Concrete Cantilevered Coping vs Stone Coping on Fiberglass Pools
2/28/14 8:46 PM
When your fiberglass swimming pool is being constructed, you will have three options for the final finish or look of the pool. You can leave the fiberglass coping exposed, have a cantilevered concrete coping poured, or use a stone or paver around the coping of your pool. Here are some of the pros and cons of each.
EXPOSED FIBERGLASS COPING
Inexpensive – reduces pool costs
Landscaping Benefits – can often be used to highlight a barrier or landscaping around the pool
Texture – like all fiberglass pool surfaces, exposed coping will be vey smooth.
Maintenance – The fiberglass is constantly exposed to sun damage and must be waxed and cleaned. Think about fiberglass boats and cars which must be regularly cleaned and polished to keep them looking good.
Can Be Unsightly – Concrete decking poured up to the fiberglass edge will often crack and chip away. As the concrete is poured nearer to the edge, it becomes very thin, and subject to irregular lines and will most likely chip away. This is not a good way to finish your fiberglass pool unless you have no other choices. In the example above, our customer was restricted to wooden decking only, and so the coping is exposed fiberglass. Expert maintenance has kept this pool looking new.
CANTILEVERED CONCRETE COPING
Adds a Beautiful Finished Touch – the coping of your pool will look finished and very professional.
Protects – Your fiberglass is no longer exposed to the sun, or to the possibility of cracking or chipping. The finished look makes your pool look professionally done with clean coping lines.
Bonds Your Pool and Concrete – as the concrete is poured over the coping it is also forced under the coping locking the slab and the pool together, preventing independent movement as the ground is constantly shifting.
Safety – Because cantilevered means the coping protrudes into your pool almost an inch, it provides a handhold for small fingers that might like to hold on. While playing or just resting, small children like the comfort of having a “handhold” when swimming, and they can get a solid grip on cantilevered coping.
Cantilevered Concrete Coping is Expensive – It involves special forming and pouring into those forms, and at the joint of the pool and concrete, the concrete will be very thick. More concrete equals bigger costs. It should not, however be an additional cost to you. Every professional pool builder knows the value of cantilevered concrete coping to the customer, and it should be standard, not optional.
Requires Professional Skills – the forms required for cantilevered concrete coping are specialized, one-use-only forms, and they are expensive. Placement of the forms, ensuring the concrete completely fills the forms, smoothing of the leading edge before the concrete sets – all these skills require advanced professional knowledge of pool building. If your pool builder is not familiar with the correct way to construct cantilevered coping, the end result might be very disappointing.
STONE OR PAVER COPING
This is the Best of the Best – Stone coping is one of our most popular options, because it makes your pool look even more beautiful. Stone coping, especially some of the “Travertine” stones, can be the highlight of your pool. Most natural stone is naturally skid resistant, and very cool to the touch. The small holes and pores found in natural stones, prevent the heat buildup under your feet that make some surfaces very hot to stand on. Also, natural stone edges are very smooth to the touch and comfortable when sitting poolside.
Excellent variety – Coping pavers are usually man made, and most often concrete based. They can offer very attractive contrasts to the concrete decking, and some are filled with natural shell pieces giving a very nice look to your pool. While some pavers can be hot to the touch, those with grooves, or small holes built in to the forms, will be very cool. Unlike natural stones, pavers are offered in an almost unlimited variety of colors.
Expense – Coping stone or pavers are expensive to buy, and require a lot of manpower to install. Each stone must be cut to fit, especially on curved edge pools, Before the stone is placed a concrete “bond beam” must be poured around the pool to act as a base for the stone. This beam is usually 12″ deep or more and at least 8″ wide, and will run the perimeter of the pool.
Must be Professionally Installed – coping stone is the first thing people see when they look at your pool. Each stone must be correctly placed, in line with all others, and at the exact same height. There is a significant amount of skill involved, and you should ensure your builder knows what he is doing before you commit to the expense involved.
The coping of your fiberglass pool, is the connection between your decking and the water. Its construction is something that should be given serious consideration as the pool is being designed, because the builder must ensure the proper grades are set, depending on your choices. If you choose to leave the coping exposed, which we do not recommend, you can add stone or concrete coping at a later time, but it will involve a significant amount of renovation and expense.
Best of luck with your pool, and please write with your questions.