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5 Reasons Why Tarp Pool Covers Are a Terrible Investment


Winter Pool Tarp CoverOne of the questions we often hear this time of year is about tarp pool covers, and whether or not they'll do the trick for protecting your swimming pool over the cold winter months. In most cases, the frank answer to this question is 'NO'.  Here are 5 reasons why:

5 Reasons Why Most Tarp Pool Covers Aren't Worth It

1. They Don't Last: I always laugh when I see a tarp cover that has a '7 Year Golden Warranty', or something of that nature. The fact is, a tarp is a tarp. Yeah, sure, some are better than others. But even the best tarp covers rarely last more than 2 winters before they're complete trash. So if you think about that for a second, over the course of 15 years, a homeowner will actually spend more on tarp covers than a mesh/vinyl security cover. Ouch! (Note***Tarp cover warranties are very pro-rated. So even if it says '7 years', if you read close, you'll see that such is not the case.)

2. They Don't Hold Weight: Tarp covers practically offer no protection when it comes to animals or humans that, for whatever reason, attempt to walk across the pool when it's covered. Over the years, we at River Pools have seen quite a few deer fall into pools during the winter, all of which were using tarp covers.

3. They Require a Pump: Because they are solid yet hold very little weight, tarp pool covers require a submersible pump to keep the water from building up on top. There are countless problems I could name with this but just trust me when I say that having a pump on your tarp cover is a serious headache.

4. They're Ugly: No question, a tarp cover with water bags holding it down is not the most aesthetically pleasing sight in the world, especially when compared to a form-fitting security cover.

5. You're Not Saving Any Money: As I said in #1, even though a form-fitting security cover with straps costs a good bit more than a tarp cover, it will usually last 10-15 years. When compared with replacing a tarp every season, it's easy to see why 90% of inground pool owners purchase a true winter/security cover at some point.

By Marcus Sheridan


Question? Comments? As always, your thoughts are welcome below!


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What about not using a cover at all?
Posted @ Monday, October 10, 2011 8:43 PM by George
What are your thoughts on automatic covers? We'll soon be having a pool installed.
Posted @ Monday, October 10, 2011 8:49 PM by Denise Evans
@George: Yes, you can get away with not using a cover. It's done quite a bit in the Southern states. Up North though, where winters are worse, I wouldn't recommend it. 
@Denise: Hopefully you'll take a look at some of the articles on the blog here we've written about auto covers. My quick take is that they certainly are good for protection, solar covers, and keeping the leaves out....but they have their drawbacks: very expensive, break down often after the first few years, cover material usually replaced every 4-8 years, etc.
Posted @ Monday, October 10, 2011 10:44 PM by Marcus Sheridan
Well written. 
As New Zealands only Automatic Cover Manufacture (Slatted)I am constantly telling people my cover is great for keeping heat in, saving on water evaporation 2 times the pools contents, and as for chemicals fantastic but when it comes to leaves the chain saw is the answer. 
Cleaning any pool cover can be a problem. 
That aside when it comes to safety The slatted covers win no pumps to put in place. 
My system is hydraulic and is 12 volts via a battery which means you can close it if the power is shut off. It Cannot be sold in the USA because the lock in Electronic and you standards says You must have a key to lock the cover. But then a lot of your standards are old and out of date. 
There are a lot of the Bubble and Foam covers used in Australia and New Zealand but they can be very dangerous if someone play silly buggers and swims under them. 
Yes they cost money but if you are heating a pool your pay back can be in 5-7 years. 
Kiwi Norman.
Posted @ Tuesday, October 11, 2011 1:19 AM by Norman Tyree
What are your concerns with not using a cover for winter in the North? I am asking with reference to an in-ground fiberglass pool in Michigan.
Posted @ Tuesday, October 11, 2011 12:14 PM by George
Really helpful post, and I like your ebook too. What do you think about automatic safety pool covers? 
Best regards
Posted @ Sunday, September 16, 2012 11:03 AM by Alex
@George: I hope you just kidding, I think every pool owner should invest in pool cover!
Posted @ Thursday, September 20, 2012 2:31 AM by Houston patio
I was wondering what kind of cover would you recommend since my pool has one side infinity, it does not have a filter, so we empty it and refill whenever it is in use, which is not all year round. We are just looking to keep out leaves, dust and any type of critters or animals that can possibly get in. Any advice? I was thinking of a tarp but after I read this, I figured why not ask.
Posted @ Monday, January 28, 2013 9:12 PM by Sasha
The picture in this article says it all. People need to do thing right the 1st time and not be so cheap.
Posted @ Thursday, March 28, 2013 1:39 PM by Plumbing Boston
Hi, can you recommend a mesh/vinyl security cover for a 50' x 20' pool? Thanks.
Posted @ Friday, May 10, 2013 6:33 PM by Alex
We have a web type pool cover. (safety cover) 
We have a terrible time clearing up the pool when we open it. All dirt from winter settles in and is terrible to clear up. 
Our neighbor has the old type cover on his and his pool is as clear as can be when he opens it. 
I am ready to buy another cover to replace the so called good one.
Posted @ Monday, May 27, 2013 11:36 AM by Kay McNatt
These 5 Reasons Why Tarp Pool Covers Are a Terrible Investment are very objective ones. Thank you a lot for sahring your experience with us.
Posted @ Sunday, November 17, 2013 8:23 AM by Kevin Right
We use a cut out blue (with bubbles) pool cover. First off, the 'Golden Warranty' is the best thing about it. We bought our cover about 15 years ago and get a free replacement cover every two years because of the warranty. When I asked the dealer why they can do this, his response was that people are just too lazy to use the warranty and also that the $200 piece of plastic probably cost them $5 to make. So, buying one of these basically gives you a cover for life. Pretty great deal. I also really doubt your fact of "that's why 90% of pool owners end up purchasing a expensive security cover" That's just not true or even close to it. Probably .1% of pool owners purchase one of those expensive covers.
Posted @ Thursday, April 24, 2014 5:06 PM by jake
Worst option.... If you really care for your pool and want to take care of it better opt for a pool servicing then to you trap pool covers, they are good for nothing in fact they might cause you to suffer a lot as in the rainy session it some times become terrible to vacate the water on it.
Posted @ Monday, May 05, 2014 7:28 AM by Emma
Yes, the 8yr and 12 year TARP pool covers ONLY last ONE winter here in Pennsylvania. 
Frankly - this MUST be a violation in advertising - all the pool supply companies are GUILTY of and should be taken to COURT for FALSE ADVERTISING! 
If your pool is closed off - you do NOT need it to hold the weight of animals or people! Most do have a fence! Where is that cover in between a tarp and the Elephant bearing cover?!!! 
A pool cover pump IS necessary to remove water accumulations - covers do NOT need to be TAUGHT! 
The way it looks - mine - even the tarp type looks just fine. 
There is left but ONE reason not to buy a TARP for a pool cover - that reason IS: it is STUPID to expect a TARP to serve as a pool cover!
Posted @ Sunday, June 22, 2014 1:25 AM by Joseph
But yeah, thanks for spending time to discussthis topic here on your website. 
Posted @ Thursday, October 23, 2014 5:53 AM by gemplers coupon
Well here it is the Winter of 2014 -2015. Of course I purchased a new pool TARP cover as, again, they only last ONE Season not the warrantied 8 - 12 years no matter who sells them. 
My new thicker tarp type cover - after a week laying on the surface of the water has pool water seeping through the seams! Never had this happen before - so I guess more money buys better quality is another LIE AND I am in for a few months of grief and a nasty cleanup up come Spring 2015! 
I'm seriously considering having my Pool removed - since the Pool suppliers want to cheat me (increased costs and trash for parts) of my money - then they will get from me 100% of nothing.
Posted @ Friday, October 24, 2014 2:19 AM by Joseph - Pa.
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