The global pool fence market is valued at $2.73 billion and growing rapidly, largely due to the increasing awareness of pool safety measures among consumers as well as the rising demand for residential swimming pools. Compliance with safety codes has also helped to spur demand for pool fences and barriers.
Lawmakers are increasingly enacting laws and implementing strict regulations that require homeowners to install fencing around their swimming pools. Pool fence compliance in some states and municipalities in Australia, Canada, France, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, South Africa, and other countries also helps fuel the growth in all segments of the pool fence market.
But where does the United States figure in this multibillion-dollar pool fence market? Do American-made pool fences stand a chance against the surge of cheaper brands from other countries?
US Pool Fence Market
The United States has 10 million residential pools and 310,000 public swimming pools. A majority of these pools have some type of fence or barrier surrounding them for safety reasons and to comply with regulations and local codes.
The major manufacturers of pool fences in the US are also key players in the global market. They offer a wide range of temporary and permanent pool fences made from various materials—metal, mesh, wood, glass, vinyl, and stainless steel.
Key players, including Guardian Pool Fence Systems, are investing in new technologies and designs that are safer, more durable, and more aesthetically pleasing than traditional fencing options.
The rising demand for pool fences in the United States can be attributed largely to mandated pool fence requirements in some states. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children 1-4 years old and the fifth leading cause of accidental death for all ages.
In order to prevent these tragedies, many states have made it mandatory for homeowners to install pool fences. Even pool owners who don’t have children are required to install a pool fence. This drives up the demand for pool fences, barriers, and related pool safety products.
Safety Standards for Swimming Pool Fences in the United States
There is currently no federal pool fence law in effect in the United States. This means that each state is responsible for its own pool fence laws. This can be both a good and a bad thing, as it gives states the ability to create their own specific laws, but also makes it difficult to have a consistent standard across the country.
Needless to say, pool fence laws vary greatly from state to state—some states require that all pools have a fence around them, while others only require fences for pools that are deeper than a certain depth.
Some states, like Florida, Arizona, California, and Texas, have very strict regulations on pool fencing, while others, like Alaska and Delaware, have no pool fencing requirements for residential swimming pools at all. To ensure that your pool meets the safety requirements of your state, it is important to check with your local authorities.
This kind of set-up can cause confusion as there are different recommendations depending on which organizations, safety advocates, code councils, administrators, and institutes you follow.
The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP) developed a model barrier code designed to help property owners and managers create safe environments for swimming and bathing in residential pools, spas, and hot tubs. The goal is to create layers of protection for children against accidental drowning, near-drowning, and submersion injuries. The code, which was approved by the American National Standards Institute, addresses issues such as fence height, gate closure, and self-closing and latching devices.
In the absence of federal law on pool fencing within the United States, the minimum safety standards outlined by the International Code Council (ICC) are widely recognized and implemented.
ICC Pool Fence Code
- A residential swimming pool must have a fence around it to keep children and animals out. The fence should be at least 48 inches tall from finished ground level. A taller fence is needed depending on the distance between the horizontal rails. If the fence is not high enough, someone could easily climb over it and fall into the pool.
- The middle horizontal rail must be a minimum of 45 inches above the horizontal rail at the bottom. This will prevent young children from using the horizontal rails as a foothold or a kind of ladder for climbing.
- To ensure the safety of those around the pool, the spacing between pickets on the fence must be less than 4 inches. This prevents small children from squeezing through and getting into the pool unsupervised.
- The fence does not have to be taller than 48 inches if the space between fences is less than 1 ¾ inches. This is because the tighter the picket spacing is, the harder it is for young children to climb.
- The gap between the horizontal rail and the ground should not be more than 2 inches. This prevents young children from going through it.
- It’s recommended to install a self-closing and self-latching gate so that no one can get into the pool without permission. The gate should be made of sturdy material that cannot be easily opened by small children.
- The gates that enclose a pool area should open outwards away from the pool, not towards it. This is to prevent children from being able to walk or run through the gate and into the pool area unsupervised. It only takes a second for a child to slip out of sight and into the water, so it’s important that the gates are installed and opened in the correct way.
- The latch’s opening mechanism must be a minimum of 54 inches above ground level.
The Rise of the Cheap and Low-Quality Pool Fence
As the popularity of swimming pools increases, so too has the demand for pool fencing. Add to that the fact that in some states, homeowners have to install fencing around their pools to comply with building codes.
Unfortunately, compliance can get very expensive, especially if you have a large pool. And as the prices of raw materials, such as steel and aluminum, have increased, so too has the cost of a quality pool fence.
In order to comply with a pool fence code of their state or locality, some homeowners are forced to purchase and install a fence around their pool. However, many people find the cost of such a fence to be prohibitive, so they look for cheaper alternatives. The cheapest option that still satisfies the requirements of the code (having a fence) is often a pool fence made of cheaper materials that do not meet safety standards.
Because there is a demand for cheaper options, it’s not hard to see why there is a rise in low-quality, and oftentimes, dangerous pool fences from countries such as China. Chinese manufacturers are producing look-alike products of American-made pool fences, using flimsy materials that don’t meet safety standards.
A case in point is the mesh pool fence. It’s a popular choice among homeowners because they are less obtrusive than traditional fences and they allow for airflow and visibility. However, as with any product, not all mesh pool fences are created equal. Unlike American-made mesh fence, China-made mesh fences are of poor quality and break easily after only a few months of use.
Many people learned this the hard way. Defects in the products render the pool fence unusable. They ended up having to replace the entire fence because it was no longer safe or secure.
What’s particularly alarming about this trend is that more and more of these unsafe products are being imported into the United States. Moreover, many manufacturers and online suppliers of pool fences import all or part of their pool fences from China.
Although this may seem like a cost-effective option for consumers, it also means that many American families are at risk of having an unsafe fence installed around their pool. The problem is that not many people can differentiate the real from the fake ones just by looking at them. It’s important to have an awareness of the differences to avoid getting ripped off.
Buy American-Made Pool Fence
Making a decision to purchase a pool fence may seem like an easy task, but in reality, it can be quite difficult. There are a few key points to keep in mind when choosing a fence for your pool area: safety, quality and cost. It is important to find a fence that will meet all of these needs without sacrificing one for the other.
So, if you’re considering purchasing a pool fence, be sure to do your research first. There are many reputable US companies that sell high-quality fencing products that pass international quality standards and comply with regulations.
Benefits of Guardian Pool Fence
Buy from reputable American companies like Guardian Pool Fence Systems that continue to innovate their products to improve pool fence quality. American-made pool fence products are the result of continuous research and development to ensure safety.
- Compliant: The Guardian pool fence system meets building code requirements and safety standards.
- Strong and Durable: Guardian has the strongest mesh pool fence in the market.
- Designed for Swimming Pools: Whether traditional, removable, permanent, mesh, or no holes pool fence, Guardian pool fence products come with enhanced security features. Its overall design prevents children from climbing over barriers and opening gates.
- Does Not Obstruct View: Not only do they provide a physical barrier between your child and the pool, but they also allow you to see who is in the pool at all times. You can always keep an eye on your children and make sure they are safe.
- Easy to Install and Maintain: Guardian pool fences can be installed quickly by yourself or with the help of professional installers.