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How to choose a new fence

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There are so many functional, durable and attractive new fencing products on the market and they're all vying for attention alongside the tried-and-true fencing materials we know so well. But with so much choice, how do you choose? And how do you know which type of fence is right for you? Here are five points to consider before making your decision.

Fencing slide 1 supplied by Fencing Manufacturers

Images courtesy of NSW's Fencing Manufacturers

1. What is the fence for - a pool or a boundary?

Pool fencing

There are many rules and restrictions that apply to pool fencing and the fencing company should know these. The Australian Standard AS 1926.1-2007 Swimming pool safety - Safety barriers for swimming pools is a must read if you are installing your own pool fence, or if you want to use a fencing material that is a little different. Also, you should chat with your local council whichwill be able to provide you with loads of information about pool fencing requirements.

Generally pool fencing needs to be 1200mm in height, non climbable, and with no aids to promote climbing within 1200mm from the outside of the pool fence. Naturally, these measurements will vary depending on site conditions.

Your choice of fencing material is restricted when it comes to pools because, by nature, many products are considered climbable by AS 1926.1-2007. But installed and constructed correctly you can have brush fencing, brick walls, timber battens, glass and stainless steel fencing, as well as tubular pool fencing. Fencing such as Gabion, and wire-rope balustrades (unless you have vertical wire) are not appropriate materials for pool fencing.

See our article on pool fencing for more information on this subject.

Boundary fencing

Side and back boundary fencing is generally limited to 1800mm in height but many councils will consider allowing screening above this height to address privacy issues. Front boundary fencing is usually limited to 900mm in height but depending on the location of your property and any precedence in your street, councils may allow you to build higher.

When it comes to boundary fencing, your choice of fencing material is virtually unlimited. But remember, all decisions regarding materials, construction, lighting, and heights will need to be discussed with your adjoining neighbours.

2. Do you have views you do not want to lose?

Think about the area you wish to fence. Will you be sitting and looking through the balustrade? If so you will need to choose a fence that is not going to detract you from your view. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Glass balustrades are a great option. Be aware, though, regulations have changed and a 1m-high top rail is now required for balustrades on verandahs where the floor level is higher than one-metre above ground. Fortunately, there are many different top-rail profiles on the market, so it should not be too difficult to choose a style that suits the regulations as well as your building aesthetics. Having an air gap makes good sense in high-wind areas, but to do this you will need an extra rail, and this will obstruct your view when you are sitting down
  • If you have chosen standard, powder-coated aluminium tubular fencing, one option is to choose a dark colour or black as these will blend with the landscape and virtually disappear. Another approach, of course, is to match the balustrade with the colour of your door frames and windows.

3. Will your fence meet current safety standards?

If you want to use a non-standard pool fencing material, such as timber battens, you will need to read the AS 1926.1-2007 to ensure your fence will meet the Australian guidelines for safety. But if you opt for a standard material and the pool fence is located at least 1500mm from your house, the fencing company will be able to make the fence comply.

Pool fencing starts getting tricky when:

  1. Your house is on the waterfront
  2. Your house is attached directly to your pool area
  3. There are trees 1500mm or closer to the outside of the fence

4. Is the fencing material high or low maintenance?

Low-maintenance fencing

Fencing materials such as masonry, brick, tubular and aluminium are virtually maintenance-free but, still, all products need to be maintained to some degree. The powder coating on a fence is similar to the duco on a car in that it needs to be washed or wiped down on a regular basis. Ask your fencing supplier about the more durable Duratech powder coated finish. Enquire also about the fittings that will be installed with the aluminium fencing. Will the fittings be made of stainless steel or aluminium, and which type is best for your location and budget?

High-maintenance fencing

Glass and stainless steel fencing is probably the highest maintenance fencing product on the market, so make sure you are able to, and are well informed on how to, maintain it easily.

5. How much will your new fence cost?

Fencing varies in cost depending on the following four factors:

  1. Whether you install the fence yourself or have a fencing company install it for you
  2. Your choice of material (estimates only, fully installed)
  • Semi-frameless glass pool fencing: starts from $250/lineal metre, with powder-coated posts
  • Frameless glass pool fencing: starts from $550/lineal metre
  • Tubular pool fencing: starts from $110/lineal metre
  • Standard balustrade: starts from $150/lineal metre
  • Gabion fencing: about $1200/lineal metre
  • Batten fencing: about $600/lineal metre
  • Competition in the market place
  • Economic climate
  • Who knew there would be so much to consider when choosing a fence? But if you do your research and really consider your options there is every chance you will be extremely happy with your choice for a long time to come.