It’s easy to complain about hot tub covers, but very hard to come up with cost effective alternatives. And once a consumer is out of the honeymoon period with their hot tub, it can be difficult to get them to spend more than a few hundred dollars to replace their cover, much less upgrade it.
However, the WeatherShield material Core Covers offers provides an improvement to the traditional vinyl cover at a comparable price. While still a foam cover, WeatherShield gives an updated look, better longevity and durability.
Cover Valet uses WeatherShield from Core on both its Spa Side Umbrella and AirO hot tub cover.
“It’s not just throwing something on there and being like, well it’s the same overall durability but at least it looks nicer,” says Matt McMillan, vice president of sales and marketing at Cover
Valet. “It looks nicer and it’s going to increase the longevity.”
With Cover Valet’s AirO cover having more than a 10-year lifespan, it needed a textile that would hold up that long. “Vinyl wasn’t it,” McMillan says. “That stuff just gets brittle; if you’re putting that in Arizona heat or North Dakota moisture in the winter, then it’s going to take its toll in both scenarios and the WeatherShield stacks up.”
A big part of the AirO’s appeal is that it can be rolled up and shipped regular UPS or FedEx and is incredibly light. WeatherShield reduces the weight of a cover by 25% over vinyl.
Andy Tournas, president at Hot Tub Products, offers WeatherShield on his company’s VacuSeal covers. Tournas says that, in addition to vinyl, the company first offered Sunbrella fabric as an option. “But to be honest, the WeatherShield is far superior to it,” Tournas says, adding that WeatherShield is more resistant to tears.
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“Weathershield has a urethane backing, which makes it waterproof,” says Jerry Greer, owner of Core Covers. “Ski gear and luggage have the same type of coating.”
Greer says WeatherShield is three times stronger than vinyl in just their fabric states, and two times stronger than vinyl where seams are sewn. “Vinyl is a PVC plastic and tears under stress,” Greer says. “WeatherShield is made from fibers and woven in a fabric. The fibers are incredibly strong and the stitching is stronger because the needle is threading between fibers, whereas vinyl is being punctured by a needle and weakens at seams.”
In the company’s seam testing, it found vinyl tears at 204.3 pounds, while WeatherShield tears at 405.12 pounds. Warranty claims this year for seams are at almost 250 units for Core’s vinyl covers, and only five units for its WeatherShield covers.
Tournas says his favorite WeatherShield color is black. “As a matter of fact, we’re encouraging a lot of our dealers to just buy and stock [the VacuSeal] in black.”
Unlike black vinyl that gets extremely hot and can have a harsh, almost too dark look, WeatherShield in black goes with all hot tub cabinet covers. “It’s extremely well accepted,” Tournas says. “Whenever I’ve sold it to dealers, they say, ‘that’s all I want to buy.’ ”
Cover Valet offers its Spa Side umbrella in black, and after a couple of years, McMillan says they’ve seen no fading on that or any of the darker WeatherShield colors, so they now include a 5-year no-fade warranty.
“There’s not too many fabrics we could do that on,” McMillan says. He adds that, while there are several solution-dyed canvas options on the market, WeatherShield has some distinct advantages.
In 2016 only 9% of Core’s covers were made in WeatherShield versus 91% vinyl. In 2019 it was 40% WeatherShield and 60% vinyl. Orders for 2020 indicate that WeatherShield will overtake its vinyl sales.
“It looks like more than 60% of the industry has signed on for Weathershield next year,” Greer says. “Vinyl is a thing of the past.”