DIY In-Ground Pool Coping

What You'll Need
Masking tape
Inflatable raft
Duct tape
Grout mix (Portland cement and sand in a ratio of 3:1)
Caulking (silicone)
Putty knife
Wet sponge
Finishing tool

An in-ground pool coping is done along the circumference of a residential swimming pool. Pool coping is essentially a form of edging. Here, the top-edge of the pool is prepared in such a manner that it blends with the surrounding decking and still emphasizes the pool’s borders. This is important from an aesthetic and structural perspective. Visually, it helps to define the outline of the pool in a subtle manner. This also helps to negate pool-side injuries when entering/exiting the pool. Pool coping can be established in various ways and with different constructional materials. Among these, the bull-nosed in-ground pool coping is the most common method. Here, the edging is finished with grout or concrete. The angles of the edging are slightly curved for aesthetic reasons. Grout stabilizes the coping stones and limits the abrasion of the pool’s edges.

Step 1 - Getting Started: Seating and Precautions  

Start by lowering the water level inside the pool to about 3 inches below the tiles along the sides. Inflate a raft that will serve as your seating area during this project. Tear-off two strips of duct tape, each strip measuring about 3 feet. Use the strips as a connecting medium between the raft and the tiled surface walls. This serves as a back-up in case you spill any grout. You can easily re-tape the raft every time you need to move around. Strip-off 3 inch long bands of the masking tape. Attach these strips on either side of the joints that need coping. These tapes help to secure the grout.

Step 2 - Preparing Coping Joints and Grout

Using a wire-brush, clean the pool’s joints to ensure no debris hampers the grouting. Prepare the grout by mixing Portland cement and sand in a ratio of 1:2. Mix these in a bucket and slowly add water to form a uniform paste. Mix thoroughly using a trowel until the paste begins to take a thick, slightly-firm shape.

Step 3 - Grouting Coping Edges

Start packing the joints with the grout. Use the pointed edge of trowel for pushing the grout into smaller crevices of the joints. The grout should not exceed the inner layer of coping stones. Use the blunt edge of trowel to scrape-off excess grout.

Step 4 - Finishing Grouted Joints

Allow the grouted surface to dry a bit and become firm. Ideally, you should wait for about an hour. Now, proceed with finishing the grouted surface. Using the finishing tool to smooth out grouted joints. You can use a sponge to rub-off small drops of grout. You may need to un-tape the masking tape strips to access the underlying surfaces. Repeatedly, wipe the grouting drops that often get stuck on the coping stones with a wet sponge.

Step 5 - Caulking Grouted Edges

There is a big possibility of some voids still existing between the leading edge of the grouted surface and the coping stones. These can be filled with silicone caulking. Caulking makes the pool’s edging more durable and it doesn’t wear-off due to sustained exposure to water. Use a putty knife to smoother the caulking layer.