Erecting a sturdy fence around your outdoor swimming pool isn't just a handy way to keep out cane toads and pool equipment thieves -- it is also a legal requirement under Australian law. A fence that can be climbed or broken through easily will not meet these requirements and may land you in legal hot water, so choosing a fence that will not become unacceptably weakened by rot or rust is essential.
This doesn't preclude you from choosing a pool fence made from the two most commonly used materials, steel and timber. Both of these materials can be effectively protected against rust and rot caused by constant exposure to the moisture and humidity surrounding your pool. There are also alternative materials that can be used to make durable, attractive and legally sound pool fencing, so you should take the time to assess all of your options.
What should I look for in a rustproof steel fence?
A well maintained steel fence is tremendously durable and can be surprisingly inexpensive to install. However, a pool fence made from unprotected steel mesh or panels will quickly fall victim to rust, eventually weakening the fence to the point where it no longer provides an effective barrier. It also tends to make a pool fence look decidedly unsightly.
If you want to protect your pool with a steel fence, make sure that any and all exposed steel components are treated with a protective coatings before installation. Galvanised coatings are a cheap and popular choice and will last many years before the coating needs to be renewed. However, if you can afford to spend a little extra, plastic-coated steel mesh fences provide exceptional resistance to rust.
How can I choose a timber fence that won't rot?
Choosing a timber pool fence that will not become mouldy and rotten over time means choosing a fence made from mould-resistant wood. There are two ways to go about this; choose a timber with natural mould resistance, or have your fence timbers treated.
As a general rule (with some exceptions), the harder and denser a wood, the more naturally mould resistant it will be. Tropical hardwoods, such as teak, mahogany and ipe, provide exceptional mould resistance without the need for protective treatments, but they are also very expensive and hardly environmentally friendly. Many native Australian hardwoods provide a cheaper, greener alternative without compromising on rot resistance -- jarrah, blackbutt and spotted gum are all excellent homegrown choices.
A cheaper but no less effective option is to choose a cheaper timber that has been treated with antifungal compounds. Many fencing companies stock pressure treated timber fences, which are practically immune to mould and rarely require re-treatment. Pressure treatments do tend to draw the colour out of timber, however, so if looks are important, you should consider choosing a surface-treated fence. If you do, be prepared to renew its antifungal coating every year or so.
What other options do I have?
Pool fences made of vinyl and other plastics are becoming increasingly popular and are completely immune to both rust and rot. They are also very inexpensive. However, many are not strong enough to meet legal pool fencing requirements, so if you choose a plastic fence, make sure it meets national and local pool fencing requirements before you buy. Glass fencing is a more attractive (and more expensive) option with similar strength issues.
Aluminium is considered by many to be the gold standard of pool fencing materials. This metal is completely immune to rust, even without a protective coating, and provides most of the raw strength and durability of a steel fence. While they tend to be more expensive than steel fences, they are well worth the investment.
For more information, contact a local pool fencing company.