Many hot tub and spa covers are available on the Internet and in your local stores. How do you go about selecting the cover that meets your needs?
The following guide covers the attributes that make up a hot tub or spa cover to help you choose the best cover for you at the best price.
Today all spa covers are tapered so that rain, snow, and ice will run off easily. You will find covers ranging in thickness from a 3″ x 2″ taper to a 5″ x 4″ taper. The thickness of the foam determines load capacity, which is the most important aspect of thickness. The thicker the foam, the more load the cover can bear. For example, a cover with a 4″ x 2″ taper can withstand approximately 75 pounds of load capacity before breaking. A 4″ x 3″ spa cover can withstand 125 pounds of load. Lastly, a cover with a 5″ x 4″ taper can withstand a load of 250 pounds.
As with everything, there are tradeoffs; the greater the load capacity, the heavier the cover. The most important consideration is your climate. If you have a heavy snow load, you need a heavy cover. Also, if your spa is at deck level, and people are probably going to walk on it, you will need a 5″ x 4″ hot tub cover. If your spa is indoors, a 4″ x 2″ taper will be adequate. The best cover for most conditions is the all-season hot tub cover with a 4″ x 3″ taper. It has a great load capacity and a manageable weight.
Foam density, measured by pound per square inch, plays an essential role in the insulation value and load capacity of a hot tub cover. The three levels of foam density used today are 1 pound, 1.5 pounds, and 2 pounds. The lower the poundage, the more open are the cells of the foam, resulting in a lower R-value, a lower weight capacity, and a higher saturation point. These three elements are important in your spa cover’s performance. The foam density determines how many years of service your hot tub cover will provide. The higher the density of the foam, the longer it will take for your cover to become waterlogged. In addition, the higher the density of the foam, the lower the operational costs will be. If only for this reason, regardless of your climate, get a cover with the highest density foam available, which is 2 pounds.
The vinyl used in today’s quality spa covers is 32 ounces and treated with ultraviolet and mildew inhibitors. This allows them to last longer with more hours in direct sunlight and keeps mildew from growing on your cover. Always make sure the cover you buy is made with marine-grade vinyl. With the new treatments on marine-grade vinyl, fading is minimal. If you wish, you can choose a darker color to accent your yard.
Scrim is the material on the underside of your spa cover. The main function of scrim is to protect the foam core from moisture. Many different types of scrim are available, ranging from cheap mesh to the latest reflective full backing. Full scrim is recommended for the underside to protect your foam core. There are also different types of full scrim. Some are water repellent and some aren’t. The best scrim is reflective scrim, as it deflects the radiant heat from your spa back into the spa and reduces your heating costs. More importantly, reflective scrim is water repellent, which saves your foam core and adds years of service to your cover.
Poly wrap is used to create a moisture barrier around the foam core. Most poly wraps are 3 mils thick and are vacuum and heat sealed. The first thing to consider is the thickness. Don’t accept any poly wrap that is less than 3 mils thick. If possible, buy poly wrap 6 mils thick or a double vapor seal. This is the best investment. Beware of taped poly wraps, as they won’t stand up to the moisture in your spa, and they’ll cause your hot tub cover to become waterlogged.
You have the option of using two or four locks to secure your hot tub cover. Four locks are recommended, as the reports of accidental drowning in spas among small children have been increasing. It’s best to put one lock in each corner for maximum safety. This will also keep your cover in place during high winds. Over the years, make sure that you install new hardware for your locks, as the plastic will wear over time. Try to put your locks in a different location, as the original location will be worn.
A spa cover should have a reinforcing c-channel made either of aluminum or galvanized steel. Galvanized steel is slightly stronger, but a little heavier. This is a minor tradeoff, as either material is sufficient.
You can protect your hot tub or spa cover in many ways. The best way is to cover it with a cover cap, which is a tarp-like cover with an elastic hem. It will protect your cover during the winter. Floating solar or thermal covers will also work. They will protect you spa cover from harmful chemical condensation that would otherwise corrode the underside of your spa cover. Hot tub and spa cover lifters will make removing your cover a one-person job and reduce wear and tear, thus prolonging the life of your cover. Last, keep your cover clean and conditioned. Specially formulated hot tub cover cleaners and wipes are available for this purpose.