Getting a Pool Cover is really important. They are often overlooked in the pool planning process because everyone is just so dang excited to get into the pool!
The fact of the matter is, pool covers help maintain the water conditions and levels. They can also reduce the amount of debris and dirt that gets into your pool overnight or when not in use.
Before you choose a cover, you should do your research. It’s an expensive purchase that you want to get right.
Here are our 5 tips for choosing a pool cover.
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Ok, this might sound like a no-brainer but you’d be surprised! You need a cover that matches the shape of your pool.
If your pool cover is a different shape you may end up with exposed areas or unnecessary areas of your garden covered up.
Rectangular, kidney, and Grecian pools are pretty standard shapes. You should be able to get covers for these kinds of pools at most shops and manufacturer’s websites.
Custom designed pools or those with rounded or asymmetrical sides will more than likely need a custom cover.
In the pool cover world, size matters! You need to make sure the cover is large enough to cover the whole pool and some more.
You need to have at least 3 inches around the outer edge of the pool including any steps. The extra 3 inches prevents the cover from slipping into the water.
The 3 inches is particularly important for soft covers as they can collect water on top and dip slightly in the middle. This can pull the edges towards the pool.
Again, standard size pools are going to be easier to find covers for. They will be available from most retailers. If you have a custom pool you may need a custom length cover.
3. Types of Cover
There are a few different kinds of pool covers available. Which one you go for will depend on where you live, what you want from your cover, and how much you’re willing to pay.
Standard Winter Tarp
These are the most basic kind of cover but are essential if you live somewhere cold enough to need to winterize your pool.
Winter tarp covers are essentially tarpaulins that are held down by sandbags or anchor points. They are opaque so they keep out the sun as well as water, snow, and debris. They are ideal for winter because they limit algae growth by blocking the sun.
The problem with winter tarps is that they aren’t as heavy-duty as other covers. In general, they last 1 or 2 seasons.
Also, because they are not rigid covers water can collect on the top of the cover. This can put a lot of strain on the cover which can cause them to cave in. To prevent water from pooling on top you’ll need to attach a pump to the cover.
Mesh Safety Covers
These things look a little bit like trampolines. They are made of tightly woven, strong mesh that keeps out debris, critters, and some of the sunlight.
The great thing about these covers is that snow and water can drain through the cover preventing build-up. This means that there is less strain on the cover and therefore the cover tends to last a lot longer.
These covers are secured to the outside of the pool using strong anchors. They can be a bit of a pain to attach but they are more reliable than the sandbags and air pillows that winter tarp covers use.
Some mesh safety covers can hold up to 4000 pounds but they aren’t intended to be walked on. If you need to quickly walk over the cover to retrieve something they should hold your weight.
We always recommend that you check the manufacturer’s recommendations when it comes to walking on your pool cover.
Mesh safety covers are more expensive than winter tarps. They can cost upwards of 1000 dollars depending on where you buy from. They do, however, last about 8-16 years.
Solid Safety Covers
These covers are also held in place with anchors but they tend to need stronger anchors that are installed into the ground.
Instead of tightly woven mesh, these covers are made from vinyl. They prevent debris, dust, and UV rays from entering the water. They are also excellent for insulating the water between uses.
The issue with these covers is that they collect water. Unlike the winter tarps, however, most solid safety covers have a submersible pump in the middle of the cover. This takes care of the pooling water so you don’t have to.
The cost can be up to double the cost of a mesh cover. Generally, they’re between $500-$2000. They have a fairly long life span, lasting anywhere from 6-12 years.
Hybrid Safety Covers
These are a mix of mesh and solid safety covers. Essentially they are hard safety covers with little mesh sections that allow water and snow to drain through.
You pretty much get the best of both worlds. There’s no need for a pump to prevent water pooling but you also get UV protection. This cover also filters out finer dust particles.
These covers are often able to support quite a lot of weight. Again, always check the manufacturer’s information before stepping on your cover.
In terms of price and durability, you’re looking at between $600- $2500 and 8-16 years of use.
The other covers on our list are designed to protect the pool from contamination. Solar covers are more focused on insulating your pool.
Solar covers look a little bit like massive pieces of bubble wrap. They are not secured to the pool corners. Instead, they float on top of the water.
Solar covers are generally pretty affordable and do a great job of reducing your heating bill. They also prevent some water loss that tends to happen due to evaporation.
Obviously, they can’t support any weight. If you step on these covers you are going to get wet. For more information about choosing a solar pool cover read this article.
These are flashy covers. They can cost an awful lot of money depending on the material you go for and the size you need.
There are two types of automatic systems. The first is an on-deck track automatic safety cover. These have a track that runs along the sides of the pool. The cover sits atop these tracks and retracts into an on-deck compartment.
The other kind is a recessed track system. The track is out of sight at the edge of the pool. The cover also retracts into a hidden compartment.
Naturally, recessed track covers are more expensive than on-deck covers. They require landscaping and are more often than not custom builds.
The benefit of automatic covers is how easy they are to use. A push of the button and the pool is protected. There’s no messing about with anchors or roll bars.
If you have little children or pets running around the garden, you’ll need to choose a cover that keeps them safe.
Be aware that covers that allow water to pool on the top can be a hazard for very small children and pets. They can drown in as little as two inches of water.
Ideally, you should have a pool fence and alarm as well as a cover. However, if you are only using a pool cover you should go for something that lets the water drain.
You also want to be extra careful with solar covers. Because they don’t support any weight, little ones can end up in the pool very easily.
The final thing to consider is what accessories come with your cover. Keep your eye out for deals that include the storage reel, pumps, and anchor covers. This can save you a lot of money in the long run.
Some covers are also sold with cleaners and maintenance products which can help you keep the cover looking pristine.