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Pool Fencing

What You Need to Know About Pool Fencing Requirements

How to Select the Right Type of Fence for Your Pool

Choosing the right fence to surround your swimming pool is a process that requires careful consideration of all the important regulations, along with your own aesthetic vision. A proper pool fence, regardless of the material, will need to:

  • Meet safety regulations
  • Provide security
  • Satisfy your aesthetics preferences
  • Complement the theme of your landscape design.

Unlike regular backyard fencing, pool fences have strict requirements aimed to provide safety for kids and pets. To help you through the process of selecting the right pool fence, we’ve created this all-inclusive guide on everything you need to know about pool fences. Read along or jump to the specific section you are most interested in:

Optimal Pool Fencing Construction with Garden Detail

Pool Fencing Requirements

  • Recommended Fence Height
  • Recommended Spacing
  • Child Prevention
  • Gate Requirements

Choosing the Right Pool Fence Material

  • Ornamental Fences
  • Wood
  • Vinyl
  • Chain-Link


  • Which Type Is Best?
  • Pool Fencing Ideas
  • AVO is Here to Help

Pool Fencing Requirements

According to the CDC, a four-sided isolation fence—one separating the pool from the yard—reduces a child’s risk of drowning by 83%. The Massachusetts Laws for Pool Safety requires pools to be enclosed by a fence or other structure at least 4 feet high. In general, local and state regulations often dictate the height, style, and gates of traditional fences. In the state of Massachusetts, most towns follow the ICC (International Code Council) code for swimming pools. Most towns are applying either the ICC 2015 or ICC 2018 standard for pools.

The first thing to do when deciding on a pool fence is to consult with your local building department or zoning office for a list of the most up-to-date codes for swimming pool settings. It is here that you will find the codes that are enforced in your area. If there are no codes in place, you may refer to publications issued by the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission or read on for some of the most common recommendations.

Essentially, the right fence will prevent a child from gaining access to your pool. The recommendations below are designed to prevent a child’s ability to climb over, under, or between the slats of the fence.

Recommended Fence Height

  • Fences should be a least 4 feet high.
  • The top of the barrier should be at least 48 inches above grade, measured on the side of the barrier which faces away from the swimming pool.
  • The fence should not have any foot or handholds that could help a young child to climb the fence.
View of Pool through Fence

Recommended Spacing or Openings Between Pickets

  • The spacing between the vertical members should not exceed 4 inches. This recommendation is based on the head girth and chest depth of a young child. This reference is intended to prevent a child from passing through an opening.
  • If you select a fence with decorative cutouts, the cutout should not exceed 1-3/4 inches. This size is based on the foot width of a young child.
  • If the spacing between vertical members is greater than 1.75 inches, you need to have 45 inches or more from the top of the bottom rail to the top of the next rail.
Child in pool

Preventing a Child from Getting Under Your Pool Fence

The recommended maximum clearance at the bottom of the fence states that it should not exceed 4 inches above the grade of your land. This measurement should be taken on the side of the fence that faces away from the pool.

Gate Requirements

  • Gate has to be self-closing with a lockable latch that should be out of the reach of children.
  • Gate and doors must open outward away from the pool.
  • Where the release mechanism of the self-latching device is located less than 54 inches from the bottom of the aluminum gate, the release mechanism and openings shall comply with the following:
  • The release mechanism shall be located on the pool side of the gate at least 3 inches below the top of the gate.
  • The gate and barrier shall have no opening greater than 0.5 inches within 18 inches of the release mechanism.

Note: To meet these requirements, there needs to be a
1.5-foot-wide mesh plate surrounding your latch. Luckily, there is a type of latch that can be installed 54 inches or higher onto your gate, even if your gate is only 48 inches tall. This latch is called MagnaLatch and it has a built-in child-resistant locking device that prevents children from entering the pool area. Contact AVO if you’re looking to purchase a MagnaLatch.

Remember: once the fence is in place, it’s important to
periodically inspect the safety latches, alarms, fence, and posts to maintain a safe swimming environment.

Choosing the Right Swimming Pool Fence Material

Swimming pool fences come in many shapes and sizes and can be made out of a variety of materials. Some fences are
permanent, while others are temporary and removable. There are pros and cons to just about every type of swimming pool fencing, which is why we’re taking a deep dive into the various pool fencing options below.

Ornamental Fences

Ornamental fence, usually made of aluminum or steel, offers the beauty and protection of traditional wrought-iron fencing without the maintenance. They are available in a wide variety of styles, colors, and heights that add prestige and value to any property. Ornamental has become one of the most popular type of pool fence because of its extreme durability and low maintenance. The standard height for this type of fence is 54 inches tall. Most in-ground pool owners go with the ornamental fence because of its sleek look and low maintenance.

Pros of ornamental metal fences include the following:

  • Low maintenance and highly durable fence material
  • Provide an elegant look to any property
  • Great visibility, which helps locate a child faster in extreme situations

Possible drawbacks:

  • If codes are not followed properly, ornamental fences can be easy to climb for older children
Ornamental pool fence with gate


Wood is a traditional and reliable material fence material used around pools. It also happens to be one of the most cost-effective options for fencing. As a wood fencing choice, cedar is excellent: its stability means minimal shrinkage, twisting, and warping compared to other woods. Cedar is a durable, decay-resistant wood that endures our northern climate better than any other species—up to three times better.

Cedar fencing around pool

Pros of wood fencing include the following:

  • Wood fencing comes in a variety of styles.
  • It offers the best choice in keeping with U.S. Consumer Safety Product Commission guidelines.
  • Solid wood fencing prevents a child from slipping between slats.
  • Wooden fences are durable, can be stained or painted as desired, and if cared for properly, last for years.

Possible drawbacks of wood fences:

  • Some wood fences need periodic upkeep, such as painting or staining the wood, to lengthen the life of the fence (cedarwood does not require painting or staining).
  • Occasionally, posts or slats will need to be replaced.
  • Fences installed on sloped or uneven ground increase costs and require additional installation skills.


Vinyl fencing has the same basic look as a wooden fence, but the key benefit of vinyl is its low maintenance. Vinyl fences can be installed by a skilled do-it-yourself handyman, although many homeowners rely on a professional company. Just like wooden fences, this is a labor-intensive project.

Pros of vinyl fences include:

  • Vinyl is low maintenance and offered in more aesthetically pleasing designs compared to traditional wood fences.
  • Vinyl fences can last up to 30 years.

Vinyl fences may have drawbacks, including:

  • Vinyl costs more upfront than a wood fence—around $30 to $40 per linear foot—and panels are typically sold in 6-foot lengths, requiring the installation of more fence posts.
  • Since the posts are secured in concrete, this usually extends installation by a day or two so the concrete can harden.
  • Repairs are more costly than wood, since sections (instead of slats), must be replaced.

If you are choosing between cedar and vinyl fencing, refer to our extensive comparison for cedar vs vinyl fencing.


Chain-link fences are economical, easy to install and require very little maintenance. They are often made from galvanized steel, but they can also be composed of aluminum. When using chain-link fence for your pool fence, there are some additional requirements. The mesh size should not be larger that 1-1/4 inches square unless slats are used to reduce mesh opening to no more than 1-3/4 inches. Any gaps under the fence should be no more than 55mm or (2 inches) all the way around the fence.

Pros of chain-link fences include:

  • They are economical and very low maintenance.
  • Chain-link fences are easy to install.

Chain-link fence cons:

  • Limited life span: on average, you can expect your chain link fence to last 15 years. Chain-link fences are especially prone to sagging due to loose posts or stretched tension wire.
  • A lack of design options: chain-link fence is not the most aesthetically pleasing material and is usually associated as a cheaper option.

Which Type Is Best?

The best type of pool fence is going to depend entirely upon your needs and design preferences. If safety and price are your highest priorities, then chain-link fencing is going to be the way to go. However, if you’re creating a gorgeous backyard landscape that would rival a monarch, you pretty much have your pick of materials. If you have children and your goal is to keep them out of the pool when unsupervised, getting a compatible and compliant fence is a must.

Pool Fencing Ideas

Pool fences provide security to keep pets and loved ones safe around pool areas, while also adding a touch of elegance to any yard when done professionally. The images in this ideabook can be used to inspire ideas for your pool fencing. Whether you’re looking for ornamental, vinyl, chain-link, cedar, or another material for your fence, we’ll help you create the perfect atmosphere for your pool with our custom pool fences.

AVO Is Here to Help

When selecting a pool fence, we recommend that you first check with your local building department to verify exactly what your codes are for installing a fence around a swimming pool. This important step will ensure many safe years of enjoyment with your pool. Once your pool fence codes are in hand, you can call the most trusted and experienced fence supplier in the Northeast region, AVO Fence & Supply.

We take seriously the confidence our customers place in us, and we take the time necessary to ensure that AVO Fence & Supply remains the preferred source for all your fencing needs: wood, vinyl, ornamental, and chain-link for both homeowners and fencing contractors in the Massachusetts area for years to come.