Pool Heating & Solar
Hot Tubs & Swim Spas
Hot Tubs & Spas
Green & Eco-Friendly
Health & Fitness
Entertainment & Recreation
Outdoor Kitchens, Grills & Appliances
Water Features & Waterslides
Hardscaping & Stonework
Outdoor Heaters & Firepits
Take Cover: The Best Pool Cover for Your Needs
From solar blankets to safety barriers, pool covers serve a variety of functions. Discover which type of pool cover suits your needs.
By Nicole Janda
A swimming pool cover is an essential purchase that can help keep your pool clean, warm, and safe, as well as save you money. There are many different types of pool covers to choose from and each is designed to serve different purposes. Consider your needs in order to select the best option for your pool.
If you want… To keep leaves and twigs out of the pool
Then buy… A leaf net pool cover
Leaf nets, ideal for swimming pools surrounded by trees, are lightweight pool covers made of a finely woven polyethylene. Used alone or placed over a solar or vinyl/winter cover, leaf nets catch leaves, twigs, and other debris before they enter the pool or accumulate on top of a cover. This facilitates the removal of messy leaves and helps prolong the life of a solar or vinyl pool cover by preventing sharp twigs and decaying leaves from causing damage.
Leaf nets come in a range of shapes and sizes for both aboveground and inground pools and cost $50 – $300.
If you want… Warm water and lower operating costs
Then buy… A solar pool cover
For pool owners looking for a way to save on their energy bill, a solar pool cover (also called a solar blanket) is a good choice. This type of pool cover resembles a large sheet of bubble wrap and floats on top of the water to prevent heat, water, and chemicals from escaping. In addition, the translucent air bubbles absorb heat from the sun and transfer it to the water in the pool. A solar pool cover can increase the pool’s water temperature as much as 10 degrees, which can eliminate the need—and cost—to run a heater.
Solar pool covers are available for aboveground and inground pools and are great for daily use during the season (they can easily be moved on and off in seconds); however, they are not designed for winter protection, safety, or keeping debris out of the water. Depending on the type and size of your pool, a solar blanket can cost $25 – $300 for aboveground pools and $40 – $500 for inground pools.
If the thought of removing and replacing a solar pool cover every time you use the pool sounds tedious, there is an alternative. Liquid pool covers, made of a mixture of Isopropyl alcohol and a proprietary ingredient, float on top of the water’s surface and create a thin invisible barrier that traps heat and prevents evaporation. The liquid chemical is biodegradable, safe to swim in, and even works while swimmers are in the pool.
Liquid covers cost around $200 for a few gallons and many come with an automatic injector that continually adds the proper amount of liquid cover to your pool (generally four ounces per 1,500 square feet of pool surface per day). Though not as effective as traditional solar covers, liquid pool covers take up less storage space and require less manual labor.
If you want… Convenient operation and/or year-round use
Then buy… A track-style pool cover
Made of reinforced vinyl, a track-style cover is attached to a reel system located at one end of the pool and slides open and closed on tracks installed on the surrounding deck or under the coping. Track systems can be manual, semi-automatic, or automatic in operation and are priced accordingly.
track pool covers are pulled over the pool by a rope tether connected to a handle and then retracted using a hand crank. They typically cost $200 – $2,500 depending on the size of the pool. Semi-automatic track pool covers use a motor driven reel system to roll and unroll the cover but require users to guide the cover on and off the pool. These covers start at $3,000.
pool cover systems consist of a permanently mounted motor-and-reel system that covers and uncovers the pool at the push of a button or turn of a key (and in as little as 30 seconds). They are the most expensive option, costing $7,000 – $15,000, but offer the most convenience.
The convenience of a track-style pool cover makes it easy to cover your pool on a daily basis and when not in use, so you can keep your pool clean as well as reduce evaporation and heat loss. All systems can be installed on inground pools—either during pool construction or on an existing pool; only manual reel systems are available for aboveground pools with decks.
If you want… Reduced maintenance and/or off-season protection
Then buy… A tie-down pool cover
A tie-down pool cover, or manual cover, helps keep the pool clean by creating a taut barrier around the pool. Made of solid vinyl or mesh fabric, the cover is stretched across the pool and tied to deck-mounted anchors via springs and adjustable straps. This application reduces water evaporation and keeps dirt and debris from entering the pool, making pool cleaning an easier and less frequent task.
Standard tie-down pool covers often function as winter pool covers. They are commonly used for winter closing since they can be quite heavy and difficult to install. (They typically require at least two people to set them in place, which takes 20 to 30 minutes.) New lightweight models, however, are more practical for everyday use during the swimming season.
Tie-down covers come in aboveground and inground versions and can be installed on any type of deck surface, provided there is at least 2 feet of decking around the perimeter of the pool. They can also be custom-designed to fit over steps, raised spas, and water features. Depending on the size of the pool and materials, a tie-down pool cover can cost $50 – $500 for aboveground versions and $500 – $1,500 for inground models.
If you want… An extra level of protection for your children and/or pets
Then buy… A safety pool cover
Safety pool covers are designed to meet the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International F1346-91 performance standards, which require that the manufacturer tested the product to demonstrate that the cover can hold at least 485 pounds within any 3-foot diameter, has no spaces large enough for a child to slip through, and provides adequate drainage of rainwater on the cover’s surface to prevent drowning.
A majority of tie-down and automatic track-style covers meet this criterion, but always check with the manufacturer to make sure it qualifies as a safety pool cover. Tie-down safety covers are secured to solid brass fasteners that are anchored in the surrounding pool deck. They can be installed on aboveground and inground pools that have adequate decking around the pool to properly fasten the cover. Automatic safety pool covers can only be installed on inground pools.
Safety pool covers are available in a threaded nylon mesh material or solid vinyl. Mesh pool covers catch debris and allow rainwater and snowmelt to drain into the pool. Solid vinyl covers require a cover pump to stop water from accumulating, although some come with a mesh overlay to drain out surface water.
The price of a safety pool cover ranges from $800 to $4,000 for tie-down versions and $3,000 to $8,000 for automatic models. These covers can be used year-round and are recommended for families with small children or pets, in conjunction with other layers of protection.
Photo courtesy of Aquamatic Cover Systems
Find a Dealer
© Copyright 2013. All rights reserved