Hot Tub Covers: The Ultimate 2024 Guide

Posted by Alex Clamp in Buying on 22nd February 2023

Your hot tub loses around 60% of its heat through its water surface.

So, it certainly pays to pick up a top-quality hot tub cover.

Here’s everything essential you need to look out for when you’re purchasing a new cover or trying to gauge how good the one a spa you have your eye on comes with as standard is.

hot tub covers
© Caldera Spas

Get your FREE WhatSpa? magazine

Picking the perfect hot tub cover

When you’re looking for a cover for your spa, be sure to pay attention to:

The Insulation

Look out for a spa cover that’s filled with high-density, heat-sealed polyurethane foam, as these trap in the heat as effectively as possible and help to keep your hot tub’s running costs down.

Here’s a bit of insider information: An easy way to test whether a hot tub is filled with quality insulation is to place your hand on the top of it. If it’s room temperature, that means it’s trapping heat as efficiently as possible.

The Heat Seal

All quality spa lids have a rubber seal that creates an airtight seal, which traps heat in. You’d be well advised to avoid any hot tub covers that don’t have a vacuum seal, as this simple feature makes it a lot more energy efficient.

The Vinyl

hot tub cover vinyl
Photo © Stock

Your hot tub cover is going to encounter its fair share of water and steam. The best models are made from marine-grade vinyl, that’s been treated against mildew. This will help to prevent your cover from getting waterlogged or mouldy.

The Tapering

The best covers are thicker in the middle and have tapered edges so rain and snow run straight off them. Water will stagnate on flat hot tub covers, which can cause you serious problems down the line.

© Outdoor Heaven

The Safety Locks

Always go for a hot tub cover with safety locks that secure it in place. This will not only keep it from coming off in the wind but also prevent young children from being able to get in unsupervised.

The Handles

Hot tub covers are heavy, and you’re going to be pulling yours around by the handles. Go for a model with reinforced straps to make sure your cover doesn’t have to be prematurely replaced because its handle snapped.

The Cover Lifter

Photo © WhatSpa?

Unless you fancy a wrestling match every time you want to get in or out of your spa, you’re going to want to invest in a cover lifter for your hot tub.

No more awkwardly pulling your cover off and finding somewhere to stuff it while you soak. Simply fold the cover in half, then fold up the lifter’s arm to completely remove your spa’s cover where it is stowed neatly upright behind the spa.

© Outdoor Heaven

The Skirting

Some hot tub covers feature a vinyl skirt that offers an extra layer of insulation, stops dirt, dust, and contaminants from getting into your tub, and hides the rubber seal.

If you want to hear what landscaping experts say about hot tub covers, be sure to check out our latest ‘Meet the Expert’ video where Duncan Ross talks about the latest cover trends!

When should you replace your hot tub’s cover?

Your spa’s cover often needs replacing before your hot tub has reached the end of its life.

You should always replace your hot tub’s cover if:

The seal gets broken

Heat is going to stream out of any break in your cover’s airtight seal, costing you a pretty penny in the process. If you spot a break in your spa cover’s seal you should replace it straight away.  

It gets waterlogged

If water gets into your cover’s foam, it will become heavy and awkward to move, prone to mildew, and less energy efficient. A telltale sign a cover is waterlogged is that it’s sagging in the middle, which is due to the excess weight of all the water it’s carrying. If your spa’s lid is sagging, then it’s time for a new one.  

The vinyl is cracking

If the vinyl on the underside of your spa’s lid is starting to crack, it’s only a matter of time until it becomes waterlogged. Bits that crack off into your tub are also going to affect its chemistry and clog up its filters. Time for a new one when you start to spot cracks.

Get your FREE WhatSpa? magazine

How to clean and protect your hot tub cover

To ensure it lasts as long as possible, you’ll need to clean your hot tub’s cover as part of your regular hot tub care routine.

Luckily, they don’t require too much TLC. Every quarter simply wash it with warm soapy water and leave it to dry.

It’s also a very good idea to pick up some 303 Aerospace Protectant. This handy hot tub accessory was developed for the aerospace and aviation industry and keeps vinyl in ship shape, making it ideal for hot tub covers that spend their days exposed to the elements.

Give your hot tub cover a spray with this nifty product every few months and it will chemically bond the vinyl, blocking the UV rays that will fade and crack it if it’s left untreated.

Erecting hot tub housing around your spa will also protect its cover from the weather, making sure it lasts longer. Plus, it will allow you to enjoy your home spa in the wind, rain, and snow. 

Can you use your hot tub in winter?

Can you use your hot tub in winter?
Photo © Caldera Spas

Yes, you can absolutely use your hot tub in winter. While hot tubs go hand in hand with barbecues and garden parties, there’s something special about soaking in a spa in the winter months – especially if a crisp layer of snow is covering the ground.

If you’re prone to overheating you might even prefer using your hot tub in cooler weather. Just be aware your spa will cost a bit more to run – although a quality hot tub cover will certainly help with that.

It’s well worth investing in a few accessories to keep your cover locked in place and reduce heat loss as much as possible during the colder months:

  • Sturdy hot tub straps will make absolutely sure your hot tub’s cover isn’t going to come off, no matter what the weather throws at it.
  • A quality cover cap – which is essentially a cover for your cover – will add an extra layer of insulation, and is likely to offer the best protection from damage such as frequent freezing, thawing, or any falling branches.
  • A thermal spa blanket is an insulated sheet that floats on your hot tub’s surface and helps trap the heat in. Placing one on your hot tub’s water in winter will give it a helping hand in getting up to temperature when the ambient temperature has dropped.
© Vortex Spas

Get your FREE WhatSpa? magazine

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the average lifespan of a hot tub cover?

The lifespan of a hot tub cover will range between three to five years depending on the type of material used, how often it is used and how well it is maintained. The heavier-duty covers tend to last longer than lighter-duty covers due to their sturdiness and resistance to the elements, however, this type may be more expensive initially. 

Are hot tub thermal covers any good?

hot tub thermal cover
Photo © WhatSpa?

Thermal covers have an added layer of insulation, allowing the heat from your hot tub to be retained better than without one. This translates into substantial savings in electricity bills over time and will allow you to use your spa for longer periods without worrying about increasing costs.

In addition to being cost-effective, these covers are also durable and easy to handle due to their lighter weight when compared to traditional hot tub covers.

How much does it cost to replace a hot tub cover?

The cost of replacement hot tub covers is typically determined by the size, material, and style of the cover. Typically, the cost for a replacement cover in the current market ranges from £300 – £3000 depending on the above factors. While it may seem costly, this investment can be a great way to ensure your hot tub stays clean and well-insulated. 

Can you leave your hot tub uncovered?

Leaving your hot tub uncovered is inadvisable, as it exposes the surface of the spa to the environment. The surface is vulnerable to becoming dirty and can become stained by leaves or debris, making it much more difficult to clean.

Without protection from a cover or lid, the hot tub can be a breeding ground for bacteria and germs, causing any potential illnesses upon entering. Additionally, should you leave your hot tub uncovered during colder months, water can freeze inside the inner surfaces which can crack pipes and damage components.

It is best practice to always keep your spa covered when not being used to keep it looking like new.

The final word

A poorly insulated, cracked, or damaged hot tub cover that does a terrible job of trapping your hot tub’s heat could cost you an arm and a leg over the years. Pick one that ticks all the boxes for your hot tub model we’ve listed above to make sure your tub is always running as efficiently as possible.

Looking for more hot tub buying guides? Grab your free copy of the latest edition WhatSpa? magazine for the latest guidance on how to get the most from your home spa and our picks of the best buys on the market today.

Get your FREE copy of WhatSpa? Hot Tub Magazine

Find the best hot tubs across every price range with the WhatSpa? Hot Tub Buyer’s Magazine. The latest edition includes the latest WhatSpa? Hot Tub Best Buy Awards. Request your free magazine now!

Get Your Free Copy Now

Note: When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

About the author

Alex Clamp

I am the Content Writer and Marketing Officer at WhatSpa? Magazine. I have worked at WhatSpa? for over 8 years, and I recently graduated with Distinction from Northumbria University with a Master's degree in Occupational and Organizational Psychology. My role at WhatSpa? is to ensure that all hot tub lovers can easily access the highest quality and most up-to-date content, news and information from within the UK wet leisure industry.

Latest articles from our knowledge bank