Pool Barrier Comparison Guide

Rectangular swimming pool with a black mesh pool fence installed

If you own a pool, you need an effective pool barrier that helps you protect your family, friends, and pets but doesn’t take away from the fun pool you’ve worked so hard for. Beyond your duty as a responsible pool owner, barriers are often requirements under laws such as the California pool fence code, and many insurance companies and homeowners associations require properties with pools to comply with barrier guidelines they enact for the safety of their members. Thousands of lives are lost annually, and tens of thousands more victims require medical attention due to accidental drownings, many of which may have been prevented by adequate safety barriers. As your local pool safety experts for Northern California, we’ve had the opportunity to work with your friends and neighbors to protect and beautify their pool areas, and that’s given us a unique perspective on the benefits and drawbacks of the most common pool barriers in use today.

Personal Need To Lifetime Passion

Our founder wasn’t trying to start a pool barrier company. He just wanted to protect his family. Anyone who has kids can tell you that the occasional rough night of sleep comes with the territory. After installing a pool at his Rockland home and startling awake at night worried about his two young kids, he knew he needed a pool fence for peace of mind. While installing that very first pool fence with a friend in the industry, a passion for protecting the families of his community was born. In the decades since pool safety technology may have changed, but that dedication has never wavered.

After careful research, All-Safe Pool removable mesh pool fences, swimming pool safety covers, and pool safety nets offered the best balance of protection and flexibility while keeping prices low enough that we could help more local families build safer pool areas, keeping more local kids safer. It was a win-win decision that we’ve never questioned, but it does leave us a little biased. As we take a look at some of the most popular pool barrier choices allowed under the California pool fence code, understand that we came to our own conclusions about the top pool barrier on the market decades ago when it was our family we were protecting.

Wooden Privacy Fence

Backyard swimming pool with a wooden privacy fence surrounding it

Wooden privacy fences are a traditional choice that can offer a rustic, homey look to your backyard pool. Usually consisting of panels created by fixing 6-foot slats to a framework anchored by poles around the perimeter of your yard. This provides excellent privacy, and a wooden fence in good repair makes an excellent pool barrier for keeping unsupervised access to a minimum, but it comes with a few drawbacks.

Wood–even treated lumber–will eventually fall to the elements. It can become brittle during drought conditions, rot can set in when humidity is too high for too long, and the metal nails, screws, and brackets can rust, leaving your fence falling apart. The chemicals used to treat pool water and the vapors that can come off of them contribute to premature aging, hastening this process. While repairs may be relatively inexpensive, they often come at an increased frequency as the fence ages, resulting in the need to tear down whole sections for replacement. While commonly viewed as a DIY fence project, this may leave you with an inadequate fence that does not meet code.

 It can also completely block your view of the pool if built to completely surround the pool area, leaving you unaware of a swimmer in distress mere feet away from you. While harder than some other fences to climb, wooden fences start at the surface of the ground, making it possible for animals or industrious children to dig their way in.  For this reason, a wooden privacy fence is best used to protect the perimeter of your property away from the pool, while another pool barrier keeps your pool protected inside your yard.

Stone or Concrete Fence

Stone and concrete fencing are extremely durable, with large slabs that stand up to the weather. This type of fencing is often built to a full 6-8 feet of height around property perimeters, but 5-foot tall pool barriers that comply with the minimum standards of California pool fence codes can be built just as easily. These fences are often gated with a wooden, wrought iron, or chain link gate to complete their perimeter protection. 

While the stones or concrete blocks may be incredibly tough, the weak point in any masonry is the mortar that holds it together. Over time, moisture, claws, and curious fingers can chip away, leaving you with a very heavy and structurally compromised slab next to your pool area. While incredibly tough, these fences offer no layout flexibility once installed. What you have is what you get, and you’ll need to plan any party or get-together around the space it allows.

The biggest drawback of stone or concrete fencing, however, is the price. These fences are material and labor intensive, often requiring an experienced contractor to prepare the land, anchor them as they’re built, and ensure they sit plumb to avoid undesirable structural stresses. A repair can be costly when needed, and if the fence does fail, anyone nearby may be in danger.

Glass Fencing

Backyard swimming pool with glass fence surrounding it

Glass pool fencing is beautiful to look at. Clear glass allows you to easily keep an eye on the action from either side of the fence, while frosted and decorative glass usually allows for at least some ability to see if someone is in trouble. Designs and construction methods vary, but the results can be a chic, elegant pool area.

Glass pool fencing offers many of the same drawbacks as cement or stone construction, although it comes with an even higher price tag. Repair depends on the ability of your contractor to find matching panels or bricks to rebuild with, and any damage to the fence risks razor-shard glass fragments scattered around the pool area or entering the water, where they can become practically invisible. 

Chain link fence is one of the more cost-effective pool barrier options available. Made of a steel woven mesh stretched between steel poles anchored in the ground, it creates a strong fence that is relatively resistant to weathering if properly cared for, if not the most attractive option on the market. Chain link privacy fence adds slats of vinyl woven through the mesh to help block sightlines from onlookers, making it a popular exterior fencing choice.

While durability and cost may offer the closest comparison to a removable mesh pool fence, chain link doesn’t come close when you consider safety. The wide mesh provides ample hand holds and foot holds for climbing, and adding vinyl slats does little to aid the situation while also blocking your view of the pool to spot dangerous situations. If you need more space, removing the fence frequently requires a professional to both takedown and reinstall your fencing properly, making it highly impractical for most situations. While pre-fabricated chain-link fencing panels that offer more flexibility do exist, they are frequently higher priced than a similar length of permanently installed fence and, if not properly anchored, can be tipped over or moved under easily. 

Removable Mesh Pool Fencing

Brown mesh pool fence surrounding a backyard swimming pool

After years of installation, the best pool barrier for our money and family’s safety is still removable mesh pool fencing. Featuring a strong mesh fabric stretched between lightweight metal poles anchored in sleeves installed around your deck, it provides a secure barrier that prevents access, climbing, or pushing under the fence to enter the pool area. A self-closing and self-latching gate that can be augmented with an alarm helps secure the area, while the entire fence can be taken down and moved aside to make more room for pool parties or other entertainment opportunities.

This cost-effective fencing solution is usually cheaper than a comparably sized chain link fence, making it the best-priced protection on the market. While the mesh creates a secure perimeter, you can see through it clearly to make sure no one has gained unsupervised pool access or to enjoy the view you worked hard for from the comfort of your pool. Maintenance is easily accomplished with a soft-bristled brush and garden hose, while repairs, if needed, are only a call away with the help of your local installer who lives in the area they service, protecting their neighbors.

Get Your Safer Swimming Pool Barrier Started

There’s no cost or obligation to find out the swimming pool barrier options you have for your property. When you schedule a visit from your local pool safety expert, they’ll take measurements, talk to you about your pool needs, and help you find a solution that fits your budget and California pool fence requirements. Take the first step toward your safer swimming pool. Request a free quote from Lifeguard on Duty today.

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