Should I Put My Hot Tub Above Ground?

Once you’ve made the life-altering decision to buy a hot tub, you’ll have to wrestle with logistics.  Where’s the best place to put your hot tub and what will be the best way to install it?  We get asked a lot of questions when it comes to hot tub installation, but one that consistently comes up is, “Should I put my hot tub above ground?”  The quick answer to this is that it really depends on the layout of your house and backyard.  To get into the nuances of such a query, we’ve written a post to more completely answer this question and make some points that you should keep in mind when figuring out your installation process.

Do You Have an Existing Base?

If you’ve decided to install your hot tub above ground, you’ll need to have a good resting spot for it.  Some homes already have an existing base such as a deck or patio.  These often make great places to set your hot tub as they provide a comfortable flooring material that’s easy on bare feet and are typically already located near the house.  However, if you’re going to use an existing deck or patio as a base, you must ensure that it’s both sturdy and level. 

You probably already realize that your new hot tub has some heft to it, but once you add water and people it can literally weigh thousands of pounds.  Knowing whether your existing base will be able to withstand the weight of a full hot tub should probably be left up to a professional.  The last thing you need is for your new hot tub to go crashing through your deck. 

Having a level base is equally important since any deviation from the grade will place undue pressure on the walls of the hot tub as well as the base.  Over time this pressure can cause structural damage to the base and cracking or warping of the hot tub itself.  Ensuring your base is level is easy enough to do yourself with a bubble level or digital equivalent.

Creating A Base

If you plan on putting your hot tub on the ground, you’ll have to create some sort of solid base.  Without one, you’ll probably end up with the ground subsidence or shifting due to both the weight of the hot tub and the wet conditions that will undoubtedly surround it.  There are a few options for creating a base directly on the ground.

Concrete – You can lay a pad composed of concrete by creating an area that’s big enough for the hot tub and any attached steps.  You should plan for a pad of at least four inches in depth, but it’s more ideal to go to at least six inches. 

Gravel – Probably easier and cheaper, but somewhat less durable than concrete is a gravel base.  You’ll need to remove a layer of grass and get down to the dirt while reinforcing the edges with a border.  You can pour a layer of gravel within the border to create a base that actually provides drainage as well.

Hot Tub Pads – Hot tub pads are created specifically to act as a base for a hot tub.  They can be composed of concrete, pressure treated lumber or even plastic.  They’re typically interlocking and made for easy installation.

To find out more about what you’ll require when installing a hot tub, download a free hot tub buyers guide