Do Above Ground Pools Need a Fence?

Do above ground pools need a fence

The additional costs that come with a pool add up and a pool fence is one of those costs. Nice fences on the inground pools that we bid out for my father’s company are often quite an expensive addition but legally it’s required. And honestly, it’s really the right thing to do as a homeowner to protect yourself from possible liabilities but to also protect children.

How about above-ground pools? Do Above Ground Pools Need a Fence?

Yes, in most cases your above-ground pool will legally require a fence or a barrier if it is larger than 18″-24″ in depth. The CPSC provides recommendations for these barriers and the ISPSC in code 305.2 has also laid out conditions for barrier height and clearance guidelines for pool owners. These recommendations are often the same or very similar requirements set out by municipalities throughout the U.S. which do differ from one another in the regulations.

In my opinion, pool owners have a moral obligation to place a fence or barrier around their pool whether it is above ground, inground, or a portable pool. Many children drown each year from accidents involving pools and these barriers help to prevent that from happening. I’ll answer some more specific questions below and also provide you with information that could help you place a fence or barrier around your pool that is legal and also affordable.

How Big Does a Pool Have to Be to Require a Fence?

As mentioned previously, 18″-24″ is the average requirement of a pool filled with water that will require a fence around it. This includes portable pools like Intex and Bestway which I am personally a huge fan of. If you decide to get a more traditional hard-walled steel above-ground pool like those from doughboy pools, then your pool wall itself might actually be a barrier if it is at or taller than 48″ from the leveled ground. Your deck or steps entry into the pool will need to be secured though according to regulations. The deck entry will need to be fenced or secured in a way that prevents entry. But, if you were already planning on placing a deck to get into the pool this is going to save you a ton of money instead of building a deck and a fence around the entire pool.

You can read more about the specifics of this here in section 305.5 from the ISPSC guidelines. You can see below in Figure 8c what I am describing.

We can also see in Figure 8b that being able to secure or remove the ladder will also meet guidelines as it prevents entry to the decking that gets into the pool.

Do I Need Fencing for Portable Above-Ground Pools?

This is interesting because most of us are looking at portable pool options because of how affordable they are. You can get a great-sized Intex pool like this one here for an awesome price. It will last 3-5 years with good care and it’s just extremely affordable for nearly everyone. With that being said, most of us aren’t looking to pour thousands of dollars into building a deck around a portable pool nor do we want to shell out the money needed to build a fence.

To answer this question though, Yes, you will need a fence around the larger portable pools if your municipality or county has regulations for it. But again, I think you should have it there any way to prevent possible liabilities and to possibly save lives. You’ll also need to keep in mind on how close your pool can be to your home.

DIY Fence from Pallets

I found a completely awesome fence solution that has incredible ratings and is really affordable. I haven’t used this product myself as all of our homes have already had a fence around them and we didn’t need to worry about this issue with any of the portable or above-ground pools we put up. But you can check out the fence here on Amazon. I think this is a simple and affordable solution for anyone needing a fence but doesn’t have the budget for a traditional aluminum, metal, or wood fence.

If you are shaking portable pools off as not as dangerous as something bigger like the steel walled pools it should be down that roughly up to forty children a year drown in portable pools.

Does a Small above-ground Pool Need a Fence?

If you have a smaller pool that is below 18″-24″ then you most likely won’t need a fence or barrier. This is a reference to really small baby pools for example. But children can drown in any depth of water and this risk needs to be mitigated as much as possible. It would be wise to follow simple rules like not keeping the pool filled with water when the pool isn’t being monitored. Or going the extra step to put a temporary fence or barrier around the pool. Personally, I believe that is the best solution to prevent possible accidents from happening.

What are the Fence Requirements for an Above-Ground Pool?

If you are required to have a fence according to permit approval for your above ground pool, each municipality has its own regulations but good rules of thumb that will most likely apply to a fence for your above-ground, portable, or inground pool are as follows:

  • Minimum of 4ft High
  • Gates Open Out from the Pool
  • Self-Closing and Self-Latching devices or locks on gates that are beyond the reach of small children
  • The gap of the Fence from the Ground is not bigger than 4″ above the surface of the ground.

How Close to the Fence Can a Pool Be?

A pool can be around the outside of your decking if you wish for your pool. But I believe most people asking this question would like to know if their existing fence is good enough to meet the regulations of having a pool in their yard. It might very well be that your fence is perfectly fine and you won’t need any changes. As an example for me personally, when my mom installed her vinyl liner inground pool, we were required to build only 1 fence side and replace the gate on it to meet code requirements. It’s best to look at the rules and regulations for your neighborhood to be sure that your existing fence is up to code for your pool. You might also run into some troubles with easements when it comes to existing fencing or putting up new fencing. You can read more about pools and easements here.


Pool fencing is often a regulation for pool ownership in many cities and towns around the world. These are government regulations that I can personally get behind though. Pools pose risks to children so as a pool owner it’s best to put up a fence to prevent possible accidents from happening. You should look up exact information regarding the requirements for your fence as each city has its own rules and regulations that could cost you a lot of money if you don’t put your fence up properly the first time. And for those looking for a temporary mesh fence, I highly recommend checking out this super affordable option.


The founder of I wanted a place to share all of the great information from my family to other pool lovers, builders, and those looking to buy a pool.

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