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Unread 05-28-2021, 03:31 PM   #1
jscozz
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Join Date: Jun 2005
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Resetting pool coping

I have a gunite pool that was installed about 7 years ago. We used brownstone for the coping. The pieces are 14" deep and average about 18-24" in length around the perimeter of the free-form pool. The pool builder set them with plain old mortar. Over the years, many of the coping pieces have lost their bond. I need to reset them. In removing a few to look at it, there is no mortar on the coping at all. The mortar is solid and firmly attached to the top of the bond beam. I do not want to have to chip it all off, since it would be a massive job and I would most likely mess up a lot of the pool tile that is right at the pool edge of the mortar. I also can't add any height when I rebond it, since only about 12 out of 40 pieces are loose and ones I reset have to match height with the ones next to it.

I was considering using a modified thinset such as Laticrete 254 Platinum, but was not sure if that would add too much height. Also considered using a landscape masonry adhesive.

I would appreciate any insight into why these all may have failed at the brownstone/mortar joint cleanly in all cases. Improper mortar mix? Improper installation? Other? And any advice on what would work best to re-bond these without changing height too much.

Even where the coping is not loose, a lot of the grout has come loose and fallen into the pool over the years. Pool builder probably used junk here too. I am planning on re-grouting with Mapei UltraColor Plus FA. Is this the best product to use?

Thanks!
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Unread 05-28-2021, 06:09 PM   #2
jerrymlr1
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Hi Jeff. What you have is fairly typical of coping installation. A lot of masons throw some mortar down onto the bond beam and just set the coping on top of that mortar. The correct way to do it would be to put some thinset onto the bond beam then mortar. Thinset is then troweled onto the back of the coping stone and then installed into the mortar bed.

The only way you are going to be able to properly get your coping installed would be to remove the old mortar bed and install the coping again like I described above. If the old mortar bed is truly bonded to the bond beam then you could grind some of it off, say an 1/8' or so, then use thinset to bond the coping. Either way it's a messy job.

As for the grout falling out, that could be from a couple different things. The improperly bonded coping, or there might be an expansion joint missing in between the pool and the surrounding concrete, if that's what you have around the pool. The pool deck movement could easily cause the grout to come loose as well as push the coping stones free of the mortar bed. Any pictures you can share?
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Unread 05-29-2021, 10:59 AM   #3
jscozz
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Here are a couple pictures. First shows one stone coping piece lifted up.. no mortar on underside of coping at all, and completely solid mortar on bond beam. This particular piece is near rock bed, so no expansion pressure at all on coping. The other shows the cracked grout typical around 75% of the pool even where coping pieces are not loose. It backs up to pavers and sand joint, so it should not be the pavers causing the coping issue. Most grout joints look like they detached from one side of the coping... shrinkage? Then after that separation happens, unsupported pieces of grout on the overhang fall out into the pool.

Would landscape adhesive give a good enough bond with less height than thinset? Or is my best bet to leave the mortar within the first inch or two of waterline tile untouched, and remove 1/8" from the rest of it and use 254 platinum thinset?

For the new grout, is the UltraColor Plus FA the best product to use to keep the same grout problem from happening again?
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Unread 05-29-2021, 08:10 PM   #4
jerrymlr1
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Where are you located Jeff? Freeze conditions? If no freeze thaw then my guess is the poor installation with mortar alone would be causing the grout to fall out as well. If it were my pool I would probably remove all the stone and re set it properly.
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