In the wonderful world of modern pool design, safety comes first. In conversation with Jason Nicholas Walsh, the owner of DIY Frameless Glass Systems and Absolut Custom Glass, Georgia Jordan explores how a thoughtfully designed border fence can bring exceptional security and beauty to your outdoor space.
Owning a backyard pool brings with it endless benefits for your home and lifestyle, from providing an amazing visual feature, to enhancing your social activities in the great outdoors. By ensuring its design is every bit as safe as it is stunning, you can have confidence that your pool ownership experience will be nothing but bliss from the get-go.
Creating an aquatic paradise that satisfies your council’s safety requirements without compromising on visual appeal can be a challenge, so read on as Queensland Pool + Outdoor Design investigates the smart design strategies, premium materials, and mindful maintenance procedures that you can employ for an optimum result.
SETTING THE BOUNDARIES
The pool ownership experience can only be fully enjoyed when you know your pool area is as safe as it can be. Providing peace of mind that your loved ones will never suffer an accident around the pool or spa, a secure border fence is a necessity.
Once upon a time pool fencing was a luxury only large hotels and resorts were able to afford, but over the last decade the cost of importing products has fallen to the point where it is now available to the average homeowner. “The idea of a backyard safety fence is mainly to keep children from accessing the pool unsupervised,” says Jason Nicholas Walsh. “By law, fences cannot be climbable or have any climbing points within a certain distance from the fence.”
There are a multitude of styles available for pool fencing today, which gives you more opportunities to create a design that will perfectly complement your pool. For the best result, Walsh recommends basing your decision firstly on which type of barrier will best enhance the safety of your unique space, and then taking into account your budgetary requirements.
While compliance with local fencing regulations always takes priority, Walsh says it is possible to achieve a barrier that enhances the visual appeal of your backyard as well, as long as you take your time during the design stages rather than rushing into construction.
GO FOR GLASS
For a reliable barrier that provides uninterrupted views of the pool area and adds value to your property, glass is an excellent option. Renovators with their heart set on this sleek fencing style have two options to choose from – frameless and semi-frameless. and this is especially true if you are installing it yourself. In this case, it is important to consult a certifier prior to construction.
“Design and compliance don’t always easily go hand in hand with pool fencing, so it’s important to consult a professional with experience in the industry,” says Walsh. “The best thing to do before construction is to consult a pool-fence certifier and explain to them where you plan to erect the fence. This way you can ensure your fence will be compliant and attain the standard required for certification.”
“Semi-frameless glass fencing consists of panels that are dry-glazed into a series of posts,” says Walsh. “The glass commonly used for this type of installation is typically 8mm or 10mm thick – this does require more skill to install than frameless glass.
“Frameless glass consists of 12-millimetrethick tempered glass panels that are supported by at least two spigots per panel. This style can have gaps in between each panel, which will allow a breeze to come through.”
Due to the thickness of the glass and the cost of the spigots – which are commonly manufactured out of high-strength, corrosion-resistant 2205 duplex stainless steel – frameless glass fencing can be the more expensive option, however it is often worth the added cost for the streamlined effect it provides.
“Avoid aluminium fencing where possible,” Walsh adds. “If you are going to use it, keep it minimal and position it so it is not directly visible over the pool area.”
THE STRAIGHT AND NARROW
When constructing your new pool fence, you have the option of hiring an installer or doing it yourself. Whichever method you choose, it will be your responsibility to ensure the integrity of the barrier is upheld throughout each stage of its design and installation.
Even before you start thinking about how you will reconcile your council’s safety requirements with your aesthetic goals, it can be tricky to untangle all the rules that govern a compliant pool fence, and this is especially true if you are installing it yourself. In this case, it is important to consult a certifier prior to construction.
“Design and compliance don’t always easily go hand in hand with pool fencing, so it’s
important to consult a professional with experience in the industry,” says Walsh. “The best thing to do before construction is to consult a pool-fence certifier and explain to them where you plan to erect the fence. This way you can ensure your fence will be compliant and attain the standard required for certification.”
If you have engaged a professional installer, then you’ll need to discuss certification with them. “There are some companies that will guarantee the fence they install will be certified,” says Walsh. “When this is offered, it’s a good indication that they have successfully gained certification for pool fences before.”
Most importantly, the company should be licensed through the relevant state authority. “This will give you some assurance that you are dealing with professional tradespeople,” says Walsh, “and in case the job doesn’t go as planned, you have a government body that will hold them accountable.”
Never rely completely on the impression of a website, as there is no way to be sure it accurately represents a company’s work. “Tradespeople who carry out work with skill and professionalism will always receive referrals,” says Walsh. “A great way to find good tradespeople is to ask friends, family and neighbours who may have had a pool fence installed recently.”
ONLY THE BEST
A safety barrier is only as good as the parts that hold it together, so it’s imperative that you invest in products of the highest quality. Toughened glass is essential in pool fencing as it is unclimbable, and highly durable when used in combination with duplex stainless steel spigots.
“Approved latches and hinges are also a requirement for certification,” says Walsh. “Any reputable installer or supplier will only [deal with] approved products that are made to match or exceed Australian Standards.”
If you are going the DIY route, Walsh recommends visiting www.diyframelessglass.com.au for all the quality glass, hardware and fittings you’ll need for a superior result.
“Building your own glass pool fence is more feasible than ever,” says Walsh, “but if you buy your materials from a company that pays no attention to detail then you might end up with a fence that has to be redone, or one that has unsightly pieces of Perspex or polycarbonate sheeting added to it.
“Suppliers of glass fencing materials cannot guarantee that your fence will pass certification,” he continues. “Before you place your order, make sure that you have given as much information as possible about the design and its safety requirements to the retail supplier. Be mindful that trade suppliers will expect you to know the pool safety rules and may be less willing to assist with this.
“Retailers for the DIY industry may charge a little more than trade suppliers, but they can offer helpful advice, which is something you won’t always get from trade suppliers.”
SAVE THE GATE
Age is one of the primary threats to the security of a pool fence. With proper use and maintenance, you can have faith that your barrier will continue to cut the mustard in the long term.
Ensuring every component of your barrier is correctly cared for throughout its lifetime is key. “Latches and hinges may need to be replaced over time depending on their use,” says Walsh. “Learn how to properly adjust the self-closing hinges by watching one of the many online instructional videos so you know that your gate is secure at all times.
“Stainless steel does require some maintenance and if you ever see any signs of discolouration, these should be removed with a wet cloth immediately,” says Walsh.
“More stubborn blemishes may require a stainless steel cleaner, which is available from most supermarkets and hardware stores.
“Glass can be cleaned as per normal unless there is a protective coating applied, in which case you should seek instructions from the supplier.”
Unfortunately Walsh says it is not uncommon to see pool fences propped or jammed open. Make keeping the gate closed the number-one rule in your household to ensure your pool fence fulfils its core purpose at all times.
If there’s a home renovation or extension project ahead for you, it’s important to check how your pool fence may be affected, and whether you will need to make adjustments to ensure it remains compliant.
As long as you have taken the utmost care in the design, installation and maintenance of your new safety barrier, and used quality products from the outset, you will be rewarded with a gorgeous pool area that delivers many years of enjoyment and peace of mind in equal measure.