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Do you have a spa recessed into a deck, that you're wondering if it's safe to step on? Or perhaps you live in a cold climate, and are worried about how many feet of snow your spa cover can handle in the winter.
Either way, beware: stacking too much weight on a regular hot tub cover could break it—and potentially cause injury in the process.
Even though hot tub covers are designed to protect your spa, most are not capable of holding more than a few pounds. However, there are specially designed covers that can support up to 1,000 lbs, often called walk-on spa covers.
Specifically built to withstand the weight of one or more adults, these covers are reinforced to be much stronger.
However, while they might be able to take the weight safely, it's generally still best to avoid standing on them too much if you want to keep your cover in tip-top condition.
Can you (or your pets) walk, sit or lay on a hot tub cover?
Regular spa covers are just not designed to hold much more than the weight of the cover itself. For this reason, you should not just walk on any hot tub cover. You may find yourself needing to buy a completely new cover, or in need of a doctor's visit.
The same goes for children or larger pets. Small pets like cats or wild animals like rodents shouldn't do any damage, but you don't want to let large dogs make your spa their sunbathing spot.
If you want a cover that you or someone else could stand on, consider investing in a walk-on cover. These covers can hold a lot more weight, giving you more flexibility. Of course, know they are still susceptible to scratches and damage if you do choose to stand on them often.
Is a walk-on spa cover worth it?
For the average hot tub owner, a walk-on cover isn't worth it. These covers are more expensive than just a regular high-quality cover, and they are also heavy and difficult to move on and off the spa. Most people simply have no need for the extra reinforced construction.
Still, there are a few instances when a walk-on spa cover could be worth it. See if any of these apply to you:
- You have an in-ground spa: if your spa is recessed and level or almost flush with a walking surface like a deck, it's handy to know you can walk on the spa if needed without causing damage—whether this is accidentally or intentionally stepping on it. This is especially true if other people like tenants or visitors have access to the hot tub area. The last thing you want is for a guest to not see the tub and accidentally injure themselves.
- You live in an area that gets a lot of snow: although it may not seem like it, snow can really add up in terms of weight. Though a regular hot tub cover can handle a light dusting, it won't be able to handle several feet. Consider a walk-on spa cover if you know your spa will see a lot of snow during the winter.
- You have larger pets or wildlife that like to walk on your spa: If you don't want to spend your time training dogs not to jump on the spa, or if you live in an area with larger wildlife, get a cover that can handle their weight. Animals won't be aware they're not supposed to walk on the tub, and you don't want any accidents.
Walk-on spa covers do have a few other benefits besides their strength: they're generally better constructed and therefore more durable, as well as resistant to waterlogging (either as standard, or as an optional add-on).
If you've ever had to replace a gross waterlogged spa cover because it got too heavy, you know how tempting this could be!
Types of walk-on cover
Let's take a look at the different types of walk-on cover available. There are three main types of walk-on covers: vinyl/fabric, aluminum, and reinforced plastic.
Vinyl/fabric (400-500 lbs)
Vinyl or fabric walk-on covers can normally handle between 400 and 500 pounds. This makes them able to hold the weight of an average adult, or certainly pets with no problem. You can get them in a variety of finishes and colors to match your design preferences.
These walk-on covers may not be as attractive as some of the other options, but they are affordable as well as hardwearing, and not too heavy.
Aluminum (up to 800+ lbs)
An aluminum cover is a medium strength option, able to handle 800 pounds or more in weight. These covers are made with two aluminum layers that are placed around a foam core. The top surface will likely be finished and come in different color options, while the edges are often anodized aluminum to protect the look of your cover for years to come.
Although aluminum walk-on covers are durable as well as attractive, they are also the most expensive option because of the materials involved.
Reinforced plastic (up to 1,000+ lbs)
The strongest walk-on cover you can get is made from reinforced plastic. These covers are made to handle up to 1,000 pounds or more, which means you won't have to worry about pets, snow or even people damaging your spa.
In each case, the cover comes as part of the spa, so it's unfortunately not possible to just buy one of these as a replacement cover for a different spa.
Downsides of walk-on spa covers
Walk-on spa covers have a few disadvantages over regular covers, which is another part of why they're unnecessary for most hot tub owners.
Most notably, these covers are expensive. Unless you have a real need for a walk-on cover, you're better off saving the cash, or spending it on other accessories to spice up your spa area.
Walk-on spa covers are also heavy. Even with the vinyl option, you can expect it to weigh anywhere from 80 to 170 pounds. Because of the weight, you will need a cover lifter to get the cover off and back on the spa after use.
Even if you decide to invest in one of these heavy-duty covers, remember that it’s still not advisable for adults to actually walk on them too much. You can damage or scratch the cover if you're not careful, which can ruin its looks at the very least.
Think of walk-on covers as a way to just give you a little extra peace of mind: you know that they can support your weight in a worst-case scenario.
How much snow can a spa cover hold?
How much snow your spa cover can hold will depend on its material and size, as well as the type of snow.
For example, a regular 6' x 6' hot tub cover can hold around 2 to 3 inches of fresh snow (the light, fluffy kind). However, change that to wet snow or ice and you could be in trouble, as that's 500 lbs of weight! This is one situation where a walk-on cover could be a worthwhile investment.
Either way, it's important to keep tabs on your spa in the winter, so you know how frequently you need to be clearing off any settled snow. Alternatively, you could always put a roof over your hot tub.
To get an estimate tailored to your particular spa, you can use this snow weight calculator.
Can wild animals damage hot tub covers?
Unfortunately, wild animals can be a problem where hot tub covers are concerned.
In terms of weight, small animals such as raccoons or rodents won't be a problem. Bears and other large animals, however, are too heavy for regular hot tub covers and will likely cause damage if they try to walk on them. If you live in an area where this could be an issue, a walk-on cover could be worth it for you.
Bear in mind that wild animals can be bad news for hot tubs in other ways, too. Their claws and teeth can do considerable damage if they decide to tear or bite your cover. Vinyl and fabric spa covers are particularly susceptible to chewing and scratching, so you might want to consider an enclosure for your spa if you're concerned about this.