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Choosing the Right Pool Deck Railing and Gates

The railing around your pool deck is important for aesthetics, and vital for safety. The process of finding the right pool deck railing and gates includes: choosing the material, designing the structure, configuring height requirements and proper placement. Below are the steps you need to follow:

Step 1:

Contact your municipality to find out the bylaws regarding height and specifications of pool deck railing. Often, the railing cannot be considered climbable, which has to do with the spacing between the top and bottom rails, and in between pickets.  Also, there may be a minimum height for safety, or a maximum height for privacy and sight lines. Check if there are any restrictions on gates installed, as the gates may need to be lockable. View an example of one state's bylaws regarding swimming pool barriers.

Step 2:

Decide on the placement of the railing. With in-ground pools, a fence is often a better option than railing. A fence can be installed on the perimeter of the yard, or simply far enough away from the pool to give the allusion of space. Fences can add privacy to your pool area, as well as good security.

With above-ground pools, the railing will likely be installed around the perimeter of the deck, including any seating areas. You will want to have as much open deck space as possible, so consider mounting the railing to the outside frame instead of onto the deck surface. Any gates will need to be installed at access points, either at the top of the stairs or the bottom.

Step 3:

Choose the railing material. Anything from wood to composite to iron; chain link, vinyl and aluminum are all possible, depending on whether you are installing a fence or a railing. Keep 2 things in mind when choosing railing material: 1) What is your budget? and 2) How much maintenance do you want to do?

-Wood is a popular choice, as it can be economical and attractive in most yards. Composite comes in similar styles and designs, but usually costs about 50% more, depending on the manufacturer. 

-Iron can be high maintenance if the paint peels or scratches, and is often expensive to purchase. Aluminum is a good option, as it offers a similar look for a lower price with little to no maintenance.

-Vinyl is long lasting and easy to care for, but it is expensive and comes with limited designs options. Check out all of your options and go with what suits your yard, house and budget.

Step 4:

Install the railing properly, with all the necessary supports and hardware. Consult your building codes and any manufacturer specifications when installing your railing. Above all, you are trying to keep people and animals safely out of your pool. Hire a professional unless you are absolutely positive that you can perform a proper pool deck railing installation.

Tip: Keep a spare key for the gate locks in your home and on your key ring. Keep the gates locked when the pool is not in use.


Designing and building the proper railing for your pool deck can be hard work. But once you have the finished product, you will be happy with the security, privacy and style that your chosen railing offers.

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