Do It Yourself: Pool Fencing Options

This article discusses what you need to consider when choosing a fence for your swimming pool, including the different types of fencing and city requirements.

Safety is an important consideration for owners of swimming pools. Studies show that having a fence around a pool prevents children from wandering into the pool area and accidentally drowning. Many municipalities require fences around swimming pools for homes where children under the age of 6 years old reside. Even if you have no small children or live in an isolated area, you may be required by law to construct a fence around your pool.

Municipal Requirements

Before purchasing or installing a fence for your pool, check with your municipality to make sure it complies with any requirements they may have. Municipal ordinances are usually very specific as to what type of pool fence is acceptable, including fence heights, materials, and spacing of vertical bars. If you disregard these requirements you may be forced to remove your fence and install another, wasting both valuable time and money.

Minimum fence heights are typically 4', 5' or 6' tall. Spacing between bars, if applicable, is usually a maximum of 4" in width. Your municipality may also be specific about what type of gate to use or what types of latches. Because a fence does no good if the gate is left open, gates should be self-closing and self-locking. Latches are typically 4' 6" in height above the ground and located on the inside of the pool fence, not on the outside where they are accessible to small children.

Types of Fencing

Pool fences made of mesh, aluminum, vinyl, and wrought iron allow you to see the pool from the house or elsewhere on your property. Bamboo fences and wood panel fences are the best options if you want to use the fence for privacy as well.

Mesh pool fences are made of a polyester material and are ideal when you want the fence to appear invisible. They are easy to install and take down. For example, at the end of the season when the pool is emptied of water, just remove the mesh, roll it up, and store.

Vinyl, aluminum or wrought iron pool fences are permanent fences that are often used when a more formal look is desired. Wood and bamboo pole fences are also permanent structures, but add a more casual or naturalistic appearance to your property.

Chain link fences are not a good option for pool fencing because it is possible for a toddler or young child to climb the fence using the gaps in the chain links as footholds. If there is an existing chain link fence around your pool you might want to consider covering it with bamboo fencing, which is easy to install over a chain link fence.

Other Considerations

Choose a color such as dark green or black for your pool fence. A dark color will blend in with the landscape. Alternatively, if you want the fence to be obvious or to make a design statement, choose another color such as white to complement the pool or landscaping.

There are several options for installing your pool fence. You can do it yourself, have it professionally installed by the manufacturer, or hire a contractor to do the installation. There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these options. Before any installation takes place, you or your contractor may need to obtain a permit from the municipality.

Most fences are priced by the linear foot, for example $9.00 per linear foot. Find out whether the price includes only the cost of materials or whether it includes installation as well.

Maintenance and inspection of pool fencing are very important. At least once a year, pool fences should be thoroughly checked to make sure they are stable and secure, with no openings or tears.

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