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Which Coping Should I Choose? Cast-In-Place or Precast Coping

Apartment complex pool with quality Sandscape coping

Frequently, we receive questions about whether to specify Cast-In-Place (CIP) or precast coping. At Colorado Hardscapes, we will install either, but before you decide, we encourage you to look at each option’s strengths and weaknesses. Continue reading to know the truth about coping options and to find out which is best for your project.

Precast Coping

Dream backyard at private residence with RGB lighting in spa and sandstone waterfall.
Private Residence


Most people choose precast coping for the following reasons.

Consistent outcomes – Since coping stones are typically fabricated at a plant beforehand, it allows for quality control and the same resulting product every time.

Decorative potential – Precast stones come with many different decorative options. From natural stone to concrete, choosing precast allows for a variety of colors and textures. You may also select custom profiles for aesthetic purposes or to meet safety codes.


Loose Coping Stones – Freeze-thaw cycles deteriorate the grout between coping stones. We often see these cycles with Colorado weather. When grout deteriorates, coping loosens and easily pops out.

If unaddressed, loose coping creates a safety hazard for anyone walking on top or hanging onto the edge of the pool. In order to solve this, make frequent checks and replace coping stones when necessary.

In addition to loosening over time, individual stones do not possess enough stability in their interface to install track systems for automatic pool covers.

CIP Coping

Up close apartment complex pool with quality Sandscape coping
The Henry


Colorado Hardscapes guarantees the following…

Longevity – When installed by a contractor who knows what they’re doing, CIP coping can last a lifetime. Additionally, continuously reinforced with steel or fiberglass rebar gives the coping it’s extra strength. That means no severely cracked and spalling concrete in need of replacement.

Decorative Potential – We can apply any type of concrete finish to coping; this includes Sandscape®, broom finish, or even Bomanite® Imprinted. Moreover, all color options and profiles remain possible.


Inconsistent Installers – When installing Cast-In-Place coping, many fear that it won’t last and will have to be torn out and replaced shortly after installation. Concrete coping is different from other types of flatwork due to the fact that it is placed as a cap on the existing concrete, locking it in during the curing process. This increases the risk for cracks.

Tearing out concrete is in fact more labor-intensive and expensive than simply replacing one coping stone, but without a doubt, the cause of these defects resides in the installers, not the product.

What makes a qualified installer?

Sandscape Refined coping and pool deck at apartment complex.
Iliff Station Apartments

At Colorado Hardscapes, we know that a detail-oriented team goes a long way. Decades of installing coping have allowed us to recognize what does and doesn’t work. Additionally, we’ve spent time perfecting our mix getting the most dependable results. It is important to look at your install candidate’s past work, old and new, to ensure the best results on your project.

If Anything, Know This…

Regardless of whether you decide to install Cast-In-Place or precast coping, the most important factor is your installer’s qualification. That being said, at Colorado Hardscapes, we pride ourselves in being the most experienced installer on Colorado’s Front Range. To see more coping projects, or get a quote from one of our estimators, you can contact us at [email protected] or 303-750-8200.

Colorado Hardscapes

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