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  • Shropshire Brick and Stone UK

Keeping Walls in Check: A Guide to Stone Wall Copings

Stone walls have remained a popular choice of property border for many years, exuding a timeless sense of class, elegance and longevity. As well as increasing the aesthetics of your property, they can be incredibly long-lasting - that is, if they’re taken care of.


One of the best ways to ensure your stone wall withstands the test of time is by protecting it with coping stones. Keep reading our guide as we tell you all you need to know regarding what these are, their purpose and the different types available.


coping stones on a low wall

What is a Coping Stone?

A coping stone is essentially a type of cap that sits on the top of your brick or stone wall, being secured by a special bonding solution or a mortar mix. These sit on top of the wall in sections, although will cover the entirety of its length.

They are available in various materials to suit the aesthetics of a wall, including:

●      Natural stone

●      Concrete

●      Cast stone

●      Brick

These then provide the wall with aesthetic value and protection from the weather.


What is it Used for?

The main purpose of wall copings is to reduce a wall’s exposure to the elements, thus maintaining its quality and increasing its lifespan.


When water seeps into a wall, it can cause damage to the bricks and mortar. One of the most common examples is something called spalling, which is when the surface of a brick begins to flake and crumble. Similarly, excess water can cause mortar to weaken and crack. Since the top of a wall is the most exposed to rainwater, this is the area that benefits the most from being protected.


Wall copings do just that. Due to their design, they not only protect the upper surface of the wall, but they actually channel water runoff away from the wall entirely, ensuring that it doesn’t drip down onto the sides or penetrate the masonry.


Although this is their primary purpose, they are also used for aesthetic reasons, offering a wall a more finished and attractive appearance.


What are the Benefits of Coping Stones?


Structural Integrity

Due to the protection coping stones offer walls from water damage and weathering, they ultimately help retain its structural integrity, which could otherwise become compromised over time. This includes protecting it from material deterioration, mould growth and rot.


The surface of brick is porous, which is why brick walls are so prone to water damage and require such protection.


Subsequently, this can also save you money later down the line by avoiding regular repairs that would otherwise be required.


Safety

Leading on from copings helping to retain a wall’s structural integrity, this also helps to increase their safety. When a wall starts to deteriorate, bits of it can crumble and fall down. Depending on where the wall is situated, this could pose a safety hazard in a number of ways.


For example, if the wall is situated next to a path, then fallen bricks could hit and hurt someone or cause an obstruction in the pathway, which is also a trip hazard or would require people to go onto the road in order to get past it (especially wheelchair users or those pushing prams), which is putting them in danger. Similarly, any bricks that fall from a wall and into the road could cause drivers to swerve or damage their tyres.


Not only that, but if anyone (especially children) walks along the top of the wall, part of it may give way or crumble under their footing and cause them to fall and hurt themselves. Of course, it’s advisable to not walk on top of a wall, however this isn’t always under your control whereas your ability to protect a wall with copings is.


Increased Property Value

Though it may only be slight, adding stone copings to the walls on your property has the potential to increase your property’s curb appeal and possibly even its value.


Not only do the aesthetics of coping stones appeal to potential buyers, who will consider the whole appearance of a property in their decision, but they will save future owners of your home from having to face the cost of potential wall repairs when the property becomes their responsibility.


Functionality

Certain designs of coping stones offer additional functionality to simply protecting a wall. For example, they offer an area for sitting or for placing plant pots, allowing your garden to be a space that can be maximised and enjoyed to the fullest.


From Decorative Coping Stones to Stone Pillar Caps: The Different Types


Despite offering the same functionality, there are different types of coping stones that can be used, each of which have been designed for certain reasons.


Once-Weathered

Once-weathered coping stones are designed to direct water away from a wall. They do so in a singular direction, being angled to one side of the wall. These types of copings are more often used on roofs to channel water to the gutters, although they can still be used on walls.


Twice-Weathered

Just as once-weathered copings are designed to channel rainwater away from a wall, so, too, are twice-weathered copings. However, unlike their counterpart, these peak in the middle and are slanted in both directions away from the wall.


These tend to be the most commonly used copings, especially for garden walls, boundary walls and balustrades. Since they channel water in both directions, they are often considered the most efficient style of coping for maximising water runoff.


Many of these will also feature ‘drip-grooves’, which are slight grooves that are carved into the underside edges of the coping that hang over the sides of the wall, preventing water from dripping down onto the wall itself.


Flat

As their name suggests, flat coping stones are, well, flat. Whilst they don’t promote water runoff, they still protect the top surface of a wall from being permeated by water and provide a visually-pleasing finishing touch.


These are more often chosen as a decorative choice of coping, such as on top of minor walls within a garden, although they can still be used on freestanding walls.


Decorative

The last main type of copings are decorative styles. These are often designed with aesthetic in mind, although they don’t necessarily forgo functionality.

Decorative copings can vary greatly in design. For example, some will feature prominent peaks, others will have Romanesque shapes carved into them and others may feature a hammered texture.


Pillar Caps

Whilst these aren’t technically a type of coping stone found on walls, they do still count as a form of coping. Pier caps are used for topping off piers and columns, such as those used at the side of a property’s entrance gate.


They also tend to be square and are angled down in all four directions with a peak in the middle, promoting complete water runoff and protecting the stone/brick underneath in the same way wall copings do.


Which Should You Choose?

If you own an unprotected wall at your property, or are planning on building one, then you may be wondering which style and material of coping is best for you.


There are different considerations to keep in mind when making this decision.


The first is determining its function. Do you want your copings to primarily offer aesthetic value and enhance the design of your wall? Or, are you concerned with protection and longevity? If the former is the case, then flat or decorative copings would suit you fine, however once or twice-weathered copings are better in the latter case.


Next, think about your budget. Whilst you may favour the appearance of natural stone over concrete, this can be rather expensive - especially if you’re working with a restrictive budget. Thankfully, there is an alternative option: cast stone.


Cast stone, also known as reconstructed stone, gives the same appearance, texture and elegance of natural stone, but with the added benefit of being more affordable, making it a perfect material choice for people who are looking for attractive coping stones that fit within their budget.


Get in Touch

Regardless of your requirements, we can meet your coping stone needs here at Shropshire Brick & Stone.


Our professional team is able to expertly craft cast stone copings to meet your bespoke requirements, whether you require once-weathered, twice-weathered, flat or even curved copings for your walls.


To discuss your requirements with us and learn more about what we can offer, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today.

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