The 3 Cover Types for Above Ground Pools

Wanting to know about above ground pool covers? Well, there are three basic different types to choose from. Most of them are fairly inexpensive so if you have more money than time and don’t want to read about them, then get all three. If not, read on. I’ll tell you about all three so you can make an informed choice. I’ve got you covered (yea, that is a pun.)

Solid Covers for Above Ground Pools (Also Known as Winter Covers)

The solid pool cover is by far the most common cover out there. They are the most versatile and are used to winterize pools. Solid covers are given this name, because they are made out of waterproof material. Solid pool covers are bigger than your above ground pool’s dimensions to ensure you can cover the entire pool and have plenty of overlap which will cover the top seats and the outside of the pool. Most come with a cable that loop through the eyelets that are found along the edge. A winch is used to tighten the cable to secure the cover to the outside of the pool wall. This will discourage small animals from getting in the pool and high winds from blowing off the cover. Now before you say, “That’s the one I need,” this type of cover has one negative.

Taking off a Solid Pool Cover Can Suck

OK, so solid covers are great because they don’t let anything get through. However, that means every little twig or leaf or empty beer can from Uncle Jimmy will collect on top of that solid pool cover. Also, every time it rains the rainwater will collect on top of the cover. Water is heavy so when it’s time to take the cover off to go swimming, it can be a pain.  Now if you live in an are5314008_f260a like San Diego where there’s not much rainfall, you do not have trees in your yard, and you do not have drunk relatives, a solid pool cover is cool. You’ll be able to remove your solid cover easily, because not much would have collected on top of it.

For those not living in San Diego and who maybe have some trees, a solid pool cover may not be the best choice. For you in heavy rainfall areas, look into getting a good Cover Pump to remove standing water.

Consider Getting a Mesh Cover – You May Use It More

Most people here in Florida (that’s where I live) will use their solid pool cover only once or twice and then retire the unsightly blob that is not foldable to their shed or under their pool deck never to be used again. Why? Because it can suck that much to remove a solid pool cover. Now if you winterize, have a solid cover for that. But, if you get a lot of natural debris falling in your pool and it rains a lot where you live, consider using a mesh cover instead.

Mesh covers are more like nets that cover your pool’s surface. Just like solid covers, they are also bigger than the pool’s dimensions and have drawstrings to secure it in the same way. The big difference is that the mesh material is not impervious to rainwater and really traps only larger debris like leaves and sticks and beer cans. If you have a lot of trees, you’ll find yourself using it more than the solid one you first bought. The reason is that it is WAY EASIER to remove and cover the pool again. And it works pretty good in keeping the pool clear of all those falling leaves. So, if you actually want to use something that you buy, consider a mesh cover for your pool.

Solar Covers Will in No Way Heat the Pool’s Water

Yea, I know the above statement is a little off-topic, but everyone (including those of you blog post skimmers who only read the headlines) has to read this. I cannot tell you how many people over the years have told me that they expected their solar pool cover to have heated the pool’s water. So to be clear, there is only one reason to get a solar cover for your above ground swimming pool and that’s to help retain whatever heat that is already in the water. Usually you would only have a solar cover if your pool has some type of pool heater attached. The water gets heated by said heater and then you place a solar cover on the body of water to retain the heat. There are some who use a solar cover later in the day to keep the temperature of the pool’s water that was warmed by the day’s sun so that they can use the pool later that evening. That is really only beneficial in areas where there is an extreme change in the temperature from day to night.

Clear Solar Cover

If you do have a heater then you absolutely need a solar cover. Most of the heat in a swimming pool gets lost through the surface so a solar blanket is a must. Solar covers don’t need to be secured like the solid and mesh covers, so they are much easier to manage.

In general when it comes to above ground pool covers, it is best to get at least a mid-range one. Many above ground pools get sold as a package and the retailers will add a very low-end cover to the deal. Because of this there are many really cheap pool covers out there and they don’t last very long, that is if they get used at all. Of the three types of covers, it’s more important to get a better solid cover as it takes more abuse and is used for winterizing. Some will say buying a better quality solar cover will work better to keep your pool’s water warm. That’s probably not true, but a better solar cover will last longer as the cheaper ones will become brittle and decompose sooner.

Lastly, a pool cover is like a pasta machine or an ab roller. It is one of those things that people think they are going to use more than they actually do. So, if you don’t get one with your pool package, don’t let it bother you. You’ll probably only use it twice anyway.

If you have any questions on your above ground pool then we would be happy to help, feel free to give us a call at 1-877-372-6038 or email us at If you liked this article then make sure to sign up for Blog and get our Free 128 Page Pool Care Guide.

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37 thoughts on “The 3 Cover Types for Above Ground Pools

  1. I have a question. I own a 10 foot round above- ground pool. I live in a windy area and I already have a solid cover that wraps around the edges for keeping debris out but I would also like to purchase a solar cover. If I keep the solar cover underneath the solid cover when the pool is not in use, will the solar cover work as it is supposed to or does it require direct sunlight? It seems like it should be fine because I would think the direct heat gain on the solid cover would transfer to the solar cover directly below it. Can anyone please confirm whether or not my assumption is correct?

    I’m looking to buy the Solar Pool Cover (15 mil thick).


    1. Solar covers are an insulated sheets that allow sunlight to heat the pool; without sunlight, the cover will not provide much heat. In addition, the cover’s insulating properties will mean there isn’t a transfer of heat due to contact with the solid cover. As a result, the solar cover may keep the water cooler than it would if it directly contacted the solid cover.

  2. Would it not be theoretically possible to have a solid/rigid cover for an above-ground, steel-framed pool? The construction could consist of some durable but very lightweight material (e.g. the foamy stuff that children’s swimming training floats are made from) encased within a tarpaulin-type cover, with eyelets around the edge so that bungees or similar could be used to secure it to the pool to prevent it getting blown off the pool in high winds. The contained foam boards could even be shaped so that the top side is slightly pitched so that rainwater would run off the edges rather than laying on top of the cover and weighing it down. Yes, the cover would be very large once constructed (for, say, a 3m x 2m pool) but the overall weight wouldn’t be exceptionally heavy, and could just be slid off the pool to allow access, and leant up against the house wall, or something. If the foam boards were removable (maybe contained with press studs or zips) then winter storage in a garden shed/garage wouldn’t be a problem. This seems like such a common-sense, fairly inexpensive solution to nearly all the problems faced by people using current pool cover solutions. The cover would weigh enough and be strong enough (once secured in place) to withstand everyday winds, curious cats jumping on it overnight, autumn leaves, etc.

    Please, someone, turn this design idea into an actual, working product! 🙂

  3. Which pool covers are the best for hot dry areas where the largest issue is evaporation? We don’t need to winterize (SoCal) and don’t have a huge tree/debris problem, but during the summer it is in the 90s every day (not including heat waves) and we’re losing a ton of water!

  4. Thanks, I found this information about the 3 types of pool covers quite helpful. I’m looking for something to keep debris out of our small above group pool.

    1. Thanks! it would depend on the type of debris. If the debris is large leaves, then I would go with the leaf net. if you have pine nuts or seed husks, a winter cover would be the best. But those options are only useful during the offseason. During the pool season, you would do best to have an automatic cleaner or be more vigilant with manual vacuuming.

    2. If someone were to make a hard cover (lid) for a round above ground pool… One similar to a hot tub cover, hinged or accordian style, what material could you use? Either the pool comes down or I make this happen. I am so done with the covers that are out there.

  5. I struggle with my 24 foot Round every year. I have had the top of the line pool covers for 20 years. Every year a barrel full of leaves and debris end up in my pool while I am trying to get the cover off. I have a great solution that I know I will be able to patent.

    1. use a smaller sump pump that can just suck most of the water off and then it will be WAY easier to take it off

  6. I have a 18×33 above ground pool. I have trouble with flying ants invading it. They are horrible this year. I’ve treated around the edge of the pool and that helped some. But we had some rain and now they are back with a vengeance. It’s seems the come during the night. Is there a small light weight netting type cover I could use to quickly and easily cover my pool when it’s not in use?

    1. Get some real Peppermint oil, mix with water in a spray bottle and spray around the pool. That will help. Ants can get under the pool and put pin holes in the liner if you do not have a matt under the liner. The oil good for spiders and mice to, just saying!

  7. I disagree with your comments on the solar cover. I use mine every day on my 16ft round pool. I the afternoon on a sunny day there is a 4 or 5 inch layer of very warm water. That layer is not hot water that was already in the pool.

    1. Is putting the solar cover on every day difficult to do? We want to get an above ground pool and have lots of trees in our backyard. We are worried about leaves, debris and trying to keep heat in.

      1. I have a 24′ round pool. It is not difficult. I mainly keep it on to help keep the water from evaporating and the chemicals last longer as it helps keep bugs and debris. I or one of the kids, whoever gets in first will take and push the cover to the opposite side and kind of put over the rail just a bit, then when done, just pull back into place. Or from the outside, one person on one side and one on the other until covered. I have done by myself, not hard just takes a bit longer. I am going to order the cover reel soon though. Cover worth it!!

  8. I have a cover for the above ground pool which is like a canvas is it OK to put floats up under the canvas to keep it from holding water when it rains and the floats will lift it up higher is that possible

  9. have you ever seen an elastic edged above ground pool cover? I want one I can throw over the pool when winds blowing leaves and dust so I dont have so much clean up. My solar cover allows dirt and leaves around the edges.

  10. Solar covers definitely heat the water. I covered my above ground pool for 3 days the temperature went from 85 degrees to 110 degrees. All I wanted to do was keep the bugs out.

  11. I’m​ happy to see the information you gave.
    Thank you very much.
    With that said, I live in Illinois just south of Chicago I like the idea of a mesh cover I have huge trees around my above ground pool and have a nightmare opening every year. My solid cover tears from the weight of water and leaves.
    I’ve tried everything, will the mesh handle the snowfall or should I put an inner tube in the middle to keep stability.
    Let me know thanks

    1. I don’t know have experience with covers in a snowy freezing winter as I have lived in Central Florida for my whole working life. I do know that there are different qualities of covers so you can try a higher end solid cover next winter or a cheaper mesh one to see if it will fit your needs.

    2. I live in northeast Ohio and the solid cover is great. Just make sure you get one that is big enough that it lines flat up against the inside walls down to the water line & has at least an 8yr warranty. I siphon the rain/snow water off of mine with a hose a couple times between closing & opening. I use a blow up sled riding tube in the center because they are more durable than the ones you buy for winterizing. I use the wire & winch plus jugs filled with water 3/4 full to hold it on.

      1. Sherry, that is basically what we do with the exception we do puta leaf cover on top of our wi ter cover. Makes life much easier when time to open our pool. With Oklahoma winds we get quite a few of our neighbors leaves on our cover; the leaf cover makes uncovering pool much easier for us.

      2. Do you use a snow tube under your cover? do you just place it there and then put the cover on – or do you somehow tie it to the side of the pool? I’m having trouble keeping my pool pillow in place as the corners where you tie the line to break off with the weight of the rain on the cover. UGH. Thanks.

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