There are all types of inground pool covers to choose from. This article is going to focus on pool covers for winterizing inground swimming pools. I will touch briefly on solar pool covers, and automatic pool covers, near the end of this blog post.
While I do sell inground pool covers, the purpose of this article is not to sell you a pool cover, rather to give you enough information to help you make an informed choice. I do admit to hoping, that once you know what I know, you will want to do business with me.
Lets get right into it!
Safety Cover Warranty
I sell 5 of the top brand names in the industry, so I know what I’m telling you. If you buy a mesh or solid safety cover, the kind that kids and pets can walk across safely. You are going to lay out more than a few hundred bucks. So you might as well know the truth about the warranties for these high-end covers.
All cover manufacturers basically say the same thing… 12-15 years. So you might think, hey, I’m good for 15 years. First of all, you’re only covered for manufacturers defects, and second, the warranty is prorated after just two years. So basically, if you get it home, and it looks fine, then the manufacturer gave you a cover free of defects (yes really).
I have seen only one exception to this in 30 years, and it had to do with sowing. Some stitching on the webbing of the cover was obviously defective, it was within 2 years, so they fixed it. But guess who paid to ship the cover back? The customer.
Stock versus Custom Inground Pool Covers
I hope you read the warranty bit above, because it is going to get important very shortly. Custom covers cost more than stock covers. Usually they cost a LOT more. Stock covers are usually rectangle, and come with, or without steps. Where as, custom covers are designed to fit “free form” pools. Meaning custom shaped pools: Kidney, or figure eight, just to name a couple.
If you have an 18 x 36 foot kidney shaped pool, it might cost you $2200.00 for a custom fit safety cover. However, you could buy a stock 18 x 36 (actual cover size: 20×38) pool cover for $1200.00. But, the pool company will tell you, if you cover a custom shape pool with a stock cover, you have no warranty.
I say, screw the warranty, it is useless anyway. If a stock cover will fit, if it will overlap every bit of pool edge by a foot, and you have enough deck, I say, save the thousand dollars.
Custom vs. Stock Cover Design Differences
Before installing a stock cover over your custom shaped pool, you should consider a few things. Custom covers cost more because they have more webbing, smaller panels (usually 3×3 grid), and more deck anchors. There is also the design work that has to be done to create the blueprint. I do believe these feature make for a more durable cover.
All covers have chaffing strips sown into the bottom of the cover. The strips are there to keep the pool cover material from wearing through on the deck. They are strategically located along the edge of the cover, as the coping (pool edge) is a common wear point. So if you buy a stock cover, the chaffing strips will not line up with the edge of your custom shaped pool.
This is easily overcome by placing something like a broom handle around any rough areas of the pool deck. We often place indoor, outdoor carpet over rough areas, when covering pools for the winter. Especially pools with areas of natural stone along the pool edge.
Mesh versus Solid Inground Pool Covers – Whats Best?
While both solid, and mesh safety covers meet the same exact ASTM, and ICC safety certifications, mesh safety covers are less expensive (usually 400-800 dollars cheaper). If you just want a safety cover to protect your family, then the best cover for you, might mean the least expensive cover.
I prefer solid pool covers. When you close a pool with a sold cover. The pool opens just as clear and clean as when you closed it.
There are two kinds of solid cover, Those with a drain panel, and those without. Covers without a drain panel require a cover pump. While solid covers with a drain do allow a little dirt to get into the pool, it is not a lot, and I much prefer them to dealing with cover pumps.
Automatic Inground Pool Covers
These covers cost roughly 10k to buy, and more to install. And they are not even suitable to winterize your pool. They are more for year round safety. They also help prevent evaporation, and keep dirt and debris from getting in the pool.
These covers are best suited for new pools, otherwise you will have tracks alongside your pool, or expensive renovations to install it.
I would never buy an automatic cover. For the cost, I would much prefer a retractable dome.
Inground Pool Solar Covers
With out a reel, solar cover are impossible to manage. Solar covers are best suited for rectangle pools. I would only put up with the loss of deck space, and the inconvenience of managing one, under one condition. That is that I am paying to heat the pool. If I did not have a pool heater, I would never use a solar cover.
I would liken having a pool without a solar cover, to heating your home, and leaving all the windows open, and throwing out all the insulation in the walls.
So we now know: warranties are useless; solid covers are better than mesh; automatic inground pool covers are crazy expensive; solar covers are to much hassle if you are not heating your pool. Stock covers are much cheaper than having a custom cover made.
From our Resources page:
We have quite a few resources to help you get a free estimate for a new or replacement safety cover. If you want to get a quote for a stock cover, we have this form. If you would like a free estimate for a “custom” safety cover, we have this form, and these instructions.
If you would like to read our reviews about Merlin, GLI, Loop Loc, Meyco, or Latham safety covers, Click Here. The reviews article is full of insights, information, and advice. Because we sell all these brands, the article also included links to specialty pages for each company.