Materials for making mold: 2×4’s, 2″ PVC pipe, duct tape, 3″ screws, 2″ screws, 3/8″ rebar and rebar tie wire, pilot hole drill bit, 3/8″ counter sinking drill bit, lubricant (peanut oil).
Materials for concrete mixture: 5000 to 5500 PSI Concrete, Sand (Playsand), Portland Cement and paint. Optional: Concrete Fortifier and Curing Agent.
The first step in pouring your own coping is making a mold. You will first need a high powered drill and a 2″ hole saw drill bit. Take a 2×4 and mark a line down the middle of the 2×4. Then you can center the drill bit and begin boring holes every twelve inches. Once you have completed boring holes you rip the 2×4 in half using a circular saw. This will give you the form wood you need to hold your PVC mold in place.
After you have made your form wood, then you need to prepare the PVC pipe. The PVC can be cut in half with a circular saw or jig saw. This can be a difficult process at times. Make sure you have secured the PVC before making the cut.
Start screwing your wood forms into the ramp using 3″ screws for more holding power. I would suggest putting a wood form every foot and a half. After you have installed the wood forms it is time to lay your half piece PVC into place. Drill a pilot hole through the PVC, and then counter sink the pilot hole with a larger drill bit. Then drill a 2″ screw into the wood form. Countersinking the PVC will help flush the screw to limit any blemishes on the finished pool coping.
Once your form is in place and secured, you can start mixing your concrete. Use a high PSI concrete which will cure harder than your normal concrete. At home centers you can find 5000 psi QuiKcrete or 5500 psi Concrete Maximizer both of which will work. Before mixing the concrete you want to make sure the mix ratio is 1/2 concrete, 1/4 sand and 1/4 cement. We recommend you use the concrete calculator to figure out how much crete you need to pour. The most important thing is to make sure the mix is thick. You do not want a watered down mix because this will weaken the concrete. There is also the option of using less water and adding concrete fortifier.
It is important to lubricate the inside of the PVC mold before pouring the concrete. Cooking oil spray works great for this and is easy to apply. Peanut oil tends to be cheap and works great.
After the coping mold has been lubed, start pouring the concrete. As you are pouring the concrete make sure that you are filling the mold. It is important to pack the concrete all the way into the mold to limit any voids. Once you have packed the concrete, and then begin scrubbing the concrete with a wood or magnesium float. While you are scrubbing the concrete tap the mold with a hammer to make sure the concrete is settling into the mold. If you have access to a concrete vibrator this will work even better. It is very important you spend a good amount of time vibrating the mold to make sure the concrete fills the form properly.
The last step in the concrete process is to go over the concrete with a pool trowel. Give the concrete some time to cure and then do a few passes with a pool trowel to insure a smooth top surface. If it’s really hot outside the concrete is going to go off quicker and if it’s cold outside it is going to take a longer time for the concrete to cure. So beware of the weather conditions before pouring.
Give the concrete at least 24 hours to cure before pulling off the mold. It doesn’t hurt to leave the mold on for a few days, but most likely you will be anxious to see how the coping has turned out. Take the mold off slowly and examine the coping. It’s common for there to be a few small blemishes. Use an angle grinder with an abrasive masonry disc to take care of any imperfections. If you need to patch any voids there are products like Shep Patch or something similar.
Give the coping a few days to cure before you start skating it. The curing process for concrete takes 28 days, so the concrete may be kind of soft the first month. There are a couple options here. One is that you can paint the coping. There are paints you can use designed for concrete surfaces. Plus you can also use spray paint or paint on clear lacquer. Another option is using a concrete sealer. We used paint and it worked out really well.
Keep in mind that you can use your PVC mold to shape and form different kinds of pool coping. For instance, if you like more of a lip on top on the coping you can cut the PVC a little bit more than a half piece. If you are going to pour coping around a bowled corner it helps to use a heat gun to bend the PVC.
Pouring your own pool coping is a simple process and most people can figure it out just by looking at the pictures. I first used this method seven years ago and the coping we poured is still holding up after thousands of grinds. Be sure after you remove the mold you give the concrete some time to cure before you start doing five foot ollies to 5-0 truck smacker. Give the coping a week or two before you start grinding.