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What is Wall Coping?

By B. Turner
Updated May 16, 2024
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Wall coping is a finish material installed at the top of a masonry wall structure. Depending on the desired function and appearance, wall coping can be made from any number of materials, including stone, concrete, or metal. Wall coping components are often known as wall caps in many parts of the world.

Wall caps serve a number of functions when installed on a wall. They help to keep water out of the wall, which minimizes the risk of damage from freezing and thawing over time. The coping also protects the top of the wall from physical impacts or damage. In many applications, wall coping is chosen primarily for its aesthetic appeal. Different types of coping can give the wall a smooth, polished appearance while helping to conceal mortar or rough stone surfaces from view.

Typically, stone wall coping is held in place using standard masonry mortar. The bottom of the coping often contains grooves that hold the mortar, which allows the cap to sit flat against the top of the wall. The stone or metal coping is cut wider than the wall to create overhangs on either side. This helps divert water away from the wall and aids in protecting the wall from damage.

Wall coping is available in a number of shapes and profiles depending on the desired finish. It may be tiered or square for a traditional look, or rounded to create a more modern finish. Coping is also available with a beveled profile, and builders can also order custom profiles to match existing coping or create a whole new look.

Each piece of coping is butted together to form a tight bond with the adjacent section. Some metal or clay coping materials may include integral connectors that allow adjacent pieces to interlock or overlap for a watertight bond. Installers should choose the correct coping design based on where each section will be installed. Special end pieces are used are either end of a wall, while L-shaped or T-shaped pieces must be used at most corners or intersections.

Depending on the material, coping may be cut to fit in the field, or pre-cut at the factory according to specified dimensions. Many natural stone products are cut on-site using a hammer and chisel, while composite or metal coping materials are pre-finished by the manufacturer. The thickness can vary depending on the desired appearance of the wall.

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