What swimming pool coping options are available?

I thought I would take a few moments to talk about the different options that are available in the world of pool coping, but maybe I should start by explaining just what the heck pool coping is. Many potential pool customers are unaware of this term and what exactly it is. Many long time pool owners find themselves in the same situation. This comes as no surprise as pool coping is not a topic I often, and almost never, hear anyone talk about; dinner parties, conventions, church sermons…..no one is talking about this stuff! That being said, pool coping is one of the most important and integral components of your swimming pool. Have I intrigued you? Have I whetted your appetite? Carry on dear reader……and prepare to be amazed (well sort of).old style concrete receptor coping

What is swimming pool coping?

Pool coping is the length of (usually) pvc or aluminum that runs the entire perimeter of the pool at the top of the steel wall. It is screwed to the top of the steel wall and has one (or two) tracks in it to facilitate holding the liner in place. Most pool owners commonly refer to coping as “oh, that white stuff”, this is usually followed by “I wondered what that was called”. At the face of the track there is a little lip of material and this hooks to a barbed-like ‘bead’ that is welded onto the top of the vinyl liner. Lay one hand on top of the other palms facing together. Curl your fingers and see how your hands hook together. This is basically how the bead of the liner attaches to the coping and stays in place in your swimming pool (a few thousand pounds of water pressure doesn’t hurt either). And the really great part is that I have the somewhat prestigious and glamourous occupation of selling this (and some other funkier stuff as well)

Swimming pool coping options…

So what options are available for pool coping today? Not so fast wise guy, I haven’t finished my history lesson yet. Back when I was a young pup installing swimming pools (a long time ago, in a back yard far, far away……no force had awakened; but I think a few Jedi had recently returned), the majority of pools had what is called ’concrete receptor coping’. The aluminum or pvc coping is screwed to the top of the steel wall and the concrete deck is poured right up to the back of it, leaving only the face of the coping exposed. There was also a 6” horizontally mounted coping known as ‘patio coping’ available. These are both still available but the concrete receptor style is much more common. Aluminum is the more preferred material as it is longer lasting and less likely to crack, break, or malfunction over its lifetime. White and gray are the colours typically available, although I would love to sell some custom plaid stuff!

New patio coping on a pool renovation

Pool coping innovations

But what are the best dressed pools wearing these days you asked? I’m glad you brought this up, as it means I’m almost done. In a word – cantilevered coping! This is a system whereby a small black single or double track of aluminum is mounted to the top of the steel wall (two tracks allows for the option of using a fitted vinyl winter cover). A Styrofoam form is then attached to this track which allows the concrete to be poured right up to, and slightly over the edge of the swimming pool. While the concrete is setting the forms are taken down and the concrete is worked to a smooth and rounded finish. If you are looking for something sleek and stylish, classic and contemporary, look no further than….what was that called again? Oh yeah, cantilevered coping. Oh, and by the way, Aqua-Tech’s in house pool crews have been installing cantilevered coping on a regular basis for over 15 years, and we do an excellent job of it. So for new pool installs or on pool renovations where the concrete is being removed, don’t hesitate to ask about having concrete cantilevered coping installed. Your pool will look fabulous dahling!!

the form & process for cantilevered coping

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