Do I Need A Winter Pool Pillow?

At LinerWorld, we strongly recommend above ground pool owners use a winter pool pillow under their pool cover. Today we’re sharing some benefits of winter pool pillows and how to properly install them!

Side view of inflated winter pool pillowWhat Is a Pool Pillow?

A pool pillow is an inflatable pillow or cushion, usually made out of vinyl. You place the vinyl air pillow under your swimming pool cover during winterization so it creates space between your cover and the water. They can be used with round pools, oval pools, and rectangular-shaped pools.

Do I Need A Pool Pillow?

While they’re not 100% necessary, winter pool pillows are helpful and recommended. They help protect your pool from expanding ice and promote even weight distribution, which is why we highly encourage them for pool owners. 

Why Use Pool Pillows for Above Ground Pools

Let’s look at a few of the benefits of using pool pillows. 

1. Protect Your Above Ground Pool From Expanding Ice

Minimizing ice build-up is the most important reason to use an air pillow in your above ground swimming pool, especially if you live in an area where temperatures get below freezing. 

When you opt not to use one, the pool cover sits right on top of the water. When that’s the case, ice will expand outward, which can put a lot of pressure on your vinyl pool liner and your pool wall. In extreme cases, it may damage your pool beyond repair.

When a winter air pillow is properly in place toward the center of the pool, it holds the cover slightly off the surface of the water. As the water freezes and expands, the pressure is then exerted inward onto the pillow, rather than on the liner or the wall. 

For this reason, you may hear winter pool pillows referred to as ice compensator floats, ice pillows, or ice equalizers, since that’s really the goal.

2. Even Water Weight Distribution

Secondly, the debris and water from winter precipitation tend to collect right in the center of the pool when you don’t use an air pillow. 

All that water in one spot can weigh down and tear your winter cover. While this may not be the end of the world, it certainly makes it messier and more complicated when it comes time to open your pool.  

A winter pool pillow will help distribute the water more evenly, putting less pressure on one specific area of your cover and making it easier to pump out when you open your pool in the summer.

3. Keep the pool cover from falling into the water

Air pillows for above ground pools also help keep your cover afloat and prevent it from falling in the water under the weight of leaves, snow, and other debris. 

Since your cover is your first line of defense against winter weather and debris, this is important to keep your pool clean, well-maintained, and hassle-free to open in the spring.

How to Use a Pool Pillow

Using a winter pool pillow isn’t hard. Let’s explore how to blow up a pool pillow and how to keep it at the center of your pool. 

  1. Inflate the pool air pillow using an air pump. You want it to be firm but not overly stiff. 
  2. Tie a rope to the grommets on the edges of the pillow.
  3. Place the pillow as close to the center of the pool as you can.
  4. To hold the pillow in place, secure the rope to the edge of the pool. Be careful not to damage your liner in the process.
  5. Add your winter pool cover over the top of the pillow. Grab a friend or family member to help and avoid moving the air pillow during this process.

Can I Use An Inflatable Toy Or Float Instead Of A Winter Air Pillow?

There’s really no pool cover pillow alternative. While it may be tempting to use something you already have on hand, like an exercise ball, beach ball, or pool float to help distribute the water, that won’t work the same as a specially designed air pillow. 

In fact, using an exercise ball or other type of inflatable instead of a pool pillow may end up causing damage to the inflatable item, your cover, or your liner, so it’s best to stick to an actual winter pillow.  

What Size Pool Pillow Do I Need?

You shouldn’t need many air pillows to be effective, but larger pools may require multiple pillows. Check out our chart to find how many winter air pillows you need and what size is best. 

Pool Size Suggested Air Pillow Size
12′ Round 4′ x 4′
18′ Round 4′ x 8′
24′ Round 4′ x 8′
27′ Round 4′ x 15′
15′ x 30′ Oval 4′ x 8′
16′ x 24′ Oval 4′ x 8′
16′ x 32′ Oval 4′ x 8′
18′ x 33′ Oval 4′ x 15′

Of course, if your pool size isn’t listed or you have questions about what size air pillow you should use, you can always contact us or leave a comment and we can help you out!

Get the Best Winter Pool Pillows From LinerWorld!

Winter pool pillows aren’t expensive and may end up saving you time and major repair costs down the road.

At LinerWorld, we offer high-quality inflatable pillows in three sizes to meet your needs — 4’ x 4’, 4’ x 8’, and 4’ x 15’. Browse our full selection of air pillows and get ready for the winter season!

Shop Now

Other Winter Pool Care Resources:


Last Updated 10/5/2023

5 responses to “Do I Need A Winter Pool Pillow?”

  1. Jeffrey Siegenthaler says:

    Will be okay I put 12 pcs of air pillow under above ground pool cover? So like keep cover above wall pool it be no water or leaf on cover! It good or bad idea?

  2. This is an interesting product. I will get that for my pool. Thanks for posting this!

  3. Richard Berube says:

    As the Winter months come what do you think will happen to the air filled pillows. Bingo, they’ll shrink to nothing and your pool cover will sag and tear where you place your clamps.

    • Pool Guru says:

      Hi Richard. Thank you for bringing up this important concern about our air pillows for pools. We appreciate your feedback and would like to address your valid point about the impact of winter on the air-filled pillows.

      Keep in mind, that a deflated air pillow often means it’s doing its job. When rain, snow and ice puts a lot of pressure on the pillow, that means all that pressure isn’t impacting the more expensive cover, liners, and fixtures inside the pool as much.

      To help mitigate the issues you mentioned, we recommend the following:

      – Inflate the air pillow to its recommended level, but not to the point of over-inflation. This allows some room for air contraction in colder temperatures.

      – It’s a good practice to check the air pillow periodically throughout the winter and adjust or add a small amount of air if needed to maintain its shape and buoyancy.

      – Ensure you’re using a high-quality pool cover and clamps that are designed to withstand winter conditions.

      While air pillows are a helpful tool in preventing damage to your pool during the winter, it’s essential to take these precautions to ensure their effectiveness. If you have any more questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

  4. ExcelPools says:

    This is a great article. Thank you for educating us about pool pillows. This is excellent equipment for our pool, indeed!

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