When temperatures rise, a dip in the pool is understandably appealing. And because swimming pools are so tempting, pool owners in the United States are required to erect safety fencing around both public and private pools. For most homeowners, city or state ordinances require a fence around your pool. Some homeowners’ associations even weigh in on the specifications. For commercial pools at resorts or at community pools, there are federal, state and local laws and ordinances that must be followed.
While pool fence requirements are based on a set of standardized international building codes published by the International Code Council, local regulations can and do vary. There are federal, state and municipality laws and the most stringent ones must be followed. For example, if a state building code says a pool fence must be 4’ high, but your county’s building code requires a 5’ tall fence, you must follow the county ordinance to be in compliance.
Besides height, building codes may specify the material, spacing between pickets, ground clearance, locks and more. These codes are meant to increase safety in pool areas, while also reducing the pool owner’s liability.
So what should you look for in a pool fence? Whether you’re a homeowner or a commercial entity, you should first research your area’s local building codes. Once you know what is required, you can look for a fence that meets those guidelines and also complements your architecture and aesthetic.
Aluminum is a top choice for pool fencing. The material is strong and typically powder-coated to wear well for a long time with little to no maintenance. The rectangular tubing may be sleek and simple with just a top and bottom rail, or it may have decorative options such as pressed spear pickets.
Most ordinances specify that a pool fence must be a minimum of 48 inches tall. This is considered tall enough to keep most people from easily entering the pool area. Check your local building codes (and HOA guidelines if you have them) to be sure of the minimum height in your area.
The ICC Pool Code specifies no more than a 2-inch gap from the bottom of the fence to the ground. This measurement is meant to make it more difficult for pets (or children) to dig or crawl under the fence.
That 2-inch-maximum ground clearance gap also ensures that there are at least 45 inches between the top rail and the bottom rail of a 48-inch-tall fence. That span is considered enough to make the fence difficult to climb, even if someone tries to use the horizontal rail as a step-up.
There should be no more than 4 inches between pickets. This requirement may be also be called “air space” or “gap width”. Four inches is considered too narrow for a child to squeeze between the pickets.
Once you’ve gathered all the local requirements for your pool fence, you can start your search for a fence that meets them.
The VERSAI Residential Ornamental Fence from Fortress™
A standout pool fence option is the VERSAI from Fortress Fence Products. In four heights that meet or exceed ICC Pool Code, this two- or three-rail design is tough, durable and elegant. VERSAI is also highly customizable, so whether you want a sleek look or would like to customize the rackable panels with extended or decorative pickets, there is an option to suit your needs. For added safety, choose optional ASSURANCE panels with only 3 inches between pickets.