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What Are The 5 Best Winter Pool Covers / Blankets?

Depending on where you live, a pool that’s subject to 4 seasons means you have to open it in the spring and close it in the fall, shutting it down for the winter months.

In which case, you’ll need a winter pool cover (or pool blanket) to preserve your backyard oasis until it’s ready to be used again.

Let’s talk about the best winter pool covers right now, and how to pick one that works for you.

Our Picks For Best Winter Pool Covers

We researched the best winter pool covers across numerous categories, narrowing it down to just a handful.

Best Overall (Recommended)

Happybuy Pool Safety Cover Fits...
Happybuy Pool Safety Cover Fits...
  • 【Good Material】- Soft and tough PP material,...
  • 【Reasonable Size】- Suitable for 16x30 ft...
  • 【Easy to install】- Comes with installation...

Best On A Budget

Robelle 352040R Super Winter Pool...
Robelle 352040R Super Winter Pool...
  • Winter pool cover to be used with in-ground...
  • Solid material will not let water pass through
  • Pool Size: 20 x 40 Foot Rectangle - Cover Size: 25...

Best Solid Winter Cover

Blue Wave 16-ft x 32-ft Rectangular...
Blue Wave 16-ft x 32-ft Rectangular...
  • Select cover based on your pool size. Actual cover...
  • Comes complete with all hardware to install on...
  • Includes: brass anchors, stainless-steel springs,...

Best Mesh Winter Cover

Happybuy Pool Safety Cover Fits...
Happybuy Pool Safety Cover Fits...
  • 【Good Material】- Soft and tough PP material,...
  • 【Reasonable Size】- Suitable for 16x30 ft...
  • 【Easy to install】- Comes with installation...

Best For Above Ground Pools

Robelle 3524-4 Winter Round...
Robelle 3524-4 Winter Round...
  • Winter pool cover to be used with traditional...
  • Solid material will not let water pass through
  • Pool Size: 24 Foot Round - Cover Size: 28 Feet...

Are Winter Covers Worth It?

While swimming pools are designed to be left outdoors and in the elements, using a cover with them is always advisable. 

When the weather turns downright freezing, a winter pool cover is designed to fit over your pool, keeping it safe when it’s not in use. There are pros and cons for any type of cover, but investing in some kind of winter cover is a no-brainer for most.

Pros:

  • Provides safety so people don’t accidently fall into the pool (ONLY if using a safety winter cover)
  • Keeps debris, water, and leaves out of the pool so there’s less contamination of the pool water
  • Keeps various animals and insects from setting up camp in your pool
  • Shields the pool from sunlight which can fade your finish

Cons

  • Can be a pain to setup and remove
  • Most require a cover pump to be used with them
  • Some require anchors to be installed on your pool deck

Types Of Pool Winter Covers

Let’s talk about the different types of pool winter blankets and why you might choose one over the other.

Basic Pool Tarp Winter Cover

Robelle 352040R Super Winter Pool...
Robelle 352040R Super Winter Pool...
  • Winter pool cover to be used with in-ground...
  • Solid material will not let water pass through
  • Pool Size: 20 x 40 Foot Rectangle - Cover Size: 25...

This winter cover is the cheapest winter cover you can purchase, and for good reason.

It used to be that this tarp cover was made from a decent-quality vinyl, but today’s tarps are more like glorified garbage bags. This means that you’ll get minimal use from it, as they only last between 1 and 3 seasons.

The tarp is placed over the pool and then weighed down using water bags to keep it in place during the winter months. They only cost between $75 and $250, so they’re ideal if you’re working with a tighter budget.

Pros:

  • Easy and cheap cover that anyone can install
  • Will keep your pool free from water, leaves and debris over the winter
  • Protects your pool’s finish from damage caused by constant sunlight exposure

Cons:

  • Tarp be easily damaged due to poor quality materials that will only last a few seasons
  • Doesn’t protect people from falling into the pool
  • Requires a pool pump to eliminate stagnant water from building up on it

Lock-In Pool Winter Cover

Lock-in winter covers are specific to vinyl liner pools, and come in a vinyl or tarp material.

For these pools, they have a coping track where the vinyl liner locks into place. Above that, will be a secondary coping track, which is where this winter cover locks in. 

Like the liner, the lock-in cover also uses a bead design to stay in place but unfortunately it’s not a very user friendly cover to install. 

With a price range of $500 to $1000, you can get around 8 years of use from this cover, which is a decent amount of time.

If you do have a vinyl liner pool, know that there are better options when it comes to choosing a winter pool cover.

Pros:

  • Relatively inexpensive for the amount of life you get from it
  • Does a good job at protecting the vinyl liner from the sun
  • Keeps backyard debris and winter elements from entering the pool water

Cons:

  • Requires the vinyl version to be stored wet for months before you use it (dry storage will shrink the cover)
  • Tedious install for even the most seasoned of pool owners
  • Won’t protect people if they fall into the pool

Solid Winter/Safety Cover

Blue Wave 16-ft x 32-ft Rectangular...
Blue Wave 16-ft x 32-ft Rectangular...
  • Select cover based on your pool size. Actual cover...
  • Comes complete with all hardware to install on...
  • Includes: brass anchors, stainless-steel springs,...

Safety covers arrived in the pool industry about 20 years ago, and have become the go-to cover for most inground pools.

This cover is made from solid vinyl, and has enough spring in it to protect people if they fall into the pool. Safety covers can even be walked on, although for longevity’s sake, we would advise against it.

While this cover can be used on the pool at any time during the year, it does make for a great winter cover.

They fit snugly over the pool and anchor to the pool deck, with the price being anywhere from $1000 to $3000 – but they last upwards of 10 years (sometimes more) if cared for properly.

Pros:

  • Can support the weight of a person, adding safety to the pool in case someone falls in
  • Versatile cover that can be used in all 4 seasons
  • Tight fit ensures no contaminants can enter the pool and pollute the water or fade the finish

Cons:

  • Can be too heavy for some people, making it hard to maneuver and install the cover
  • Requires a pump to move water off of it so the cover doesn’t get damaged
  • Expensive cover that also requires anchors be installed into your pool decking 

Mesh Winter/Safety Cover

Happybuy Pool Safety Cover Fits...
Happybuy Pool Safety Cover Fits...
  • 【Good Material】- Soft and tough PP material,...
  • 【Reasonable Size】- Suitable for 16x30 ft...
  • 【Easy to install】- Comes with installation...

A mesh safety cover looks and works similarly to a solid vinyl safety cover.

The cover retains it’s taut characteristics, fitting tight to the pool while being anchored in place with straps. The main difference is that it’s designed with a very fine mesh, rather than a fully impenetrable vinyl.

Despite having a lighter overall weight, and being full of holes, a mesh winter cover can still support a person’s weight in case they fall into the pool. This makes it a great option to go with for a winter cover, and you can still use it in the summer.

Pros:

  • A more lightweight cover than the solid vinyl version, making it easier to install and remove from pool
  • Provides a strong safety net in case anyone falls in the pool
  • Does not require a cover pump and catches most debris so it doesn’t fall into the pool

Cons:

  • Melted snow and rain will penetrate the cover and upset the balance of the pool water
  • An expensive cover at a low 4-figure price
  • Requires installing anchors into your pool deck to keep the cover in place

Note: You can also find hybrid covers that take the best features from both solid and mesh winter safety covers, such as completely blocking out sunlight while still allowing water to pass through the mesh-like cover.

Features You Need To Consider

Now let’s talk about the most important features to consider when it comes to choosing a winter cover (or safety cover) for your swimming pool.

Cover Size

Getting the right size cover for your pool means making sure it has good coverage of your pool, blocking any potential gaps.

Measuring out your pool will give you the basic dimensions that the cover needs to be, but you’ll have to size it up so that it extends over the deck and provides the proper amount of protection.

Of note, lock-in vinyl covers must always be stored wet in a plastic garbage can filled with water and algaecide. Storing it dry will cause the cover to shrink and you won’t be able to fit it on your pool.

Cover Thickness

The thickness of the cover will determine how strong it is, how well it can keep the water warm, and how long it will last.

Thicker covers are more beneficial. A cover like a solid vinyl safety cover is thick enough to support the weight of an entire person, whereas a basic tarp winter cover is so thin you’ll puncture a hole in it if you fall in the pool.

Cover Durability

Some covers cost thousands of dollars, so you want to make sure you get something that will last. 

Generally, the higher the quality and thicker the cover, the longer it will last. 

Anything other than a tarp should give you between 5 and 10 years of use, but this also depends on how well the cover is maintained, and how harsh the winters are that it’s exposed to.

Included Hardware

Some covers are more involved than others.

Tarps and lock-in covers won’t come with much else, but safety covers require you to strap them down to your pool deck.

For the latter, make sure it includes things like rivets, springs, grommets and straps, so you can lock the cover into place to withstand extreme weather. Securing it this way is also done to keep the cover from becoming compromised in case someone falls into the pool.

Ease Of Installation

Some covers are easier to install than others, and we would recommend doing a trial run when you first get your winter cover. This is to prevent running into unexpected problems when you actually close down your swimming pool.

Tarp covers are the easiest to install, lock-in covers are extremely frustrating, and safety covers need to have anchors installed in the pool deck to keep the cover in place.

Other Things To Consider

A few other things you should take into consideration when deciding on the best winter pool cover are:

Do You Need A Pool Cover Pump?

Little Giant 577301 APCP-1700...
Little Giant 577301 APCP-1700...
  • EASY CLEAN with its removable intake screen for...
  • EASY ACCESS to pump float for cleaning requires no...
  • ERGONOMIC BUILT for portability and ease of...

Any cover that allows water to collect on it will require a pool cover pump. Water cannot be allowed to stagnate on a winter cover. If it does, it can damage/cave in the cover, and mosquitoes can use it as a breeding ground when the weather begins to warm up.

The mesh safety cover will allow water to pass through it so you won’t need a pump, but for tarp, lock-in, or a solid vinyl safety cover, a pump will be required. 

Some solid safety covers will include a pump, but you should double check to make sure, as pumps can run anywhere from $50 to $200.

Do You Need A Leaf Net Cover?

Blue Wave BWC564 20-ft x 40-ft...
Blue Wave BWC564 20-ft x 40-ft...
  • Pool size: 20-feet by 40-feet
  • Cover size: 24-feet by 44-feet
  • Eliminates the mess caused by decaying leaves....

Leaf cover nets are useful for catching leaves and making clean up easier. Over the cooler months (especially in the fall), your pool will probably be subjected to a buildup of leaves after they fall from the trees.

A leaf net cover can be placed over any existing winter cover, so that when you remove the net, all the leaves come with it.

Do You Need A Pool Air Pillow?

Swimline 4x4 Feet Winterizing Air...
Swimline 4x4 Feet Winterizing Air...
  • Includes 3 pillows
  • 4 x 4 feet big
  • For above-ground pools

Pool pillows are only needed when using a cover with an above ground pool

They’re inflated and placed under the cover, acting as an ice compensator so that if the water freezes, it won’t expand outward and blow out the walls of the pool. 

The pillow provides a void between the cover and the water, so if water freezing does occur, the ice will expand inward towards the pillow. 

How Will You Store A Winter Cover?

Winter covers need to be stored properly to avoid premature damage. They should be cleaned, folded, rolled up like a sleeping bag, and then hung off the floor or locked in a bin to prevent rodents and insects from burrowing inside them.

As mentioned earlier, if you’re using a vinyl lock-in cover, you need to store it wet so it doesn’t shrink over time. This requires placing it in a plastic bin that’s full of water and algaecide until it’s ready to be put on the pool.

You should also change out the water halfway through the swim season to prevent bacteria and algae from staining the cover.

Our Top Pick

Happybuy Pool Safety Cover Fits...
Happybuy Pool Safety Cover Fits...
  • 【Good Material】- Soft and tough PP material,...
  • 【Reasonable Size】- Suitable for 16x30 ft...
  • 【Easy to install】- Comes with installation...

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