Pool copings

The best swimming pool coping options in NZ

In building terms, coping is the top of a wall or structure that is usually rounded off as a protective and aesthetic finish. Pool coping frames the edge of your swimming poolIt also provides vital protection against wear and damage. So it’s important that you not only install pool copings, but that you pick the right kind for your swimming pool.

This pool copings guide explains what the coping is designed to do, the most common pool coping options and materials, and where to find them in New Zealand.

In this guide about pool coping you will read:

What is pool coping and why do you need it?

Pool coping is the finish material that frames and seals a pool edge. It can be made from a huge range of materials including stone, tile, concrete, and composites. Each has its own pros and cons when it comes to style and function.

Pool copings are important because they:

  • Protect the swimming pool structure by keeping water out of the shell of the pool.
  • Seal the edge of the pool and provide a nice neat finish. 
  • Encourage any water escaping from the pool to drain away from it, not back into it.
  • Help to keep leaves and debris around the edge of the pool, out of the water.
  • Make the edges safer for swimmers to get in and out of the pool.

They also provide a nice decorative opportunity to bring a bit of pizzazz to your swimming pool design!

Pool coping styles

Before getting into material options, you have a few structural pool coping options to consider too.

What kind of shape would you like your pool coping edge to be?

Different styles of pool coping

The most common styles of pool coping

Do you want a slick, perfectly flush edge? Or something more soft and rounded, with a slight overhang for easy access?

Top-mount, C-channel, or Half-round

The most common style of coping. A rounded, protruding edge frames the pool and slopes out and downwards. 

It’s easy to get into and out of the pool, and safe with a softer edge.

Flat-mount

A track that follows and secures the lining of the pool. It’s used to install coping stones, pavers, and other finish materials.

Rough-cut

When stones are placed in their natural shape with rough, uneven edges.

Bullnose

Typically a fully-rounded, protruding edge of around 1.5 – 3 inches. But there are a few options with the bullnose shape:

  • Full bullnose: a full curve at the coping’s edge. 
  • Half bullnose: a half curve at the coping’s edge.
  • Flat bullnose: flush with the pool decking.
  • Raised bullnose: a protruding edge “lip”. 

These options can also be combined. For example, full, raised bullnose.

Cantilevered

Typically used for the edge of concrete pool coping. It’s a square shape but with rounded points to soften them slightly. 

You might hear some of these shapes described slightly differently, or see different shape options depending on the NZ pool supplier you use. 

But these are universally recognisable, so they’re a good place to start. Now onto the fun part: swimming pool coping materials.

Pool coping options

You have a few choices when it comes to pool coping materials. The most common kinds are discussed below. The right choice for you will depend on:

  • Your budget.
  • Your needs: if you have small children, you may prefer some surfaces to others.
  • Its durability for your home environment. Do you need it to withstand certain weather conditions?
  • Its availability and pool maintenance requirements. Can you find local suppliers to repair it if required? 
  • The style if you want it to match your garden’s landscaping.

And make sure that whatever you choose is non-slip!  

The best approach is to make a list of your criteria, and discuss it with a local pool supplier. We’ll help you find one of those below. But first, let’s look at the options so you can get a few ideas.

Pool coping stones

Pool coping with stones

Stone is a great pool coping material. As well as adding a little texture to your pool edge and looking good, it is typically durable and can be non-slip.

There are two key things you need to know about using stone pool coping:

  1. You should seriously consider getting it sealed. This will help you keep it clean and prevent any liquids or unpleasant contaminants (like dog or bird poo) getting into (and staining) the stone. 
  2. Not all stones are appropriate for use as pool coping. 

Some coping stones will crumble near water, particularly water that contains chemicals (like chlorine). So you need to ensure that any pool paving stones you use have been salt and chlorine tested. Examples of good pool coping stone:

  • Limestone: reflective of heat, so a great option for pools that get a lot of sun exposure.
  • Marble: also reflective of heat, so good for exposed pools.
  • Granite: these can get hot with constant sun exposure, so take this into account.
  • Travertine: just not the “tumbled” kind, as that’s super slippery when wet!
  • Bluestone: basalt – these can also get hot with constant sun exposure.

If you opt for porous pool paving stones like travertine or sandstone, it’s vital that they are sealed to prevent damage.

Concrete pool coping

An example of pool coping using concrete

Fans of the more raw, industrial look might be interested in concrete pool coping. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.

Pros of using pool coping concrete:

  • Typically very durable.
  • Usually low cost.
  • Low maintenance. 
  • Usually a large range of designs and styles available that can mimic more expensive looks.

Cons of opting for concrete pool coping:

  • It’s difficult to match colour, so if you already have some concrete in your garden, anything new will stand out. This also makes repairs stand out too. 
  • Concrete can stain and crack over time.
  • It might feel rough for swimmers getting into and out of the pool. 

Stamped concrete can get slippery when wet so it’s best to opt for plain, broomed, or textured concrete. 

Swimming pool coping tiles

Pool coping tiles might be the easiest way to add a little colour and flair to your pool’s finish!

You could go for a mosaic design, or tiles that are made to look like stone, brick, or other materials. Whatever your design aesthetic, you’re sure to find swimming pool tiles to match. 

Generally you want tiles between 20 and 30mm thick. But this may depend on your pool type, so be sure to get tailored advice. And always ensure that you are buying the right tiles to use with swimming pools, and that the grout and seal are suitable too.

Pool coping suppliers in New Zealand

It’s always best to get tailored advice about your swimming pool as early as possible. You want to make sure a supplier can meet your budget, aesthetic, and any ongoing maintenance or repair requirements before installing pool coping. 

We partner with the most reliable and established pool suppliers in the country. 

You can find all their details in our pool suppliers directory.

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About the author
Adrian Hill
Adrian Hill

Hey! I'm Adrian, founder and pool expert here at Dolphin Pacific. I love spending time with family, fishing, and have been known to brew my own beer.

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