Pool Fencing Requirements

California has some of the best weather, with sunny summers and moderate winters. It’s no question why adding a pool to your home is both a luxury and an investment that your entire family can enjoy. If you are looking to add a gorgeous new oasis to your backyard, you are going to want to look into beautiful but practical fences to enclose your pool. As a precaution, it’s important to understand safety codes and requirements to protect both you and your guests with your pool fence of choice.


Since there are no federal requirements for pool fencing, prospective pool owners in California should make themselves knowledgeable of state codes and regulations. These laws are in place for the safety and liability of both homeowners and people that may come in contact with their privately-owned pools.


This California law was put into place in 1997 and included essential definitions that should be notated:

  • Swimming pool/pool: any structure intended for swimming or recreational bathing that contains water over 18 inches deep. The term “swimming pool” includes in-ground and above-ground structures and also includes, but is not limited to, hot tubs, spas, portable spas, and non-portable wading pools.
  • Enclosure: a fence, wall, or other barriers that isolates a swimming pool from access to the home.
  • Approved safety pool cover: a manually or power-operated safety pool cover that meets all the performance standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
  • Exit alarms: devices that make audible, continuous alarm sounds when any door or window that permits access from the residence to the pool area that is without any intervening enclosure is opened or is left ajar.

According to the Swimming Pool Safety Act, when a building permit is issued for the construction or remodeling of a new swimming pool or spa, there need to be at least two of the following drowning prevention safety features:

  1. An enclosure that isolates the pool from the private home.
  2. Removable mesh fencing that meets ASTM standards with a gate that is self-closing and self-latching and can also accommodate a key lockable device.
  3. An approved safety pool cover.
  4. Exit alarms on private single-family home’s doors that allow direct access to the swimming pool or spa.
  5. A self-closing, self-latching device with a release mechanism placed no lower than 54 inches above the floor on private single-family home’s doors providing direct access to swimming pool or spa.
  6. An alarm that, when placed in pool or spa, will sound upon detection of accidental or unauthorized entrance into the water. Alarms must be ASTM-approved.
  7. The building official will inspect the drowning safety prevention features required before giving the final approval.


Pool fencing falls under the category of enclosures as a drowning prevention safety feature. The fencing or barrier around your private pool needs to be effective in protecting you and your guests from accidental drownings. The Swimming Pool Safety Act has several requirements for enclosures:

  1. The gates that allow access through the enclosure must open away from the swimming pool and must be self-closing with a self-latching device placed no lower than 60 inches above the ground.
  2. Enclosure height needs to be at least 60 inches.
  3. The enclosure’s vertical clearance from the ground must be no higher than two inches.
  4. If there are any gaps or voids in the enclosure, they must not allow passage of a sphere equal to or greater than four inches in diameter.
  5. The outside surface of the enclosure needs to be free of protrusions, cavities, or other physical characteristics that could be used as handholds or footholds that could enable a child under the age of five years to climb over.


Complying with safety regulations is not only important because it’s lawful; it’s also crucial to know what other aspects it affects. If you are looking to sell or buy a home that has a pool, or if you have small children, compliance is more than just a legal concern, it can save someone’s life.

  • California recently changed its fencing requirements and most older pools are not up to the current standard.
  • When you build a new pool or remodel an existing pool, you will need to comply with the latest law, and additional safety features may need to be updated on existing pools. 
  • You want your children to be protected and your home buying/selling to go as smoothly as possible, so make sure your pool has a proper barrier that meets these standards.


Now that you know the legal requirements for pool fencing let’s go over different fencing materials you can choose from.


Aluminum fencing is popular and is coated in a powder that prevents damage from outside elements. These fences are low maintenance and look nice, but they do not add much privacy to your pool.


These fences are easy to upkeep and convenient to remove. They are a good choice if you want your pool to be still seen from other areas of the yard since the mesh is transparent. Mesh fences are not as reliable as a barrier as other sturdier choices.


PVC fences are not as sturdy as aluminum, but can still hold strong and are weather-resistant. PVC can be manipulated into different designs, giving you the flexibility to adjust fencing to your privacy needs.


Using wood as your fence material will give you inexpensive design versatility. Wood is a classic choice for pool fencing, but it does require more maintenance than other materials to keep it strong and looking beautiful.


Nicely decorated modern swimming pool with a garden and flowering pot beside the glass wall around the waterside

Glass fences are beautiful but can be expensive. They are functional and complement your backyard aesthetic, but keep in mind that glass fences can be vulnerable in areas that commonly experience severe or unpredictable weather.


Here are the most common design styles that you will find for pool fencing.


EU Entrance into complex of new apartment residential buildings with outdoor facilities.

This basic style of the fence has vertical bars connected to horizontal bars at the top and bottom of the fence.


These fences are similar to flat top fences, but have an extra horizontal bar close to the top bar, with ornamental details between the two closest bars.


Loop top fences create two bars using long pieces of metal and have metal curved at a signature loop at the top.


Wire fences are made of thick wire metal instead of hollow metal tubes, making them more weather resistant and durable.


If you are a new pool owner or are looking to remodel your pool, it is vital that you update yourself with the most recent state and city codes and requirements. Pool fencing plays an integral part in ensuring the safety of your family and guests while providing liability protection to you and your assets by upholding state and regional legal requirements. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you need help selecting the right fence for your pool contact us to help you install the best fencing to keep your pool safe and legal.