As arguably one of the most appealing, entertaining and functional features of any backyard, no picturesque pool is complete without its accompanying safety barrier – one in which ensures ultimate protection around the water for your loved ones. In conversation with Nathan Ungaro, international sales and marketing manager at Glass Hardware Australia, Bethany Hayes deciphers the myriad pool fencing options available for homeowners, and just how this functional addition can bolster the aesthetic potential of your outdoor sanctuary.
With new legislation in 2020 requiring all swimming pools and spas to be registered with their local council, and a safety compliance inspection undertaken, having a safe, sturdy and quality pool fence has never been of more relevance to homeowners. Not merely a barrier to prevent young children or pets from entering the water, a quality pool fence is also able to reduce the amount of debris that ends up in your pool; prolonging the lifespan of your pool filter while simultaneously aiding in your backyard’s overall visual coherency and charm. For Ungaro and his team, the most crucial aspect of any quality pool barrier is that is provides proper access through a sturdy gate-hinge and latch system.
TALK ABOUT AN EVOLUTION
While the notion of a pool fence may have once conjured up images of traditional, and at times, unsightly metal tubular fencing, today, these barriers are as flexible and malleable as can be when it comes to their function and appearance. Having designed, manufactured and distributed glass hardware for more than a decade, Ungaro’s Glass Hardware Australia team are no stranger to the pool fencing world, with the company’s flagship Polaris soft close hinge products currently installed in more than 100,000 pool gates worldwide. “Over my career I have become experienced in the evolution of glass pool fencing from a ‘mismatched’ and juvenile market segment, into a ‘turn-key’ and refined business model it is today,” Ungaro explains.
After all the planning and decision-making involved with creating your nautical delight, the choices don’t end there! There is an abundance of different functions available for fencing, with the most critical of these to note being the pool barrier’s accident-prevention ability. Given children under the age of five are at the highest risk of drowning, a quality pool fence, and one that is especially difficult to climb, is imperative in maintaining safety around the water. “Currently, I would suggest frameless glass pool fencing is the most commonly installed pool enclosure, then followed by aluminium and metal tubular fencing,” Ungaro remarks. “It was not all that long ago when it was the other way around!”
Another important consideration for homeowners looking for the perfect pool fence, is using the right hardware for the job. After all, if the fence cannot open and close properly, it is not only not doing its job, but it is not keeping your family safe. Keeping in mind that it only takes 20 seconds for disaster to strike, “choosing the right hardware is critical for the overall performance and safety of the fence or barrier being created”. As Ungaro so describes, being assured of the quality and reputation of the gate hardware is “literally the difference between the gate working or not working”. “If you want to interpret it another way, the right gate hardware could quite literally be a ‘life or death’ decision when it comes to avoiding infant drownings.” The Polaris hinges and latches are rigorously tested together as a complete gate unit in accredited testing facilities, making them an exceptional safety choice.
CAN’T TAKE MY EYES OFF YOU
Perhaps unsurprisingly, when asked what the most popular material used in pool fencing is, Ungaro’s answer is a resounding glass! “Glass is the predominant material and style used in pool fences today,” the marketing manager again affirms. “However, I am seeing an increase in digitally-printed glass being used in place of normal glass for pool fences and balustrading which is very interesting.” Flagging that as the price-point drops, and the amount of companies offering glass fencing increases, Ungaro predicts that more and more homeowners will likely opt for a semi-frameless or frameless glass pool barrier when given the option. “I am also seeing the trend towards custom-style finishes in hardware. Moving from stainless and matte black into more architectural and warm metal and earthy tones – like bronze, satin brass and gun metal grey,” Ungaro notes. “Polaris satin white might be one to look for towards the back end of 2021… you never know!”
Being a homeowner and father himself, Ungaro has first-hand experience in not only how important a quality pool fence is, but also how to maintain one to ensure it exceeds expectations in providing the function it was designed to do. “Having had a large glass pool fence with two boys under seven years old and two dogs, I have plenty of experience with trying to keep the glass panels clean,” he explains. “I found that a good hosing-off after a swim is a great way to prevent the residue build up on the glass. Heavier stains should be cleaned with a good quality industrial glass cleaner, and a clean lint-free rag or wipe. There are [also] hydrophobic coatings on the market that can be applied to make the glass panels easier to clean.”
WARMING OUR HEARTS
If your ultimate outdoor entertaining area cultivates images of scorching summer nights, coconut in hand, lazing by the pool and being surrounded by luscious native plants, you wouldn’t be alone. The options are plentiful when it comes to maintaining the visual appeal of your backyard and still having the security that a pool fence provides. To create a stunning visual appeal that is both seamless in its appearance, and timeless in its appeal, Ungaro recommends homeowners utilise low-iron or super clear frameless glass panels to maintain a
fluid transition between garden space and the pool in its pride of place. “I personally really like the look of satin [or that] brushed stainless look as it is both easy to clean and never goes out of fashion,” he notes.
With such blissful summer nights, also naturally
comes the wear and tear on your pool barrier’s gate hinges. “The constant slamming and vibrating of conventional spring-style hinges causes significant stress on the gate, the hardware and the surrounding gate panels to moving, dropping and even breakage,” Ungaro points out. The solution to this? Implementing soft closing hinges and latches to take “take all the undesirable slamming force of an uncontrolled closing glass gate [and transform this] into a precise, secure and controlled latching operation every time”.
To maintain the enjoyment and pleasure that a pool brings to your backyard and family, a pool fence is a critical addition for safety and security. No longer bound by a traditional metal tubular appearance, the modern pool barrier of today can be as versatile and seamless as you please. Clear glass framing and soft closing gate hardware is an exceptional way to simultaneously maintain the visual appeal of your backyard and the necessary safety requirements; meaning you can sit back, relax and submerge yourself into the blissful blue waters.
Images courtesy of Glass Hardware Australia