Hot Tub Covers 101: A Beginner’s Guide

So you’ve got a hot tub or are thinking about one, but what about covers? A quality hot tub cover is an important accessory you don’t want to overlook that can not only help save you money in energy costs but also protect your investment for years to come.

In this post, you’ll learn the basics of what to look for in a hot tub cover, why you should get one, and how to make removing your cover an easy process.

What is the purpose of a hot tub cover?

hot tub cover

There are many purposes a hot tub cover serves. The purpose most covers serve is to insulate your hot tub when not in use, making it more energy-efficient to keep your hot tub at a certain temperature.

As I discuss in this post Hot Tub Temperature Settings 101, it’s much more energy efficient to maintain a higher temperature as opposed to turning a hot tub down after use.

For example, instead of raising temperatures from 90° Fahrenheit to a comfortable 102°, a hot tub cover can help keep temperatures closer to 100° when not in use.

Hot tub covers and safety

Another key purpose hot tub covers serve is to protect the safety of children and animals who could otherwise access the hot tub if not covered.

Many hot tubs also have a spa cover lock or some kind of locking mechanism for safety, as well as straps to secure them.

When shopping for hot tub covers you’ll want to be sure to get one that is ASTM (American Society of Testing and Materials) safety approved.

Keeping water clean

Last but not least, hot tub covers obviously help keep your water clean by keeping things out.

Sticks, leaves, pollen, and just about anything else can clog your hot tub’s filters, as well as accelerate the growth of algae from plants and debris.

Does a hot tub need to be covered?

Depending on where you live, you’ll need to have an approved barrier around your hot tub. Depending on the municipality or HOA (for example), this could be a fence or a cover that meets certain ASTM requirements.

At the end of the day, it simply doesn’t make sense not to have a cover for your spa. While you don’t have to purchase a top-of-the-line model, an entry-level cover shouldn’t set you back more than a couple of hundred dollars.

What type of hot tub cover is best?

polyester hot tub cover

When it comes to selecting a type of cover, this is again a matter of budget and personal preference. Generally, your standard hardcover is going to be the best option when it comes to durability and insulation.

  • Soft covers are the least expensive and are made of polyester canvas. These are the most lightweight and can be stretched over your hot tub and fastened with straps. Most are waterproof, yet their thermal properties are limited so they are not ideal for energy efficiency.
  • Hardcovers are the most common hot tub covers. They have a dense foam board between the vinyl layers. These can be awkward for one person to open due to the bi-folding structure, which is why most people install cover lifters with these. They are also very energy efficient.
  • Aluminum covers consist of a styrofoam core between two aluminum panels. These covers are light and don’t absorb water but they are not the most effective at keeping the heat in your hot tub.

What materials are hot tub covers made from?

Hot tub covers can be made commonly from vinyl or polyester. Conventional vinyl is considered lower quality, and the use of high-grade polyester canvas is on the rise due to its durability and resistance to the elements.

Despite what you may think, hot tub covers aren’t made of leather, but marine-grade vinyl that is much more resistant to the elements.

What are hot tub straps for?

hot tub with straps

The straps included with hot tub covers aren’t just a gimmick but actually do serve a few main purposes, including:

  1. Holding a hot tub cover in place for safety so that children can’t remove a cover while unsupervised
  2. Securing a hot tub cover firmly in place to provide a better seal and increase energy efficiency
  3. Preventing high winds from blowing the cover off (unless extreme conditions are present)

How do you know your cover is ready to be replaced?

Hot tub covers are exposed to UV rays and elements. It’s not uncommon to begin to develop a tear or two in the vinyl, which can be problematic since foam can become waterlogged over time.

Due to heavy snow, some covers may also sag or fit poorly over time.

Protective skirts can also get folded or torn, preventing a tight fit and reducing your cover’s ability to keep your spa hot. Once the foam is exposed, it’s probably a good time to get another cover.

What makes a good quality hot tub cover?

When it comes to covers, a good marine-grade vinyl cover is a good start, but you’ll also want to pay attention to some important attributes of your cover, including:

  • Mold and mildew resistance
  • UV protection
  • Foam thickness
  • Warranty

Hot tub covers should be at least 2 to 4 inches thick with higher quality covers being up to 6 inches thick.

High-quality covers aren’t just made of great materials but also provide a great fit, so make sure you select the right size for your spa.

Why a hot tub cover lifter is a good idea

An essential accessory after getting a hot tub cover is to get what’s called a hot tub lifter.

These devices make it so much easier to open and store your cover when in use, and can help reduce wear and tear by keeping it off the ground.

I recently wrote a post Hot Tub Cover Lifters 101 that you may want to check out if you’re unfamiliar with what options are out there.

Where to buy a factory replacement hot tub cover

Most hot tubs you purchase with a dealer will come with a factory cover. For example, all Hot Spring Spas come with a cover as do many other brands.

However, if purchasing a used hot tub, model-specific hot tub covers may be unavailable.

I recommend Florida Spa Covers out of all the options out there because they sell replacement covers and customizable hot tub covers on their website starting at around $300. This company also manufactures these covers in the USA, and offers exceptional customer support if you have questions.

If you’re looking for a high-quality cover with live agents who can help you along the way, this is the place.

The Cover Guy Store on Amazon is another good source if you’re looking for a spare cover, cover lifter, or accessories.


Now that you’re more educated on hot tub covers, be sure to check the specifications of your hot tub to find a cover that fits, and opt for quality over something temporary if you can afford it.

You absolutely do need a hot tub cover, especially if you leave your hot tub outside…exposed to animals, leaves, and everything else. Hot tub covers are also essential to reducing your energy bills.

How long do hot tub covers last?

Expect a hot tub cover to last anywhere from 4 to 7 years under normal conditions. A well-protected hot tub cover that stays out of the sun’s UV rays will last longer than one left outside and in a dry climate, exposed to the elements.

If you’re in the market for a new hot tub, try our Hot Tub Recommender tool to find one that fits your budget and preferences.

Already have a hot tub? Here are a few of my favorite hot tub canopy options for any budget if you’re looking to protect your investment. Good luck and have fun with your project!

Leave a Comment