Once you have a spa, hot tub, or all season pool, your life changes.
It becomes hard to imagine your days without the relaxation of melting your stress away with massage jets, the joy of spending quality time with your friends and family in luxuriously pristine waters, and the magic of watching the sunrise or sunset from your own outdoor oasis. You know this is an investment worth protecting so you can enjoy it as much as possible and for many years to come.
This, of course, requires good care and maintenance. And one of the most important ways to maintain your investment is with a spa cover.
What is a Spa Cover?
A spa cover is a piece of material that fits over the top of your spa, hot tub, or all season pool and protects it while it is not in use. Ideally, a spa cover is put in place as soon as you get out of the hot tub or all season pool, so you don’t lose any steam, heat, or water from leaving it uncovered and open to the elements.
Spa covers come in a wide variety of sizes, styles, and materials, but they can be broken down into four main categories:
Soft Spa Covers
Soft spa covers are typically made from a sturdy vinyl fabric that is stretched over the top of your hot tub or all-season pool and secured in place with fasteners.
Hard Spa Covers
Hard spa covers are the most common and popular type of spa covers. They are usually made to the exact specifications of your hot tub and are a combination of vinyl and foam core with a hinge running down the center.
Aluminum Spa Covers
Aluminum spa covers are surprisingly lightweight, since they’re only aluminum plated, with a core of Styrofoam. They are durable and are also designed to fit the precise measurements of your spa, hot tub, or all-season pool, with no overhanging or “skirt” material that extends over the edge.
Smartop Spa Covers
Smartop spa covers are also made of aluminum and they come with a hydraulic lifter, which makes them very popular with people who can’t (or don’t want to) wrangle their spa covers themselves. They provide good insulation and weather protection.
Choosing the right spa cover for your particular needs will depend on a few factors, including what kind of spa, hot tub, or all-season pool you have, where it’s located (inside or outside), how often you use it, and what level of convenience you prefer when unfurling and retracting your spa cover.
Before we get into the specifics of shopping for a spa cover, it’s important to understand exactly how your spa cover works and why it is an essential accessory.
Why You Need a Cover for Your Hot Tub or All Season Pool
A good spa cover completely seals your hot tub or all season pool, providing a stable and secure barrier between it and the surrounding environment.
There are several reasons why this is important:
- It locks the heat in so the water stays at a constant temperature, making it easy to take a dip at a moment’s notice.
- It improves the energy efficiency of your spa and lowers your energy bill.
- It offers protection against the elements, including wind, rain, and the sun’s UV rays.
- It keeps debris from falling into the water.
Hot tubs and all season pools function best when they aren’t constantly being turned off and on. It’s good practice to keep the water heated and circulating all the time so that your water getaway is available whenever you want to use it (this also encourages you to make use of it more often) and it’s actually more energy-efficient than switching it on only when you want to use it.
A spa cover helps keep things in this desirable “ready to go” state while also keeping dirt, leaves, and critters from getting inside and creating a mess.
How to Find a Spa Cover That Will Look Great and Last for Years
Finding a high-quality spa cover doesn’t have to be a difficult or lengthy process, but it is important to shop around and do some research so you can select the best option for your needs (and get it at the best price).
The first thing to look at is the brand and its reputation. Good brands stake their reputation on quality and service, so if you want to be sure that you’re getting good value for money, it’s best to narrow down your options to a few well-known spa cover brands and go from there.
Once you’ve got a few in mind, you can start looking at their product lines, paying attention to the finer points of materials and durability. A spa cover that’s made from flimsy material won’t hold up very long at all and will end up costing you more in the long run since it will wear out faster and have to be replaced sooner.
Some of the most important features to look at are:
Since spa covers are in near-constant contact with water and water vapour, it’s absolutely critical to choose a cover that won’t absorb water, making it heavy to move and, worse, a breeding ground for mould and mildew.
Spa covers sit out in the direct sun all day long and if they aren’t built to withstand UV rays, they will fade and deteriorate quickly. Many of the vinyl and aluminum options out there are constructed to deflect and stand up to sunlight so that they stay in great shape season after season.
If you plan to buy a spa cover that requires you to manually move it into and out of place, take the time to assess how easy it is to lift and carry. Some spa covers can be pretty heavy and awkward to move, requiring more than one person to do so. Most people prefer options that are lightweight, making it easy to hop in and hop out of your hot tub or all-season pool at a moment’s notice.
When in doubt, check the online reviews and testimonials. These can be a treasure trove of information from actual users of the products, with in-depth details and insights about the product that you’ll never get from the sales materials and product descriptions alone. Better yet, if you know someone who also has a spa, hot tub, or all-season pool, ask them for their recommendation for a spa cover.
Also, make sure your spa cover comes with a warranty! These products are meant to last and you want to protect your purchase by ensuring that if anything goes wrong within the warranty period, you’ll be able to access repairs or a replacement cover without any hassle.
How to Clean and Care for Your Spa Cover
A little care goes a long way toward keeping your spa cover in excellent shape for the long run.
Aim to clean your spa cover about every three months or so. You should also give it a good cleaning whenever you notice stains (like tree sap, animal waste, etc.) or a mildew smell.
A few simple steps are all it takes to prevent cracking, fading, waterlogging, and mould and mildew.
- Spray down the cover with cool water (a garden hose gets the job done nicely).
- Once it’s rinsed down, apply a gentle cleanser that is pH neutral and non-foaming and then wipe it clean. You can use a soft sponge to remove stains and caked-in dirt.
- If you have tree sap on your cover, rub some vegetable oil or margarine on the affected area to remove it.
- Rinse once more with cool water and then let the cover dry fully.
There are also a few things you should avoid when cleaning your spa cover. Namely, don’t use detergent, dish soap, abrasive cleaners, or harsh chemicals on your cover, since they can damage the coating and cause it to degrade prematurely.
On warm days, you can pop the cover off and let it sit out, fully unzipped and flat, to give it a good “sunbath” which will dry it out completely, zapping any waterlogging and making it lighter and easier to handle.
Regularly check the components of your spa cover to ensure they are in good condition. Open and close the zippers, snap and unsnap the fasteners, inspect the seams and stitching, and check the aluminum plating and bindings for rust or other signs of wear and tear. Catching and repairing these issues early can significantly extend the life of your spa cover.
When to Replace Your Spa Cover
Everything reaches its expiration date sooner or later and spa covers are no exception. If you’ve diligent about care and maintenance, then a quality spa cover should last you about four to five years.
A word of caution: don’t put off replacing your spa cover once its time is up. A worn-out spa cover is an inefficient spa cover, and it can end up costing you big time in terms of higher heating bills and damage to your hot tub or all-season pool. Investing in a new and reliable cover will pay for itself many times over by keeping your monthly energy costs in check.
There are a few signs to look out for that will let you know it’s time to replace (and potentially upgrade) your spa cover.
Your Cover is Noticeably Heavier
A cover that has become much heavier than it used to be is a telltale sign that the material has become saturated with water. When this happens, the cover can no longer provide effective insulation, which is one of its key functions. A water-saturated cover will eventually crack or split under its own weight, so don’t wait to replace it once you notice that it’s no longer as light and “airy” as it once was.
Your Cover Becomes “Cupped”
Another obvious indicator that your spa cover is approaching the end of its life is when it starts to sag and water pools in the middle, which is known as “cupping.” This typically happens when the cover has had to bear heavy loads, such as rainwater and snow, which stretch out the material and cause it to pull away from the edges of the hot tub or all-season pool. A cover that is lifting away from the edges is no longer forming a tight seal to keep the heat in, which leads to heat and water loss and higher energy bills for you.
If you were happy with your old cover, you may simply want to get a brand new version of the same model. However, you may also take this opportunity to not only replace your spa cover but to seek out new options that are better tailored to your unique needs. For example, if you always struggled with the weight of your spa cover and had difficulty moving it yourself, now could be the time to explore options that are more lightweight and convenient.
If you’re unsure of what you need, a hot tub and all-season pool specialist can help you navigate your options.
Shop Spa Covers and More with Spa Palace
Spa Palace has five convenient locations across Colorado to best serve you. Visit us to shop our selection of spa covers and top-of-the-line spas, hot tubs, and all-season pools. Our showrooms are located in Fort Collins, Westminster, Parker, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo. We also offer professional hot tub repair, hot tub supplies, and many other outdoor and pool accessories. To further expand your backyard and maximize the time spent in your hot tub, visit our blog. You may find new inspiration, as well as some great ideas for your outdoor space that could improve both your health and your lifestyle.