• jonnynalepa

The Best Swimming Pool Skimmer Lid Kit

Updated: Nov 8, 2019

HIDE Skimmer Lids out of Australia manufactures the best alternative to the traditional plastic skimmer lid.



If you want to make sure your skimmer lid properly blends into your deck without any unsightly interruptions and won't crack, discolor, or look out of place, you should make sure you specify a HIDE Skimmer Lid Kit. They make the best looking, most durable, and well hidden skimmer lid kit on the market that's 100% child proof and comes with a 10 year warranty.


HIDE Skimmer Lids are also made from corrosion resistant 316L Marine Grade Stainless Steel but they'll cost you a couple hundred bucks installed so if you're on a budget, you should consider a more affordable off the shelf kit like Pour-a-lid. They're not as durable or streamline as the HIDE lids and they don't offer any safety protection and have limited shape and color options but they're hard to beat for only $30.00.



Safe. Seamless. Stunning

Over the course of my swimming pool career plastic skimmer lids have easily been my number one pet peeve. I hate everything about them. They stick out like sore thumbs, discolor over time, crack, break, get dirty, and ultimately eventually need replacing. I actually never understood why someone would install a plastic skimmer lid on their deck when there are simple alternatives.


And the fact that swimming pools nowadays are still being built with the same cheap and ugly plastic skimmer lids that have been around longer than I have, makes me question some of the builders putting them in. Especially when the contractor's already cutting stone or wood to lay your deck and you have to cut out the area for your skimmer lid anyways. - Use the piece of stone you already removed, or fasten that material to a metal plate for support, or even use an entire paver to cover the skimmer lid opening. There's even a low-cost, off the shelf product that's been around for over a decade so I'm not sure why traditional plastic lids are still a thing.


It's such a simple solution that makes a huge difference, it actually makes it hard for me to believe that a builder who's OK with installing a plastic skimmer lid in your pool deck, could possibly give a genuine shit how your pool turns out - but that's just me.


To be fair, this is a pretty subtle detail that most people might not even notice or even be aware that there are alternative options but at the very least, builders should be providing this option to their clients and educating them on the difference.


I honestly believe that if given the choice between a traditional plastic skimmer lid or one that's covered to match your deck, 0% of people would choose the former. Would you?




Why you should trust me

I'm a second generation pool professional so I've been accessing residential and commercial skimmer lids since before I was old enough to care what one looked like. You could say my pool service career started out small, helping my dad with the easiest and most basic tasks like cleaning out the skimmers while he cleaned the pool and balanced the chemicals. I even use to take small toys home with me that I found in the skimmer baskets of commercial hotels. So I've opened, closed, walked on, cracked, broken and cleaned out more skimmer lids and baskets than I can count. I've also replaced and installed new and existing lids, seen all the available off-the-shelf options and custom applications, in the field in real world conditions, and spoken to various manufacturers.




Why I Chose HIDE


HIDE #Skimmer #Lids blend into your deck better than any other option, are the most durable and offer the highest level of safety.


They're virtually unnoticeable, in part, because their square shape matches the lines of the decking better than a traditional circular shape - Regardless of the shape of your pool or pattern on your deck, outlining your skimmer lid with straight lines will pretty much always look better and clash less than a radiused line. The square outline won't draw your eye as much as a circular one will because it matches grout lines, material shapes and surrounding structures better. You'd have to have a a seriously free flowing, organic themed backyard with a free-form pool and some circular planters or something similar to one of Zaha Hadid's designs to make a circular lid match more than a square one.


The square frame is also much more material friendly, making it easier to accurately cut and inlay materials without any irregularities. Trying to cut materials into specific shapes to match a circular lid for instance, can sometimes cause chips and crevices which interrupt the seamless look. 90 degree corners make it much easier to grind and smooth edges to the perfect fit and leave less room for error.


The frame on the outside of the inlay lid is also designed to protect the surrounding coping and deck material that are immediately adjacent to the lid. This ensures the surrounding materials don't chip or break when the lid is opened or closed. It also provides for adequate drainage and prevents potential staining and leaching from water damage.


The HIDE lids also have less of a visual impact because their key way or keyhole was cleverly designed to be a narrow slot. Not only does the slot look sleek and modern but it's the least intrusive to your deck compared to other alternatives. The slots are roughly a quarter inch wide by an inch in length which make them too small to be opened by hand so you have to use HIDE's Safety Key if you want to open the lid which makes them safest skimmer lid you can buy that's 100% childproof.


HIDE skimmer lids are also completely patented, highly engineered, and constructed in a high tech facility by automated robots that cut, bend, weld and polish with precision and efficiency to produce a top notch product. The HIDE kits are made from 316L marine grade stainless steel which makes them super corrosion resistant and offers some serious structural support. Using a quality material like steel also gives the product the ability to sit perfectly flush with the deck and not move, twist or warp under pressure. Lesser materials like plastic tend to degrade over time causing them to look warn and contorted in certain areas of the frame which can make even quality deck material look bad.



To give you an idea, the corners of the HIDE lids have individual supports that can each hold up to 300lbs which means you could walk over a lid with your high heel in the corner most point and the lid won't budge. I actually met with the HIDE rep from Australia here in Miami and I think the story of how that came to be is worth sharing:


HIDE was showcasing the installed prototype lid at a party and out by the pool in the backyard a woman stepped on the corner of the HIDE skimmer lid with her high heel. The lid "gave", tilted or moved enough to cause the woman to lose her balance and almost fall. As a result, the HIDE engineers installed 4 circular supports in each corner of the frame that can individually hold up to 300lbs of direct pressure.


Now, the HIDE skimmer lids can be walked on without worry on any point on the surface even in red bottoms. Plastic skimmer lids and other alternatives have to try and be avoided all together so you don't accidentally step on one and break it or lose a shoe - which I've done.


Additionally, the edge protector or frame that these corner supports sit on is actually a single piece of metal on the bottom and is only welded in the corners. It has bent flanges that allow air to pass through so materials can cure and so the inlay lid touches metal to metal when it's closed for proper bonding. It even has a bonding hole and 2% slope to allow water to drain and not sit. It's actually extremely difficult to achieve all of these features from a single piece of metal but it's also what makes the HIDE lids super durable and have less corrosion potential. - Although 316L stainless steel is one of the highest quality forms of steel, it's not completely rust proof and corrosion tends to frequent more in welded areas.


The lids can accept virtually any material and suits almost any application. They come in multiple inlay depths to accept different material thicknesses and various sizes so you can disguise pretty much anything that needs to be accessed via your pool deck. You can cover skimmers, water level sensors, manual fire gas valves, and deck drains which is perfect for some pool with multiple water and fire features. They can also manufacture custom-sized lids if needed and be installed on both new construction pools or retrofitted to an existing deck.


The kit comes with everything you need except the finish material. It includes a Safety Key for child proof access, a Height Adjuster in case the material is too thin to provide a flush finish, an Inlay lid, Edge protector, Adhesive, and product/install documents.




Safety

HIDE lids are the safest skimmer lid option you can have. They're 100% childproof and meet safety standards in the Au. that don't even apply in the states. - probably why we're still even allowed to have plastic ones. They actually exceed the Australian Standard AS 1926.3 2010 for swimming pool safety which basically requires all installed skimmer lids to be child resistant and have a minimum area of ventilation to reduce potential entrapment.


So the HIDE keyhole meets and exceeds the level required by the national safety regulations by being completely child-proof and also allowing more than enough ventilation for entrapment. And although this standard hasn't yet been adopted in the states, if Virginia Graeme Baker has taught us anything, I don't think it's ever a bad idea to make our pools safer.


It's worth mentioning however, that using a safety key is an added step and involves an additional tool but it's directly related to the lids overall aesthetic and safety standards, so I think it's worth the "inconvenience."




Usability

The HIDE Safety Key is ergonomically designed, precision made and constructed from the same quality materials as the rest of the product so it's comfortable in your hand and easy to use. Using the HIDE key is definitely a new way to open a skimmer lid but I've also had to pry a couple plastic ones open with a flat head screwdriver before so maybe they're on to something.


Opening the HIDE lid with the safety key is actually less painful than it initially sounds and might even be easier to open than a plastic or stone lid on occasion. The metal to metal materials creates much less friction than plastic or stone to itself. The lid delightfully lifts up without any resistance whatsoever. I can't say the process will remain this easy after a couple years and some exposure to pool water and the elements but it looks promising nonetheless and I don't imagine there's any reason to think otherwise as long as it's well kept.


According to the HIDE website, you shouldn't use the safety key to carry the full weight of the lid though. It's intended to lift the lid out of place and then grab with your hand. It's a valid point to make but I found that you'll naturally gravitate towards doing it that way anyways. The keyway is off to one side so as you lift the lid from one side on an angle, you'll naturally start to grab it with your other hand. It would be more difficult to try and use the key to lift the entire thing anyways.


It's worth mentioning that lids larger than 12" x 12" have two keyways and will require the use of dual safety keys to open. I imagine in this instance you're OK to lift the entire lid using both keys because I don't see how else you'd be able to, although I've never done it.


You can also request to have your key customized with your name or slogan which is great I guess if you ever plan on giving someone a HIDE skimmer lid for Christmas? It's completely unnecessary but a nice gesture nonetheless.




Who should buy this?

Whether you have an existing pool or plan on having a new one built, if it has a skimmer, you should use a HIDE skimmer lid kit. I don't care if you're getting a pool built for $30,000.00 or $200,000.00, the HIDE skimmer lid is the best option for all skimmer lids in my opinion. It removes the hassle of building a custom one, it looks the cleanest, is the most durable option and provides the most safety compared to any other alternative.


And with a distributor price of only $195.00, in the scheme of things, on a $30,000.00 pool, it's worth the additional cost. (contractor pricing to the end customer will be more)


It's worth noting that it's much easier to justify spending the money for a HIDE skimmer lid when your're having a brand new pool put in because the price seems relatively cheap compared to the overall cost of the project. But if you already have a pool, you could easily be spending $500.00 for an installed product (depending on who you ask) which may not sound as appealing especially since pools usually have two skimmers. So unless, you're a detail oriented person and can't stand the look of your plastic skimmer lids or you have kids and are potentially worried about a safety hazard with a lid that could break, you may be more interested in the Pour-a-lid kit or even a DIY project.


But If you have an existing pool and don't mind potentially dishing out $1000.00 for a pair of completely hidden, highly engineered, safe and seamless skimmer lids as an alternative to what you're use to seeing in your deck, then the HIDE Skimmer Lid Kit is a no-brainer.


Frankly, I think HIDE Skimmer Lids should be standard on every pool that has a skimmer.


If you have a perimeter overflow pool like a Lautner Knife Edge, Underwater Coping, or Elevated Perimeter Overflow, you don't need to worry about a skimmer. These types of pools overflow on all sides and don't have any vertical walls for debris to accumulate. Therefor, these types of vessels don't require skimmers, period.




Flaws but not deal breakers

The one drawback with the HIDE skimmer lid is that it requires an additional tool for access. This is just one more thing to worry about not misplacing and you won't be able to clean out your skimmer lid without it. It's an extra step but I feel that it's a reasonable trade-off for the added safety and aesthetics. Especially if you have kids or you don't service your pool yourself. You usually have to open your skimmer lid once a week anyways to service your pool and a tool that you use this often may be harder to lose than you think especially if you keep it with the rest of your pool equipment.


If you don't service your own pool, you might want to get a spare key for your pool tech and you may have to worry about them potentially misplacing theirs and not cleaning out your skimmer baskets on a regular basis as a result but I don't imagine this would become an issue for long. The spares are cheap and you could order a bunch at a time just to be safe but I imagine at some point, these skimmers will become standard on every pool and this won't be a huge concern.


And if you or your pool tech loses their key, the keyway on the HIDE lid looks big enough to fit a small flathead screwdriver in and potentially lift it that way. I'm not suggesting this be done or even that it would work but in case of an emergency, sometimes you have to get creative.


Being that the HIDE lid is also made out of stainless steel, it's also one more thing to bond which requires additional work - especially if you have multiple skimmers. Any metal within 5'-0" of the pool needs to be properly bonded which requires connecting copper wires to them.




The competition

I like the HIDE Skimmer Lid Kit because it standardizes something that was previously an "artistic" en-devour and makes it simple enough for everyone to have. Before the HIDE kits, if you wanted your skimmer lid to match your pool deck, you either had to give this detail a lot of attention with the different make-shift options available and hope it came out OK or purchase a cheap plastic alternative.




Custom


Until the HIDE Skimmer Lid Kit, even most designers usually spec. a custom detail to modify the standard skimmer lid and use a piece of stainless to mount the deck finish material on top and provide a lift hole. Ideally it should look something like the image above.


This is a great example of what a custom skimmer lid should look like, but most of the time, unless you have a quality builder, this isn't what you'll end up with. You'd have to have this cut by a machine or have some serious hand-eye coordination to pull this off. So I wouldn't expect too much from someone who was originally planning on using a plastic lid. Most of these lids aren't cut in a perfect circle and have "wobbly" areas that don't look great or pull up easily either. Especially when you don't put the piece back in place exactly as it was and once you've lost this placement it makes opening and closing that much more difficult.


It's also worth noting that depending on what deck material you have, if a support piece like stainless steel isn't used, this cutout may eventually crack or break when someone steps on it. And either way, I'm still not satisfied with the "round peg in a square hole" look because you can clearly see the straight grout lines and coping pieces that make this circular lid really want to be a square.



Paver


If you're using pavers and coordinate the hell out of your skimmer lid location and placement along with your decking and paver size, you can use an entire paver piece to cover your skimmer opening. It's the best looking custom option in my opinion but can also be more complicated than you'd like. You might also need a lifting mechanism depending on how thick and heavy the material is.


In this case, the paver is roughly 2" thick and it's pretty heavy for a single finger to lift out of the deck - if you can even get in there far enough to properly cup the paver to lift it - especially since it's tighly butt jointed together by the surrounding pavers. So this setup actually requires a "lift key" that 's really just a piece of rope that goes through the hole with a metal rod on the underside of the paver and a flat, circular metal piece on the deck side. It's the cleanest look but now you have a metal disk on your deck and physically lifting this paver with essentially a piece of rope or wire, is still fairly more involved than lifting something that has a frame.




Pour-a-lid


If you don't want to deal with a custom design and you'd prefer something off the shelf, Pour-a-lid makes a plastic alternative that only costs about $30.00. It's a great option if you're on a budget and still don't want an unsightly, white skimmer lid but in my opinion, they fall short of being a top quality product. They're a much simpler device with less versatility and don't offer the same aesthetic as the HIDE lids but they're hard to beat at such a low price point.


However, Pour-a-lid skimmer lids, like anything else, have a number of drawbacks. For instance, they only have three color options: Clear, Tan, and Grey and in my experience, especially with modern decking materials, none of these standard colors really match your deck. They come close but I find that they're usually a couple shades off and I think it's better to have a frame that intentionally doesn't match rather than try to match closely and miss.


They're also made out of plastic so no matter how good a decking job you do, you can't hide the quality of the material. In this case, I think the plastic frame of the Pour-a-lid actually takes away from the quality of the material and craftsmanship of the work. Nothing's perfect but if you're detail oriented like me this may not sit well with you.


Pour-a-lids also only come in a circular option for both retrofitting and new construction projects. They only offer a square option for new construction and as you can see, it's difficult to cut stone to fit perfectly in a radius especially if the location falls on a joint. So if you have an existing pool and like the idea of hiding your plastic skimmer lid for a bargain, you'll have to settle for something circular.


Their newest, new construction models also have two finger cups on the ends instead of the single finger cup circle in the center of their replacement lids for existing pools, which require two hands to open and is one more visual intrusion in your deck. Opening the lid is also still very telling of the plastic construction just like a standard plastic skimmer lid because the lid just doesn't seem to slide right up without a little wiggling back and forth.




Maintenance

According to HIDE's website, it’s a good idea to regularly open your HIDE product and check for and remove any leaf-litter or debris which may have gathered inside the HIDE Edge Protector. If not removed, the debris may cause the HIDE lid to become loose or to sit unevenly. Check regularly to ensure the HIDE product is fitting well, and is sitting evenly in its recessed area.


Occasionally you might also notice some cosmetic discoloration on the stainless steel components of the HIDE product, often known as “tea-staining”. Although HIDE lids are made of marine grade 316L stainless steel, it’s normal for visible surface rusting to occur around watery environments, especially swimming pools. The issue, if treated whenever noticed, will not affect the structural performance of the HIDE product.


Typically the tea-staining will form on the underside of the HIDE lid where residues and salt deposits gather. To clean, all you need is a stainless steel scourer, soapy water and a little elbow grease. Just be sure to use the scourer parallel to the grain direction of the HIDE lid and rinse thoroughly when you're done.


If the surface staining is allowed to build up over time, possible rust bleeding may leach onto the HIDE lid inlay or surrounding paving. However, this is completely avoidable with some occasional TLC. If not, over a prolonged period of time, the leaching could become permanent. It's also worth noting that when it rains,that's not usually a sufficient cleaning.




Warranty

According to the HIDE website, HIDE lids come with a 10 year warranty however

they strongly advise against any acid or chemical washing products coming into contact with their product as it will void the warranty. This is one of the main causes for damage to a HIDE product, and it is not covered by your warranty.


If you're acid washing your pool or chlorine or chemical washing your deck, make sure you keep the chemicals away from the HIDE lid or use green products with acid replacements. Chemical contact with most pool and paving cleaning solutions will rapidly affect the surface finish of the stainless steel HIDE components. The resulting rust will damage the lid inlay, and potentially the structural integrity of the HIDE lid itself. Alternatives are available in the form of “Green Acid Replacement.”


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