Whether it’s the peak of the pool season in the middle of summer, or the dead of winter, pool covers are always the most effective way of keeping your water clean, clear, and protected from any dirt and leaves that may otherwise find their way in.
So which type of cover should you use? In most cases, it simply depends on your preferences — and what time of year it is.
Below, we’ll walk you through the main types of pool covers available, explaining how each one works, what advantages each offers, and what some of the potential drawbacks may be.
Why Use a Pool Cover?
The reasons for using a pool cover may seem rather obvious, but their uses go beyond just keeping stuff out of the water. Depending on the type, a pool cover can also help prevent pool water from evaporating, which can help you save on your water bills and avoid the need to constantly add water throughout the seasons.
Many pool covers also help maintain water temperature, something that’s very handy for those who want to avoid having a pool that’s a bit too chilly for their preferences.
There’s also the safety aspect as well. Pool covers can not only protect the water from dirt and leaves, they can also prevent animals (and even people!) from accidentally falling in — something that’s especially ideal for anyone with small children and pets.
Types of Pool Covers
Today’s pool covers are available in more varieties than ever, each with their own benefits, disadvantages, main uses, and price points. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll stick with the most common types of pool covers you’re bound to encounter.
Solar covers are among the most widely used types of covers and serve only a few simple purposes: keeping debris (like leaves) out of your pool and keeping the water warm. They’re made from lightweight material that looks similar to bubble wrap and are almost always placed directly onto the water. The tiny bubbles on the cover act as magnifying glasses, amplifying the sunlight into the water to help heat it up while simultaneously offering a moderate amount of insulation as well.
Solar covers typically come in large rolls that can be easily cut with scissors in order to match your pool’s shape. While these covers are very useful in regard to keeping debris out and warming the water, they’re certainly not for long-term or off-season use.
What’s also important to note is solar covers must be completely removed, rolled up, and stored before swimmers enter the pool. This might sound a bit cumbersome (that’s because it is), so if you do have a larger pool, a better bet might be installing a gas heater (which we do carry and install for customers) to warm up your water and extend your swimming season.
Tarp-style covers are generally intended to be used while your pool is closed during the colder months. These covers are essentially a heavy-duty tarp that extends over the surface of your pool, keeping leaves and precipitation out of the water while also minimizing or eliminating algae growth and evaporation.
Tarp-style covers are typically the cheapest option, but also the most limited. A pump is required to keep water from accumulating on the surface, or else the cover will eventually collapse from the weight. These covers offer no protection from animals or humans falling in. Additionally, these tarp-style covers tend to be cheap and poorly constructed, as they rip when the wind lifts them when they’re not firmly secured around the edges with weights.
Although tarp-style covers (which Blue Haven does not carry) are among the cheapest available, they only offer a basic level of covering, are not very secure, and usually need to be replaced every two to three years. All in all, pool owners tend to opt for more attractive and safer options for covering their pools.
Safety covers are a more secure method for covering pools any time of year, but they’re particularly useful and effective during offseason use. These covers are thicker and more durable than tarp-style covers and are usually secured using elastic ties or straps and anchored in the concrete surrounding the pool to ensure the cover is properly tightened from every angle. In most cases, these covers can last anywhere from eight to 12 years before needing to be replaced.
Safety covers are designed to withstand substantial weight, and when properly installed, can help prevent accidental drownings of humans and animals. Not only that, they also help prevent algae growth over the winter months by inhibiting the sun’s rays and make for a cleaner pool when opening in the spring. What’s more? These covers are great at keeping out leaves, which stain the bottom of pools and cause clogs. If you have a safety cover installed, leaves can blow off in the wind or can be blown off easily with a leaf blower.
While safety covers are one of the more expensive options for covering your pool, they do carry a 12-year warranty and require the least amount of upkeep. These “set it and forget it” covers allow pool owners to cover their pools in the winter and worry about other things.
Safety covers are some of the most attractive types of covers, as they come in a variety of colors to accent pool owners’ outdoor spaces. They come in two main varieties: mesh and solid.
Mesh Safety Covers
With mesh safety covers (made from heavier, tightly woven poly fabric), precipitation passes through the material, but dirt and debris do not. Since moisture can pass through into the pool, you don’t have to worry about using a pump to keep precipitation from accumulating and eventually compromising the structural integrity of the cover. Although this does add a measure of convenience, it also means your water will need some extra attention when it’s time to reopen the pool.
Solid Safety Covers
Solid safety covers are made from scrim (strong, course fabric) dipped in a vinyl coating. The vinyl seeps into the scrim, creating a bond that makes a strong defense against the harsh winter elements.
Using a solid safety cover is the most effective route for keeping your water clean and clear when not in use, but you will need to employ a pump on top of the cover in order to prevent precipitation from collecting.
Automatic pool covers are the most expensive and complex, but also the most convenient. A simple flip of a switch or push of a button will prompt the cover to automatically open and cover the surface of the water, usually via tracks that have been installed just above the waterline. This avoids the process of having to manually tie down a standard cover on your own each time you need to cover the pool up.
Because of automatic pool covers’ complexity, they need to be installed in a streamlined manner, meaning pool owners should decide on one during the construction of the pool — not after the pool is constructed. Although it’s possible to install an automatic cover after the pool is constructed, the process is exponentially more burdensome.
This type of pool cover may be the most convenient, but the installation and maintenance costs will far exceed whatever you’d spend on a manual cover of any type.
Protecting your pool when not in use is a crucial aspect of pool ownership! If you’re in need of pool supplies, or require any work on your pool, we encourage you to send us a message, give us a call at 405-844-7500, or drop by and see us at our Blue Haven location in Edmond.
We carry several different high-quality safety pool covers in both mesh and solid varieties and offer professional winterizing services through our service department. Our experienced team is always happy to provide you with the expertise and curated selection of superior products needed to keep your pool in peak condition, regardless of the season!