Swimming Pool Architecture 101: Pool Coping

There are as many different “perfect homes” as there are homeowners. What works for one won’t be acceptable to another, and an architectural feature which entirely Pool copingdisqualifies a home from a prospective buyer’s list of possibilities will be the very thing that secures it a spot on someone else’s. For all of that, though, there seems to be one thing which homeowners as a group can universally agree upon: A swimming pool, particularly one of the in-ground variety, is just the thing to make a good home great.

With that in mind, it is no small surprise that so few home owners are aware of how their fancy new pools are made, even in a passing sense. Given the exacting standards to which a pool must be crafted in order to be not just safe, but attractive and fun as well, it behooves any homeowner to understand basic swimming pool architecture. To that end, keep reading to discover what pool coping is and why it’s important to the construction of any in-ground swimming pool.


Pool coping isn’t something a lot of people, other than the folks who build and install them, of course, are familiar with. That is, if you asked them to point it out on their own pool, they would almost certainly be unable to do so. That’s quite a shame, since you can do a lot with the coping of a pool from a design standpoint, which can add value and a distinctive flair to any home’s exterior.

To use a basic analogy, coping is to a swimming pool what a frame is to a photograph. It’s the part of your swimming pool which serves as both border and buffer, separating the pool proper from the surrounding deck while adding a nice aesthetic touch at the same time. In fact, coping is designed in such a way that if it had to be done, a person could remove a pool’s surrounding deck entirely while keeping their swimming pool intact.


Coping comes in a wide variety of flavors. This is great, since pools are often a way for home owners to add their own personal “zing” to a new home. Common materials one can find in coping construction include concrete (poured and / or pre-cast), brick, any number of natural or artificial stones, tile of various types, and so forth. As long as the substance used can fulfill its role as a built-in buffer between decking and the pool itself, almost any substance one could wish for is fair game for coping.


Swimming pool coping is installed in a simple, direct fashion. Once you know how that works, you’ll be able to identify a pool’s coping on a whim. Not only is this just a nice little bit of architectural knowledge, it is also a great way to swipe ideas for your own pool’s coping, and thus to estimate costs and other such things.

First, a pool is dug to the specifications and desires of the individual owner (while taking into account any relevant codes or ordinances). Later, the interior tile for the pool is installed within the “bowl”, but only up to a point. This point, which begins around three quarters of the way up the pool interior, is where the coping actually begins.

Next, the pool’s interior is finished with whatever coping option was chosen by the builders or other parties, continuing up and over the rim to cover the lip and other relevant surfaces. Once the coping reaches the exterior limit of the pool, it is covered by a temporary backing agent (usually a form of foam insulation). This is done to protect the pool from the deck, which must be constructed around the actual pool during the concurrent construction of a pool’s deck.

Once the deck has been constructed, this backing agent is removed – it was only ever taped or tacked down to begin with, so don’t worry, removal is safe and simple! – and the new pool and new deck become one unit. At this point, barring any unforeseen complications or revisions, the homeowner or other responsible party has just become the proud new owner of a shiny new back yard swimming pool!


As the reader can see, pool coping is really pretty simple to grasp, conceptually speaking. The only obscurity lies in the technical term for it. Now that you know what coping is in the technical sense as well as the common one, however, it should be a simple matter to find or request the construction of the perfect pool / back yard recreational area for your own home. Have fun, and don’t forget the sunscreen! Contact Pool Doctor today.

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