Best hot tub base
What is the best base for under a hot tub?
Having a sturdy level base for your hot tub is important if you want your hot tub to work properly and to last a long time. We happily provide help and advice when asked by new customers but Tim thought it would also be a good idea to add something in a blog as well. So here goes.
How much does a hot tub weigh?
When you consider how much a hot tub weighs empty and then think how much it will weigh when it's full of water and several adults, it's going to be too heavy to place directly on grass. Because when the ground is wet and your tub is full, it's more likely to sink a little. And that's not good for your hot tub. Let's use the Burford Deluxe tub as an example. Empty the tub weighs 200kg, full of water it will weigh roughly 1500kg. Add the maximum number of people, worse case scenario, and because you're a friendly person, that's seven people. The average person weighs around 84kg, so the maximum person weight is 84 x 7 = 588kgs. Add that to the hot tub full of water weight (1500kg), gives a total weight of 2088kg.
So it sounds like hot tubs are heavy objects doesn't it? Well, Tim says that in engineering terms they're actually fairly light. And that's because the weight is spread out over a wide area (3 square metres). I'll have to take his word for it as I'm still trying to get my head around the maths. What is important is ensuring that the base under your hot tub is level as this keeps the weight evenly distributed.
What are the different types of hot tub base?
If you were considering buy an inflatable hot tub then the best one I have seen is a hot tub pad. There seem to be more of them on the market and I can see how they could prevent damage and save a bit of money because of the extra insulation (inflatable tubs lose heat if they are on a cold, hard surface). The pads come in different sizes and thickness depending on the size of the tub. If only there was something similar for solid tubs!
The different types of base to consider for solid tubs are:
Concrete has been used to build hot tub bases for years, and as a building material, it is very versatile and durable. It's easy to make level but unless you are very handy then you will probably have to get a tradesperson in to do the job for you. The disadvantage with concrete is it can be expensive, and it's not as attractive or environmentally friendly as some of the other options. Built properly though it should last as long as your hot tub. And if you don't like the look of the concrete slab you could always paint it over, or cover it with fake turf.
Building a gravel base is the easiest option and if you don't like the colour of the gravel, then you can buy smaller, more decorative pea gravel to cover it and get it perfectly level. The main advantages of using gravel are that it is naturally durable, provides excellent drainage and is cheap to install. It's also the most environmentally friendly solution. You will need to build a wooden frame to keep the gravel in place so the wood needs to be treated, and regularly maintained with a good wood preserver. Before you put down the gravel you'll need to lay a water-penetrable, weed-suppressing material to stop the weeds growing through. Make sure the gravel is packed in tight, then add smaller gravel if you want a perfectly level finish. The disadvantage of using gravel? Some people don't think it looks very attractive, although I really like it. Also, if you're not careful, gravel around your hot tub can hurt your feet when you are getting in and out of the tub.
If you already have a paved patio area then you have very little work to do. Unless your patio is uneven, in which case you will have to level it out. And you also need to ensure that all the paving slabs under and around your hot tub are securely fixed. Most patios are built with a slight incline to let rain water drain away. Depending on the incline this could cause damage to your hot tub in the long-term. Similarly, if there is no incline and puddles of water form on the patio, make sure your tub isn't going to be standing in water, as this could damage the wooden exterior.
If you don't already have a patio then you can build a paving stone base for your hot tub, but there is more work involved than using gravel or a concrete base. And unless you are a good DIYer, there is the extra cost of getting someone in to do the job for you.
Personally I think decking is a great choice as a hot tub base, especially if it is well thought out and coordinated with your hot tub's exterior wooden surround. Building a simple decking platform is relatively straight forward even for someone with little DIY knowledge.
To take the weight of a full tub, it's important to make sure you have the correct spacing of the joists, beams and footings so the decking is level and stable. There are hundreds of articles and YouTube videos to help you build your decking. Lots of very fancy and intricate designs too, but if this is the first time you are trying your hand at decking then Tim says 'keep it simple'.
Pre-fabricated plastic tiles are fairly new to the market and are another good hot tub base option. They provide greater flexibility and come in different colours - maybe to match your hot tub - or they could be used to design your own bespoke theme. Some even incorporate water resistant LED lighting! If you want an environmentally-friendly option look for plastic tiles made from 100 per cent recycled plastic. The tiles can be used with or without gravel, but with gravel they are much stronger. Ideally, if you are going to lay these on grass, first you should remove the turf and dig down to the same depth as the plastic lattice (just 5-6 cms). Then, as with the gravel base, lay water-permeable, weed-suppressing cloth and place the plastic tiles on top of this. They interlock, so once they're all clicked into place, fill with gravel and place your hot tub on the top. Sounds almost as simple as making a cake, doesn't it?
If you find a stockist of these tiles in France or elsewhere in the EU, then please let me know. This will be another option to share with new customers, because they sound really easy to install.
Get more ideas from our hot tub gallery
If you're looking for more inspiration, then I've pulled together a gallery of different hot tub bases that our customers have installed. There are some incredible locations and ideas and our range of Cotswold Eco Tubs look perfectly at home in each and every one of them.
Get in touch
If you have any questions, or need help and advice in choosing the best hot tub base for your new tub, please get in touch. We're always happy to help.
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