How To Install Above Ground Pool Covers

Written by:  Danny Rhodehamel

Installing covers for above ground pools is an easy task but will vary depending on the type of cover. There are three main types of covers available for above ground pools: winter covers, leaf nets and solar blankets. Click for Above Ground Pools

Tips & Warnings

Things You'll Need

Step by Step

Step 1

A winter cover is designed to protect the pool during the winter months when many above ground pools are not in use. It is basically a tarp with grommets around the perimeter and comes with a cable and winch to hold it in place. To install an above ground pool winter cover, you would first want to make sure all of your other winterizing has been completed. This would include cleaning the pool, lowering the water level below the return fitting and skimmer, and adding pool winterizing chemicals. Basically, make sure anything that requires access to the pool water is done so you won't have the hassle of having to remove the cover. If you are using an air pillow under the winter cover, inflate and place it in the center of the pool right before you put the cover on.

Step 2

Now spread out your winter cover and place it over the pool. This will be easier with two people. Winter covers have an overlap which means they are larger than the pool. For instance, if you have a 28 ft round above ground pool, then the cover size would be 32 ft round which gives you a 2 foot overlap all the way around. You'll need this extra material because the winter cover will dip down inside the pool due to the lowered water level and then overlap the pool wall. Adjust the cover as needed to make it even all around the pool.

Step 3

If you are using a leaf net also, now would be the time to spread it out on top of the winter cover. Pool leaf nets are meant to lay on top of winter covers during the autumn months while leaves are falling. Once the trees are bare, you would remove the leaf net and all of the debris it has collected. This will help prolong the life of the your winter cover. In warmer climates where above ground pools stay open all year, some people use leaf nets without winter covers just to catch leaves in the fall. You can do this however pool leaf nets are really designed to lay on top of the winter cover which protects the net from rubbing against the top rail. It is not recommended to use them alone.

Step 4

With your cover(s) in place over the pool, you can now thread the cable through the grommets or loops around the edge of the cover. Insert the cable into the winch and pull it tight to secure the cover. Try to tuck in any extra material that is hanging down to prevent wind from getting up under the cover.

Step 5

"Wind whip" is what causes the most damage to above ground pool winter covers. As the cover keeps flapping due the wind, the material is weakened. In high wind areas, it is a good idea to take extra precautions. There are a number of handy products to help minimize wind damage. Above ground pool wall bags are filled with water and lie on top of the cover around the inside perimeter of the pool. These bags have grommets so that you can secure them with the same cable used for your winter cover. Another option are pool cover clips which grip the top rail of the pool and hold the cover in place. You can also try winter cover seal, a tough, plastic-wrap type of material that you stretch around the pool.

Step 6

The other type of cover used on above ground pools is a solar cover, also known as a solar blanket. Unlike pool winter covers, solar blankets are not designed to protect the pool but to retain heat and limit evaporation. If you have an above ground pool heater or solar panels, a solar blanket is an especially wise investment. It will protect your above ground pool from heat loss overnight or any time the pool is not in use. This means your heater will run less, saving both money and energy. Installation is very simple since solar covers simply lay on the surface of the pool and are not attached to the pool frame or deck. You may need two people to put on and take off the cover, especially the larger sizes.

Step 7

Since some people find solar blankets a bit cumbersome, there are products designed to make moving them easier. Solar reels consist of a base with a hand crank and a tube that goes across the pool. For above ground pools, you would fasten the reel base to the top rail, attach the solar blanket to the tube with a strap kit and then use the crank to either roll or unroll the cover. Most above ground pool solar reels will pivot to swing out of the way when the pool is in use.

Step 8

Another option for removing solar covers is the Solar Saddle, a set of five J-shaped brackets that attach to the top rail of above ground pools. You would drill two holes per bracket in the top rail and secure them with nuts and bolts. Once installed, you can fold up your solar blanket and lift it over the pool wall to rest in the Solar Saddle.

Comments (1 to 40 of 45)

Add Comment

User: Inyopools

Meddtype - I would strongly recommend if you have a harsh winter (snow, freezing rain etc.) that you take the solar cover reel apart and store it indoors. If you have a mild winter, you should be able to keep it out doors.

User: Meddtype

Will a solar cover reel crack if left out for the winter. I don't have space inside to store it.

User: Inyopools

Alicia - Have you tried any of the hold down suggestions offered in step #5 of this guide? Here is a link to the Hold Down Accessories.

User: Alicia

We leave out in the country and most of the time it's always windy and the cover doesn't stay on,it keeps blowing of.

User: Inyopools

Jim C - I guess you could hang the reel and cover on the link fence with some large hooks. You might have to add a couple of fence posts where you are hooking it up to support the extra weight.

User: Jim c

Thinking about putting a solar cover on my above ground.Pool is surrounded by chain link fence.Wondering if I could usa the fence to store the reel and cover when not in use

User: Inyopools

MRS RAY – Sounds like a workable plan. I would recommend putting a lightweight cover over the solar cover – something like a “pool leaf cover”.



User: Inyopools

Jill - Yes, if you are in a freezing zone, we would recommend using a pool pillow to help protect above ground pool walls by absorbing the pressure caused by expanding and to decrease the build-up of rain, snow and leaves.

User: Inyopools

ablossum - I do not know of a cover designed to tie down inside the pool wall. You might try throwing a leaf net over the top of your cover and trying it down so that it keeps the cover from ballooning.  Another option is using a heavy shrink wrap to seal the edge of the outside cover.

User: jill

We will be ordeting the heavy shrink wrap from you for our 27 ft round pool and wondered if it would be a good idea to use a a pool pillow with it?

User: ablossum10

We have an 27' above ground pool. We live up on a hill and every year we have wind issues. We cover the pool with the correct sized cover with the cable but the wind gets under the cover and last year ripped it off the pool damaging some of the side rails. Is there such a cover that goes inside the pool and is somehow attached to the inside side rails so wind cannot get under it? We have tried the rail clips and the outside rail wrap and neither could handle the wind coming under.

User: Inyopools

AG Pool Cover - Sounds like a good plan. You might consider placing the gallon containers on the ground and roping to them from the grommets to control any over strain on the cover. Watch for any sharp corners and maybe pad the top of the uprights.


Covering my above ground pool I was told to partially fill gallon containers with water and hang from cover to hold it down. Is this a good idea?

User: Inyopools

Minnesota218 - I would recommend switching to a Solar Blanket during the summer It is designed to float on the top and will help heat up your pool in the summer.

User: Minnesota218

I try to cover my pool when not in use to keep bugs, leaves, ect out.... Trouble is the rain sinks my cover every time, rendering my attempts useless. Are covers not used in the summer? Are they just meant for winter? My cover is already separating at the seams, too. Our pool is brand new and only been up 2 weeks. This is a 16' intex frame circle pool. Does anyone leave their pool up all winter in snowy climates? Does anyone have suggestions for keeping leaves, bugs, ect out of the pool? Or do I just need to clean it every day?

User: canadian

I cannot get my 21 foot solar blanket to stay flat on the water, it keeps bunching up in half the pool so debris is getting in and heat is getting out. Help. Also, how do you fold a 21 foot solar blanket that's covered in water to get it into the solar saddle without getting debris in the pool?

User: Inyopools

murfurmc - Generally on a pool cover, the color side (Tan) is up, Black side is down.

User: murfusmc

What color of my Black and Tan pool cover is facing up and what color faces down when I put my winter pool cover on the pool?

User: InyoPools

Mike - What we have that may help you are air cover pillows. They can be placed under the cover to raise the cover off the water.

User: Mike

Hi, Is there such a cover that *does not* rest on top of the water of an above ground pool? I live in Vermont and would rather use a cover that does not capture rain, snow etc etc. Can you elevate a cover somehow?
Thanks!! Mike

User: InyoPools

suziek64 - Sorry but the covers we sell are not designed to work with above ground pool fences.

User: suziek64

we just put fencing around the top of our above ground pool, how do we put on a winter cover?

User: InyoPools

Donna - The cover reel we sell bolts onto the top plate. See comment to "tmeloche" below.

User: Donna

I bought a 18 ft above ground salt water pool and a pool cover reel, how do I attach the roller ends on the pool without drilling holes to mount it. Any help would be great. Thanks

User: Bobcat

I love my Solar Saddle

User: InyoPools

tmeloche - The one we sell bolts on also. See our product page for PN NS963, A/G Pool Solar Reel for 19'-24'- pools. Click on "Owner's Manual" under the picture and it will give you detailed instructions on how to install the reel.


Step 7 shows a solar reel mounting type of attachment. It appears to clamp around the upper ledge of the pool. Do you sell that type of attachment? I have a solar cover/reel that I want to mount to the ledge of my 24' pool. It came with cone type of attachments but those would require me to drill through the top ledge and use a bolt/butterfly screw to then attach this cone that the solar reel sits on. I'd like to avoid having to drill anything.

User: InyoPools

Brandyboots – We do not sell a folding solid cover for an 18’ pool. It would be too heavy. You might look at our heaviest pool cover, part # BT0018.

User: brandyboots

I have an 18ft dia. above ground pool and have had little success with traditional winter covers. Does anyone make a folding solid type cover like the ones they use for hot tubs?

User: InyoPools

It's hard to suggest a solution without seeing your pool, but assuming you are closing the pool up for the winter, you might put some temporary I-bolts on the deck to secure the cover to

User: Also a 1st time pool owner

We are planning on putting a new cover on our oval pool this weekend. The pool top edge and deck are budding up right next to each other in a few are we supposed to pull cover between that or what are our options??

User: InyoPools

I just talked to the manufacturer. They make a black solar cover that is more durable and can be left over winter. If your cover is the standard blue or white and your winters are cold enough to freeze the water, they recommend pulling the solar cover off to avoid any warrantee issues in the spring.


can a solar cover be left on under the winter cover?


I was hoping to find out how the cable is threaded through the grommets.

As you know, they are placed in pairs around the perimeter, and I'm not sure whether the cable would show on the outside of the grommets that are close together or on the outside of the grommets that are farther apart?

User: first_time_pool_owner

To the contributor of the post re: EZ stake, how did you mount the brackets on the top of the 4x4? The solar reel needs at least 6" x 6" top surface to mount the brackets. Any suggestions? Thanks!

User: first_time_pool_owner

Thanks for the brilliant suggestion re: EZ stake! I have a soft-sided pool and initially planned on buying a trestle or sawhorse to mount the reels but this is so much better! If you don't have a lot of space, this one saves space and it won't be hard to put it away if you no longer need it, unlike bulky alternatives such as a sawhorse. I put both stakes at one end of the pool. That is, 1 stake on each side. The manufacturer suggests driving the stake to the ground 28" deep but I just left it buried around 20" deep because that's all I could manage. At 4'11" 90 pounds, driving the stakes 28" all the way was an impossible task for me! Lol. At that depth, they seem firmly buried to the ground. I tried mounting the 2 lumber pieces onto the stake, and they held firmly. I have not installed the reels yet as I'm still waiting for the mounting brackets and the reel itself. But I will leave an update once everything's set up.


Yes, you can use solar cover reel with soft-sided pool. Install two 4x4 treated wood posts (use Simpson E-Z Stake, no digging or cement needed) at the end of the pool (not the middle, as usual). Mount the reel ends on the posts. Because its placed a little bit past the end of the pool, you don't need to pivot and swing away the reel; the solar cover rolls up away from the pool, not above it. People should do this even on solid wall above ground pools, it makes sense.

To the poster with an algae problem from a clear cover: it means its working, the sun rays are heating all the way through the pool, not just being absorbed by the blue blanket. Simply use more chlorine and keep it at 1ppm.

User: admin

You may view all different types of pool covers that come in many different sizes here

User: Vetpabst

I used blue solar covers and was very satisfide with them. Each lasted about 5 seasons. This year I was talked into getting a clesr solar cover. It did not seem to heat the pool up as well and I had algae growing for the first time. I think I will go back to the blue solar cover.

  1     2    

Back To Top

Please Note:

Inyo Pool Products is not responsible for any injury or damaged equipment
while using our guides. Using our guides is doing so at your own risk.
These guides are suggested use of your pool or spa equipment and may vary
depending on which product you are using.