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Spa Cover Care
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  SpaCyclopedia Index  Hot Tub Cover Replacement Guide

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Whether you are in the market for a new hot tub cover or just want to get the most out of your existing one, this guide will give you a wealth of helpful information. These basic maintenance tips can save you money, and maybe even some grief in the long run.

About Spa Cover Vinyl

Vinyl fabric material Spa cover material is a backed fabric with an outer layer made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC).  In the manufacturing process, it is sealed with a special topcoat containing compounds called plasticizers, plus softening agents to keep it supple and attractive.
Maintaining the integrity of the vinyl's topcoat, and protecting against UV damage are the keys to keeping it looking and performing like new. All vinyl, even the special marine grade used in our premium DuraTherm hot tub covers, is a UV-sensitive material which can degrade after long time sunlight exposure or mildew formation.. 
Sun and UV

Protecting your Investment from Damage

303 Protectant conditions beautifully and prevents fading & cracking.  We recommend only 303 Aerospace Protectant . We've tested them all, and this is quite simply the best product of its kind.  Featuring an Earth-friendly, non-toxic formula, it will add years to cover life.  With regular use, 303 blocks up to 100% of harmful UV to prevent sun damage.

Vinyl treated with 303 Aerospace Protectant
blocks UV Rays, maintains new appearance.

Sunlight breaks-down unprotected surface.
Plasticizers escape, vinyl cracks, fades and fails.

303 Protectant blocks UV to prevent damage
303 Aerospace Protectant When applied to the underside of your cover, it also helps prevent mildew. 303 Protectant is very economical, and you'll find many other uses for it around the home, RV, boat  and car.
Using the wrong vinyl treatment product is worse than using nothing at all!  In fact, a well-known automotive vinyl treatment contains silicone oil, which is death to vinyl. Avoid products that contain any type of oil, have a greasy feeling, contain petroleum distillates, or leave a coating that dries like wax.

Tip: The same UV-blocking technology is now also available to protect outdoor fabric furniture: 303 High Tech Fabric Guard.

Warning If a vinyl protectant product label says "flammable" or contains petroleum distillates, keep it away from your spa cover!  These products look good when first applied, but actually accelerate spa cover deterioration and offer little or no UV protection.

Periodic Hot Tub Cover Cleaning & Maintenance

Cleaning of your spa cover is an important part of routine spa maintenance. Dirt acts as an abrasive to the vinyl topcoat, and can also cause wear to fold, seams, and stitching.  Mildew which grows on damp, dirty vinyl will begin to actually root in the fabric, accelerating failure.

Routine cleaning, prior to application of vinyl protectant:

  • Rinse with cool water using a garden hose

  • Spray with a gentle, non-foaming cleaner such as our Earth-friendly Clean All and wipe clean.  Never use laundry detergent, abrasives, bleach, alcohols, dish soaps or harsh cleaners. These products can actually remove some of the topcoat and cause premature vinyl failure.  

  • TIP: Tree sap can be removed by rubbing with a little vegetable oil or margarine.

  • For stubborn dirt, use a non-abrasive sponge such as our Spange.

  • Rinse again thoroughly with water and allow to dry.

  • Repeat monthly, or as needed.

Applying 303 Protectant:

  • After cleaning cover, spray a light coating of 303 Protectant on top and cover apron.
  • Spread evenly with a damp terry cloth or use the yellow side of our Spange.
  • Repeat procedure on underside of your cover.  This will help prevent the formation of mildew.
  • Repeat monthly in summer... every 3 to 4 months the rest of the year. There's never a buildup.

Dealing with Mildew Inside the Vinyl Jacket
(Indicated if odor is a problem)

  • Unzip the jacket and carefully remove the foam cores.
  • Clean the inside of the jacket with  Clean All and a soft brush.
  • Clean the core's plastic vapor barrier.
  • Spray off surfaces with garden hose.
  • Towel-dry all surfaces, and allow for additional air-dry time of the jacket.
  • Sunlight exposure for an hour or two helps rid residual mildew from inside the jacket.
  • Foam core should be kept in the shade while drying.
  • Carefully reassemble when dry.
    Note: If foam core is rotten and waterlogged, cover requires replacement.

Care Tips
Prolonging Spa Cover Longevity

Manuracturer warranty Treat your cover as you would a fine automobile. A new car comes with a warranty covering mechanical defects. Its warranty does not cover dents, a rock-dinged windshield, tire wear, nor premature engine failure in a car not properly maintained or in which the oil was not regularly changed.

Similarly, a spa cover manufacturer's warranty covers original defects in materials, but will not apply to damage caused by abuse, accidents, neglect or normal wear-and-tear. We've put together the information that you need for proper maintenance to get the most life out of your spa cover.

Protecting the Foam Core

Spa covers have a core of polystyrene, which can be broken if abused. Never allow children to jump or play on a cover, which can cause breakage of the core. Grit from shoes or bare feet can also mar the vinyl covering, causing premature failure. Avoid placing sharp objects on the cover, which can cause punctures to the core liner, permitting water penetration and absorption by the foam core. Animal claw scratches or chewing can have the same result, so try to keep pets away.

Avoid placing glass or other objects on the cover which can create excessive heat from the magnified effects of sunlight. This heat can actually cause the foam core to melt, and is not covered by the warranty.

Foam core sealed in clear plastic The insulating core is sheathed in clear plastic to prevent water from being absorbed into the insulation. Condensation and rainwater seepage between the outer vinyl skin and the clear liner of the foam core is normal. All spa covers should have weep holes in their undersides to allow this water to drain out.

Dealing with Water Intrusion

Although a few water droplets inside the clear plastic liner which protects the foam core are not a major concern, a large accumulation of liquid water needs attention. The cause is normally a vapor barrier puncture or a break in the plastic seam around the perimeter, which is easy to fix yourself. (A heavy, saturated foam core is a different matter, indicative of an old waterlogged  spa cover that needs replacement).

Zipper access to core If you suspect that your cover core liner contains a lot of liquid water and it has a zippered vinyl jacket, open the zipper and carefully remove the form core for inspection. Look for punctures or openings around the perimeter seal. Even a small hole can let in a lot of water over time.

Patching Holes in Clear Core Liner

After locating the hole or holes, it is important to drain as much of the accumulated water out of the clear plastic liner as possible, to prevent it from eventually getting absorbed by the foam core. If you can't get the water out via the entry hole, it can be quickly drained out by very carefully cutting a small slit in the plastic liner near one of the corners. Set the core on edge so that the water flows down and out of the slit. Don't expect to get out every last drop-- if you get most of it out, you'll be in good shape.

Liner holes are simple to fix with Tear-Aid Type A. This inexpensive product is the only permanant sealing solution around water. Make sure the plastic is dry around your repair so that it will adhere. Fixing it yourself is easy, and eliminates the considerable expense of shipping off the large core for repairs.
Plastic Patch

Repairing Minor Spa Cover Rips and Tears

If the cover is in othwise sound condition, small holes and tears can be repaired with Tear-Aid Vinyl Patch Type B, a special clear elastomeric material designed to permanantly adhere to vinyl while making a very neat mend.
Vinyl Patch

Tear-Aid Type B is the only patch product we have ever found that actually bonds to vinyl without getting gummy, while holding up well to weather. Surface must be clean and dry prior to application. Again, fixing it yourself is easy and economical.

Tie Down Straps & Broken Latches

Locking tie-down straps Tie down straps are there for one purpose: to secure the cover to the spa. To avoid ripping the straps, never use them to carry or remove the cover. Another common cause of ripped straps is failure to unlatch all of the locks before attempting to lift the cover off of the hot tub. This type of damage is not covered by any spa cover warranty.
Broken cover locks/latches can and should be replaced. It's easy with our Sure-Lock replacement set of four with mounting screws.
Locking latches

Avoiding Vinyl, Seam, & Stitching Damage

  • A high quality Spa Cover Lifter can reduce stress on seams.
  • Use handles only for gentle opening or closing of the spa cover.
  • Handles are not intended for carrying or removal of the cover from the hot tub.
  • Do not lift cover by the skirting. This stresses and can rip the bottom seams.
  • Never drag a cover across the ground, especially concrete surfaces.
  • Never place glass objects on a spa cover. The glass can magnify sunlight and melt the vinyl.
  • Maintain proper water balance and pH.
  • Excessive bromine, chlorine, or shock can deteriorate vinyl.
  • Use a floating Spa Blanket to protect cover from excess evaporative chemicals & moisture.
  • Use of Alternative Sanitizer systems can prolong spa cover life expectancy.
  • Carefully secure all latches when hot tub is not in use, to prevent wind damage.
Snow Accumulation

A single cubic foot of freshly-fallen dry snow weighs about 30 pounds! Doing the math, an  8' x 8' spa cover with just 3 inches of accumulation is supporting nearly 500 extra pounds-- even more with wet snow or ice.

Snow accumulation

Hot tub cover manufacturer's warranties do not cover snow or other weight-related damage. So if it snows where you live, you can help prevent breakage of the spa cover's foam core by carefully removing excess accumulation during winter months.

Water Puddles

Sometimes a hot tub cover which has been weight-stressed will develop water puddles due to sagging. Some cheap covers (and many older ones) were not designed with a tapered core for proper water runoff, which exacerbates the problem.

Hot tub cover with water puddle If you get a small puddle on your cover, unzip the vinyl covering, carefully remove the foam core, and flip it over. Flipping sometimes corrects this issue (at least temporarily) if not too severe.
NOTE: Extreme cases (as illustrated left) are warped and waterlogged--  too far gone. These require replacement for safety and energy conservation.


Replacement Spa Cover Guide Top Shot?
If your old cover is waterlogged, it's time for replacement. Be sure to buy a well-crafted one. Think of a new cover as an investment, not an expense. 

DuraTherm covers are not the cheapest on the market, but you get what you pay for: a long-lasting, energy-efficient,  custom-made cover of the highest quality. See our Cover Replacement Guide for more information.

spa customers write  Consumer Reviews
 303 Aerospace Protectant
" The store where we bought our spa told us nothing about maintaining the cover and it did not last as long as we would have liked.  I appreciated the care kit sent free with the replacement [cover] we ordered from you.  We've applied the 303 Protectant religiously to the outside and underside, and can tell you that mildew has not been a problem since.  It is nice to know this will also make the cover last longer and protect it from sun damage, which I now know is what ruined our first top. Thanks!"

Estee Silvan
Boca Raton, FL

 DuraTherm Spa Covers
"Thank you for a great buying experience. On January 29, 2007, I ordered a new spa cover. It was delivered two weeks later at my residence. The fit and appearance was perfect, the measurements were exactly as asked for. What I really like is the fact that it one person can easily open the spa now. Our old cover was so waterlogged that it took a person on each side just to lift the old cover to flip it over. Thanks again."

Kenny Oliver
Conway, SC


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