Your hot tub's cover plays an essential role in keeping the heat in your hot tub and unwanted things out. Making an informed decision when buying a replacement hot tub cover can be the difference of hundreds of dollars down the road, whether it's fewer replacements or better efficiency. We're here to help you get the best value for your money and ensure your next hot tub cover is long-lasting and durable.
What you'll find in this guide is a breakdown of hot tub cover terminology and the most common considerations you'll need to make choosing a cover. By the end, you'll have the knowledge needed to make an informed decision on your next cover purchase.
Most hot tub covers are made of various types of vinyl, but it's important to know that not all vinyl has the same quality and protection against the elements. A couple of things to look for in a quality vinyl cover are UV protection and marine-grade material. Some vinyl covers also offer mildew inhibitors.
Other hot tub cover materials are usually some form of treated polyester fabric. These covers may offer several benefits over traditional vinyl covers, such as lighter weight and improved durability. Jacuzzi's ProLast™ Extreme covers are made from a proprietary all-weather fabric that also offers enhanced UV and water resistance.
Whether you choose a vinyl or outdoor fabric, both can get the job done when purchasing from a reputable source.
Heat Insulation: Taper and Foam Density
Similar to the roof of a house, most hot tub covers are designed with a slope at the center fold to allow for rain runoff and prevent water pooling. A cover with a 5" -3" taper has a thickness of 5" at the center fold and 3" at the edges.
Here's an illustration of a tapered cover:
Not only does a thicker cover improve heat retention (saving you heating costs), it helps your cover withstand cold climates and snow.
What taper do I need?
If you live in Canada, we recommend a taper of at least 5" -3". Not only will this provide great heat insulation, but you'll also be ready to deal with the snow. We also recommend a taper at least this thick (as well as a 2.0lb foam upgrade - see below) if you have children or a pet that may end up on the cover.
If your cover is under a deck or Gazebo, you can probably get away with a 4" -3" taper. However, you'll still benefit from the long-term cost savings of a thicker taper, and we'll almost always recommend opting for 5" -3".
Most standard Vinyl covers have a 1.5lb foam density. Upgraded and premium covers like the Jacuzzi® ProLast™ Extreme series have a foam density of 2lbs. But what exactly does this extra ½ pound of density do? The short answer is better heat retention.
When looking at different hot tub covers, you may have encountered the term R-value. Simply put, the R-value is a way of measuring insulation effectiveness. It's primarily determined by the type of foam, its density, and its thickness. This term comes from construction and is rarely accurate when it comes to hot tub covers, but its principles are essential to know.
The main thing to remember is the thicker and denser your cover, the better the heat insulation it provides. One thing to keep in mind though is the denser and thicker your cover, the heavier it is. With a cover lifter, this shouldn't be an issue, but without one, you may want to consider opting for 1.5lb foam, as we always recommend going with a 5" -3" + taper.
If we're going to recommend any upgrade you get on a cover, it's a 6mil vapour barrier. A vapour barrier is a material (typically a plastic wrap) that protects against water absorption. Over a hot tub covers lifetime, condensation and exposure to chemical vapours can wear down its foam core - a vapour barrier helps protect against this and extend a covers life.
Although vapour barriers begin at a 2mil thickness, you will dramatically improve your cover's life span when opting for 6mil.
The skirt of a hot tub cover is the flap that hangs from the bottom of the cover. Besides the cosmetic look of the cover, the skirt protects the finish of your hot tub and prevents the wind from moving or opening your cover. Most hot tub covers have a 3-4" skirt, but it's important to measure yours before ordering, as a skirt that's too long can cause issues with the cover fit.
Other important considerations
Double-check your measurements
We can't stress this one enough - if you're ordering a custom cover and need to input dimensions, make sure you take the right steps to ensure accurate measurements. The most important ones are length, width, and corner radius (if your hot tub has rounded corners).
Check out our guide on how to measure your hot tub cover
If you own a Jacuzzi® or Sundance hot tub and are considering either a ProLast™ Extreme or SunStrong™ Extreme cover, you'll only need to know your model and year. If you purchased your hot tub with us, feel free to contact our customer care team for this information.
The cost of a new cover can vary greatly. Custom Vinyl covers typically range from $400 to $650, and premium brand-manufactured covers, like the Jacuzzi® ProLast™ Extreme series, from $995 to $1295. If you're looking for the most affordable option, a high-quality vinyl cover would be a good choice. If you own a newer Jacuzzi or Sundance spa and are looking for the best, consider a ProLast™ Extreme or SunStrong™ Extreme cover.
If price isn't much of a consideration and you're interested in the newest innovations in cover, check out the Smartop by Leisure Concepts
A cover cap adds an extra layer of protection for your hot tub cover. Although a quality hot tub cover can withstand the harshest of climates, a cover cap can help keep your cover looking new and prolong its life by offering additional external protection against the elements and damage like scratches.
We especially recommend a cover cap if you like to close down your hot tub for a season - It's relatively inexpensive, easy to apply and low maintenance.
When is it time to replace your cover?
Has your cover become much heavier? Have you noticed water pooling in the center? These are the biggest signs your cover is waterlogged, and it's time to replace your cover. A waterlogged cover has no heat insulation and actually has the opposite effect of what's intended - similar to wearing wet clothing in the cold - and will only make things worse.
Finding a replacement cover fast can often be challenging. Most covers are made to order and will take several weeks and sometimes months to receive. Although the best solution is to order a cover before your current one is too deteriorated, it's not always clear when that time is. If you need a cover quickly, check out our list of In-Stock covers to see if there's a good fit.
A well-fitting cover is an important part of keeping the heat in your hot tub. Although you may see some covers as low as $400, it's better to go through a reputable source and invest in a few basic upgrades, as you'll almost always save much more in the long run (fewer replacements and lower heating costs).
Here's a checklist of what you'll need when ordering a cover:
- Hot tub brand and model
- Measurements (or hot tub year if measurements are not required)
- Corner radius (if your hot tub has rounded corners)
- Is your hot tub in a cold environment? (Opt for 5” -3” + taper)
- Is a 6mil vapour barrier offered? (Highly recommended to improve cover lifespan)