Pool Fence Latches: What are my safety options?

Posted by Michelle Goodwin on Wed, Mar 23, 2016

 In ground pools have become more affordable in the past decade and that makes the subject of operational gate latches a major benefit to homeowners and pool fence installers. It can be a confusing topic for those who are not familiar with pool code requirements

Pool safety latches are designed to make it difficult, if not impossible, for small children to open the gate. These latches typically open by pulling up on a knob that releases the latch. This is an unusual opening action and kids are not inclined to understand how to unlock the gate. The latches are installed at the top of the gate to ensure that the latch is ‘out of reach’. Virginia Pool Code requires that the latch mechanism be at 54” above ground or higher. These latches also have a key lock on them as well.

Pool gates must also be equipped with automatically self-closing hinges that open away not towards the pool area. Once the gate swings back to the closed position the latch will automatically engage: it is then necessary for the pool-owner to actually turn the lock on the gate for additional security. Every city, county, or municipality has some form of pool code or regulations regarding the gate latches for pool fences.

Choosing an aluminum or vinyl pool gate latch that is compliant with those particular regulatory codes, is very important for safety and liability . 

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Peace of Mind is Priceless

Even in the very rare situation that your city, county or municipality does not have a code regulating the use of pool safety latches it is always better to be safe rather than sorry. Your pool or fence professional will be familiar with your local pool fence code

By using an approved pool safety latch you will be providing security for your family as well as any wandering neighborhood children and pets who may exhibit interest in your inviting new pool. 

Below are a few options for your pool fence safety latch. Before you select and buy your latch, it is best to speak with your hired fence project manager in order to make sure that the pool fence you are installing or updating will work with this type of pool attachment.

MagnaLatch Series 3 Top Pull Manual Lock

  • Tested to 2 million cycles!
  • Up to 50% stronger!
  • • Visual Indicator provides locked & unlocked status
  • • 6-pin re-keyable security lock
  • • Vertical & horizontal alignment indicators
  • • Superior performance in extreme climates
  • • Industry's greatest gate/post movement tolerance
  • • Innovative vertical & horizontal adjustment
  • • T-track for superior fixing strength
  • • Lift knob is more ergonomic and child resistant
  • • Industry leading magnetic latching technology
81HVdYUtiYL._SL1500_.jpg 61xDo8kyRlL._SL1500_.jpg 31VaUjLMbnL.jpg

MagnaLatch Series 3 Magnetic Pool Child Safety Gate Latch - Top Pull 

  • World's most trusted pool safety gate latch. Industry leader protecting millions of toddlers and pets.

  • Superior magnetic mechanism ensures frictionless, self-latching every time. No jamming!

  • For Vinyl, Wood, or Metal Gates

  • No rusting or corroding

  • Super-tough polymer construction

MagnaLatch Key-Lockable Side Pull

 • Reliable latching action

• Key-lockable

• Adapts to all gates

• Magnetically triggered (no jamming or sticking)

• Quick & easy install


*Please note: Magna Latch only works on shorter fences
because the owner must be able to reach over the latch to operate it. 


american fence association blue ribbon contractor hurricane fence ANGIES_LIST_2015_SSAWARD.jpg angies-list-reviews-logo_copy-1.png





Topics: Code, Pool Gate Hardware, Regulation, Pool Gates

Va. Fence Law: Who's Actually Responsible for the Cost of My Fence?

Posted by Michelle Goodwin on Fri, May 09, 2014

As the weather warms, Virginian's are beginning to make their outdoor wishlists. If you're thinking of installing an above or in-ground swimming pool or trying your hand at urban or rural farming, the majority of the information in this article will greatly help you in understanding the ordinances, cost and responsibilities surrounding your 2014 outdoor projects. And—you might have to spend less than you think.

The info in this article is coming straight from the Virginia Legislative Branch's website http://leg1.state.va.us/. Most of what is covered is state level laws but each locality has its own set of governing laws that tend to vary greatly—and lean specific to that geographic location and the prevailing uses for fence installation in that area.

Like most laws, fence regulations can be somewhat convoluted. That's why it's of the utmost importance to pick a fence contractor that understands Virginia's fence laws at the state level. Laws are set by each locality. Most statutes that accompany Virginia fence installation are in reference to livestock(1); fence and its use for pools(2) and railroads(3) are also mentioned in some codes.

Swimming Pool Laws

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For example, if you live in an area that has ordinances that excersizes the maximum punitive actions allowed by § 15.2-921 and you violate said ordinances by not having a fence around a pool, or the fence takes more than 24 days to complete, a person could face as much as $7200 in fines plus court costs or 2 years in jail. The last part of § 15.2-921 simply states "Any such ordinance may be made applicable to swimming pools constructed before, as well as those constructed after, the adoption thereof. No such ordinance shall take effect less than ninety days from the adoption thereof, nor shall any such ordinance apply to any swimming pool operated by or in conjunction with any hotel located on a government reservation." In short ordincances are not required to include a grandfather clause, take atleast 90 day before becoming active and do not apply to swimming pools operated by or in conjunction with any hotel on a government reservation.

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Since the Virginia legal guideline for pool fences is the most strait forward we can cover that first. 

Virginia code § 15.2-921 defines the word "fence" as a close type vertical barrier not less than four feet in height above ground surface.

woven steel wire, chain link, picket or solid board type fence, or a fence of similar construction which will prevent the smallest of children from getting through.(2) Keep in mind, that this definition is only in reference to residential property."Ordinances may require professional fence construction for new or existing swimming pools." This means that if a fence is less that 4 feet doesnt count for the perpose of fencing a pool.A pool or more specifically a swimming pool is defined as "any outdoor man-made structure constructed from material other than natural earth or soil designed or used to hold water for the purpose of providing a swimming or bathing place for any person or any such structure for the purpose of impounding water therein to a depth of more than two feet."(2) this definition is prefeced with the word "includes" in § 15.2-921 meaning that broader definitions may also apply.The code of virginia § 15.2-921 grants any locality the ability to "adopt ordinances making it unlawful for any person to construct, maintain, use, possess or control any pool on any property in such locality, without having a fence completely around such swimming pool. Such ordinances also may provide that every gate in such fence shall be capable of being securely fastened at a height of not less than four feet above ground level; that it shall be unlawful for any such pool gate to be allowed to remain unfastened while the pool is not in use; and that such fence shall be constructed so as to come within two inches of the ground at the bottom and shall be at least five feet from the edge of the pool at any point." the code the restricts the the punative actions of a loacality tofine of not more than $300 or confinement in jail for not more than thirty days, either or both. Each day's violation may be construed as a separate offense." but with each day being a seperate offince it can add up.

gricultural Fence

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Virginia law as it pertains to fence in agricultrial applications is somewhat contradictory. When it comes to fencing used for livestock, there are two main schools of thought.

"Fence In" where the live stock are to be contrained on a given property via  dating back to 17th century english common law.(1) The other common philosophy is referred to as "Fence Out" in which it is the responsibility of a land owner who whishes to keep livestock off their property had to build their own fence. The type of fence law that applies changes from county to county. Here are a list of Virginia Counties who participate.

“Fence In” Counties: Albemarle, Arlington, Augusta, Bedford, Botetourt, Buckingham, Campbell, Charles City, Chesterfield, Clarke, Culpeper, Cumberland, Dickenson, Fauquier, Floyd, Fluvanna, Gloucester, Goochland, Greene, Halifax, Hanover, Isle of Wight, King George, Loudoun, Louisa, Madison, New Kent, Orange, Page, Patrick, Pittsylvania, Pulaski, Rappahannock, Roanoke, Rockingham, Russell, Scott, Southampton, Spotsylvania, Smyth, Sussex, Washington, Wise, Wythe, York.

“Fence Out” Counties are Accomack, Alleghany, Amelia, Amherst, Appomattox, Bath, Bland, Brunswick, Buchanan, Caroline, Carroll, Charlotte, Chesapeake, Craig, Dinwiddie, Essex, Fairfax, Franklin, Frederick, Giles, Grayson, Greensville, Hampton, Henrico, Henry, Highland, James City, King & Queen, King William, Lancaster, Lee, Lunenburg, Mathews, Mecklenburg, Middlesex, Montgomery, Nelson, Newport News, Northumberland, Northampton, Nottoway, Orange, Powhatan, Prince Edward, Prince George, Prince William, Richmond, Rockbridge, Shenandoah, Stafford, Suffolk, Surry, Tazewell, Virginia Beach, Warren, Westmoreland.

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The information above came frome https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/news/fbmu/2009/12/article_4.html

While wordy, provided below is the exact wording of "§ 55-299. Definition of lawful fence." taken from https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+55-299.

§ 55-299. Definition of lawful fence.

Every fence shall be deemed a lawful fence as to any livestock named in § 55-306, which could not creep through the same, if

(1) Five feet high, including, if the fence be on a mound, the mound to the bottom of the ditch,

(2) Of barbed wire, 42 inches high, consisting of at least four strands of barbed wire, firmly fixed to posts, trees, or other supports substantially set in the ground, spaced no farther than 12 feet apart unless a substantial stay or brace is installed halfway between such posts, trees or other supports to which such wires shall be also fixed,

(3) Of boards, planks, or rails, 42 inches high, consisting of at least three boards firmly attached to posts, trees, or other supports substantially set in the ground,

(4) Three feet high within the limits of any incorporated town whose charter does not prescribe, nor give to the council thereof power of prescribing, what shall constitute a lawful fence within such corporate limits, or

(5) Any fence of any kind whatsoever, except as described in this section, and except in the case of incorporated towns as set forth in subdivision (4), which shall be:

a. At least 42 inches high,

b. Constructed from materials sold for fencing or consisting of systems or devices based on technology generally accepted as appropriate for the confinement or restriction of livestock named in § 55-306, and

c. Installed pursuant to generally acceptable standards so that applicable livestock named in § 55-306 cannot creep through the same.

A cattle guard reasonably sufficient to turn all kinds of livestock shall also be deemed a lawful fence as to any livestock mentioned in § 55-306.

Nothing contained in this section shall affect the right of any such town to regulate or forbid the running at large of cattle and other domestic animals within its corporate limits.

The Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services may adopt rules and regulations regarding lawful fencing consistent with this section to provide greater specificity as to the requirements of lawful fencing. The absence of any such rule or regulation shall not affect the validity or applicability of this section as it relates to what constitutes lawful fencing.

(Code 1950, § 8-869; 1977, c. 624; 2007, c. 574.)

There are other statues that allow for some bodies of water in certain circumstances to also be considered "Lawful Fences"  to include 55-300, 55-302, and 55-303. more information can be found at https://leg1.state.va.us/

Reguardless of whether a property is in a "Fence In" or Fence Out" county there are Virginia statutes that provide a means by which one land owner may compel a neighbor to aide in the construction or maintenance of a given boundry fence. The law also makes a dinstinction between existing and none existng boundry fence.

"Virginia fence law refers only to landowners.  The Code does not mention ‘tenants’ or ‘owners of livestock.’  This has very real implications for landowners who lease land to farmers with an understanding that the farmer-tenant maintains all fences. Landowners should be aware of their potential obligations and liability related to maintaining boundary fences."(1)

In summary the law surrounding fence is convoluted and often contradictory thus it is a good idea to get legal advice on these matters. Keep in mind that if the situation arises that a fence is to be mandated, there may be legal recourse for the construction and, or financing of a mandated fence when it lies between two properties.

Read Virginia Legislative Fence Ordinances in their etirity at the folllowing websites:





Topics: Fence Design, Perimeter Security, Specifications, High Security Fence, Pool Gate Hardware, Regulation, Fence Maintenance, Richmond Fence, fence law, fence regulations, swimming pool regulations, agricultural fence, virginia fence code

What Are The State Regulations On Pool Fence Enclosures?

Posted by Dawn Lowndes on Wed, May 15, 2013
Not only are pool enclosures and fences an aesthetically-pleasing way to keep critters out of your pool, it also keeps your pool safe from liabilities (such as children or other unwanted visitors). Studies have shown that isolation fencing (pool fences) vs. property barriers (perimeter fencing) to be much more effective in reducing the rate of acidental drowning. Additionally, certain types of fencing are more effective at keeping children out than others. Specifically, easily-climbed fences with ample visibility such as chain link fences are much less effective pool barriers than non-climb fences. AN example of non-climb fecne is ornamental aluminum fences which allow for visibility, yet are unable to be scaled. Not to mention, great fence looks! To ensure safety, states have imposed pool fence laws and regulations regarding very specific pool barriers. 

pool fence

Virginia has imposed the following Pool Fence Codes.

All outdoor pools, spas, and hot tubs with a depth of over 2 feet (24 inches) require a fence/barrier enclosurement around it. The enclosure must be non-climbable, and a minimum of 48 inches above completed ground level.

Details of Pool fence Regulations:

Non-climbable barriers are required

  • Solid barriers, such as brick walls, must have no protrusions or indentations.
  • Horizontal design elements less than 45 inches apart must be on the inside face; vertical elements must be spaced at 1 ¾ inches or less.
  • Horizontal design elements greater than or equal to 45 inches apart are permitted to be located on either side of the barrier; vertical elements must be spaced at four inches or less.
  • Openings which constitute a pattern capable of being climbable (such as chain-link) must be limited to 1 ¾ inches when measured horizontally.

Opening limitations

  • 2 inches maximum between ground level and bottom of the fence/barrier.
  • 4 inches maximum between the top of an above-ground pool and the bottom of the fence/barrier.
  • Less than 4 inches for all other openings that do not constitute a pattern of being climbable.
  • 1 ¾ inches (measured horizontally) or 1 ¼ inches (diagonally) for openings in chain link or lattice-type barriers or other barriers with diagonal design elements.

Access Gatespool fence code

  • Must meet non-climbable barrier requirements.
  • Must be self-closing/self-latching and swing away from the pool.
  • Latches must be 54 inches (4 ½ feet) from bottom and at least three inches from the top of the gate on the pool side.
  • There shall be no openings one half inch or greater within 18 inches of the latch.

Door Alarms

  • Must be labeled in accordance with UL 2017.
  • Must sound immediately and continuously for 30 seconds.
  • Must be heard throughout the house and reset automatically.
  • Must be capable of being deceived temporarily
  • Must be located 54 inches above the door threshold.

*Safety covers for spas and hot tubs meeting ASTM F1346 may be substituted for barriers*

Read more on pool fence maintenance at eHow

Pool fences are a vital safety component when you own a swimming pool. Many states, including New York and California, require that a fence be installed around a swimming pool as a way of preventing the accidental drowning of children and animals. Pool fences can be made of chain link, wood planks or other materials, but what they have in common is being susceptible to damage. As a pool owner, it requires some diligence to protect your fence and ensure it stays in top condition.


Topics: Residential Fence, Ornamental Aluminum, Pool Fence, Pool Gate Hardware, Regulations

What Are The Insurance Requirements For A Pool Fence?

Posted by Michelle Goodwin on Tue, Oct 12, 2010

Many insurance companies have different requirements when it comes to pool fence specifications. One thing is certain; all insurance companies require a fence around pools to reduce liability.

What we mean by pool fence requirements is that the height, material, size and spacing specifications may vary with each insurance company.  Most of the insurance conditions depend heavily on the locality in which the pool and fence is being installed.

pool fence regulations

It is very important to keep in mind that though the insurance provider or locality requires you to have a specific fence installed, you must also check with any Homeowner’s Association (HOA) and the Building Owners and Code Administrators (BOCA).

A growing number of people are aware of current code which requires that a pool fences must be at least 48 inches tall. This is good, however some insurance companies recommend that you do at least a 6 foot high fence, if allowed by the HOA and your locality, in the hope of reducing any risks that may be associated with the insured’s pool. Additionally, many insurance companies require the homeowner to have a pool gate with a lock to keep unwelcome swimmers out. Gates of pools must also meet specific pool gate codes. Please note that if you have a fence that has been installed that does not meet BOCA, locality or HOA specifications your may required tearing it right back down. 

Spacing for fence cross bars (laterals) is another key issue for insurance companies and BOCA. Be aware of the 45-inch rule! Because pool owners are told they need at least a 48 inch tall fence they are often left unaware of the 45-inch minimum space separation on the lateral bars to be in compliance.  

This is only applicable if the vertical pickets are more than 2 inches but less than 4 inches apart. This may sound very vague, but the goal of this spec is to prohibit fence climbers form gaining a foothold to leap across the fence. If you are installing a spear top fence (right) to adhere to the 45-inch vertical spacing rule, you must actually install a 60 inch high fence to meet code.  You could choose to have a flush bottom rail or a modified bottom rail, but just remember the spacing between the bottom rail and the middle rail must be at least 45-inches.

As always, there are exceptions to the 45-inch rule. Generally you must check your local codes to verify that this does indeed apply to you; if the spacing between the upright pickets is less than 2 inches, the rule no longer applies.

Are you totally confused yet? The Building Officials and Code Administrators (BOCA) outline strong safety measures for swimming pool safety fences. Many communities have adopted these standards as their own in a effort to reduce and eliminate the possibility of children being injured.

The most important things to remember when installing a pool fence are:

  • The fence must be at least 48” tall

  • The mid-rail must be at least 45” above the bottom rail

  • The spacing between pickets must be less than 4”

  • The spacing between the bottom rail and the ground must be less than 4”

  • The gates must be self-closing and self latching

  • The gate needs to open out and away from the pool area

  • The opening mechanism must be at least 54” above ground.

If you keep all of the above in mind you should have no problem installing your pool fence. Additionally, a professional pool or fence company in your community should be able to direct you in the proper fence installation. Make them do their job to protect your pocket, your family, and the neighborhood children by meeting the sometimes stringent local and insurance pool fence codes.


Topics: Specifications, Code, Pool Fence, Pool Gate Hardware, Regulations

What is the best type of swimming pool fence?

Posted by Dawn Lowndes on Wed, Sep 29, 2010
The choice of pool fencing begs that the questions below be answered:

¨    Is this a private backyard pool? 

¨    Is this a hotel or resort pool?

¨    Is this a community or public pool?

A backyard pool fence type would depend on whether or not you desire privacy when taking laps or are quietly floating around. Nearby neighbors can be cause for another privacy consideration. You may also have a wonderful view you do not want to block.    A community pool may be very concerned with security from night invaders looking for an unwelcomed swim.   A hotels or resorts will always be looking for the most enhancing look possible in their fencing choice.

Your specific needs will determine what the best pool fence is for your purposes.  You must also need to review pool fence codes when making your decision. Read on for more product details to help you decide what the best type of fence for your pool will be.

Ornamental pool fencing is the most revered selection in the fence industry. These aluminum or steel fences provides a wonderfully decorative look and allow for good airflow. It also gives the lounging sunbather an unobstructed view while providing needed security.

ornamental pool fence

The most popular ornamental styles are 4 foot high 2-rail and 6 foot high pressed point. The 4 foot high 2-rail design allows the customer the shortest height fence allowed by pool code.  The shorter fence allows for plenty of airflow and panoramic views. The 6 foot high pressed point design gives the customer the decorative look of ornamental, but also provides great perimeter security. 

Additionally, ornamental gates are easy to install with self-closing and latching hardware that readily meets pool code. Other gates, such as vinyl, can only make use of less trusty hardware selections. Ornamental gates are typically lighter and thereby have less wear and tear on the installed gate hardware. Ornamental fence is definitely the most reliable for gate material.

Wood, vinyl, or chain link fence with privacy slat inserts offers complete privacy for pool fences. Wood fence is also the most cost effective way to produce a private pool area. Vinyl is the most decorative privacy style and has numerous colors to suit your homes look. Chain link with privacy slats gives the customer the most secure privacy fence.

Airflow can be big concern when opting for privacy fencing. If you have a small pool area with little to no shade this is something that should be taken into proper consideration before selecting your fence.

Per pool code, all walk gates for pool fence must be self- closing and latching. They must swing out or away from the pool area. Driveway gates must remain locked at all times because they cannot self close or latch.  

With all these variables and considerations, it would be impossible to assess the BEST POOL FENCE without your compete project details. It really is up to YOU to decide what is your best pool fence!

Comment below and tell us about your best pool fence.

Topics: Gates, Vinyl Fence, Ornamental Aluminum, Pool Fence, Pool Gate Hardware, Aluminum Fence, Pool Gates, Comparison

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