Updated: October 12, 2016
Best Spa CoversWhile having a hot tub or spa at your home is a real luxury, caring for it can take some time, energy, and money. Apart from chemical and water maintenance, your spa cover is one of the most critical pieces of equipment to keep your hot tub water clean, and to keep your energy bill at a reasonable level. Saving money on heating costs means insulating your tub, and that is what insulating spa covers do. Since heat rises, most heat loss in a hot tub goes directly up. By sitting just above the steaming water, the foam hot tub covers provide insulation and help keep the heat inside. One problem arises from all the steam though -- the foam core of these covers eventually gets more and more waterlogged as water molecules work their way into the tiny hollow spaces inside the foam. In this guide, we will take a look at some of the best spa covers available, see how much they cost, and how you need to care for them to make them last as long as possible.
What to look for when buying a hot tub coverYou want a spa covers that will keep stuff out of your hot tub, keep kids and people safe around the hot tub, and keep your water inside insulated and hot. If you have a sunken in-ground spa, a strong cover is critical to keep animals, children, and big people from falling in. Most covers are not built to stand the weight of people sitting on walking on them, but they should be strong enough to support someone who trips and falls on top. Your next goal is keeping the elements out of your spa - leaves, pollen, sun damage, dirt, snow, etc. By keeping your cover on all the time, you protect the acrylic surface of the tub from sun damage, you keep out dust and dirt, you keep out debris, etc. If you live in a snowy area, you will want one strong enough to support a load of snow, though you should scrape the snow off during the winter season to keep it from piling up to high and making the cover so heavy that it can't be moved. If you live in an especially cold winter climate, you might want to look into specialty spa covers that are made for those kind of weather conditions. Expanded polystyrene foam is used in almost all covers, in densities ranging from 1-2 pounds. Find out what density foam is available in the covers you are looking at - some even go as high as 3 pounds. Most spa covers are advertised as being about 4" in thickness, though the foam itself might only be 3.5-3.75" thick. In general, thicker foam doesn't do much for you - 4" is generally fine. An average 4" thick 1lb. density cover has an R-13 insulating rating, while the same foam in a 3lb. density will have a R-17 rating. Most foam covers have an inner layer of polyethylene that attempts to seal the polystrene from water absorption. This works to an extent, but it is almost impossible to keep water from getting inside the cores. On the outside, all spa covers are enclosed in marine grade vinyl (usually up to 30 oz. weight) with a high UV rating, which stands up pretty well given its constant exposure to the elements.
Caring for your hot tub cover requires regular cleaning of the cover (you can buy special cover cleaner soap and protectant) and hosing it down with regular water to remove debris and dirt. Your cover will be hinged in the middle, often with aluminum support for strength. The seams here are all reinforced to stand up to the bending and moving required to remove the cover for spa use. Most covers also have 2-4 tie down straps that allow you to anchor the edge of the cover to your deck or spa cabinet to keep it from flying away and to keep kids and other unwanted guests out. Some tie-downs have simple pinch clasps for hooking and unhooking, while others are safety clasps, requiring a small key tool to unclasp them and remove the cover. If you have small children, you will want the safety tie downs - make sure they are on the cover you buy.
Some questions about spa covers:
- How much does a foam spa cover weigh? An 8 foot square cover weighs about 40-45 pounds.
- Can a spa cover support a person? You should never sit or stand on a spa covers as the foam inside can be cracked and damaged, but most 4" think covers are designed to handle 200 lbs. or more.
- How much do spa covers cost? Basic foam covers start at around $250 and go up from there, with deluxe models costing $400-$500. You can even buy aluminum spa covers for about $1000 which are much stronger and durable.
Shopping for a spa cover online is easy, and most places offer free shipping. Start at TheCoverGuy.com. A 4" spa cover sells for $300, while the thicker extreme model sells for $379. They also sell lifters and accessories. HotTubWorks.com is another good site, with covers selling for $299. SpaDepot.com is one of our favorite overall hot tub stores, and they don't skimp when it comes to covers. Their Dura Therm covers sell for $335. Aluminum clad options start at $300 additional, making the cover strong enough for you to walk across (for in-ground spas).