Pool Coping Options For A Fibreglass Pool – Which One Is Best?
Over the past 10 years in the pool paving industry, we’ve heard many customer horror stories specifically when purchasing the wrong pool coping pavers for a fibreglass pool.
So that you don’t make the same mistake, and throw thousands of dollars down the drain, we want to help you.
Firstly, if you are inexperienced in pooling, it may seem the process is the same for fibreglass pools as for any other pool.
However, it is not.
While fibreglass pools can bring a world of benefits like quick and easy installation, feeling smooth on the feet, less susceptible to algae growth and relatively low maintenance, dressing it with the best pool coping will make a world of difference.
It’s got everything to do with the structure of the pool.
A fibreglass pool is essentially a fibreglass shell that is carved and crafted into a shape and size suitable for a pool.
As you may know, there are a few different types of pool coping. In this article, we will focus on the best options for a fibreglass pool.
Suitable for a Fibreglass Pool:
- Full Piece Natural Stone Drop Edge Coping – a minimum thickness of 30mm
- Pencil Edge Natural Stone coping– a minimum thickness of 30mm
- Pencil Round Structural Porcelain Coping – not less than 20mm thick
- Bullnose Natural Stone Coping – a minimum thickness of 30mm
- Bullnose Porcelain Coping – not less than 20mm thick
Not Suitable for a Fibreglass Pool:
- Any Mitred Stone Drop Edge Coping
- Any Mitred Porcelain Drop Edge Coping
- Natural Stones less than 30mm thick
- Structural Porcelain Pavers less than 20mm thick
What is Mitred drop edge?
A Mitred drop edge is when two pieces of stone are cut in 2 opposite 45 angles. These are joined together with a colour match epoxy glue. Once adhered, the joints get pencil rounded and the bottom of the vertical piece gets pencil rounded as well.
You can choose any of the pool coping pavers from the above list for your fibreglass pool without any concerns of wear and tear breakages or delaminations.
These are the safest options because they do not have mitred edges. A mitred edge will be affected by vibration or expansion of your fibreglass shell, and as such is not suitable for your fibreglass pool.
Over the years, we’ve found the best option for a fibreglass pool is the full piece drop edge option of 30mm thickness and a 60-80mm drop
Not only does it make the entire pool look like it’s hovering on a solid piece of natural stone, but it also helps hide the round lip of the fibreglass pool. Basically it makes it look much neater. When using the drop edge coping, it becomes harder to identify if the pool is made from concrete or fibreglass. So your guests will never know (without asking, of course) what kind of pool you have.
On the other hand, the pencil edge and bullnose options (points 2-5 in the list above) do not hide this but simply overlay it slightly.
Now that we’ve covered the suitable pavers for fibreglass pools, let’s talk about the four options that are not suitable.
This is because the vibrations caused during swimming will cause significant pressure on the mitred stone and/or porcelain pieces. This pressure can cause the glued pieces to start cracking and you want to avoid this at all costs.
Over time, the constant use of the pool area will also cause the shell to vibrate. When the shell vibrates for an extended period of time, it increases the likelihood of any mitred coping pieces opening at the joint. Again, this causes damage and you want to avoid this.
Also, because the fibreglass shell has a somewhat uneven edge all the way around, depending on the piece, it doesn’t allow the mitred edges to sit flush against the edge of the pool. When someone doesn’t sit flush, it causes issues later on.
Another problem with the mitred edge coping is caused by the internal water creating pressure on the fibreglass shell. This pressure can cause slight deformation of the shell and lip, thus pushing out the pool coping drop edge. Later, this de-bonds the mitred edge and ultimately breaks the coping, destroying the pool.
If you think this issue discriminates depending on the type of epoxy used, it doesn’t.
Regardless of what some say (or believe) the coping can still break.
As such, installing the wrong pool coping on your fibreglass pool can become a very expensive (and frustrating) exercise.
Unfortunately, to this day, there are stone suppliers and pool companies who don’t fully understand or believe that this is the case.
Hopefully the above now clarifies it for you.
Now let’s talk …
As fibreglass pool shells have rounded edges, it is recommended to cut several pieces of the pool coping (either made of stone or porcelain as highlighted above) to create a seamless curve around the edge of your pool..
An experienced and professional installer will know this. Theywill also know how many pieces to cut depending on the radius of your pool..
Once the corners are cut, your fibreglass pool will have a smooth and elegant finish.
It also looks better, wouldn’t you agree?.
Which installation product to use?
Ideally, you should use:
- ARDEX X18 is a superior white polymer fortified cement-based tile adhesive
- ARDEX CA20P Extremely versatile
- ARDEX E90 is a special synthetic dispersion for use in conjunction with ARDEX cement-based adhesives.
Over our years we’ve spent in the industry, we have found that ARDEX products have substantial longevity. They are also the preferred installation brand for many of our pool builders.
In saying this, new preferred installation methods are always developing. We always keep our finger on the pulse (so to speak) with new methods, so please contact us for our most current recommendations for your circumstances.
Finally, when it comes to the details, we recommend that you do careful research to help you make calculated decisions on who (and what) to believe and not believe.
A fibreglass pool can be a great, cost-effective solution for your home but you want to make sure you follow the right steps to safeguard the longevity of the pool.
Otherwise, all that time and money you’ve spent could be a waste.
Prior to making a purchasing decision, we recommend chatting with a professional who has vast experience in installing pool coping for a variety of pools.
Your pool is an asset and investment into the happiness and health of your family.
It is also a resale value for your home. As such, it’s best to do it once and do it right.
At Armstone, we believe in helping you create safe and timeless outdoor spaces that last the test of time. We do this by guiding you with the right advice and tailoring solutions that fit perfectly for your family.
If you need any advice or recommendations – g call us on 1300 560 560 or visit our showroom in Glebe. We would love to help you.
We have a wide selection of Pool Pavers and Pool Copings on display and can recommend the most suitable pool paver for you..