If an in-ground swimming pool is constructed of concrete, it will need coping, which is a cap for the edge of the pool. Besides simply being necessary, the coping provides an opportunity for a decorative accent, which can greatly enhance the appearance of the pool. When someone inside the pool hangs on to the top edge, they're grabbing on to the coping.
Coping is mounted on the bond beam, covering its concrete edges and concealing the steel projecting from the pool's walls. It also prevents water from getting behind the pool shell and integrates the finish and tile of the swimming pool.
What Is a Bond Beam?
On a swimming pool, the bond beam is a horizontal structural element around the top perimeter of the pool. Typically made of concrete and steel, the bond beam adds strength and support to the pool wall.
If coping is installed correctly, any water that is splashed out of the pool should flow away from the pool and down into deck drains. Coping should be tilted slightly away from the pool.
Coping can be precast in straight lengths, corners, or curved sections. Stones are traditionally made of grayish-white concrete with a porous finish. In lieu of coping stones, some pool designs feature concrete or wood decking that extends to or slightly over the edge of the pool. Materials include flagstone, brick, or synthetic decking.
Practical Purposes and Materials
In addition to serving as a decorative edge that conceals the pool's concrete edge, coping provides a non-skid surface upon which swimmers can walk.
Coping for a concrete swimming pool can be made of tile, natural stone, and precast concrete. Companies that make pavers and products for pool decks also have different types of pool edging materials and copings—like bullnose styles—to achieve a seamless look between the pool and deck.
Coping for Vinyl Pools
In-ground pools are sometimes sold as packages or DIY kits by dealers or some builders. Pool coping for this type of pool, usually vinyl-lined, includes three main types:
- Top mount: The most common type of coping for vinyl in-grounds, it is also known as C-channel or half-round coping. Made of heavy aluminum with a powder-coated all-weather finish, top-mount serves as the form to pour the pool deck up against. After it has been attached to the pool wall, it's ready.
- Cantilever edge: Foam forms are secured on top of the wall, then a concrete deck is poured up to the form to create a deck that comes right up and over the pool's edge. The concrete can be decorated with stamping or staining.
- Flat mount: Not actually coping, but a track to contain the pool liner, on top of which is mounted a more traditional coping stone.
If for whatever reason, you don't like the idea or look of coping, the pool's concrete or wood decking can be enlarged to extend slightly over the edge of the pool all the way around its perimeter. This creates a smooth, seamless look, which is seen in the yards of modern and custom homes.