Covers for above-ground swimming pools are inexpensive and come in four types. Many pool packages will come with a cover, but not all.
When some get a pool, they make the assumption that they will be using a cover often. Covers are great for keeping a pool cleaner, using fewer chemicals, and protecting the liner from harsh direct sunlight.
The four types of covers for above-ground pools are solid, mesh, leaf net, and solar. Solid covers are the most popular but are harder to remove. Mesh covers are good for winterizing in northern areas that get a lot of snow. Leaf nets are great if you have a lot of trees close to the pool. Solar covers are only good for helping to keep the heat in the water when using a pool heater.
THE FOUR DIFFERENT POOL COVERS DEFINED
1. Solid Cover
This is the most popular cover. It is made with polyethylene which is very durable. These covers are always way bigger than the size of the pool.
Solid covers are designed to not allow anything to pass through them. This is both good and bad. It’s good in that no rainwater, small debris, dust, or bugs can fall into the pool.
And it’s bad in that everything that would fall into the pool collects on top of the cover (including rainwater). This makes it difficult to remove without some of that debris and rainwater sliding into the pool.
Solid covers are also considered “safety” covers. They have metal rings or “grommets” all along the cover’s edge. A cable then runs through these grommets. You can then secure the cover tightly around the pool’s wall by pulling the cable tight and ratcheting (locking) it in place.
The solid cover will now be covering the entire top of the pool including the top rails and some of the outside of the wall.
2. Mesh Cover
Mesh covers are designed to only catch bigger debris (leaves, sticks) at the surface of the pool. Rainwater, small debris, and dust will all pass through a mesh cover and get into the pool.
Retailers sell these as “winter” covers. They are good to pools in climates that get a lot of snow as they allow melting snow to pass through the cover.
Mesh-type covers also have grommets, a cable that runs through them, and is designed to draw tight around the top of the pool’s wall.
These mesh covers are good for many applications. When solid covers become too heavy to remove because of rainwater and debris on top of them, a mesh cover will allow the water to pass through. This makes them much easier to remove when it’s time to enjoy the pool.
3. Leaf Net Cover
Leaf nets are very light covers that have big holes. These are designed to only catch the bigger debris that can fall into a pool. There are the easiest to remove and replace.
It may seem like you wouldn’t want a mesh cover as they only catch bigger falling debris. In reality though, I recommend a leaf net-type cover more often than the other types. The REASON – Because leaf net covers are best if a pool has a lot of trees hanging over the pool. And they are easiest to set and remove.
Leaf net-type covers also have grommets, a cable that runs through them, and is designed to draw tight around the top of the pool’s wall.
Leaf net covers are also used over solid covers. With that, you can remove the leaves and larger debris first, which will make it easier to remove the solid cover underneath.
4. Solar Cover
Solar-type covers only have one purpose although people do use them just to cover the pool. Solar covers are insulators and are absolutely needed if a pool is being heated.
When a pool is heated, most of the heat in the water will escape from the pool’s surface. Laying down a solar (insulator) cover on the pool surface will slow down the heat loss considerably.
Solar covers work best when they are touching the water surface, so they just lay flat on the top of the pool and not hang over the wall. This means that they cannot be secured as the other cover types can.
Solar covers are typically cut to fit the pool’s surface.
WHICH COVER WOULD BE BEST FOR YOUR POOL?
Each swimming pool is in a completely different environment with sometimes different needs. To help decide which cover is best for your pool, let’s list why people want a cover to begin with.
REASONS WHY POOL OWNERS WANT A COVER
To Keep the Pool Clean
Covered pools mean less or no debris will fall or blow into it. This equates to the pool staying cleaner.
To Use Less Chemicals
Every foreign thing that enters pool water will affect the chemistry in some small way. Covering the pool will disallow things from getting in the water which means it will need less sanitizer and oxidizer (chlorine).
Also, direct sunlight and the heat from direct sun will use up the chemicals in the pool. Keeping a cover on it will reduce sun exposure and chemical cost.
To Help Protect the Liner
Direct hot sunlight can be brutal on things. Above-ground pool liners will keep their printing longer and may last longer by limiting direct sun exposure.
Also, depending on where the pool is, things can fall or fly into the pool and damage the liner. Areas that get severe summer storms and have things that can fall into or get blown into the pool and hit the liner will be somewhat protected by a cover.
To Prevent Drowning (General Safety)
Some want the peace of mind that a pet, animal, or person cannot fall into the pool by covering it securely with a solid safety cover when they go on vacation or aren’t around.
To Keep the Water Warm
As stated earlier, if you are heating a swimming pool, then you need to cover it to keep the heat in.
To Keep the Water Cooler
Some pool water can get too warm in the summer. This is mainly caused by too much hot direct sunlight.
Where I install pools in Central Florida, pools being too hot is a common problem for pools in open yards with no trees. Covering a pool during the day will keep it from heating up by direct sun exposure.
People winterize their pools in different ways depending on the climate they live in. Some will cover their pool as part of the winterizing process. For this, a mesh winter cover is usually best.
To Keep Unwanted Swimmers Out
There are situations where neighbor’s kids will go swimming when the pool owner isn’t home. Then some don’t want their own kids in the pool when they aren’t home either.
Some dogs will go in the pool by themselves and then can damage the liner. And then there are areas and times of the year where ducks will fly in and hang out in pools.
It may be “cute” at first when you see that a couple of ducks have landed in and are hanging out in your pool. When you see that they pooped in the water though, you may not want them.
Covering a pool for a while will stop your pool from being a potential destination for ducks.
There are an Extreme Amount of Leaves Falling in the Pool
Some pools are installed under a canopy of trees. This can make for a constant mess as leaves will continuously fall into the pool.
Covering the pool with a leaf net can be a “must-do” for maintaining a pool under big trees.
CHOOSING WHICH COVER IS RIGHT FOR YOU
Now that you have determined why you want or need a pool cover(see above), you can choose which to get.
Pool covers for above grounds don’t cost a lot of money. Because of this, I suggest you get a cheaper one just to see if you will use it much. Or get a solid and a mesh one to see which you like best.
RANDOM THINGS ABOUT ABOVE GROUND POOL COVERS
Over my 35 years of being in the above-ground pool business, I have observed a few things about covers. Here you go.
Pool owners commonly only use a cover a couple of times
This is because covers are hard to put on and take off. They can also be too bulky to easily store.
Most pool owners decide it’s not worth the effort to use them. I often agree.
Covers don’t last long
Pool covers generally tear from wind or start disintegrating much sooner than their warranties suggest. And the more they are used, the sooner you will have to replace them.
Covers get dirty
Pool covers can get dirty from dust and rainwater. For some, this is a deterrent to using them as now there’s something else you have to clean.
They can be hard to secure if the pool has a high deck
Many above-ground pools have decks build next to the top rails. This can make it hard to secure a cover as they are designed to be fastened below the top rails and tightly to the pool’s wall.
If a deck is in the way, people have to use clips and/or weights to keep the cover in place.
People think solar covers heat the water. They don’t
You can find information here on the internet that says solar covers heat pool water. And you can find proof of anything else that you want to believe too.
That doesn’t make it true where swimming pools actually exist – in the real world. If you want to heat the water in your pool, you’ll have to get a heater for it OR make sure it’s exposed to a lot of direct sunlight. That is all.
The more expensive covers don’t seem to last much longer
There are different grade covers available. Using a “good, better, best” scenario, my opinion is to choose the “better” one instead of the “best”. They seem to all last about the same.
People generally have issues securing covers
I don’t know exactly why but pool covers come so much bigger than the size of the pool. This adds to the difficulty of securing them to the pool.
Be it with a deck in the way, the cover is too big and hanging down too low, or trouble with the ratchet and cable, pool owners tend to have issues with getting the thing tightly secure.