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Mesh vs. Solid Safety Pool Covers - Which is Best?

If you're among the many inground pool owners who've decided to protect their pool with a safety cover this year, congratulations! Not only have you chosen the best type of off-season protection for your investment, you are also making the most responsible choice possible for your family, neighbors, pets and area wildlife. That's because safety covers provide something standard tarp-style winter covers simply cannot: protection against accidental submersion & drowning.

If someone (or something) ventures onto a safety cover while it is over the pool, the cover is designed to easily support their weight. They will not become trapped in the cover or submerged in the water - as could possibly happen with a standard tarp-style winter cover. It's great peace of mind to know that it's there, even when you aren't.

What is a Safety Cover?


Before we move on, let's review what a safety cover is! Safety covers are protective off-season pool covers that fit snugly over your pool. They are pulled taut and secured to your deck by heavy-duty anchors placed around the pool perimeter. Like any winter or off-season cover, a safety cover will prevent leaves, dirt & debris from getting into your pool water while the pool is closed. But unlike a standard winter cover, a safety cover prevents accidental submersion, providing protection for your family, neighbors, pets and wildlife.

Safety covers require approximately 36" of solid deck space to sink the anchors into. For planters or grass areas surrounding the pool, you can substitute the anchors for aluminum pipes or stakes. Safety covers are suitable for inground pools, but not with standard above ground pools.

Choosing a Mesh vs. Solid Safety Cover

Safety covers are manufactured with one of two types of material — woven mesh or solid vinyl. Once you've decided to purchase a safety cover, choosing mesh or solid material is the next step. Each type works a little differently, but both provide the accidental submersion protection that gives the product its name. Read below to learn about the different features and benefits of both types of safety covers.

Mesh Safety Covers

Mesh Safety Cover

Mesh safety covers keep dirt and debris out of your pool, while allowing rain and melted snow to slowly seep through the gaps. Below are some features of a mesh safety cover:

Basic Features of a Mesh Safety Cover

  • Prevents leaves and debris from entering the pool, but allows rainwater to pass through.
  • Made of a durable, lightweight weave of materials.
  • Available in several colors to match your mood or decor.

Advantages of a Mesh Safety Cover

  • Mesh safety cover material is 4lbs per 100 sq. ft., which makes a mesh safety cover easier to install, remove & store.
  • Water easily passes through the small openings in the mesh, preventing the cover from being weighed down by standing water.
  • Eliminates the need for a cover pump.

Disadvantages of a Mesh Safety Cover

  • Requires more pool cleaning when it's time to reopen.
  • The small mesh holes allow the sun's UV rays to reach your pool water, encouraging algae growth.
  • UV rays also evaporate pool water and absorb high amounts of chlorine and other pool water chemicals.

100% Solid Safety Cover

100% Solid Safety Cover

Solid safety covers are made of high-quality PVC reinforced vinyl. Solid safety covers keep dirt, debris, and rainwater out of your pool during the off-season. Accumulated water drains off the cover in one of two ways — with a cover pump or via drain panels. Here are some features of a 100% solid safety cover:

Basic Features of a 100% Solid Safety Cover

  • Prevents sunlight, dirt, and fine particles from entering the pool while covered.
  • Provides extra protection from tree branches, or heavy animals.
  • A cover pump or mesh drain panels keep water off the safety cover's surface.

Advantages of a 100% Solid Safety Cover

  • A solid safety cover helps keep your pool water clean over the winter by preventing the accumulation of silt & fine debris in the water.
  • Solid safety pool covers block sunlight entirely, which prevents algae growth in the pool water.
  • Solid safety cover pool openings are easier - the pool will be as clean as the day you closed it.
  • 100% Solid safety covers prevent water balance fluctuations and algae growth; blocking acid rain, pollen and phosphates from entering.

Disadvantages of a 100% Solid Safety Cover

  • If you are using a 100% solid safety pool cover, you MUST use an automatic pool cover pump.
  • Manufacturers will charge for an automatic cover pump; solid safety covers are more expensive.
  • You must check the cover pump during the off-season to ensure that it is operating properly.
  • Solid safety covers are heavier than mesh covers - requiring a little more effort.

Solid Safety Covers with Mesh Drain Panels

A newer addition to the safety cover line-up is the mesh and solid safety cover combo. This type of safety cover is made with one or more mesh drain panels, which allow rainwater & snow melt to drain into the pool. This prevents water build-up on top of the cover, and keeps the cover dry.


  1. Blocks 100% of sunlight, inhibiting algae growth.
  2. Made of extremely strong material that protects against punctures and damage.
  3. The mesh allows water to pass through into the pool, so there is no need for a cover pump.


  1. Nearly 50% heavier than regular mesh covers.
  2. Mesh material allows contaminants like pollen and dirt to seep in.
  3. More costly than regular mesh safety covers.

The fine mesh weave of the drain panel keeps nearly all smallest particles out, and minimizes the amount of sunlight that gets in. Making pool opening as quick, easy, and predictable as it would be with a 100% solid cover. One drawback is that contaminants can wash into the pool and affect your water balance.

There are many good safety cover products out there, and plenty of options on where to purchase them. Narrow down your choices by choosing from mesh safety covers, 100% solid safety covers, or solid safety covers with drain panel material. Then shop around for the best combination of price, quality, and service.

At In The Swim, you can purchase the best safety cover from four top manufacturers, including GLI, Loop-Loc, Meyco and HPI. These covers come in a variety of prices, features, and warranty coverage. All covers include the hardware and instructions needed to install your new safety cover yourself!

In The Swim makes every effort to provide accurate recommendations based upon current ANSI/APSP/ICC-5 2011 (R2022) standards, but codes and regulations change, and In The Swim assumes no liability for any omissions or errors in this article or the outcome of any project. You must always exercise reasonable caution, carefully read the label on all products, follow all product directions, follow any current codes and regulations that may apply, and consult with a licensed professional if in doubt about any procedures. In The Swim assumes no legal responsibility for your reliance or interpretation of the data contained herein, and makes no representations or warranties of any kind concerning the quality, safety, or suitability of the information, whether express or implied, including, without limitation, any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.