How much does a pool cover cost? (Automatic vs. manual)

$1,000 – $3,600 manual safety pool cover cost
$8,000 – $20,000 automatic pool cover cost

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February 02, 2022

Reviewed by Tom Grupa and 2 expert pool companies on HomeGuide.

Pool cover cost

An automatic pool cover costs $8,000 to $20,000 on average. A pool safety cover costs $1,000 to $3,600. Swimming pool cover prices depend on the pool size and shape, if the pool is inground or above-ground, the cover type, and if it's retractable or not.

Pool cover cost - chart
Pool cover cost - chart

Pool cover cost
Pool cover type Average cost installed
Automatic $8,000 – $20,000
Retractable (manual) $1,500 – $6,000
Solid safety $1,500 – $3,600
Mesh safety $1,000 – $3,000
Solar blanket with reel $600 – $1,500
Winter $75 – $250
Sliding deck $25,000 – $150,000 
Custom $1,500 – $6,000

A pool cover provides several benefits:

  • Saves on chemicals by reducing sunlight exposure and algae growth
  • Keeps leaves and debris out of the pool, decreasing sanitation costs
  • Retains heat, reducing pool heating costs by 50% to 70% or more
  • Reduces surface evaporation, reducing the amount of make-up pool water required by 30% to 50%
  • Adds safety, depending on the cover type.

Average cost of pool cover installation

The following table shows the average cost to install a pool safety cover.

Average cost of pool cover installation
National average cost $2,300
Minimum cost $800
Maximum cost $4,500
Average cost range $1,000 to $3,600

Cost data is from research and project costs reported by HomeGuide members.

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Pool cover costs by type

Pool cover costs range from as low as $75 for a basic winter cover to $20,000 or more for an automatic cover.

Automatic pool cover cost

An automatic pool cover costs $8,000 to $20,000 on average with installation. An automatic pool cover is a fade-resistant, retractable cover that moves along a track mounted on or under the pool decking. An electric motor opens and closes the cover at the touch of a button.

Automatic pool cover installed
Automatic pool cover installed

Because of their convenience and the ease of opening and closing, automatic pool covers are intended for daily use rather than seasonal use.

Retractable pool cover cost

A manual retractable pool cover costs $1,500 to $6,000, including installing a reel. An auto pool reel features a retractable cover with a mechanical roller to assist in deploying and retracting the pool cover. Retractable covers do not use tracks and a cable system like an automatic system.

Manual retractable pool covers typically do not qualify as safety covers because they are not tied down or held in place by a track system.

Retractable pool cover with manual reel
Retractable pool cover with manual reel

Pool safety cover cost

A solid pool safety cover costs $1,500 to $3,600 installed. A mesh pool safety cover costs $1,000 to $3,000 installed. Safety covers prevent accidents and keep out debris. Pool safety covers are also called pin-down covers because they use anchors to secure the cover to the surrounding deck or concrete.

Pool safety cover cost
Factor Solid safety cover Mesh safety cover
Average cost $1,500 – $3,600 $1,000 – $3,000
Pros
  • Keeps dirt, debris, and dirty rainwater out of the pool
  • Blocks 100% of sunlight, discouraging algae growth
  • Easier cleanup when opening the pool in the spring
  • Material is more resistant to tears
  • Less expensive than a solid cover
  • Lasts longer than a solid cover
  • Doesn't require a cover pump because water passes through the mesh
  • Lighter and easier to handle
Cons
  • More expensive than a mesh cover
  • Shorter lifespan than a mesh cover
  • Requires a cover pump to remove water collected on the surface
  • Heavier and typically requires two people to put on and take off
  • Some dirt falls through the mesh into the pool
  • Dirty rainwater passes through into the pool
  • Does not block all sunlight, which encourages algae growth
  • May lower chlorine levels

Safety pool cover pinned down
Safety pool cover pinned down

Some states require inground pool owners to have a safety pool cover.

Winter pool cover cost

A winter pool cover costs $75 to $250 and is typically installed DIY. A winter pool cover is similar to a tarp and is held in place by water bags. Winter covers provide no safety benefits but keep leaves and debris out of the pool.

Winter pool cover installed
Winter pool cover installed

A solid safety cover can be used as a winter cover, but a winter cover cannot be used as a safety cover. A winter cover supports very little weight and creates a drowning hazard if children or pets fall onto the surface.

Solar pool cover cost

A solar pool cover costs $35 to $400, depending on the shape, size, and thickness. A solar blanket with a reel costs $600 to $1,500, including installation. Solar covers provide no safety benefits but reduce evaporative heat loss, retaining heat generated by the pool heater during the day.

Solar pool cover cost
Solar pool cover shape Average cost
Round (10' – 21') $35 – $180
Round (22' – 30') $125 – $350
Oval $70 – $400
Rectangle $100 – $400

Walk-on pool covers prices

Safety and automatic pool covers are designed to be walked on only in an emergency. Most safety covers can support the weight of one to two adults or more in case a child or pet needs rescuing. The ASTM minimum standard for safety pool covers is 435 lbs.

Walk-on platform pool covers are available for rental and cover the pool temporarily to create more floor space for events. Renting a walk-on platform pool cover costs $4.50 to $10.00 per square foot.

Never walk on a winter cover or an above-ground pool cover. They're designed for protection from leaves, debris, and rainwater only and will not support a person's weight.

Sliding deck pool cover price

Sliding deck pool cover prices are $25,000 to $150,000 or more, depending on the size, material, and style. A sliding cover—also called a rolling deck pool cover—can support the weight of people and furniture and can act as a traditional deck when it's covering the pool.

Double sliding deck pool cover
Double sliding deck pool cover

Custom pool covers cost

A custom pool cover costs $1,500 to $6,000, depending on the size, shape, and type. Pools with irregular shapes and multilevel features like waterfalls, spas, or stone border walls typically require a custom safety cover.

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Pool cover price factors

Pool cover prices depend on the cover type, size, material, and level of automation.

Pool cover prices
Factor Automatic cover Safety cover
New pool cover $6,000 – $10,000 $600 – $2,100
Installation labor $2,000 – $10,000 $400 – $1,500
Total price $8,000 – $20,000 $1,000 – $3,600
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The following factors affect the cost of a pool cover:

  • Cover type – Automatic pool covers cost the most, while safety covers fall in the mid-range. Winter covers are the cheapest but provide the fewest benefits.
  • Pool size – Larger pool covers typically cost more due to the extra fabric needed.
  • Pool shape – A cover for a standard rectangular, oval, or Grecian pool costs less than a custom cover for a non-standard pool shape.
  • Automation – Automatic covers are more convenient but cost much more than manual covers
  • Track options – Automatic pool cover track options include deck-mounted top track, recessed top track, or recessed undertrack systems. Recessed tracks cost the most but are more visually appealing and don't create the tripping hazard of deck-mounted tracks.
  • Labor costs – Labor to install a manual pool cover costs $400 to $1,500. Installing an automatic pool cover is more complex and labor-intensive and costs $2,000 to $10,000.
  • Electricians charge $40 to $100 per hour to install a new GFCI outlet for an automatic pool cover.
  • Rebates – Some local water departments offer rebates of $50 to $200, depending on location.
  • A pool cover pump costs $150 to $250 and is typically required for an automatic or solid safety cover.
  • The cost to open or close a pool with a cover is $420 to $520.
  • Repairs – Automatic pool covers require annual maintenance to keep their mechanical parts working smoothly.

Above-ground vs. inground pool cover prices

An inground pool cover costs as little as $50 to over $10,000 for the unit alone, depending on if it's a standard winter tarp, safety cover, or fully automatic. An above-ground pool cover costs $35 to $750, depending on the type and if it has a reel or ties down.

Above-ground vs. inground pool cover prices
Type Above-ground* Inground*
Safety cover $600 – $2,100
Winter cover $50 – $200 $75 – $250
Solar cover $35 – $400 $70 – $400
Solar cover with reel $200 – $750 $250 – $750
Automatic $6,000 – $10,000

*Not including installation.

Replacement pool cover costs by brand

Automatic pool covers by popular brands like Coverstar and Aquamatic cost $10,000 to $20,000 with installation, while safety covers made by Latham, LOOP-LOC, and Tara cost $1,500 to $3,600 installed.

Pool cover prices by brand
Pool cover brand Total cost installed Cover type
Aquamatic $10,000 – $20,000 Automatic
Coverstar $10,000 – $20,000 Automatic
GLI $1,500 – $2,800 Safety
Latham $1,800 – $3,600 Safety
LOOP-LOC $1,600 – $3,600 Safety
Tara $1,500 – $3,400 Safety

Automatic pool cover replacement cost

Replacing an automatic pool cover costs $1,800 to $3,500 on average, depending on the fabric type, size, and shape. Automatic pool cover fabric typically needs replacing every 4 to 6 years.

Pool cover motor cost

A pool cover motor costs $1,100 to $2,300 with installation or $1,000 to $2,100 for the unit alone. Exposure to harsh weather conditions or excessive dust and debris wears out the motor. Protect the unit from the elements and perform routine maintenance every year to prolong its life.

Pool cover sizes and how to measure

Pool cover sizes range from 12'x20' to 30'x60'. Precise measurements of the entire perimeter are required for pools that are not a standard rectangular, oval, or Grecian shape. To measure an inground pool for a safety cover, use the A-B triangulation method for the most accurate fit:

  1. Using chalk, establish two points labeled A and B that form a straight line roughly 2/3 the length of the pool. Create the chalk line at least three feet from the pool's edge.
  2. Make numbered chalk marks at three-foot intervals around the edge of the entire pool, moving in a clockwise direction.
  3. Note all areas with obstructions or features, such as ladders, steps, raised walls, a diving board, slide, waterfall, or spa.
  4. Attach a tape measure to point A. Pulling the tape tightly, measure the distance from point A to each numbered point around the pool. Write down each number and the corresponding measurement.
  5. Repeat the process to measure the distance between point B and all the numbered points around the pool.
  6. Measure diagonally from a numbered point on one end of the pool to the farthest point at the opposite end.
  7. Measure three to four diagonal lines across the width of the pool. Be sure to note which numbered points mark the start and end of each line.
  8. Sketch an outline of the pool, including any features.
  9. Take photos of the pool from multiple angles with the A-B chalk line still in place to include with your sketch and measurements when ordering a cover.

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Frequently asked questions

What type of pool cover is best?

The best pool cover depends on your budget and needs. Safety covers keep debris out of the pool and are ideal for homes with children or pets. Automatic covers provide safety, debris protection, and convenience but are the most expensive. Solar covers are cheaper and retain heat but don't add safety.

How long does a pool cover last?

An automatic pool cover lasts 4 to 6 years on average. Winter pool covers and solar blankets typically last only 1 to 3 years, while a safety cover lasts 7 to 15 years, depending on the type.

Pool cover type Lifespan
Automatic 4 to 6 years
Solid safety 7 to 10 years
Mesh safety 10 to 15 years
Solar 1 to 3 years
Winter 1 to 3 years
Sliding Deck 15 years or more
To prolong the pool cover's life, clean it regularly to remove leaves and debris and inspect the fabric for tears. Patch any rips immediately to avoid compromising the cover's safety benefits.

Are automatic pool covers worth the money?

An automatic pool cover offers the same benefits as a manual pool cover but with the added convenience of opening and closing at the touch of a button. Automatic and manual pool covers add safety, reduce chemical costs and water loss, retain more heat, and reduce pool heating costs.

Homeowners without a pool heater will not realize most of the cost savings of an automatic pool cover.

Can you add an automatic pool cover to an existing pool?

You can add an automatic pool cover to an existing pool if there is a surrounding wood or concrete deck. Installing an automatic cover is easiest and least costly during the initial pool installation because the cover's track system and mechanism can be integrated into the pool's design.

When to install a pool cover?

A pool cover can be installed at any time of the year, but installing in the fall before or around the time you close the pool is best. Install the cover before the leaves fall to avoid extra pool cleaning. Remove the cover when temperatures are consistently above 70° F during the day.

Does a regular pool cover heat the water?

A pool cover does not heat the water but reduces overnight heat loss from the surface, keeping the pool warmer than it would be without a cover. A pool heater costs $1,600 to $5,200 with installation, depending on the type and fuel source.

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Finding and hiring a pool cover installer

Before hiring a pool installer near you, be sure to:

  • Get at least three estimates to compare.
  • Look for licensed contractors with experience installing pool covers.
  • Browse their reviews on HomeGuide and Google.
  • Select companies that are insured, bonded, and have been in business for more than five years.
  • When comparing quotes, confirm they include equipment of the same quality.
  • Avoid selecting the lowest quote as quality may suffer.
  • Get a detailed estimate, contract, and warranty in writing before the work begins.
  • Never pay in full before the installation starts. Use a payment plan instead for work completed.

Questions to ask

  • Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?
  • How many pool covers have you installed?
  • Do you install more safety covers or automatic covers?
  • Which type of cover do you recommend for my pool, and why?
  • How long is the warranty, and what does it include?
  • How long will the installation take?
  • What additional costs can I expect that aren't in the estimate?
  • Will I need a pool cover pump?
  • What kind of maintenance will the pool cover require?
  • Do you offer an annual pool maintenance package? Does it include maintaining the cover?
  • Can you provide references from previous clients?

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