Hot Tub Installation Tips

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What should I consider when I design my custom deck for my hot tub?

Designing a Custom Deck for Your Hot Tub

There are three major things to consider when you design your custom deck for your hot tub.
• First, it must be totally level and secure from sinking or shifting.
• Second, it should be sturdy enough to take the weight of a full hot tub with people in it. Hot tubs can weigh 3,000 pounds or more when they are full, and add in the weight of a group of people and that can be quite a load on a small deck. Make sure the material is strong enough to stand up to the weight.
• Finally, make sure the deck is bigger than the hot tub and accessible from all sides. You'll need to do maintenance occasionally and placing the tub on a too small or inaccessible deck makes it much more difficult and demanding.

   
Can I put a hot tub on a second story deck?

Hot Tubs and Second Story Decks

If you have a custom deck on the second story of your house, you might want to install your hot tub there for the view and convenience. A hot tub upstairs off a master bedroom can be private retreat, and if your backyard has views, you'll really capitalize on them. Before you install it however, you'll need to make sure the deck is strong enough to hold the tub. You may need to have a contractor add additional support to make sure the deck is strong enough. If you're adding a custom deck, you should tell the architect you plan to install a hot tub on the deck so he can create the right plans for your custom deck.

   
What do I need to consider in my overall backyard plan?

The Big Picture

Don't forget to take all the landscaping and elements into consideration when backyard planning for your new hot tub. Do you want a water feature in addition to your hot tub? Where will it go in the yard? What types of plants and shrubs will complement it? Do you have a view from your yard? Where can you place the tub to take full advantage of the view while still gaining maximum privacy? What kinds of beds and plantings are already in the yard. Will the hot tub take away from these plantings, or add to them? If you add a gazebo or enclosure will it enhance your yard or make it look tiny and cramped? All of these considerations add up to taking some time with your backyard plan in the beginning. However, the more time spent in the beginning means the more your backyard will pull together in the end.

   
What materials can I use when I plan my patio?

Patio Materials

The most important part of your patio planning is the patio itself. What will you choose for the patio material? It used to be, patios were simply cement slabs, but today, patios can be anything from brick to stone to slate to stamped or colored concrete. Whatever type of material you choose when planning your patio, make sure it can stand up to the weight of a hot tub. They can weigh over 3,000 pounds when full, so your patio will need to be durable and resistant enough to stand up to that weight. Make sure you tell your builder or contractor you're planning to put a hot tub on the patio before you start. Size matters, too. Make sure your patio is big enough to hold the hot tub with plenty of extra space around it. You'll need that when you get in and out of the tub and when you maintain it.

   
Are there any other things I should think about when I design my custom deck?

More Custom Deck Considerations

There are a few more things to consider when you decide where to place your custom deck in your yard.
• The deck should be fairly close to the house. That way you don't have to go too far to the hot tub in cold or rainy weather.
• There should be an electrical box close to the deck so you can plug in the tub, or you should be able to run electricity to the deck easily.
• Make sure you have a hose nearby to fill the tub when you need to.
• Finally, make sure drainage around the deck is adequate. You need to drain and refill your tub periodically, and a deck without enough drainage won't work.

   
Should I build a custom deck around my hot tub?

Build Your Deck Around Your Hot Tub!

When most people locate a hot tub on a deck, they custom build the deck and then add the hot tub. However, there's another solution that might work well for you. Build the deck after you locate the tub, and custom fit the deck around the hot tub! This gives the tub a more built-in look even though it's free standing. It also creates more usable space around the perimeter of the tub for seating, towels, and more. People have been building custom decks surrounding above ground pools for years, and hot tubs aren't really that different. So, don't only think underfoot when you plan your hot tub custom deck. Think up and around, too.

   
Should I plant trees around my hot tub?

Trees and Tubs

Surrounding your hot tub with trees can be an important item in your backyard planning. Trees add color, texture, and shade to a yard. Just make sure you don't plant those trees to close to the tub. They can shed leaves and debris into the tub, and birds nesting in the trees can do, well, what birds do -- right on your tub. It's best to locate trees farther away from the hot tub, where you can benefit from their shade as they mature. If you have nosey neighbors, you may want to plant a barrier of low trees or shrubs between the hot tub and the neighbors. Be sure to trim any tree branches that might hang over your tub, they can be dangerous and messy.

   
How can I design my patio before my hot tub arrives?

Patio Design 101

Are you clueless about how to design and plan your patio around your spa? Don't despair! Many spa dealers and manufacturers now offer patio planner software that you can use to create the patio of your dreams. You can install the software on your home computer or set up an account at their Website and use it online. The planner contain renderings of hot tubs and a variety of common patio items, such as pergolas, furniture, plants and planters, trees, and patio materials like stone, brick, etc. You can put together any number of items to get a good idea how your finished patio will look, complete with spa. It's a great way to plan your patio before your tub is delivered.

   
What else should I know about planting trees in my backyard?

Trees and Tubs – Part II

If you're still thinking about planting trees close to your tub, think again and adjust your backyard planning. Mature trees can send out long, thick roots in search of water. These roots can uplift your patio, deck, or the cement pad your hot tub is resting on and that can create havoc. Even if the roots don't lift up the deck or patio, they can cause it to become unstable or even create cracks and broken pieces, which could ultimately damage your hot tub or make it uneven. This can create too much pressure on one side of the hot tub, which can lead to damage and even to warping. So, when you plan your backyard, make sure you locate trees far enough away to avoid damage from their roots, too.

   
How can I make sure my hot tub is private when I'm planning my backyard?

Privacy and Your Backyard Planning

Some people don't mind if their hot tub is out in the open, while others would like a little more privacy when they take a soak. Make sure you take this into consideration when backyard planning for your hot tub. If your tub is going to be in full view of the neighbors, what can you do to hide it? You might try putting up a lattice or trellis around the tub, or even fencing it off. You can also purchase a gazebo or enclosure that surrounds the tub, creating a cozy and very private environment. You might also plants shrubs and bushes as a barrier between the tub and the neighbors' prying eyes. When you pick the location of your hot tub you should have an idea of how much privacy you need to create, and how you'll incorporate that into your overall backyard planning.

   
Why do I need a patio planner when I shop for a hot tub?

Create Your Own Patio Planner

It's a good idea to create your own portable patio planner you can take with you when you're shopping for hot tubs. Your planner can include drawings and measurement of your patio, where you're thinking about locating the spa, what kind of patio foundations you'll be using, and even photographs of the area so you can get an idea of how the spa would look. If you take your patio planner with you when you shop, you can jot down notes about spa colors, shapes, and sizes too, so you'll remember the details when you get home. For most people, a spa is a major purchase and a little advance planning will ensure your spa ends up in exactly the right spot on your patio!

   
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Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.