As warmer weather gives way to new seasons, you’ll want to say goodbye to pool days, and for that, you need the right equipment. The best winter pool covers are made of durable material, whether its solid or mesh, that meets your budget needs and protects against the elements — and will fit your pool’s specific shape, whether it’s in-ground or above-ground.
Solid Vs. Mesh Covers
The major differences among mesh and solid pool covers are price, longevity, and how much maintenance your pool will need when you're ready to open your pool. A mesh cover typically costs quite a bit less than solid covers and lasts 10 to 15 years. These covers don't require that you keep a pump on top, but your pool water will get somewhat dirty, could grow algae, and will require more maintenance when you are ready to get your pool water ready for swim season. Solid pool covers won't last quite as long (think: about 7 to 11 years), are more expensive than mesh, but they help keep your pool water from getting dirty, making your spring pool opening duties less intensive. The biggest drawback with a solid cover is the winter maintenance required since a pump needs to get the standing water off it. Hybrid covers offer the best of both worlds, with the ability to block dirt and debris, while still allowing water to pass through. If you like to occasionally dip back into your pool on milder winter days, a solar pool cover soaks up the sun's rays to keep your pool warmer.
Solid pool covers are designed to be heavy-duty enough to withstand rain, snow, and wind, and they’ll also keep leaves and debris out of the pool. You’ll want to choose a pool cover with a suitable scrim (aka tight weave). A higher scrim number indicates a higher-quality or more heavy-duty pool cover. An 8-by-8 scrim is good quality to start and the highest ones are 12-by-12 or 14-by-14; keep in mind scrim doesn’t apply to solar covers or mesh covers, which let rain through but not debris.
Most in-ground pools are rectangular or oval-shaped and above-ground pools are usually round; pool covers are sized and shaped accordingly. The average pool size is 14 by 28 feet, so I’ve featured these dimensions when possible, but most of my picks are available in multiple sizes, too. It’s also worth noting pool cover sizes tend to allow for some overhang to accommodate things like pool rails.
A lightweight cover is helpful for an easier time installing and removing the cover, and ideally, any necessary hardware is included for installation.
With all this in mind, below are the best winter pool covers to keep your pool in good condition until it's warm enough to jump back in.
1. A Mesh In-Ground Pool Cover That Can Hold Up To 2 Tons
- Type: mesh/hybrid
- Dimensions: 14 by 28 feet; plus four other sizes available
My top pick is this rectangular safety pool cover made of heavy-duty, two-ply mesh that has a break strength of more than 4,000 pounds. One reviewer commented it's "WELL worth the peace of mind with pets and kids in the backyard." Though it has a "high scrim" per the manufacturer, the exact number is not specified. The fine mesh lets rain through the cover, so it won't weigh things down, but keeps dirt and debris out. And, the whole thing is lightweight enough to take off your pool in about five minutes.
This highly rated pick comes with all the hardware needed to install it on concrete decking, including brass anchors, stainless steel springs, and buckles, as well as a storage bag. It's built to last: stainless steel hardware resists rust; multi-seam stitching resists tears; reinforced wear strips underneath protect against fraying. Even though this is considered a mesh cover, its ability to block dirt and debris while allowing water in gives it the properties of a hybrid cover.
A helpful review: “Made it through the first winter with this cover. I've had a pool for about 30 years, this was the easiest pool opening ever. No struggling with water on the pool cover. Also the water was the cleanest I have ever seen in the spring. The cover still looks brand new. Very happy with it. [...]”
2. An Affordable, High-Scrim In-Ground Pool Cover
- Type: solid
- Dimensions: 14 by 28 feet, and multiple other sizes available
Looking for a more budget-friendly option for the season? This winter pool cover features heavy-duty 12-by-12 scrim and resists cracks, splits, and tears in cold weather, including rain, snow, and strong wind. The pool cover material is polyethylene, a type of durable plastic, and has been designed with an ultraviolet light inhibitor.
The rectangular pool cover can be used for above-ground or in-ground pools with enough overlap to accommodate rails; it's also available in round and oval shapes. This pool cover's interlock weave is strong enough to resist rips but is also lightweight enough that it isn't cumbersome to put on and take off. Keep in mind water won't seep through this one.
A helpful review: “ Winter Weather in North East. It has only been on a few months, but so far so good. It is holding up to the freezing temperatures, high winds and ice.”
3. A Round Cover For Above-Ground Pools That Fans Love
- Type: solid
- Dimensions: 24 feet, plus seven other sizes available
With nearly 3,000 reviews, this pool cover for an above-ground pool is a clear favorite. The round polyethylene cover has an 8-by-8 scrim and the solid cover won't let water through. One feature that makes this cover stand out is that the bottom is black to prevent algae growth, plus the top side has been coated to protect against UV rays. The cover comes with a heavy-duty winch and all-weather cable to secure it through grommets every four feet.
Choose from more than eight round pool sizes and a dozen colors, including blue and gray.
A helpful review: “We've had many a pool cover on our 18' round. This one by far has put those other covers to shame. The scrim is nice and wide, the quality is great and the thickness of the tarp is very thick. My husband was skeptical when I bought it. But when we pulled it out of the box and bag he was very surprised and not to mention the size of the cover. It's really a 22' which allows for more than adequate coverage over the side of the pool. [...]”
4. This Solar Cover For Keeping Your Pool Warm For Winter Dips
- Type: solar
- Dimensions: 14 by 28 feet, plus several other sizes available
For warm dips in the pool during winter and spring, consider this solar pool cover. It's rectangular but can be trimmed to fit other shapes, and it's also available in a square. With over 1,000 reviews, one shopper commented this highly rated pool cover "warmed the pool by 10 degrees in 2 days" and another reported it allows her to skip using a gas heater.
The bubbles on the cover absorb UV rays and retain heat to warm pool water. The cover also prevents up to 95% of water evaporation. Plus, it keeps leaves and debris out of the pool. Reviewers say the cover was rolled down for easy installation.
A helpful review: “After doing extensive research on the best solar pool cover for my needs I had high expectations when ordering this one. The product more than exceeded them. I have an odd shaped pool but the cover was easy to cut to fit. It warmed up the pool and kept it warm within 3 days of use and I was not expecting it to work that quickly. It is very durable and strong. It doesn’t move even on windy days. Extremely pleased with this purchase.”