Pool fence ideas are plentiful online when you are researching the design of your ideal outdoor space and a key step in the pool design process is choosing what type of fence you want to go with.
Fences are often a legal requirement of pool ownership. Not to mention that fences are an important part of keeping children and pets safe around your family pool. But their main function of protection should by no means be taken to mean that fences need to be boring. You have a wide range of options available that can enhance both your pool’s safety and its beauty. But there are a number of different factors to consider when looking at pool fencing options.
Benefits Provided by a Pool Fence
When you’re considering a larger design project it’s usually best to begin by laying out your needs.
Safety concerns are one of the most common motivators for pool fence installations. Pools are an amazing resource for families. They provide a source of fun, exercise, and even bonding right in your own backyard. But pools can also be dangerous if they’re not properly secured. And a good fence is one of the best ways to ensure a pool’s overall safety.
That’s not to say that safety is the only benefit of a pool fence though. Privacy is also another big concern for a lot of pool owners. People typically like to let their guard down when they’re relaxing in their pool. It’s an area where the gravity of your life, and gravity itself, releases its grip on you. Whether you’re floating in a pool or swimming laps you’re generally in your own world. The last thing most people want in that situation is a conversation with neighbors, mail carriers, dog walkers, etc. But foot traffic is a general rule for a lot of neighborhoods. A solid pool fence is often the perfect way to deal with that problem. Some fences give a clear view of the world. But some options are centered around the concept of privacy.
A fence can also be a beautiful sight unto itself. Fences are often used to essentially frame a pool area in a similar way to a trellis. In fact, the term fence can be a somewhat misleading term in that it often conjures up images of a single design style. In reality, even hedges can be considered fences in some contexts.
Do You Legally Need a Pool Fence?
One of the most important questions a pool owner needs to ask is whether or not they’re legally required to have a pool fence. Unfortunately, this isn’t always an easy question to answer. The biggest problem is that the rules governing pool fences typically intersect with both local and state laws under a larger banner of your local building codes.
There’s no one size fits all description of what to expect from your local regulations. But most states in the U.S. borrow heavily from the International Building Code. And this is also true for the International Swimming Pool and Spa Code (ISPSC). But while local codes are typically in line with ISPSC guidelines, it’s still by no means a certainty. However, with that in mind, you can generally get a good idea of your legal needs by looking at the ISPSC.
The ISPSC applies rules to a pool based on how it fits into a larger classification system. The main point of applicability for pool fences is whether or not a pool is an indoor or outdoor design.
Section 305 of the ISPSC states that some form of barrier is required for all outdoor pools unless they’re above-ground.
However, even some above-ground pools fall under this requirement depending on their depth. While the depth requirements vary on a case-by-case basis, an outdoor above-ground pool with a depth greater than 18 to 24 inches will generally require a fence. Again, while these are general rules it’s important to look up your state’s exact requirements.
Legal Requirements for a Pool Fence
It’s also important to remember that fences come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. But the IBC (International Building Code) offers some general guidelines. The fence’s height is especially important as it needs to protect children and pets. The IBC suggests that pool fences be at least 4 feet tall. But any parent can attest to the fact that children have a talent for squeezing into seemingly impossible places. And to be sure, you might wonder can dogs swim in pools?. But no matter your opinion of pets enjoying your pool, they should never be able to sneak in while unattended. The code takes these factors into account as well and suggests that the clearance between the ground and fence needs to be less than 2 to 4 inches.
On top of this, it’s also important to look for any openings or holes in the fence. The IBC requires any holes or openings in the fence to be small enough to block a 4″ diameter sphere. The fence should also inhibit any attempt to climb it. This essentially means that there shouldn’t be any obvious hand or footholds.
Finally, the fence should facilitate safe use. You need to not only be able to lock the fence, but it also needs to be self-closing and self-latching.
The fence needs to essentially default back to a safe state when left unattended.
Different Fences and Different Benefits
The previously mentioned restrictions do impose some limits on fence design. But there’s still a vast number of different options available to you when looking at pool fence ideas. One important point to consider is how your ideas for fence design concepts fits in with your initial pool design ideas. When possible, it’s best to plan for both the pool and fence at the same time. This will often help you when choosing a pool builder too as you’ll be able to coordinate all of your construction plans.
Another important aspect to consider when looking at pool fencing options is which materials you want to use. Different types of fences and materials will provide you with different benefits. And of course, each will also offer its own unique aesthetic. But keep in mind that these materials are more of a jumping-off point than a final decision. The material used in the fence is one of its most important components. But you still have a wide variety of design choices within that medium. However, with that in mind, the following options are the most popular choices for pool fences.
A wooden pool fence is an ideal choice for people who want to go for a more natural look. Wood fences, especially if they’re unpainted, can often create a rustic feel. A wood fence is also one of the more intrinsically privacy-oriented options. Most of the other fence materials offer some level of transparency with the outside world. But a wooden pool fence will obstruct anyone looking in or out. However, this can be both a benefit and detriment at the same time. The deciding factor is whether you might want to look out into the world or not while you’re enjoying your pool. But wooden fences are an ideal choice if you value your privacy when swimming.
However, wooden fences do have some other downsides. The largest issue with wooden fences stems from the nature of wood itself. Wood has a tendency to warp over time. And this holds true for wooden fences as well. Wooden pool fences often require extra maintenance over time as a result of natural warping and environmental damage.
When people budget for their pool they usually focus on the overall cost to build a pool. But some pool fences are expensive enough that they should be factored into the larger cost considerations as well. And glass pool fencing is perhaps the best example of that fact. Glass fencing is one of the premium options when considering pool fence ideas. A glass fence typically consists of panels that can be considered as much a transparent wall as a fence. This glass is tempered and far stronger than what most people would assume at first glance. And the extra durability from tempering also makes it a far safer option than you might assume. The stability of glass fences is often further enhanced by adding stainless steel to the design. But perhaps the largest benefit of a glass pool fence is its aesthetic appeal. A sleek glass fence is stylish and speaks to some of the more elegant architectural designs.
A glass fence also has some downsides. The initial price of a glass fence is typically seen as the biggest issue. However, it’s also important to keep in mind that a glass fence needs fairly regular upkeep. This can be a lengthy chore when done on your own. And it’s another cost to consider if you’re relying on professional cleaners.
Hardscaping is another one of the more privacy-focused options among the pool fence ideas using extremely durable materials. Hardscape fence designs typically work with the existing home architecture to create a seamless extension around the pool area. This is often paired with an access gate. The end effect is a fence that provides a smooth transition between different elements of your home while emphasizing privacy in your backyard space.
However, hardscape fences are typically one of the more costly options. Using a natural stone wall will be more expensive than more basic concrete walls so the direction you go here will greatly affect your budget.
It’s also important to take care to ensure that a hardscape fence complies with regulations about climbing restrictions. A hardscape fence will often unintentionally provide people with easy footholds to gain unauthorized entry into the pool.
Natural pool fences incorporate living plants to create a living barrier around a pool. The combination of thriving greenery and a beautiful pool can create an atmosphere that evokes forest glades and ponds. It’s a unique aesthetic that often speaks to something in humanity that yearns for beautiful natural environments.
Natural fences have two main downsides. The first problem is upkeep. Hedges and other plants will, of course, need continual attention to keep them healthy and green. On top of that, natural fences are generally fairly easy to circumvent. But this can be compensated for by using a secondary fence as a layer between two natural fences.
Metal pool fences are one of the more common and less expensive options. It’s what many people think of when they hear the term “swimming pool fence”. This usually consists of an ornamental aluminum design that allows for a view outside during your swim. But make no mistake, metal fences can still be adapted to match any given aesthetic. They’re commonly painted to match the style of the larger pool environment and can have a design to incorporate a bit of privacy if you want it.
Metal fences don’t need extensive upkeep aside from occasional cleaning. But the type of material plays a factor here as iron fencing can fall prey to rust if you’re not careful but obviously this is not an issue for aluminum fences.
Vinyl fencing is usually made from high-grade PVC vinyl. It creates a fence that’s lightweight, durable, and low maintenance. And while vinyl’s not the cheapest option, it’s still generally at a price point that most people would find reasonable.
Vinyl fences don’t have many disadvantages other than their material forcing a somewhat bulky design. Pool owners hoping for more unique pool fence ideas may also feel limited by the more limiting range of colors.
Mesh fences are typically seen in more utilitarian designs. As the name suggests, the fences consist of a mesh fabric that surrounds your pool. It allows for a nearly unobstructed view into and out of the pool area. But it can also filter sunlight to make the summer heat feel a little less intense. Mesh fences are made even more attractive by a generally low price point.
The main downside of a mesh fence is that it’s fairly utilitarian. Mesh fences put a heavy emphasis on function over form. They can be used in attractive designs. But mesh fences, as a rule, are typically more focused on simply keeping children and pets safe than on creating an artistic statement in your backyard oasis.
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How Does a Fence Affect My Pool Project Budget?
As you can see from what we have covered there are many options for fencing, the style you go for will greatly affect the cost per foot to enclose your pool. Not only the cost of the material is a factor but also how big it needs to be and how complicated the design is. Many pool builders can install a fence for your pool but you may find one who doesn’t or your fence preference might be outside the capabilities of your pool contractor. This is why it is important to speak to them first and ask questions like these to know if they can handle it all or if you will need to additionally contract some else to install the fence.
The good thing is that this won’t affect your pool loan application as at Viking we can roll the entire backyard project into your loan amount to make life simpler.
A swimming pool fence usually makes up a significant cost of the total pool project and the cost is unique to each individual backyard. The main factors affecting the cost are the material of the fence, the style and height, and the length required. It is best to make a decision early in your planning phase as to what you want so you can factor the price in accurately and stick to your total pool project budget.
Moving From a Great Idea to an Attractive Reality
At this point you probably have some great pool fencing ideas. You’ve seen how the law impacts your options and you’ve also discovered the various benefits and detriments of the different materials used for the different types of pool fencing. Now it’s time to take your idea for a great fence and turn it into a reality.
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