by Mark Garcia August 26, 2016
I got an email last month from my cousin Maddy in Sugarland, Tx with the subject line 'Pool Net or Pool Fence?!?' I opened the email to a picture of a pretty pool (now my screen background), with a frantic message scrawled beneath that read - 'We close on the house next Friday. :-) What do you recommend for this pool, a stretchy pool net or the mesh pool fences? Or something else? Would like to start now, so I can make the pool safe before we move in :-0 '
Maddy is the mother of 3, two still in diapers, and this is their first pool. Like any parent, she's concerned for the safety of young children with a pool in the backyard, and wants to add an effective barrier to keep the kids out when an adult is not around. In addition to physical barriers to block access the pool, Alarms on doors that lead to the pool or alarms in the pool are additional Layers of Protection.
The price of pool safety is not usually the main driver, but for the sake of comparison, what do safety pool nets cost, and how does it compare to the price for a mesh pool fence installation? For Maddy's pool (roughly 18'x36' freeform), the cost to install a custom fitted pool safety net is about $2000, according to two similar quotes she got from local pool safety net installers. Whereas pool nets just cover the pool, the cost to install a removable mesh safety fence can vary depending on how much pool deck space you enclose. For Maddy's pool, if she enclosed the entire deck on all four sides, she would need 10 of the 4 ft x 15 ft fence panels. With my recommendation to install the self-closing and self-latching gate, her total purchase price for a DIY installation of the removable fence would be about $2000. She could also eliminate the back side and connect the shallow and deep end fence runs directly to the back fence, eliminating 2 fence sections from the total price.
So the cost of pool safety nets and pool safety fences are pretty close - although for your pool you may find that prices may vary by several hundred to a thousand dollars, depending on size, options and local market pricing. However, let's compare apples to apples here. The price of $2000 includes installation for the pool net, but not for the pool fence. Installation of a pool safety fence by a local company could add another $500-$1000, depending on size and local market pricing.
No doubt about it, having to remove and replace a pool safety net is a bit inconvenient, whenever you want to use the pool, or clean the pool. Removable mesh pool fence is called removable because you can remove it during winter when the safety cover takes it place, or it can be removed temporarily for large events or parties, or removed permanently when children are grown. But a child cannot remove the fence posts. Pool safety nets will take about 5 minutes to remove, and 10 minutes to re-install, and can be done by one person. No more than an hour per week, if you do it four times weekly. However, the scary possibility exists that the cover may not be re-installed immediately, or perhaps not completely re-installed, leaving the pool unprotected.
In Maddy's town in southeast Texas, the height requirement for a pool fence is 4 ft, but other towns require a 5 ft high fence. If your exterior perimeter fence meets height and other requirements (which it probably does), then a mesh pool fence of 4 ft can be installed. 5 ft tall mesh pool fencing is available, but at a higher cost than priced out above.
In most towns and cities, a pool safety net cannot be used in lieu of, or instead of a pool fence, but as long as your exterior perimeter fence meets code requirements, a pool safety net will only add to your pool safety.
Which is more effective at preventing access to the pool, a pool net or pool fence? The pool net, when properly installed, is very tight across the pool, and over the pool deck. Without first releasing tension, it's nearly impossible to remove a pool safety net, and therefore nearly impossible to gain access to the pool. The 3-4 inch weave is big enough to get a hand into, for testing temperature or for water testing, but otherwise impenetrable.
The mesh pool fence is made of smooth non-climbable nylon panels, and super rigid poles that won't bend. Children generally cannot reach the latch between fence sections or the gate latch, and if they could, most do not have the hand strength to open the latch. However, the pool fence is not quite as impenetrable as the pool net. If a particularly 'active' child were to move a ladder or chair next to the pool, or scale an overhanging tree branch, climbing over the fence is a scary possibility.
The pool safety net or pool safety fence are both quite effective, but there still exists the possibility of human failure, if the pool net is not replaced immediately, or if the pool fence gate is not closed, or panel sections are left open and unattached, neither safety barrier is effective.
Pool Safety Nets require dealer installation, there is no DIY option currently. Pool Safety Fencing can be done DIY, drilling with a hammer drill and a Drill Guide (to drill holes at precise angles). A core drill can also be used on concrete pool decks. I've installed a few pool safety fences before. It's similar to installing a pool safety cover, only not as many holes, and you should use a drill guide (or use a core drill), or else the posts may not all line up in a neat and straight row.
The installation of a pool safety net involves drilling brass anchors into the pool deck about every 2 feet, all the way around the pool. The safety net is then stretched over the pool, and attached to the anchors snugly, and the excess net material is trimmed away. The tensioner device is installed to pull several ropes, which cinch up the center of the 'web' and draws the pool net cover drum tight over the pool.
Maddy moved into her new house last week, and decided to go with the mesh pool fence, although at one point I was certain she was going to install the pool net cover. She said to me just now that she thought it might be too 'much of a hassle', to have to remove and replace the cover 'all the time'. She decided to go with a local company to install a 3-sided mesh pool fence (connected to the back fence), with a swing gate, in a Tan color. Total Price? $2550, Installed (hmmm, not bad). She sent me this picture to share.
Thanks for Reading!