Fence-y a Swim?
While the American Dream is built upon ideologies of freedom and prosperity, for many Australians the humble residential pool symbolises the Australian Dream; and as pool ownership continues to rise, so too does pool fencing. Here, Emma Warner Allen seeks the sage counsel of Doug Graham, Director of Tough Glass Worx, to discuss how to effectively utilise pool fencing to create an appealing outdoor area that is safe for the whole family.
When designing the ultimate alfresco area, the pool fence can often be left as an afterthought – overshadowed by its brilliant bright blue aquatic neighbour. Despite the 1991 legislation which stipulates that all pools must be accompanied by some form of barrier, pool fences all too often remain an afterthought, resulting in a poorly designed and executed outdoor area that lacks functionality and visual appeal. However, with a variety of elegant designs and innovative concepts, pool fences are reclaiming their rightful place as a principal factor of consideration when constructing an alluring alfresco area.
’X’ MARKS THE SPOT
As with many things in life, location is key. “It is important to think about the location and design of the fence early in the planning process,” Graham asserts. When planning your pool, it is imperative to contemplate the accompanying mandatory pool fencing in order to create a carefully considered alfresco area that acts as a natural extension of the home and also promotes excellent movement between outdoor areas.
Before embarking on your pool construction journey, you must first address how you would like the space to be utilised – how will the pool assimilate into the existing outdoor framework. “A pool fence helps to create a ‘pool zone’. When designing the area, think about the space and requirements of the pool zone in comparison with the area outside of the zone.” Graham states, “Think about how much space you want the kids to be able to use without being inside the pool fence.” Consider the available space and how much room you would like to dedicate to a dining area, fire pit, or other, versus a pool.
Lack of planning can leave you ‘fenced in’ so it is vital that you consider all your options to maximise the available space to create an alluring and functional outdoor area. If you are working with limited space, “there are creative ways to deal with smaller areas. You may want to consider placing a barrier and gate just around the doors that lead out to the pool area”, Graham advises. Positioning your pool against a property boundary can also help to preserve the available space.
BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY
Should you choose to position your pool against your property’s boundary, it is important to also consider the safety of the neighbouring areas. “With boundary fences the onus is on the pool owner to make sure someone cannot climb down into the pool area from a neighbouring property” Graham states. “When using boundary fences, they need to be a minimum of 1800mm high and have nothing climbable within a 900mm arc down from the top fence.” One aspect often overlooked in terms of safety is the surrounding landscaping. “Make sure you really think about what you are going to plant there as many trees and plants will be non-compliant. You want plants with soft foliage, branches that are less than 10mm wide and not able to withstand the weight of a 25kg child.”
In terms of the fence itself, “you need to ensure that the fence is compliant with regulations, but you also need to ensure the fence has a structurally adequate substrate. Your fence is only as strong as what it is attached to.” Glass has remained a popular material to employ for pool fencing due to its durability, strength and visual appeal. Typically, “fully frameless glass is a minimum of 12mm thick whereas semi-frameless is 10mm, sometimes 8mm thick depending on the span in between the posts.” Graham continues, “we have utilised 15mm thick glass with the entire edge rebated into concrete. This is by far the strongest and therefore safest product, in my opinion.”
Another factor to consider is the type of hardware utilised for the pool gate. “Always use quality gate hardware.” Graham stresses, “The Polaris hinges are quite good as they have been specifically designed for a frameless glass pool gate and they can handle the weight of a 12mm thick frameless glass door. They also soft close which I believe is essential for any glass pool gate.”
A MATERIAL WORLD
Another point for consideration when creating a beautiful outdoor sanctuary is the materials used as a pool barrier. With a range of products on the market, each competing for prime position and offering a range of benefits, it can be difficult to know which is best. “Frameless glass has become the standard for pool fencing” Graham states. “Frameless glass offers a great solution as it tends to disappear and still give you that unobtrusive view” – an important factor to consider when contemplating the overall aesthetics.
Your choice of material is not limited to glass, and other popular materials include a range of metals, PVC and wood. Graham elaborates, “we are also seeing trends towards bespoke bollard type fencing.” Some intrepid pool designers even create a pool fence by elevating the pool to form a natural’ barrier. Graham believes this can be an effective way of enclosing your pool so long as it is upheld to the standards required by law. Though he warns readers that more, “thought needs to be given to the placement and design of the gate to ensure compliant, safe, and practical entry and egress from the area.”
CHOOSING A CONTRACTOR
Last but not least, one of the most important parts of the pool building process is selecting the right contractor. Graham advises you consider their experience before embarking on this journey with them. Given they will be the experts informing this process you want to be certain that they have the relevant skills, knowledge, and experience to impeccably execute your dream build. Graham advises meeting them on-site to discuss the job, “they should be able to highlight different ways of doing the job in order to meet your needs but also be compliant and strong. They should also be able to outline any structural requirements that are needed to ensure the longevity of the fence.”