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The 10 Best Pool Covers to Protect Your Pool in 2021 (and 2022)

The 10 Best Pool Covers to Protect Your Pool in 2021 (and 2022)

Pool Maintenance  |  Options and Accessories  |  Swimming Pool Accessories  |  Pool Closing/Winterization

There’s a time of year in (nearly) every pool owner’s life when they’ll face an unavoidable decision: is it time to close my pool and winterize it for the season?


But when you’re ready to answer that question, you’ll be faced with many others. How will you keep your pool and its equipment safe when not in use? How will you keep debris and unwanted visitors from falling into your closed-down pool? And, perhaps most importantly... how much will the solution(s) to these problems actually cost?


Most pool owners rely on swimming pool covers to protect and secure the interior of their pools during the colder months, when it’s simply not warm enough or practical to go for a swim.


But like many other pool products, savvy shoppers can quickly become overwhelmed by the sheer range of choices available, and the varying features, benefits, and drawbacks of each type of swimming pool cover.


There are three popular types of swimming pool cover: standard tarp-style covers, security covers, and automatic covers. You might also want to use a solar pool cover during the swim season to warm your pool water at minimal cost, particularly when compared to the cost of a powered pool heater.


In this article, we’ll look at some top-notch options in each category of pool cover, to help you best protect your pool over the winter without breaking your budget.


At the end of the article, you’ll also find links to some helpful guides on choosing and maintaining the right type of cover for your pool.


Let’s get started...


Best large solar pool cover: Sun2Solar 1200 Series


  • Price: $219+ (for 20’ x 40’ 1200 Series)
  • Average customer review: 4.2 stars (get it on Amazon)
  • Type: solar cover (seasonal heat - plastic)
  • Maximum pool size: 30’ x 50’ rectangular
  • Lifespan: 1 to 2 years (average)
  • Weight: 40 pounds (for 20’ x 40’ size)

Sun2Solar offers a wide range of solar pool cover sizes and thicknesses, from the spa-sized 4’ by 8’ option to the gargantuan 30’ by 50’ cover. There’s also a 33’ by 33’ square cover for pool owners with large square or round pools.


Like most other solar covers, the Sun2Solar products can be trimmed to fit the contours of your pool. Freeform and custom-shaped pools can still get good use of a well-fitted custom-cut Sun2Solar cover.


There are three thicknesses available for your Sun2Solar cover: 8 millimeters, 12 millimeters, and 16 millimeters -- the 800, 1200, and 1600 series, respectively.


All three thickness options come in a blue color, but you can also get a white or clear cover in 12 or 16 millimeters. Customer reviews highly recommend using the 12 or 16 millimeter cover, with some comments suggesting you stick with the 16-millimeter product if you have a dark bottom pool.


We don’t recommend using a solar cover to protect your pool in the winter offseason. It should only be used to heat your pool while protecting it from larger debris during swim season. The thin nature of a solar cover may require replacement every year or two.


Best above-ground pool cover: Robelle 3318-4 Platinum


  • Price: $95+ (for 18’ round pools)
  • Average customer review: 4.3 stars (get it on Amazon)
  • Type: solid tarp (security cover - polyethylene)
  • Maximum pool size: 33’ round/square pools
  • Lifespan: 15 years (warrantied)
  • Weight: ~10 pounds

Robelle is another cover manufacturer with a wide range of sizes and other product options. This “Platinum” product is firmly in the mid-tier of Robelle’s pool cover lineup, which ranges from the thinner “Economy” model to the extra-thick “Ultimate” and “Optimum” models.


All Robelle above-ground pool covers appear to be available in a wide range of sizes and colors, which should help you choose the perfect cover for any above-ground pool, to match any backyard decor. Robelle covers also include a winch and cable attachment to help you efficiently tighten and secure the cover around the outer rim of your pool.


Different Robelle cover models come with different warranty lengths, but with a minimum warranty duration of eight years (the Platinum reviewed here has a 15-year warranty), you should be able to protect your above-ground pool confidently for years to come.


Best budget inground pool covers: BlueWave (various models)


  • Price: $70+ (for 20’ x 40’ models)
  • Average customer review: 3.9 stars (get it on Amazon)
  • Type: various (standard / mesh - polyethylene)
  • Maximum pool size: 30’ x 50’ rectangular
  • Lifespan: 8 years (warrantied)
  • Weight: 20 pounds

BlueWave makes a number of different pool covers in all types. This entry will discuss the three BlueWave covers that fit into the “standard” winter cover category:


All three cover types come in a range of sizes, from 12’ by 20’ to 30’ by 50’ -- the mesh cover also comes in an extra-large 30’ by 60’ size.


A solid cover is generally your best choice for winter protection, but mesh covers might appeal to you if you tend to see a lot of snow and/or rain over the winter and would prefer to not have to keep the cover surface free of water accumulation.


Leaf nets would be a good choice if you’ve got lots of trees around your pool, but don’t otherwise see much other small debris falling into the water from the surrounding areas.


Like most standard winter covers, the BlueWave covers must be secured in place by weighted bags. This requirement can raise your all-in cost by a fair amount, as BlueWave recommends using 16 eight-foot-long weighted water tubes to hold a 20’ by 40’ cover in place. You can mix and match between eight-foot and 10-foot water tubes, as BlueWave offers both as five-packs:


Keep in mind, however, that these covers must sit beyond the edge of the pool, with most sizes coming in at roughly five feet longer and wider than the pools they’re designed to cover. A 20’ by 40’ pool will use a 25’ by 45’ cover.


BlueWave offers eight-year warranties on its covers, but some reviewers note that their covers don’t always last that long.


Best pool security cover for pools with spas/steps: WaterWarden


  • Price: $885+ (18’ x 36’ mesh with center step)
  • Average customer review: 4.3 stars (get it on Amazon)
  • Type: security (solid or mesh - polyethylene)
  • Maximum pool size: 18’ x 36’ (with step/spa or Roman end)
  • Lifespan: 15 years (warrantied)
  • Weight: 54 pounds

Many rectangular pools are built with inset steps, spas, or other offset areas, which can make it difficult to fully cover them in the winter.


That’s why WaterWarden offers a variety of strap-down security covers with built-in extensions -- you can cover a centered step, or you can protect the steps or a spa in the right or left corner of one lengthwise side of your pool.


There are other security covers with offset areas for center steps, but the WaterWarden cover is the only one we’ve found so far to cover offset steps at the corners of your pool.


We think this extra protection could come in quite helpful for pool owners with embedded steps or non-raised spa areas, and the extra areas have their own set of security straps to keep your entire cover firmly attached to the surrounding patio surface. These are strong security covers, rated for a break strength of over 4,000 pounds.


WaterWarden’s covers are available in a range of colors for 18’ by 36’ pools, with or without the built-in step areas. You can get a WaterWarden security cover in mesh material or as a solid barrier with a central drain panel, which helps avoid the need for a cover pump, as accumulated water or snow should be able to drain easily into your pool.


Not sure if you want a pool with an integrated step-down or spa area? Our Pool Design and Price tool can help you create the pool of your dreams, and you'll get a ballpark estimate on its cost, including add-ons such as security covers, heaters, and other optional features. It's fast and free. Just click the button below to start designing your perfect pool now:




Best security cover for rectangular pools: Blue Wave


  • Price: $734
  • Average customer review: 4.4 stars (get it on Amazon)
  • Type: security (mesh - polypropylene)
  • Maximum pool size: 20’ x 40’
  • Lifespan: 12 years (warrantied)
  • Weight: 73 pounds

Blue Wave is a big name in pool covers, and it provides a wide range of options for pool owners looking to secure any sort of pool for the winter. Its mesh-type security cover comes with tie-down straps and the equipment needed to install it around the edge of your pool.


This is an ideal cover for larger rectangular pools, but it would work just as well with freeform pools that are 20’ by 40’ or less. Any River Pools model will accommodate a security cover of this size, as would just about any other fiberglass pool model -- certain custom concrete or vinyl liner pools may require larger or custom-made covers.


Like the WaterWarden covers, this pool security cover is rated for up to 4,000 pounds, and you can see how seriously Blue Wave takes this rating by the photo above. We don’t recommend letting your kids play basketball on your pool cover, though!


Want an automatic pool cover? 

Automatic pool covers can provide excellent protection with fairly little effort on your part. The most modern automatic pool covers are essentially push-button operated -- push a button (or flip a switch, or use an app) to unroll or retract your pool cover.


It’s nearly impossible to buy a top-quality automatic cover online for one simple reason:  to use it properly, you must have your automatic cover installed by a pool builder, typically during the overall installation process, just after your pool goes into the ground.


Automatic covers tend to only work well with rectangular pools, because they run on “track” systems that won’t conform to the swooping lines and rounded shapes of a freeform pool.


The straight sides of rectangular or square pools are ideal for installing automatic cover track systems, as the cover can easily slide in and out without deforming or leaving unsightly gaps where a straight-line track might not reach.


Automatic covers can add quite a bit to your pool project budget, so make sure you talk with your pool builder about the pros and cons of using an automatic pool cover, provided you’re getting a rectangular pool.


If you have (or are installing) a freeform pool, we’d recommend one of the other types of covers. A square security cover might not conform to your freeform pool’s contours, but it’ll at least keep the whole pool.


If you're still not sure whether you'd like a rectangular or freeform pool, you should try out our Pool Shape Selector tool. You can get insight into your ideal pool with just a few clicks -- use the button below to start your quiz now:




Looking for more resources on pool covers? We’ve linked a few helpful articles throughout this post, but you should also check out these articles:


Still looking for the perfect pool cover?

Most pool owners dread the end of swim season, but you can always be prepared for it, with the right cover and pool winterization process.


A quality pool cover can extend your pool’s lifespan, reduce your maintenance costs, and make it much easier to reopen when the weather warms up again next year.


Would you recommend a different pool cover? Is there a better choice for any of the categories we’ve used here? Let us know in the comments!


At River Pools, we manufacture world-class fiberglass pools for customers across North America. If you're shopping around for a fiberglass pool, feel free to take a look at our catalog of models, visit our extensive video library, try out our pool cost calculator, or request custom pricing using the button below.