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Cantilever Pool Deck (Edge & Coping Design Guide)

Here’s our cantilever pool deck design guide including what it is and types of coping & edges.Swimming pool with limestone cantilever pool deck copingAn in-ground pool is an excellent option for any backyard. It’s the perfect centerpiece for stay-cations, summer barbecues, and family gatherings. Part of the many decisions to make when having an in-ground pool installed is the type of pool deck.

What Is A Cantilever Pool Deck?

Concrete swimming pool coping cantilever deckA cantilever pool deck is the decking around the pool that hangs slightly over the pool wall’s edge. Many homeowners opt for concrete for the in-ground pool decking. Concrete has been used for pool deck finishes since the 1980s and is the most popular finish.

The pool deck is one of the most important and visible elements of the pool’s design. Cantilever pool decks typically have a bullnose finish and provide a clean and elegant look to the pool. In this guide, we will explore what makes a cantilever pool deck, what cantilever pool deck coping is, and possible problems that may arise when using a cantilever pool deck for an in-ground pool.

Cantilever refers to a beam that hangs over an edge and is fixed at one end only. It’s also a word commonly used to describe an element that creates an overhang, such as a cantilever pool deck.

This part of a pool’s design is used when installing an in-ground pool and provides a smooth, finished edge to the surrounding deck. It completes the top edge of the pool and can be installed using various types of materials.

More common materials include cement, wood, brick, and natural stone, each a good choice when considering the pool’s design.

Cantilever Concrete Pool Coping

Custom pool with thick concrete cantilever coping deckThe deck of an in-ground pool meets the top of the pool’s edge, and the border is called coping. Coping bridges the meeting of the pool and patio, finishing off the gap.

Pool coping acts as a frame that protects the pool as well as keeping water from damaging the deck around it. Pool coping is practical and also lends a decorative touch to enhance the aesthetics of the pool.

Cantilever concrete pool coping defines the edges of the in-ground pool and acts much like a garden’s border. It contains the water and keeps it from splashing out.

Cantilevered coping has to be poured into a form that creates a bullnose edge extending a bit over the pool’s edge. It’s the most common edge used by pool contractors when they install an in-ground pool.

Cement is a good choice for this decking for several reasons.

  • Concrete is durable
  • It provides a slip-proof surface
  • Concrete is low maintenance
  • Concrete can be stamped with different designs and finishes
  • There are quite a few concrete color options

Cantilever concrete pool coping is either poured into forms or can be installed using precast concrete coping. Precast coping comes as pre-fabricated blocks and is available in different textures, patterns, and colors.

This option makes it possible for a homeowner to install the concrete coping themselves. The sections are installed using mortar and caulking, and no special equipment is needed. The cement coping needs to be sealed with a weatherproof sealant that is pH neutral.

Cantilever Edge Pool

Modern cantilever edge pool deck coping with slightly raised designA cantilever edge pool not only looks beautiful, but the edge also has many functions. A cantilever edge not only finished the pool deck’s look but also protects from accidental slipping into the pool.

The slightly raised surface provides a good grip when people walk on the deck along the in-ground pool.

It also provides a barrier against water that puddles on the pool deck. The cantilever edge stops the excess water from running into the pool. It’s also a great way to keep unwanted liquids from entering the pool.

A cantilevered edge is smooth to prevent cuts from sharp edges and provides a seamless transition from the deck to the pool. The cantilever edge is also easy to hold on to for swimmers because of its overhang on the pool’s top edge.Curved swimming pool with concrete cantilever edge coping deck

Cantilever Pool Deck Problems

Cantilevered concrete pool decking must be installed properly by an experienced pool contractor. Special forms are used made of Styrofoam that are temporarily attached to the lip of the pool’s edge.

Concrete is poured into the forms, and once the concrete is set, the forms are removed. The forms leave a smooth bullnose finish.

The forms used for coping can be tricky to use. If the pool contractor does not install the form properly, it may leave an irregular or jagged surface. The surface will not only be unsightly, but it’s also difficult to repair once the cement cures.

Cantilever pool deck edges may crack or shift, requiring repairs. If the contractor does not pour the concrete properly, and carefully remove the Styrofoam forms, chunks of the concete may break or fall off.

Luxury home swimming pool with marble cantilever deck coping spa and outdoor entertainment centerSwimming pool with marble stone deck and cantilever style coping.

Other problems that can occur with cantilevered concrete pool decking include:

  • Hot and cool temperatures causing expansion and contraction
  • Soil under the pool may settle and cause the cantilever pool deck edge to crack
  • Improper water drainage may cause shifting soil and sand that causes cracks
  • Concrete cantilevered pool decking tends to stain, especially over time
  • Pool owners may find a concrete cantilevered pool decking is too rough against their skin when getting in and out of the pool

To prevent cracking, the joint between the coping and the concrete deck should be sealed with a flexible elastomeric sealer that allows for expansion and contraction.

The flexibility of the sealant allows for movement without damage. An elastomeric sealant also prevents water from getting into cracks.

Expansion joints may be placed between the coping and the deck to prevent cracking. They’re placed every six feet around the pool edge and added to the deck when the concrete is poured.

These control joints help to avoid cracks on the back of the pool bond beam where cantilever decks typically crack.

In-ground pool installation must be done by licensed professionals who know how to prepare the hole for the pool’s frame. Inadequate pool installation may cause shifting and sinking, affecting every part of the pool, including the cantilever pool deck edge.

If you are creating your own custom plan, there are different swimming pool design software that can help. Many of these will allow you to try out different pool finishes to visualize your design and help get the look you want.