Swimming Pools – Pool Edges

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Posted on November 21, 2013

Installing natural stone products around swimming pools enhances the overall look of the area. Natural stone can be shaped to create radial pieces and grout free corners. There are some important construction considerations when installing natural stone around a pool including:

  •  Type of pool – fibreglass or concrete
  •  Width of the pool beam
  •  Overhang of coper
  •  Installation methodology – traditional mortar or proprietary adhesives
  •  Use of control joints
  •  Drainage/run off
  •  Water type – chlorine, salt or magnesium
  •  The type of stone selected e.g. sandstone, granite or basalt (bluestone)
  •  Sealing of the stone
  •  Slip rating of the stone

All of these variables can influence the selection of the stone and the installation methodology adopted. Please find below some discussion points relating to pool construction. It is accepted that commercially, there may be variations to the themes and methods presented within this document. These tips are provided in good faith. In no way does the information provided in this document replace the services or advice of professional contractors and/or consultants.

Installing Copers – Width of the Pool Beam

The typical construction of a fibreglass pool includes the shell and a concrete beam to tie the pool shell to ground below. If more paving is required beyond the pool edge (coper), then an additional paving concrete slab is poured and is tied into the pool beam using a series of dowels.

Ideally the pool coper will be selected prior to the pool construction commencing. This is preferred as the pool beam can then be poured to accept the width of the selected coper. If the pool beam and the paving concrete slab are constructed in 1 pour, the need to pre-select your coper is not as critical. Generally concrete pools are constructed in 1 pour so it is less critical to pre-determine the width of the coper prior to commencing construction.

The reason for knowing the width of your beam/coper all comes back to the preferred installation methodology of the coper. As previously mentioned, typically fibreglass pools are constructed with two (2) independent concrete structures joined together with dowels. Preferably, the coper will not straddle the pool beam and the paving concrete slab i.e. the coper will sit only on the pool beam and the joint between the pool beam and the concrete paving slab is used as a control joint.

Installing Copers – Fibreglass Pools

1. Sand/grind the fibreglass shell to remove the gel coating
2. Thoroughly clean the fibreglass shell and concrete beam to remove all dust, dirt and debris
3. Apply a layer of mapelastic smart over the fibreglassand concrete beam. The mapelastic smart creates a key able surface to the fibreglass and also acts as a crack suppressing membrane where the concrete meets the fibreglass shell.
4. Consideration can be given to applying a layer of mapelastic over the “splash zone” of the paving concrete slab.
5. The pool edge is now ready to accept either a traditional mortar or proprietary adhesive installation methodology.
6. Install copers to the correct falls and levels.

Note: Always follow the adhesive manufactures’ guidelines when using adhesives and waterproofing membranes.

Installing Copers – Concrete Pools

1. Thoroughly clean the concrete beam and paving concrete slab to remove all dust, dirt and debris.
2. Apply a layer of mapelastic smart the width of the pool coper. The mapelastic smart creates a key able surface to the fibreglass and also acts as a crack suppressing membrane where the concrete meets the fibreglass shell.
3. Consideration can be given to applying a layer of mapelastic smart over the “splash zone” of the paving concrete slab.
4. The pool edge is now ready to accept either a traditional mortar or proprietary adhesive installation methodology.
5. Install copers to the correct falls and levels.

Note: Always follow the adhesive manufactures’ guidelines when using adhesives and waterproofing membranes.

Caulking the joint between the Coper and Pool Edge

A lot of time and effort is spent ensuring the pool coper is installed correctly and is protected to minimise issues relating to constant wetting and drying and the chemicals used in pool environments. Even a coper laid to ‘best practice’ standards can still be exposed to potential issues if a proper seal is not created between the underside of the coper and the pool edge (fibreglass or concrete). We strongly recommend caulking the joint created after the coper is installed.

Control Joints

Control joints should be installed in accordance with the relevant building codes. The control joints in the foundation should be reflected through the entire pavement i.e. continued through the bedding material and grout line. In a pool environment, a control joint should be considered behind the coper running around the entire perimeter of the pool. Vertical and horizontal control joints should be considered at each corner of the pool and continue through the entire paved area.

Sealing around Pool Environments

All natural stone laid adjacent to a pool must be sealed. In a pool environment we recommend using a penetrative sealer which will not appreciably change the look or the slip rating of the stone. It would also be strongly recommended to seal the splash zone (coper to 1m from pool edge) with a product like Synergy which also acts as consolidator.

Note: It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using chemicals on any natural stone. Always test product on a small prior to applying to the entire job.