Spa Cover Buying Guide
When you first purchased your hot tub or spa it probably came with a cover. However, after some time you may notice that the cover isn’t doing its job as well as it originally did and it may become necessary to replace it. There are a number of reasons why a spa cover or hot tub cover needs to be replaced:
- It becomes waterlogged. A spa cover should
be lightweight and easy to lift on or off your spa. Covers tend
to absorb water over time and become very heavy to lift. This cover
can be dangerous to handle and could easily cause injury to you
and damage to your surroundings. Water saturated covers also lose
the ability to insulate efficiently and can raise your energy bill.
- Worn Out. If your spa cover has become ripped or seams are coming apart or sagging and holding water on top, it’s not only ugly but has become very inefficient. Old worn out covers breed bacteria, will contaminate your spa water and can be extremely unhealthy. This type of cover also loses its ability to insulate and can raise your energy bill.
So, now that you have decided you need to replace your spa cover you head to the internet to do some research. You find a lot of places where you can purchase your cover – but are unsure how to determine which cover is the best one to suit your needs. Below are some guidelines to help you in your purchase.
1. Spa/Hot Tub Location.
An important factor to consider is where you live and the location of your spa or hot tub. Consider the amounts of sun, cold, rain, wet snow or ice your spa cover will receive. For example if you live in a temperate climate, e.g. Florida, you will be more concerned with rain than with the level of insulation. If you live in Buffalo you will need to consider both cold and snow loads. However, if you are in Buffalo and the hot tub is under cover, the main consideration will be the cover’s ability to insulate to keep the heat in and energy bills low.
2. Spa Cover Foam Thickness.
All spa covers these days are tapered (thicker in the middle at the fold and thinner on the edges) so that the rain, snow and ice will runoff. This is called the cover’s "slope" . You will find covers ranging in thickness starting at a 4" x 2" taper to a 6" x 4" tapered spa cover. The difference in the thickness of the foam is not only in size but also in load capacity. The thicker the foam the more load the cover can withstand. For example a 4" x 2" tapered cover can support a 49lb load, a 5" x 3" tapered cover can support a 175lb load and a 6" x 4" can support over 375lb. However, the thicker the foam and more load capacity, the heavier the cover.
If your spa is at deck level and people are possibly going to walk on it, there are "walk-on" covers available. These covers are 4" x 2" tapered and reinforced with fiberglass sheets laminated on both the top and underside.
If your spa is indoors a non-sloping or flat cover can be used.
3. Spa Cover Foam Density
Spa covers come in varying densities of foam cores. The typical foam density available today is 1 lb, 1.5 lb and 2 lb. The foam density is measured by pound per cubic foot. The lower the foam poundage the more open the cells of the foam are, creating more air pockets. Lower foam density covers are lighter, cost less and have proved to be just as resistant to absorbing water as the denser covers. If you prefer a lighter cover but are concerned about it absorbing water, an alternative would be to order it with double-thick plastic.
The R-value for spa covers is a numerical calculation that is the measure of the cover’s ability to insulate. The higher the number, the better the spa cover will keep the heat in and the cold out, and reduce your heating bill.
The R-value of a cover is determined by two main factors, the thickness of the foam core and the density of the foam core.
5. Spa Cover Vinyl
The vinyl used in today’s quality spa covers is 29 oz and is treated with UV and mildew inhibitors which allow for more hours in direct sunlight and prevents mildew from building up on the cover. Always look for covers with marine grade vinyl. With the new treatments available fading is minimal and you can choose darker colors to accent your yard. Most covers are available in multiple colors.
6. Poly Wrap
Poly wrap is the moisture barrier around the foam core. Most poly wraps are 3mm thick and are heat sealed. Do not get anything less than 3mm and if you can upgrade to 6mm or a double vapor seal, it is well advised to make the investment. Look out for poly wraps that are taped as these will not stand up to the moisture in your spa and cause the spa cover to become waterlogged.
7. Spa Cover Locks
These are important to protect small children and animals from accidentally drowning. You can get either 2 locks or 4 locks – 4 locks are recommended, one near each corner. The locks can also keep your cover in place in the event of wind. Remember to always ensure that new hardware is installed for the locks as they can deteriorate over time. Good spa cover companies will provide new hardware for you.
8. Reinforcement of Hinges
All spa covers should have a reinforcing c-channel of either aluminum or galvanized steel. Either one is fine with the galvanized steel being stronger.
9. Water Chemistry
An important part of the care of your spa cover is the chemistry of the water in your spa. As the water evaporates the chemicals in the steam can affect the spa cover and accelerate the deterioration of the plastic, particular on the underside. By ensuring that the balance of all the necessary chemicals are correct, you will extend the life of your spa cover exponentially. A good way to check on the chemical balance of your spa water is to take a sample to a hot tub or spa dealer and have them analyze it for you.
10. Spa Cover Protection
The best way to protect the spa cover is with a Spa Cover Cap. This is a tarp-like cover with an elastic hem that goes over your cover and provides protection during the winter months.
Floating solar or thermal covers will also protect the spa cover from harmful chemical filled condensation that can eat away at the underside of the spa cover.
11. Spa Cover Lifters
Getting the spa cover up and off the tub, and then back on when finished can be a challenge, particularly for women or smaller individuals. A large cover can be very heavy and a waterlogged cover will weigh twice its normal weight. A cover lifter that attaches to the side of the spa is a great way to get around these problems. The lifter allows you to slide, lift or tilt the cover up and off the spa with ease. Some popular models are: The Cover Caddy, The Cover Valet, Cover Genie, Cover Up and Auto Spa Cover.