How Long Does a Hot Tub Cover Last? (& how to extend the life)

Over time, your hot tub will have some wear and tear. But like many parts of a hot tub, a new cover isn’t cheap. So how long does a hot tub cover last?

A hot tub cover lasts between 5-7 years. Sun does the most damage to a hot tub cover, so cleaning and protecting it periodically is the key to extending the lifespan up to 10 years. Also, using a hot tub cover lifter can help prevent damage to the seams and foam core and can add up to 3 additional years.

But those are just a few of the things that you can do to maximize the lifespan of your hot tub cover.

Knowing when to replace your hot tub’s cover can be tricky. But there are also questions to answer like can you just replace the vinyl cover and reuse the foam inserts? Or reuse the vinyl cover and replace just the foam?

Let’s dig a little deeper!

When should I replace my hot tub cover?

Hot tub covers have a lifespan of 5-7 years.

However, many environmental factors can cause you the need to purchase a new hot tub cover earlier than intended. These include fall debris such as tree branches, UV radiation from the sun, and user inflicted damage.

The reason most hot tub covers need to be replaced is that their foam core has become saturated with water.

Hot tub manufacturers wrap this core in a plastic vapor barrier to slow this process down. However, over time the plastic vapor wrap around the foam core of the hot tub cover deteriorates.

The foam then begins to absorb water. This process dramatically reduces the hot tub cover’s ability to insulate and keep the heat in the water instead of letting it evaporate.

If you’ve ever seen a hot tub cover that sags in the middle, chances are, it has become waterlogged.

How does hot tub cover foam work?

It traps warm air within the bubbles of the foam. Since water is a poor insulator (water transfers heat 32 times faster than air) if those air bubbles fill with water the cover loses much of its insulating ability. This causes a dramatic increase in your monthly electric bill, especially in the winter.

You will know when this has happened when the hot tub cover gets very very heavy. It may also start to smell as the old water begins to build bacteria inside the vinyl sleeve.

Unless you get a new one it will become incredibly heavy, and you can run the risk of it splitting when you try to move it.

Can you replace the foam in a hot tub cover?

So, is it possible to replace the foam in a hot tub cover so you don’t have to purchase a new one? The answer is absolutely you can do that!

You can replace the foam core inserts in any hot tub cover or spa cover.

Broken or cracked foam does void the warranty of any cover, so you will not have any recourse there. The best option is to buy the strongest foam you can get, typically 2.0# density foam to ensure your cover has a long and healthy life.

The easiest way to think of removing or replacing your spa cover’s internal foam cores is to think of the cover as a giant pillowcase that is hinged together in the middle.

To gain access to the zippers, fold the cover in half, one side on top of the other. If you stand now facing the fold area, you will have both zippers now directly in front of you. Unzip the side that is on the top, all the way to the end. This will give you access to the foam core inside.

Next, pull the cover back over one side of the foam, then the other.

Eventually, you will be able to simply pull the rest of the foam core out. Reinserting the new foam panel is just the reverse of this process.

Be careful not to snag the vapor barrier that has the foam sealed inside of it, as that will allow moisture into the foam and waterlogging will begin.

Because foam inserts usually require a custom size, you won’t find it on Amazon. But Beyond Nice offers that on their website. Or you can reach out to the manufacturer and see if it’s available to order from them.

Can you repair a hot tub cover?

You can also repair your hot tub cover if you don’t want to replace the foam. You’ll have to catch the problem early to be successful.

If your cover develops holes or begins to deteriorate, the water from your hot tub will seep into the foam of your cover. Rainwater can get in too unless the holes are solely on the underside.

You’ll know this has happened when the cover starts to feel heavier than normal.

To resolve the waterlogged cover problem, start by removing the hot tub cover from the tub. Next, remove the damp foam from the vinyl lining and lay it out in a sunny area where it can dry out.

While the foam is drying, take time to clean out the vinyl with a cleaner that combats mildew and mold. This will also help stop foamy hot tub water from forming. While you’re cleaning, look for the hole or tear where the water leaked through to the foam.

You’ll need to patch this hole before putting the foam layer back into the liner.

The most reliable way to patch a hole is to purchase a patch kit. For fixing small holes or tears, I LOVE the product Tear-Aid Vinyl Repair Patch Kit (click to see the current price on Amazon).

While the patch kit will have instructions, here is what you should do.

First, you should trim the edges of the tear so that they’re not jagged. Then trim the patch so that it’s about one inch larger than the hole on all sides. To keep the edges of the patch from curling, cut rounded edges around the patch.

Before applying the patch to the vinyl, be sure to wash & dry the area around the hole so that the patch will securely adhere to the cover. To ensure that the patch sticks and stays, roughen up the area with sandpaper before applying the patch. Make sure you avoid the edges of the hole though.

Remember, you want the edges to be smooth, but the surrounding area should be a little rough.

If the hole in your hot tub cover has not only torn the vinyl liner, but it has also penetrated the foam, you’ll need to patch the foam as well.

Simply purchase a piece of foam that you can cut to fit the shape of the hole. Insert the foam into the hole and then apply a patch to both sides of the foam. The foam will be sandwiched between the two adhesive patches for maximum protection and security.

I go into much greater detail on this process in this recent article. I also cover a few DIY tips for other types of damage a hot tub cover can have too.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

How do you keep a hot tub cover from getting heavy?

The only thing you can do to keep your hot tub cover from getting heavy is investing in a great hot tub cover.

These will be more expensive, but they will have the top of the line vapor barrier inside the cover to keep the core from getting wet.

Also, ensure that you remove and place your cover with the utmost care. Ensure no debris such as ice or tree branches can fall and puncture holes in the hot tub cover.

But ultimately, as we’ve mentioned, a cover that is heavier than normal is collecting water and will eventually need to be completely replaced. If you catch it early, this is what you can do:

  • Remove the foam inserts and allow to dry in the sun
  • Clean the inside of the vinyl cover with a mold/mildew cleaner
  • Look for any tears or holes and patch following the steps in the section above
  • Also, patch any holes in the moisture barrier the foam is wrapped in (once it’s totally dry)
  • Replace the foam into the vinyl cover

I go into a lot more detail on fixing a waterlogged hot tub cover in this recent article. I even cover how to save foam inserts that are starting to mildew.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

How much does a new hot tub cover cost?

Hot tub covers typically cost between $300 to $500.

Replacing just the foam inserts will be between $150-$200.  Replacing just the vinyl will be around $200.

So in some ways, depending on the total cost, it may make more sense to replace the whole thing. After all, spending $200 on new foam, and then $200 on new vinyl a year later might not make as much sense as just spending $400 right now and getting 7 year’s life out of the new cover.

If a whole new cover seems to be in order, I would go with The Cover Guy’s covers on Amazon (click to see them on Amazon). 

He has tons of custom options to choose from, great prices, and a great reputation.

Of course, not replacing a damaged hot tub cover has hidden costs too.

For one, your electric bill will go up if the cover isn’t insulating the water as well. Then, if it’s sagging and no longer form-fitting, rainwater can get into the hot tub and cause you to have to add more chemicals than normal.

If you just need to replace the vinyl cover but can’t afford hundreds or thousands to get a whole new cover, check out the custom options for affordable weatherproof and waterproof canvas covers on Amazon.

Just CLICK HERE to see them.

Can a hot tub cover lifter extend the life of a hot tub cover?

Yes, absolutely!

The story I like to tell is the hot tub we had at my last house. We did not have a hot tub cover lifter. So every time my wife and daughters went to use it when I wasn’t around, they would just push the cover off the edge of the hot tub onto the ground.

Over time, this dented the foam, ripped the seams of the vinyl, and eventually tore the moisture barrier that the foam was wrapped in.

All of that damage could have been avoided had I just bought a hot tub cover lifter (which I did do at our current house which came with a hot tub).

Check out this recent article which details how cover lifters can extend the lifespan of a hot tub cover by three additional years.

I also get into the best types of lifters based on type and price. Some great ones are only $60 bucks. So just click that link to see them all on my site.

Other tips to extend the life of your hot tub cover

Sun damage is one of the things that destroy a hot tub cover faster than anything.

For that reason, I strongly suggest using 303 Products Marine & Recreation Aerospace Protectant (click to see it on Amazon).

It’s similar, but superior, to Armor All.  Cleans, protects, restores, and is pretty impervious to water damage.

Next, make sure to open your cover for at least 10 minutes after you add chemicals and turn the jets on. The jets are a great way to agitate the water and thoroughly mix in the chemicals, but it can also heavily spray the underside of your cover with those chemicals.

So, open the cover, add the chemicals, turn on the jets, and let is run about 10 minutes before turning the jets off and closing it back up.

Lastly, as I’ve mentioned, unless your hot tub is sunken or ground level, invest in a decent hot tub cover lifter. 

It’s almost impossible to open a hot tub cover and set it on the ground without some risk of damage. So a cover lifter (which can be as cheap as $60), will easily pay for itself by extending the life of your cover up to 3 extra years!

Final Thoughts

The average lifespan of a hot tub cover is 5-7 years. However, rough usage and environmental factors such as falling tree limbs and ice can shorten this life span.

When the hot tub cover is heavier than normal, it means their foam core or vinyl cover has become saturated with water. This means it won’t be a great insulator.

It will also become smelly and could develop mold or mildew inside.

You can take out the foam and replace it with new foam. If you catch the issue early enough you can also use a repair kit and patch it up. You will need to take out the foam and dry and clean it first.

Finally, you can also purchase a new hot tub cover. These cost between $300 and $500.

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Jeff Campbell