The answer to the question, “What is your water doing to your concrete pool coping?” may depend on who you ask. Some experts would probably tell you that it’s doing nothing at all, other than getting it wet. Others would beg to differ.
The main area of disagreement seems to occur when it comes to saltwater pools. Manufacturers of concrete products, pool installers, pool users and others all agree that saltwater pools are growing in popularity, but that’s where the agreement ends. Some feel that saltwater does no more harm to concrete pool coping than chlorinated water. Others maintain that there are very real issues with salt water that don’t occur, or occur to a lesser degree, with chlorinated.
We tend to side with the contingent that believes salt can be problematic for some materials. Saltwater pools gained huge popularity in the mid-2000s, and now issues are beginning to be reported. Some types of limestone, for instance, have become eroded on copings and deck areas. The main issue with concrete coming into contact with salt appears to be pitting and flkaing – light spots that appear on the surface of the concrete.
What Is the Solution?
There are penetrating sealers that you can apply to your pool coping and also to your deck that will prevent to some extent the damage that can result from saltwater. Salt is very aggressive and can even eat through some cheap sealers. And even if the sealer itself doesn’t really fail, there’s still the possibility of saltwater finding its way in through small cracks or at the edges. Then you can end up with problems like scaling and flaking on your deck and coping.
Some experts say that it doesn’t take long for salt to eat through cheap sealer – it can take a couple of years, but it could also happen in as little as four months. What this means is that if you want to ensure the longevity of your deck and coping, you’ll want to get a top quality concrete sealer and re-seal as needed.
Of course there’s one problem with using sealer on concrete – sealer can be slippery. On decking, it can raise the risk of slipping and falling. And on the pool coping, it can make it difficult for a swimmer to get a good grip so you may want to add a shark grip additive for better grip.
The best way to ensure that damage doesn’t occur, or is at the very least minimized, is to wash your deck and your coping down with fresh, unsalted water when possible and keep the sealer in good condition you should make it a part of your regular maintenance routine.