How To Select Above Ground Pool Covers


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Choosing the right cover type for your above ground pool can be a little confusing. The four types of an above ground pool cover are the solid winter, mesh winter, leaf, and solar covers. This guide will discuss the different types of cover and what type of application for which they are best used.

Things You'll Need

Step by Step


Step 1

Before we start, if you have any questions about sizing your above ground cover, refer to the below guide links.

Step 2

Solid Winter Cover

  • Protects pool water from water, dirt, and sunlight
  • More straightforward spring start-up procedure than a mesh cover
  • The cover’s lightweight material makes for easy handling and installation
  • Inexpensive

  • It needs maintaining while it is installed
  • Cannot drain standing water, requires a cover pump
  • Durability

The solid winter is the most common type of cover you’ll see on above-ground pools. The winter cover package includes the oval or round cover, with reinforced grommets ringing its edge, a coated steel winch cable, and a manual wench. The cable is threaded through the grommets and tightened to the top of your pool like a

If you experience a mild winter without much rain or snowfall, the winter cover is your best choice for winterization. The winter cover can be used in moderate winter climates, but you need to inspect it after heavy weather to ensure it’s still in place.

Step 3

Mesh Winter Cover

  • Provides partial protection from sunlight and Debris
  • Does not require a cover pump

  • Winterizing may require more chemicals than with a solid cover
  • Spring start-up will require more clean up

Mesh winter covers are the main alternative to solid models. This cover’s looser weave allows water to drain through the cover. These covers would be ideal for pools in areas that experience heavy rain or snowmelt. Its ability to drain removes the need for the cover pump. But I would still check on it after heavy weather as they can suffer from the exact shifting as the solid covers. The mesh and solid covers use the same winch and cable mechanism to secure it to your pool.

The cover’s mesh material being its key feature also plays a part in its drawbacks; the mesh allows water runoff, tiny particles of dirt, and sunlight through. These elements combined in a stagnant pool make spring start-up more labor-intensive. In addition, the pool water will become naturally dirtier, and with the sunlight, the possibility of algae bloom is high.

The choice between the solid and the mesh comes down to when you want to do more maintenance, during the winter or only at start-up and closing?

Step 4

Leaf Net

  • Lengthens the life of your winter cover (mesh or solid)
  • Lightweight, easy to installation
  • Unwieldy when packed with wet leaves.

A leaf net is used with either a mesh or solid cover, its primary purpose being to catch autumn debris like leaves, pine needles, and the like, then it is removed. A leaf net is an excellent addition to your typical cover because it allows you to remove molting debris from the cover, which could degrade your winter cover.

A leaf net is suitable for most applications because you will be dealing with some fallen foliage in most areas of the country. The main downside is having to deal with 50 pounds of dead leaves. But it is better to deal with them in the net than leaving them to decay on your cover.

Step 5

Solar Blanket

  • helps maintain desirable water temps.
  • Questionable durability
Solar blankets, also known as solar covers, are the only Covers used mainly during swim season. These blankets resemble a beefed-up version of the plastic bubble wrap found in shipping packages. The cover floats on your pool surface, acting as an insulator to maintain a desirable pool temperature. A solar blanket is most advantageous when used in tandem with a pool heater or heat pump, trapping in the heat that would typically dissipate the water’s surface. Preventing this heat loss allows you to run the heater and pool pump less often to keep your desired temperature.

The only downside of pool solar blankets is their inherent fragility. Although their design is based on a heavy-duty version of bubble wrap, if not handled with care, air bubbles can pop, or the cover can rip.


(1 to 4 of 4)

 Posted: 7/22/2014 

I like your informative information.

 Posted: 6/3/2012 

Great information. Thank you

 Posted: 12/19/2011 

Thanks for the Pool Cover information.

Anonymous  Posted: 9/16/2009 

if i buy a winter mesh cover will the water turn green over the winter ?