Spa Covers: A Buyer’s Guide

spa top or spa coverA quality, properly fitting spa top is a critical piece of equipment for spa owners. Spa Covers (also known as hot tub caps or spa tops) retain the heated and treated spa water, helping to control your energy costs and also keep debris out of the spa, which saves money on chemicals and reducing cleaning time.

Most companies, including In The Swim, sell custom made spa covers. Don’t let the word “custom” strike terror in your heart – you just need to provide a few simple measurements, choose a few options, pick a color and in about 3 weeks you’ll receive your new spa cover!

Compare Spa Top Thickness:
Spa tops come in various thicknesses and foam densities. The higher the foam density and the thicker the cover, the more heat it will help you to retain in the spa. The foam used on your spa top has a particular R-value, the standard used for comparing insulation.

The downside to a thicker, denser cover is that they will be a bit heavier and a bit more expensive. The upside is increased heat retention and strength. Outdoor spa covers will have a taper to allow for rainwater run-off. For example, a 4” to 2” taper cover is 4 inches thick in the center of the cover, tapering down to 2 inches thick along the edges. Indoor spa covers can also be tapered, or for maximum efficiency, can be 4″ thick all the way across.

Compare Spa Top Options:
Once you’ve chosen the thickness of spa cover you’d like, you can move on to the options available to you. If you have a freestanding spa or hot tub, you should have a skirt on your spa cover. A skirt is simply additional vinyl material that hangs down off the cover to reduce heat loss where the cover meets the outside edge of the spa.

If you still have your old cover, measure the skirt to determine what it should be on the replacement cover. If you do not have the old cover, a 2 inch skirt is fairly standard, but there is usually no additional charge for skirt lengths up to 4 inches. You may consider having the corners of the skirt split instead of running in one continuous piece around the spa cover edge. This helps to ensure the skirt hangs nicely and does not bunch up around the corners of the spa cover. It should be noted though that while a split skirt looks nicer in some cases, it may allow some heat to escape.

The location of the hinge, running across the middle – can also be specified if you like. If not specified, our fabricator will place it in the middle of the longest side. Large spa covers, over 96″ are generally a 3 piece spa top; one single piece and a double folding piece.

You can also choose the number of handles you would like. 2 handles generally come standard with a cover, but you may want more, or perhaps you don’t need any at all depending on the shape and location of your cover.

Most spa owners want the ability to lock the spa top down to the spa cabinet. Usually 4 locks will be included with the cover along with 4 fasteners attached to the cover. You will install the locks onto the spa cabinet so you can clip the fasteners on the cover into the locks so it is secured in place. In ground spa tops do not generally have such clips to secure them in place.

Taking Spa Cover Measurements:
The measurements you need to provide will vary based on the shape of your spa, but when measuring, take the dimensions of the spa from outside edge to outside edge.

If you have an in-ground spa (such as the one pictured below), and the spa cover will be lying on the ground, be sure to note that for the manufacturer.  The spa cover needs to be large enough to lie on the coping around the spa without falling in. Generally this means the cover will need to be about a foot larger than the spa itself. The best thing to do would be to provide the inside dimensions of the spa and allow the manufacturer to determine the necessary overlap.

To determine the specific measurements required for your spa, please see our spa cover measuring form. Always be sure to note if you have any obstructions or a control panel that you would like to access while the cover is on the spa.  A cut out in the foam may be required for the proper fit.

looks like this in ground spa needs a spa top!Spa Top Care & Maintenance:
Once you receive your spa cover, care for it properly to ensure the longest life possible.   Leave the cover off for at least 15 minutes after adding chemicals so that the chemical vapor can evaporate into the air instead of in to the underside of the spa cover.

Remember to remove your spa cover completely when you use the spa, and place it in a clean and dry location. Spa tops that hang partially into the spa water, or are left to sit in a mud puddle for too many nights will take on water, or may risk breaking of the foam plates inside.

You can also protect the vinyl covering from dirt and UV rays and keep it looking nice and shiny by using a spa cover conditioner. Never use harsh chemicals on your spa top to clean, but use a mild cleanser monthly before using a vinyl protectant. Automotive products for cleaning and protecting interior finishes could also be used on your spa top to keep it looking new.

Using a floating spa blanket underneath your spa top can help reduce the moisture beneath your spa top, and can help retain more heat in your spa on the coldest of winter days.

Spa tops are sturdy, but could break when climbed on by large children or large pets, or when covered with several feet of snow.

I’ve discussed some of your basic options and measuring tips, but be sure to specify your needs if I haven’t touched on them here; odds are your request can be accommodated.  Any size, any color, any shape – we gotcha covered.

Jackie Wolski
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *