Mesh Pool Covers Vs. Polycarbonate Pool Covers: The Ultimate Comparison

Most swimming pool owners will rush to buy mesh pool covers or winter covers to protect their pools.

What if I tell you this is a waste of resources?

I am saying this because these pool covers do not have long-term cost benefits. They may last for only two to three seasons.

You’ll find a swimming pool cover with a 2 to 3 year warranty. This is alone is a clear indication that this cover will not last for long.

In my last article on swimming pool covers, I reviewed 9 different types of pool accessories.

Here, I want to compare only two types of swimming pool covers – mesh pool covers and polycarbonate pool covers. I will give an in-depth comparison between these two accessories.

By the end of this article, you should be able to make a sound decision based on facts and not rumors. This is the best way to choose an appropriate pool cover.

Structure & Design of Mesh Pool Covers vs. Polycarbonate Pool Covers

Let me begin by defining these two swimming pool accessories:

A polycarbonate pool cover

This is a cover made from a solid polycarbonate sheet. Depending on its design, it may be reinforced with aluminum rods.

Covers with aluminum rods form an enclosed structure called pool enclosures. You can see this from the image below:


This is a retractable swimming pool enclosure cover

Also, there are those pool covers made from a large polycarbonate sheet. They are flat and you can slide them over the pool (either to open or close).

At times, people may refer to this accessory as solid swimming pool cover.

This is because it doesn’t have spaces within its structure allowing water to drain to the swimming pool. It completely isolates the swimming pool from the surrounding external environment.

You can go for a solid or a multiwall polycarbonate sheet cover. However, solid polycarbonate sheet is popular due to its strength.

A Mesh Pool Cover

These are covers that have air spaces between their surfaces allowing water to seep through the cover into the swimming pool. They are popular for their lightweight.

A blue mesh pool cover

A blue mesh pool cover

In most cases, you’ll have to choose from these three main types of materials for your mesh pool covers:

  • Polypropylene Material

Polypropylene offers better resistance to the ultraviolet radiation. Therefore, it will protect your swimming pool from UV radiation, reducing the rate of chemical degradation.

Also, its lightweight makes it easy to install.

Unfortunately, you cannot patch the polypropylene mesh pool covers. So, in case of any wear and tear, you’ll simply buy a new cover.

Again, the material has low abrasion resistance. A reason why they lose their aesthetic value and appearance quickly.

  • Vinyl Mesh Pool Covers

The good thing about vinyl material is that you can patch it. Also, it has higher abrasion resistance than polypropylene material.

Furthermore, it has a lightweight material, making it easy to install.

On the other hand, vinyl pool covers tend to degrade faster when subjected to sunlight radiation and the mesh tend to be bigger. This allows larger particles to fall in the swimming pool.

Since vinyl mesh pool covers tend to degrade faster on exposure to ultraviolet radiation, they are a perfect choice for winter pool covers.

  • PVC Coated Polyester Pool Covers

PVC coated polyester pool covers offer better abrasion and UV resistance. Therefore, you can use them during winter and summer.

In short, you need to choose a swimming pool cover material with a longer lifespan. You’ll learn more about these covers as I explore additional features in the next sections.

Swimming Pool Safety: Mesh Safety Covers Are Not Safe

Why do I say so?

This is because you cannot control access to the swimming pool area.

A pool cover should completely isolate the swimming pool from the external environment. You should be able to close it and if possible lock the door.


A locked swimming pool enclosure

Clearly, it is only a polycarbonate swimming pool cover that meets this simple criteria. It provides an impenetrable surface.

When fully closed, the structure can withstand heavy weight (900kg distributed within 1.5m radius). Therefore, even if your kids happen to play on the cover, they will not drown.

Furthermore, a solid polycarbonate is virtually unbreakable. Therefore, one will require sophisticated equipment to break the polycarbonate and access the swimming pool.

Practically, this is not possible.

In short, installing a polycarbonate swimming pool cover will give you a peace of mind. You don’t have to worry about the safety and security of your pool.

A mesh pool cover has a wide range of security and safety risks.

First, anybody can access the swimming pool surface. This is because there is no barrier that may prevent intruders from accessing the swimming pool.

A swimming pool cover

A family standing on a safety swimming pool cover. Safety covers are manufactured from strong materials. This not always the case when it comes mesh pool covers.

Secondly, the ability of the cover to withstand heavy weight will depend on the type of material. Moreover, its mesh design (air space on its surface) reduces its ability to carry heavy weight.

In short, a mesh swimming pool cover cannot carry heavy weight.

Therefore, in case your kids or animals walk on its surface, there is a high chance that they fall in the swimming pool.

Apart from these, the ability of the cover to carry heavy load will depend on how well you have secured all its edges on the pool deck. This is a laborious process.

All these are factors that make it unsafe.


Even if you install the best swimming pool covers (polycarbonate pool enclosure), this does not substitute:

You should remember that failure to follow these simple rules may cost your child his/her life.

Swimming Pool Maintenance: Mesh Pool Covers Have No Cost Saving Benefits

I know people who have mesh swimming pool covers do not want to hear this.

But, the truth of the matter is, all leaves and debris that collect on the cover will eventually fall in the swimming pool water. This implies, your swimming pool will be dirty.

When you use these covers during winter, all snow will also melt and the water will seep into your pool after sometime. Therefore, you will require a pump to drain this excess water.

A dirty swimming pool.

This what happens when you fail choose an appropriate cover for your swimming pool. Image source – Simple Pool Tips

In addition to these, mesh pool covers provide a favorable environment for algae to grow.

So, what do all these imply?

You’ll incur high swimming pool operational costs. This is for a simple fact that:

Before you use the swimming pool after winter, cleaning the pool is mandatory. This is because a lot of debris will be at the bottom of your pool.

To make it worse, you may be forced to replace all swimming pool water. In such situations, you’ll incur these costs:

  • Buying swimming pool water chemicals
  • Paying extra water bills
  • Cost of running a pump (energy costs)
  • Labor costs

Don’t forget that you’ll spend a lot of time doing this task too.

I think you don’t have to go through this horrendous process if there is a shortcut. I am sure, installing a polycarbonate swimming pool enclosure will save you from this pain.

It will keep your swimming pool clean from snow, debris, ultraviolet radiation and acid rain.

A Polycarbonate Pool Cover Will Extend Your Swimming Season

I don’t think it’s economical to have a pool that you can use only during summer.

Swimming during the winter season is fascinating too.

Most people close their pool because they cannot control both cold and snow. This is common for people who don’t have appropriate swimming pool accessories.

With a polycarbonate swimming pool cover, depending on its structural design, you can swim even when the cover is closed. A high profile swimming pool enclosure has a large internal space that allows you to swim during winter.

Excelite retractable swimming pool enclosure

A swimming pool enclosure cover is spacious allowing more than one person to swim even when the cover is closed.

On the other hand, once your pool has a mesh cover, you cannot use the swimming pool until you remove it.

Which Pool Cover is Durable/Long-lasting; Mesh Pool Covers or Pool Enclosures?

The answer is straightforward:

A polycarbonate swimming pool cover comes with 15 year warranty. On the other hand, mesh pool covers may have 3 to 8 year warranty period.

Most pool enclosures will last for more than 25 years.

Within this period, I am sure you shall have replaced your mesh pool covers at least 5 times. Moreover, you’ll also spend more than three times the cost of the pool enclosure as you maintain the pool.

It is for this reason that I believe a pool enclosure cost of about $2,999 comes with long-term cost saving.

In fact, buying a polycarbonate pool enclosure implies you’ll be spending about $10 to $20 to reduce the cost of operating your pool.

Don’t you think this is a noble idea?

So far, I have compared number swimming pool accessories such:

It is quite evident that polycarbonate swimming pool cover is an accessory that guarantees a wide range of benefits. Some of the key benefits include safety, security, extending the swimming season and reducing maintenance/operational costs.


As you can see throughout the entire article, polycarbonate swimming pool covers are better than mesh pool covers. In fact, a pool enclosure cover that costs $2,999, will help you save more than $10,000 in terms of operational costs, safety and security.

For questions or inquiries about swimming pool enclosures and covers, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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