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Adding an in-ground swimming pool to a home does more than provide a way to stay cool on those hot summer days. A backyard pool can add value to a home, provide opportunities to improve fitness and help create lasting family memories. A pool can also add aesthetic beauty to a backyard, creating a focal showpiece in an otherwise dull landscape.
When designing an inground pool there are many considerations that designers, landscape architects and homeowners must keep in mind. There are so many possibilities, and the options for materials, colors, shapes, sizes and more can be overwhelming. One of the most important factors affecting the appearance, durability and value of your pool area is the selection of coping and deck paver materials. This post examines what you need to know about these two crucial elements when planning your pool project.
What is Pool Coping?
Have you ever sat on the edge of a pool with your toes dangling in the water, or come up for air and held onto the edge of the pool? That edge, or cap, on the rim of the pool is what is called coping.
What Purpose Does Pool Coping Serve?
In addition to providing visual definition to the edge of a pool and concealing the underlying substrate, coping serves a practical function of separating the pool from the adjoining surfaces and helps protect the pool structure. The edging also serves as a safety feature by providing a non-skid surface to walk on. A designer can choose to have the coping be a stand-out design element or to appear as a seamless extension of the surrounding decking.
What Styles of Pool Coping Are Available?
The style of coping chosen is a matter of taste, and it can contribute to either contemporary or traditional styling.
- Bullnose — This style has a rounded edge finish and is more commonly used with classic and traditional designs
- Drop-down — Creates a hidden rim or lip that makes the water appear to come flush with the surface, giving it a seamless appearance
- Square Edge — The edges are square, as its name suggests, and lends itself to a more contemporary, clean-lined look
- Tumbled — Creates a more organic and natural feel with a slightly uneven edge profile, appropriate for those who want a more rustic appearance
What are Pool Pavers?
Also known as decking, pool pavers are the walking surface that surrounds a pool and is adjacent to the pool coping.
What Purpose Do Pool Pavers Serve?
The pavers frame your pool and create areas for furniture and accessories to entertain guests or lounge poolside, so you’ll want to make sure you choose materials that create the greatest visual impact possible and enhance the surrounding landscape and the home’s exterior. Even more important than its aesthetic appeal, however, is the measure of safety it will bring to the area. Will the pavers become slippery when wet? Will the surface be scorching hot in the sun? Will cracks or uneven surfaces form and create trip hazards? These are all considerations when selecting paver materials.
What Styles of Pool Pavers Are Available?
The style you choose for your pool paving is limited only by your imagination, and it can vary greatly—from traditional to contemporary, and upscale to casual. A designer can create an impressive expanse of large stone slabs, for example, or may opt for a more refined look of smaller dimensional patterns. The greatest factor in achieving your desired look is the material you choose.
What Is the Best Material for Pool Coping and Pavers?
There are several options for coping and paver materials, including natural stone, concrete, tile and others. Within each of these categories is a myriad of options to choose from. When considering which is best for your application, you’ll want to understand how each performs over time in addition to what it looks like. Here are some considerations when choosing between the three most common options:
- Natural Stone — Several types of natural stone are available including granite, slate and more. One of the most commonly preferred is limestone which can create a harmonious look with the surrounding landscape. Its texture, variety of hues and colors, character, finish and the ability to cut it into various shapes and uniform thickness can create a luxurious appearance or cater to more rustic tastes. It’s considered among the most durable materials because of its density and low porosity so, while the initial cost may be more than man-made materials, it’s an ideal choice when looking at the long-term investment.
It should be noted that the solar reflectance of most limestone is far better than that of other materials, meaning the stone surface will feel cool to the touch and not burn anyone’s feet. Where the limestone is quarried will determine its quality, so not all limestones are suitable for pool applications. Seek out Type III limestone which receives the highest-ranking possible and ensures durability and performance.
- Poured or Pre-cast Concrete — This man-made material can be obtained in a variety of colors but often lacks the character of other alternatives. The typical process for manufacturing pre-cast coping results in limited size and shape choices. If a random, natural pattern is desired, concrete can’t compete. Durability is its greatest drawback, cracking easily in climates that experience freeze-thaw cycles due to its poor porosity. The cost of concrete coping will often be less up front, but the long-term costs to maintain, repair and replace damaged materials can eventually exceed that of natural stone. It also will have the poorest solar reflectance properties of any material choice.
- Tile — Tile is another man-made material that, unlike concrete, can add a variety of intricate and colorful design elements and patterns to a pool area. It’s available in many textures and sizes—the larger the tile size, however, the greater likelihood of breakage. Simply dropping a heavy object or moving furniture can result in damage. Installation and maintenance costs will be much greater than concrete or natural stone, and keeping the grout in between the tiles clean and free of stains is a major job for homeowners.
- Brick — Brick can create a traditional look and be arranged in various patterns, such as herringbone, linear, basketweave and more. Its sizes are limited, and it suffers many of the same maintenance drawbacks that tile does, in that keeping the grout lines clean is a laborious task.
Explore your options when choosing coping and paving materials, and understand the pros and cons of each. If you decide that limestone is the right choice, consider that some of Eden-Valders Stone’s most luxurious and impressive limestone applications have been pools — from small to large, contemporary to traditional, and everything in between.
Our skilled craftsmen can help you bring the dream pool you’ve always wanted to life, and we’ll work hands on with designers and landscape architects to create the perfect pool aesthetic you’re looking for. Reach out to us today.