Everyone wants to save money. Due to this strong motivator, many hot tub owners consider a soft spa cover or spa cap instead of the more typical foam core hot tub covers. This post will help to detail the differences in these two approaches.


Soft hot tub covers


A soft spa cover or spa cap is shown above


Soft spa cover or spa cap


Soft spa covers and soft hot tub covers are a lower cost option than foam core hard hot tub covers. This is due to several details:


  • Soft covers are typically not custom made to order, but sizes can be selected
  • Soft covers are typically a very nice tri-ply vinyl tarp material
  • Soft covers work well to keep debris, rain and critters out of your hot tub
  • Soft covers require an air bladder to sit on water in the tub to dome the cover so it does not hold water
  • If you intend to drain your hot tub, a soft cover will not work well for you
  • Soft hot tub covers provide little insulation, which is best suited for spas that are heated to use, then turned off

    In short, soft hot tub covers work well for situations where keeping the heat in the water is not a priority, where there will always be water in the hot tub and where the cover will be able to be strapped down around the sides.


    Hard hot tub covers and spa cover


    Typically, hard spa covers are considered those that have a core of hard foam, similar to styrofoam. Foam is used for the following reasons:


  • Foam is an excellent insulator and works very well to keep heat in the hot tub
  • Foam boards provide strength to support snow and other weight loads
  • Since most heat loss from a hot tub is from the top, the thickness of the hot tub cover foam core is the most important factor in retaining heat and minimizing your heating bills
  • Foam cores come in different densities for when additional strength is required
  • Every foam hot tub cover is custom made to order, which typically takes about 2 weeks to manufacturer
  • Foam core hot tub covers cost about $100 to ship, due to the extremely large size of the box, and cannot be shipped via UPS or FedEx
  • Foam core hot tub covers can be used either with or without any water in the tub

    In short, to lower the heating and operating cost of running your hot tub, a foam core spa cover will provide the best heat retention. For very cold areas, the hot tub cover can be ordered with foam up to six inches thick to maximize the insulation value of the cover. Greater density foam cores can be selected to improve the strength of the cover to handle weight such as snow.


    The final factor to consider is how quickly you need to get your hot tub covered. Soft spa covers are off the shelf and ship in 2-3 days with UPS. Foam core hard hot tub covers are custom made, taking about 2 weeks PLUS they must ship with the freight companies such as Estes, Yellow, SAIA, Overnite, etc. which will take 3-7 days depending on the distance. Freight shipments cannot be expedited for any reason.


    Hopefully this information will help you to decide which cover fits your particular needs.


    Happy Tubbing!
    Ethel Elliott


    Ethel Elliott
    Written by Ethel Elliott. +Ethel writes about all things backyard with a focus on replacement hot tub spa covers. You can also chat with Ethel on Twitter! Follow this author on Twitter