Do Cable Railings Meet Code For Pool Safety?

If you have a pool, or you’re considering adding one to your property, you already know that the fence you use to protect it must adhere to certain rules. The question then becomes: what kind should you choose?

Traditional pickets are always an option, but they visually chop up your space and require a lot of upkeep, especially if made from wood. A chain link fence would be less work and is also less obstructive, but might not provide the aesthetic you’re going for. Thankfully, there’s another option that’s even less obstructive than chain link, less work, and also compliments any outdoor theme: cable railing!

But does cable railing satisfy code?

The answer is… most likely. The only reason I say this rather than a definite “yes” is because every municipality has its own building codes, and it’s conceivably possible these may not allow cable railing, though improbable. There are also safety inspectors which may not be familiar with this type of railing and might therefore be ambivalent towards it. The point is, even though thousands of our cable railing systems have been installed without any issue, it’s best to make sure everything complies with your city or county’s various regulations. It’s your responsibility as the homeowner to make sure the railing system you choose meets those codes after all.

Since specific codes vary across municipalities, let’s focus here on some roughly universal standards. The guidelines provided by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) are often incorporated into state codes. Click here to read their document on “Safety Barrier Guidelines for Residential Pools.” They dictate required height, allowable opening size, etc.

Below are a couple of these guidelines, both followed by a brief explanation of how cable railings can, or already do, fulfill them:

“The top of the barrier should be at least 48 inches above the surface.” (p.6)

Our rails are typically only 36 or 42 inches tall, but we are happy to customize a 48-inch top rail height for your project.

“Openings in the barrier should not allow passage of a 4-inch diameter sphere.” (p.9)

Our posts are pre-drilled at 3-inch intervals. This means that there are only 3 inches between adjacent cables, allowing for 1 inch of “cable deflection” (which you can read more about in our FAQ, and ensuring that a 4-inch spread between cables isn’t achieved.

One concern you may have about cable railing is its horizontal design. This might allow a child to climb over the fence, or could even inspire the “ladder effect,” which you can read more about in this post. As a result, your local pool barrier codes might prohibit or have specific regulations for fences with horizontal features.

This is great news for home and pool owners with an eye for aesthetics. Just make sure you address all local building codes with your design, and you’ll be able to use stainless cable railings around your pool or spa with peace of mind!

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