Brick Popping: What Happened? What Next?

brick popping

Here in Michigan, we experience all four seasons pretty intensely. It’s a draw for a lot of people, who love the snowy winters, hot summers, and the beauty of spring and fall in between. For swimming pool owners (and service providers), though, the extremities of the seasons can mean something else. It means we get freeze-thaw cycles that aren’t always easy on swimming pools.


With brick coping, it’s pretty common to see cracked and broken bricks after a cold winter. The reason for this is the freeze-thaw climate. Bricks may appear impenetrable, but they are porous, and can absorb very small amounts of water. During the summer months, when your swimming pool is in use, as well as during the fall and early winter when there is often more water than snow accumulating, the brick coping can absorb small amounts of water. Then, when the cold winter hits, the water in the bricks freezes and expands. This can result in cracked bricks, or even chunks of the bricks popping off.


Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done to prevent this from happening. It’s simply the nature of the bricks and the climate. If, in the spring, you notice you have cracked or broken bricks, you can have your local swimming pool company take a look at them and repair or replace them. The same thing can happen with tile, as well, although we tend to see it more often with brick.


Overall, brick popping isn’t a life-or-death situation for your swimming pool. You may have a few bricks pop during the winter, or you might not. If you do, you’ll still be able to use your swimming pool like normal. It’s mostly a cosmetic issue; although, if you have jagged edges, you should be cautious about swimmers’ safety. Your local swimming pool company should be able to patch up your coping without a problem. Coping stones can either be repaired or replaced, depending on the severity of the problem and the pool owners’ preference and budget.


So what next? If you’re building a new swimming pool and don’t want to risk brick popping, natural stone is your best bet. It isn’t porous like brick and tile, so it won’t absorb water and be at risk of freezing. If you already have an existing swimming pool, when it comes time to replace the coping, consider natural stone. At Ask the Pool Guy, we love natural stone. We use it on all of our Legendary Escapes, because it’s beautiful and practical. It’s a choice we highly recommend.