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Pool Coping: Do-It-Yourself

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Pool coping shapes the top edge or perimeter of your swimming pool. The coping forms a critical component of swimming pool construction, as it provides protection for the pool’s shell and a safe, non-slip surface for people as they enter the pool. The material also accents the pool’s shape and look. Many varieties of coping material exist, including brick, pavers, tile, concrete and natural stone. Select the type of project for your skill level. Stone is a common choice for do-it-yourself (DIY) pool coping projects.

Stone Pool Coping

Determine the type of stone materials available for pool coping. Visit a local supplier to look at sample materials. Discuss the pros and cons of each for your application. Find out if the supplier recommends anchors for the stone. Decide on a category of material, such as cantilevered, rolled coping, bull-nose and rough-cut.

Purchase stones with similar colors and thicknesses to ensure consistency in the appearance. Rent a saw from the tool rental shop. Remove existing coping material, if necessary. Run strings around the pool perimeter. The strings ensure straight installation of the stone coping and at the correct height.

Conduct a dry run of the layout for the stone before mixing and applying mortar. Cut the stone with a wet saw or a saw with a diamond blade. Make several passes of the blade to cut through the material. Protect yourself from dust and flying pieces by wearing safety equipment, such as goggles, earplugs and a dust mask.

Follow the instructions for the correct mortar mix for the coping setting bed. Some manufacturers recommend Type N masonry cement for the setting bed. This white cement does not contain chemicals and is triggered by contact with water, which could cause unsightly stains. Make the mortar bed about 1 to 1-1/2 inches deep.

Mix only enough mortar to work ahead so that the cement does not dry out too quickly. Position the coping evenly into the mortar bed. Tap the coping level with a rubber mallet. Check the evenness of the stones with the carpenter's level. Use a standard 1-1/4 inch overhang. Fill in the holes where the mortar squeezes out. Clean excess mortar from the coping with a sponge. Do not wipe the mortar because it wipes away the cement in the mortar.

Use Type N White Masonry Cement or other material, as recommended by the supplier, for the joints. Use flush joints instead of groove; allow the mortar to set. Brush the coping down with a stiff fiber brush. Rinse the stone with water to remove stains and other matter. Apply a urethane/polyurethane sealant or other as recommended by the supplier.

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