around the pool, laying out the next stones in an even and firm pattern. Be sure to leave a small gap, around 2 to 3 cm (approximately 1 inch), between each stone to allow for expansion.
Step Five: Be Cautious About Ends, Corners, and Expansion Joints
Tiling or laying out coping stones becomes tricky when the ends and corners need to be filled with precise cuts. Furthermore, keep in mind that the space between each stone is vital to avoid cracking the paving down the road.
Step Six: Finishing Touches
Allow the adhesive to dry completely, which may take several hours or even overnight. Once dry, sand down any remaining uneven surfaces and clean the coping with a damp cloth to remove any dust or debris.
Step Seven: Seal the Coping
Once the coping is completely dry and clean, use a sprayer, roller, or brush to apply the coping sealant and ensure you smooth it out evenly. To ensure proper application, work in sections. Once you have applied the sealant, allow it to cure for the recommended amount of time before using the pool. Depending on the sealant used, this will generally take between 24 to 48 hours. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Installing Concrete Pool Coping
The process of installing concrete pool coping is similar to installing other types of pool coping, but there are a few key differences to keep in mind.
- Mixing and pouring: When installing concrete pool coping, the concrete must be mixed and poured on-site. This means that you will need to prepare the concrete mix according to the manufacturer’s instructions and pour it into molds that are shaped to fit the pool edge.
- Finishing: Unlike other pool coping materials, concrete coping requires additional finishing work to achieve a smooth and polished surface. This may involve grinding or polishing the surface of the coping to create a more attractive finish.
Video: Pool Coping Installation
Here’s a great video from the team at Techo-Bloc on the coping installation process. They break everything up into a few videos, so check their YouTube channel for links to all the follow-up videos. Here’s the preparation and adhesion process to get you started.
Importance of Pool Coping
Pool coping is an essential component of any swimming pool installation, and it serves several important purposes for the following reasons:
Pool coping gives the pool a finished look and enhances its overall aesthetic appeal. It can be made of various materials like natural stone, concrete, or brick, which can be selected to match the design of the pool and your yard.
Safety and Durability
Pool coping offers a non-slip surface around the pool, which helps to prevent accidents and injuries. It also helps protect the pool structure from damage caused by water, chemicals, and weather and reduces erosion and settling of the surrounding soil, preventing structural damage to the pool.
Pool coping keeps the water cleaner by blocking debris, dirt, and other foreign materials from entering the pool.
Different Materials for Pool Coping
There are more than a dozen options available for coping. What you choose will entirely depend on your tastes and your budget.
Natural stone is a popular (if somewhat expensive) choice for pool coping because of its durability, natural beauty, and non-slip surface. Ranging from bluestone, limestone, slate, or granite, natural stone is a great option for anyone wanting to incorporate elements of the great outdoors.
If you’re on a budget, consider concrete. Concrete coping is a versatile and affordable option. Concrete can be poured into any shape or size. Plus, it can be dyed or stamped to create a variety of textures and patterns and even mimic the appearance of the more expensive natural stone.
Brick is a classic choice for pool coping because of its traditional look and durability. Available in various colors and sizes, it’s preferred by those seeking a cheerfully rustic aesthetic.
Somewhat similar to concrete, pavers are made from individual units that can be easily replaced if damaged. They are available in various colors and textures and can also be arranged in various patterns.
A newer material used for pool coping, porcelain is becoming increasingly popular because of its durability, elegance, and non-slip surface. It’s also non-porous, unlike most other materials used for coping, which is a definite plus.
Appropriate Sizes and Thicknesses for Pool Coping
Choosing the right size and thickness for your pool coping is an important consideration to make when installing pool coping. Typically, pool coping comes in sizes ranging from 4 to 30 inches long and 4 to 24 inches wide.
The thickness of the coping also plays a crucial role in its strength and durability. For standard residential pools, coping thicknesses of 2 to 3 inches are typically sufficient. But you’ll also need to consider a few factors when making your final decision, including the climate, the amount of foot traffic, and the pool coping design you are going for.
How Much Does Pool Coping Cost?
The cost of the coping you choose depends on factors like durability, the material used, layout size, and installation costs. You usually pay by the linear foot when purchasing coping for the pool, so it’s best to get someone to take the correct measurements for the area to estimate expenses.
The material also plays a significant part in the cost of coping. For instance, your cheapest option is poured concrete, which averages about $6 to $12 per linear foot. The most expensive pool coping options are natural stone, pavers, and brick. Natural stone will set you back around $45 to $55 per linear foot, and brick is generally around $25 to $30 per linear foot, while pavers are slightly more expensive at around $20 to $45 per linear foot.
Pool Coping: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
When it comes to pool coping installation, it can be tempting to consider doing it yourself. There are certainly some benefits. DIY installation can save you money on labor costs while allowing you complete control over the process.
But if you jump into DIY without the skills required, even a small mistake during the installation process can lead to huge problems down the road, such as water leakage, cracks in the coping, and general damage to your pool. Plus, if you’re a first-timer, you may have to spend extra money buying the tools necessary for the job if you don’t have them in your shed already.
A professional would have the experience, knowledge, and tools necessary to complete the job accurately and efficiently. Yes, it’ll be more expensive, but it will ensure that the job is done right the first time, reducing the risk of future issues.
The bottom line: go for a professional pool coping installer to ensure the best possible result if you are unfamiliar with home improvement projects. But if you are, by all means, get those safety goggles on and do it yourself!
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