Swimming Pool Covers: Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Safety Cover for Your Outdoor Pool

Are you shopping for the best swimming pool covers? Do you find it difficult to choose the right ones?

Then you’ll find this swimming pool cover guide very USEFUL. I have summarized all types of pool covers for you to evaluate their features, pros and cons.

By the end of this guide, you should be able to choose an equipment that will extend the swimming season, reduce operation costs and guarantee safety. In case, you’re new to swimming pool enclosure/covers industry, don’t worry I will explain everything.

It is an easy to understand swimming pool cover guide for both newbies and professionals in the industry.

You can check out my ultimate list of pool covers:

1. Solar Pool Covers

Solar pool covers are handy when your main focus is to reduce evaporation and heat loss from swimming pools. They come in different configurations and designs, depending on the manufacturer.

Solar pool cover is a commonly used example of pool covers

Above is an example of solar pool covers. Image source Spectra Light

At times, these swimming pool covers may be referred to as floating bubble covers, bubble wrap covers or bubble blankets. So, these variations should not confuse you.

In most cases, you can use them to cover the pool for a long period of time. During this period, it will protect the swimming pool from leaves and debris, thereby saving you the cleaning expenses and time.

Moreover, they will block the ultraviolet radiation from reaching the water surface, thus, reducing the decomposition of swimming pool chemicals. As a result, this will reduce swimming pool maintenance cost.

During the day, the solar swimming pool cover will absorb sun’s heat and radiations. They retain this heat even at night, radiating it to the water surface.

This implies your swimming pool will remain warm at night. So, you don’t have to heat the swimming pool.

In addition to these, by reducing evaporation, there will be no instances of chemical imbalance. This implies that your pool will maintain the right degree of chemical concentration.

In the recent past, I have seen a number of swimming pool cover manufacturers investing in unique designs that come with air bubbles. It is actually the main reason why other pool enclosures are referred to as the solar bubble floating covers.

These air bubbles facilitate the heating process. However, they are slightly expensive.

Advantages of Solar Pool Covers

  • Affordable for most of them cost between $600 and $1,500. This depends on size, design and type of material.
  • Easy to install
  • Reduces heating costs by up to 75%, depending on the design
  • It can increase water temperature by more than 8 degrees
  • They are lightweight

Disadvantages of Solar Pool Covers

  • You can’t swim when the pool is covered with a solar cover
  • They don’t protect animals or children from falling in the swimming pool
  • Are suitable for summer and not winter
  • These covers cannot withstand much weight so it’s risky for your kids or animals to jump on the cover

In short, I will not recommended solar pool cover for any applications where SAFETY is a major concern. The fact that they cannot support much weight implies one can easily fall in the swimming pool causing drowning.

Remember drowning has been highlighted by the CDC as the main cause deaths, especially for kids below the age of 10 years.

Let’s have a quick overview of another swimming pool cover.

2. Thermal Swimming Pool Covers

From the name, you can easily tell the main function of this pool cover. When you look at it from a distance, it resembles the solar pool covers.

Thermal swimming pool covers

This is a thermal swimming pool cover. Image source Archi Expo

But, what brings the difference?

Thermal pool covers are also referred to as thermal blankets. Their design features a unique heat retention capability that is better than solar pool covers.

You’ll find that quite a number of thermal pool covers are mainly manufactured from PVC coated tarpaulin. This is basically an insulating foam material.

On average, the pool covers cost more than solar bubble floating covers. The solar bubbles cost between $900 and $3000.

So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of the thermal pool covers?

Advantages of Thermal Pool Covers

  • Better insulation properties than solar pool covers
  • Prevents evaporation, thus, no chemical imbalance and water loss
  • Blocks all ultraviolet radiations that may cause decomposition of swimming pool chemicals.
  • Durable compared to solar pool covers

Disadvantages of Thermal Pool Covers

  • Cannot support excess weight, thus, may be a safety hazard as kids and animals may fall in the swimming pool thereby drowning.
  • More expensive compared to solar pool covers
  • Cumbersome to install, open and close.
  • You can’t swim when the pool is covered.

As you can see, I consider this an improved version of the solar pool covers. However, it does not guarantee the required degree of safety.

Again, it is really inconveniencing since you cannot use the swimming pool when covered.

Apart from these two, I want to introduce you to another swimming pool cover that is also common among homeowners. This is the:

3. Automatic Pool Covers

What’s so unique about these swimming pool covers?

automatic-pool-cover

An automatic swimming pool cover

As you can see, there no difference between this pool cover and the two I have discussed above. The only difference is the automated aspect of the pool cover.

With these covers, you’ll only press a button and the cover will automatically open or close. Most of them feature pulley systems that are driven by electric motors.

Again, quite a good number of automatic pool covers are manufactured from vinyl material. Besides, some pool covers are equipped with interlocking slats.

These slats can support a relatively high weight, thus, reducing chances of falling in the water. Furthermore, they have a locking mechanism where pool users can lock the systems, preventing unauthorized people from using the swimming pool.

Like other products I have mentioned earlier, these swimming pool covers have advantages and disadvantages. These include:

Advantages of Automatic Pool Covers

  • Can support heavy weight, thus, reducing chances of falling.
  • Easy to operate with the help of on and off button
  • They are lockable to prevent unauthorized access to the pool.

Disadvantages of Automatic Pool Covers

  • Expensive depending on the automation systems (cost more than $2500)
  • High cost of operation compared to the thermal and solar covers since you need electricity to power the automated systems.
  • Doesn’t heat water since the cover is mostly raised high above the surface
  • High installation costs since it requires professional installation
  • High maintenance costs
  • You can’t swim when the pool is covered

Clearly, I will advise you to avoid these types of swimming pool covers. You can see this from the disadvantages of automatic pool covers.

At times I fail to understand why you should even consider this swimming pool cover. Why should you spend $2500 for an automated pool cover and an enclosure is only $2,999?

This does not make any economic sense at all.

The first three pool covers are mainly suitable for summer. How about winter?

Well, in case you’re on a tight budget, consider this swimming pool cover:

4.Winter Covers

Winter pool covers are specifically designed for use during winter. At times, they may be referred to as winter debris covers.

Winter swimming pool cover

A swimming with a winter pool cover. Image source – ArchiExpo

Unless you have a swimming pool cover that can protect you from snow and cold, no one would wish to swim during winter. It is one problem that most swimming pool owners have to deal with.

The winter swimming pool covers are designed to keep leaves, debris and snow out of the pool. They are available in different materials and designs with the most common being the ultraviolet radiation stabilized polyethylene material.

Polyethylene material is durable and cannot be affected by winter winds, extreme cold weather conditions.

During this period, the swimming pool remains inaccessible to all users. People who buy winter swimming pool covers are basically closing their pools for the winter season.

In most cases, these winter pool covers come in the shape of your swimming pool. They have overlapping sides.

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of swimming pool winter covers:

Advantages of Winter Cover

  • Cheap; you can get one for as low as $120
  • Reduce growth of algae during winter by limiting the amount of sunlight that enters the swimming pool.
  • Easy to install, open and close due to the lightweight
  • Reduces swimming pool maintenance cost during the winter

Disadvantages of Winter Pool Covers

  • Not strong enough to withstand heavy weight, hence not safe.
  • You can’t swim when the pool has winter covers
  • Doesn’t heat swimming pool water

Well, winter pool covers will protect your pool during very cold seasons. However, your swimming pool won’t be useful to you during this period.

For a fact, you’ll be disadvantaged during the entire season. Therefore, I cannot recommend this equipment for swimming enthusiasts.

Apart from these, another important accessory is the swimming pool safety covers.

5. Safety Pool Covers

Every homeowner should give swimming safety a priority. Without proper considerations, there is a high chance that your kids or pets will drown in the pool.

Out of the four swimming pool covers I have discussed above, only one is considered to be safe. However, that may not be enough and it the reason I encourage you to consider other alternatives I’m about to discuss in this swimming pool covers guide.

I know you must be asking yourself this simple question:

What are the unique features of safety pool covers?

Safety swimming pool covers

A swimming pool cover is strong to withstand high weight load. Above, family members standing on a swimming pool safety cover. Image source – Pool Covers

First, you can use these pool covers all year round. It doesn’t matter whether its summer or winter; they can withstand the effects of all weather conditions.

Secondly, safety pool covers feature a strong fabric that can support any weight. This implies, in case your kids or animals fall on safety pool covers, they will not drown.

In short, the distinguishing factor here is the strongest fabric that can support heavy weight.

Advantages of Safety Pool Covers

  • Better safety standards than other pool covers due to its strong fabric.
  • Cheaper than automatic pool covers
  • Versatile cover that you can use for all seasons
  • Protects pool from debris and harsh environmental conditions

Disadvantages of Safety Pool Covers

  • Safety pool covers manufactured from vinyl material may require draining panel. This may complicate the design process.
  • You can swim when the pool has safety covers.

I have seen a number of swimming pool owners who are creative enough to improve the functionality and performance of their pool covers.

That is:

You may consider a safety pool cover with better insulation properties. Alternatively, you may reinforce your solar or thermal pool covers to make them strong.

Another swimming pool cover than has been adopted by most homeowners is the sliding deck pool cover.

Some of these swimming pool covers may have pin system safety covers. All these will mainly depend on the pool cover design.

6. Sliding Deck Pool Cover

Sliding deck pool cover quite different from the other swimming pool covers I have discussed above. You can see this clearly from the image below.

Have you seen this accessory before?

As you can see, this swimming pool cover is mainly made from water resistant wood. This wood is strong enough to support high magnitude of weight.

Therefore, you can comfortably walk on the surface of this swimming pool cover without collapsing. Moreover, they are available in different configurations and designs with different opening and closing options.

For instance, you may have the sliding deck pool cover with the following configurations:

  • Two covers that slide in opposite directions

Sliding deck swimming pool cover

A sliding deck pool cover. Image source Archi Expo

  • One cover that slides in one direction

Sliding deck pool covers

One piece used to cover the entire swimming pool

  • Numerous covers that slide over each other

Several layers of sliding swimming pool cover

Several layers of wood used to cover the entire swimming pool. Image source – Pinterest (Moana) Pool

Therefore, you’re at liberty to choose any design that pleases you. Normally, I find them suitable for swimming pools with a wooden deck.

Advantages of Sliding Deck Pool Cover

  • Strong and durable
  • Can support heavy weigh thus considered to be safe
  • Reduces evaporation
  • They are attractive
  • Adds natural touch to the swimming pool

Disadvantages of Sliding Pool Cover

  • Slightly expensive
  • Cumbersome to install
  • Does not heat water
  • You can’t swim when the cover is closed

In short, for people, for people who value safety, this could be a viable investment.

Next in the list is the mesh pool covers:

7. Mesh Pool Covers

This is yet another swimming pool cover that is common among most home owners. Like the name suggests, these covers have spaces within their surface.

A mesh swimming pool cover

A mesh swimming pool cover

These pool covers are available in different designs and configurations depending on the shape of your swimming pool.

Advantages of Mesh Pool Covers

These swimming pool covers are:

  • Easy to install and maintain
  • Affordable
  • Water will not accumulate on its surface

Disadvantages of Mesh Pool Cover

  • They cannot support heavy weight, thus, increasing chances of drowning.
  • The small spaces allow water and dust to seep through to the pool
  • You can’t swim when the pool is covered
  • Does not prevent evaporation and heat loss
  • Ultraviolet radiation heats the water surface, thus, increasing swimming pool chemical decomposition.

Ideally, I will not recommend these swimming pool covers in case you need to maintain hygiene and reduce operational costs.

Another swimming pool cover that is popular among most homeowners is the polycarbonate swimming pool enclosure.

8. Pool Enclosure

Swimming pool enclosure is a versatile cover that guarantees a wide range of benefits. According to various swimming pool enclosure rules and regulations, this is any structure that covers the entire surface of the swimming pool area, whose sides rest on the swimming pool deck.

Below are examples of swimming pool enclosures:

A fully installed swimming pool enclosure

Above is an example of a fully installed swimming pool enclosure

Swimming pool enclosure price during late spring and summer is quite lower

A retractable swimming pool enclosure fully opened

The swimming pool enclosure manufacturing process involves fabricating extruded aluminum rods and solid polycarbonate sheets to suit the desired shape and designs.

Basically, swimming pool enclosure is constructed from polycarbonate sheet and extruded aluminum.

One good thing about pool enclosure is that it guarantees the required degree of safety. Moreover, users can also swim when the pool cover is closed.

Ideally, this enclosure forms a small house around your swimming pool. This also gives you an opportunity to add other accessories such as chairs, tables, flowers, etc.

Types of Pool Enclosures

Apart from these, swimming pool enclosures can be classified based on a wide range of factors such as:

All polycarbonate swimming pool enclosures can resist heavy snow loads – up to 900kg distributed within a radius of 1.5 meters. Again, they can withstand high wind speeds ( 230km/hr).

This makes them a perfect choice for hurricane or tornado prone areas.

For safety, swimming pool enclosures come with a door. These doors feature a self-latching mechanism.

This protects the swimming pool from unauthorized access.

Like the other swimming pool covers I have discussed above, this enclosure has the following key advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of Swimming Pool Enclosure

  • Extend the swimming season

This is the ONLY swimming pool cover you can use both during summer and winter. With the swimming pool enclosure fully closed, you can comfortably swim in the pool.

The space within the pool is big enough to allow for any swimming activity.

A fully installed swimming pool enclosure

The space within the swimming pool enclosure is big enough. You can swim even when the cover is fully closed

Furthermore, it will maintain the temperature within the swimming pool environment. That is, even when there is snow, your swimming pool will remain warm.

  • Guarantees safety

Solid polycarbonate sheet and extruded aluminum are strong enough to prevent unauthorized access to the swimming pool area. Again, all pool enclosures come with a self-locking door to prevent unauthorized access.

  • It saves costs

With a swimming pool enclosure, you don’t have to worry about cleaning, chemical or heating costs. The enclosure reduces all these costs significantly.

All swimming pool enclosures come with a 15-year warranty. Also, it is designed to last for more than 25 years.

I am sure within this time, you shall have replaced at least 4 solar covers. So, the cost saving benefits of this enclosure are unmatched.

You can learn more about swimming pool enclosure benefits.

Disadvantages of Swimming Pool Enclosures

  • Laborious to install; unless you have a swimming pool enclosure installation guide, the process can prove cumbersome.
  • Expensive compared to other swimming pool covers. The cheapest swimming pool enclosure is $2,999.

Before you shop for a pool enclosure, make sure you read: Pool Enclosure Cost: This 14 Tips Help You Save $10,000 on Swimming Pool Enclosure Price.

In short, this is the only pool cover I can recommend to any individual who intends to protect swimming pool from intruders, extend the swimming season and guarantee safety.

Before I summarize this swimming pool cover guide, it is important to review swimming pool fences. They are important accessories that help in improving swimming pool safety even though, they don’t cover the upper section.

9.Swimming Pool Fence

Even though they don’t cover the swimming pool, fences are important safety barriers that every pool owner should install. Presently, there are various swimming pool by-laws that stipulate the requirement for pool fences.

Below is an example of a swimming pool fence:

Swimming pool fence

Here is a swimming pool fence. Image source-Chaytor Fences and Gates

These fences are constructed from different materials such as wood, steel rods, wire mesh or solid polycarbonate sheets. As a pool owner, it you’ll have to choose a material that you feel is appropriate for your pool.

Unlike the other swimming pool covers I have discussed above, swimming pool fences do not cover the upper section of the pool. This implies that your swimming pool will be exposed to:

  • Ultraviolet radiations that will decompose swimming pool chemicals.
  • Snow and rain causing imbalanced water PH.
  • Evaporation result in loss of water and imbalanced water PH.
  • Dust and debris

As you can see, a swimming pool fence will reduce any costs of operating a swimming pool.

Normally, swimming pool enclosures can only be used as a safety measure. That is, to prevent unauthorized people from accessing the swimming pool area.

Still, you need to adopt specific design requirements to achieve the recommended swimming pool safety standards.

3 Key Features of Swimming Pool Fence

They include:

  • The fence must have a self-closing gate.
  • No sections or parts one can hold to help in climbing the fence
  • The fence must be above the recommended minimum height.

In case you need to learn more about swimming pool fence you can read:

  1. Retractable Pool Fences: Get to Know the Hidden Truth and Why You Need It.
  2. Polycarbonate Swimming Pool Enclosure Vs. Swimming Pool Fence (Ultimate Comparison)

Again, I will recommend that you use swimming pool fences alongside other swimming pool covers such as polycarbonate swimming pool enclosure. This will provide better security and safety.

Conclusion

In this guide, I have discussed all types of swimming pool covers and pool fences. Therefore, it is important that you go for an equipment that will extend the swimming season, provide maximum security and safety.

Looking closely at all the 9 items, I can recommend a combination of swimming pool enclosure and a pool fence. I know the initial cost will be high, but they are worth the investment.

For questions or suggestions on swimming pool safety and covers, you can leave your comments below.

I value your contribution and feedback.

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