For many homeowners, a hot tub is a must-have. A deck is one of the most popular places to put a hot tub, where it’s close to your backyard door and easily accessible. Enjoying your hot tub is easier when you don’t have to go far to get in it.
Can a hot tub go on decking? Yes, it absolutely can! As long as your deck is built to code and made to handle the weight of the hot tub, there is no issue. It’s always best to consult a professional before installing a hot tub on any decking.
Continue reading below to learn more about having a hot tub on your deck and how you can figure out if your existing deck can handle the load.
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Installing a Hot Tub on Decking
Hot Tub weight is the most crucial thing to consider when it comes to having a hot tub installed on your deck. Whether you are building a brand new deck specifically for your hot tub or planning to put it on an existing deck, you have to ensure it will be able to hold the weight.
Hot tubs generally weigh thousands of pounds when they are full of water and holding multiple people. When you break that weight down to the pounds per square foot you will find that additional support will be needed to hold a hot tub.
It’s easy enough to find out what your hot tub will weigh at its heaviest using the following formula:
Dry Weight + Water Weight + Human Weight = Total Weight of Hot Tub
The dry weight of the hot tub will be listed by the manufacturer. This is how much the hot tub weighs on its own with no water in it at all.
To find the water weight you take the number of gallons the hot tub can hold and multiply it by 8.35 pounds, which is the average weight of 1 gallon of water.
The human weight can be found by multiplying the highest number of people the hot tub can hold by their average weight. Using 175 pounds is usually a good bet here.
Once you find out the highest total weight of the hot tub you will be purchasing, you will need to divide that number by how big the hot tub is in square feet. The number you end up with will help to determine how to properly structure your deck for the hot tub.
For example: If the hot tub would weigh 4,000 pounds when full and it is 50 square feet, then it weighs 80 pounds per square foot. You have to ensure your deck can hold that much at the very least.
It is usually a requirement to consult with a structural engineer before placing a hot tub on any sort of decking. They will check out your deck to see that it is strong enough to hold the hot tub in question and make a plan for any changes that need to be made.
The best sort of support for a hot tub is a concrete slab beneath the decking that is at least 4″ deep. The concrete is strong enough to hold the hot tub’s weight without any damage occurring.
If you have a raised deck, support posts, joists and beams will need to be added beneath to increase the weight the deck can handle.
If you plan on having a ground level deck, you can build the deck around the hot tub sitting on gravel. That way you won’t have to add more support to handle the weight of the hot tub.
Also, if you have an inflatable hot tub, your deck might be fine to handle its weight since it weighs less is usually much smaller.
Other Tips for Installing a Hot Tub on Your Deck
Room to Move: There should be adequate space around your hot tub for you to easily take the cover off and put it on again. Everyone should be able to get in and out of the hot tub without hassle because of a lack of space.
Deck Spacing: The spaces between the deck boards should be wide enough to let any sloshed out water through, but not wide enough that someone might catch a toe in it. 1/4 an inch is usually a good way to go.
Smooth and Sanded: The last thing anyone wants while walking to and from the hot tub is to get a splinter in their foot. Make sure the surface of your deck is smooth to prevent one.
Install it Close to a Door: The further away from your door the hot tub is, the less likely you are to use it. If you want to get the most out of your hot tub, even in cold weather, it’s best to have it as close as possible so it’s quick and easy to get in.
Put up a Privacy Screen: If you’re worried about nosy neighbors you may want to install some kind of screen to keep wandering eyes away. It’s difficult to relax when you’re being stared at from across the lawn.
There are a variety of different materials that can be used to build your deck. Some of these materials are better than others when it comes to a hot tub. 2 inch thick decking can hold more weight than 1 inch thick decking. Fore more details about 5/4 decking vs 2/6 decking, check out our other article.
A Few Decking Material Options:
- Composite Wood
- Pressure Treated Wood
- Western Red Cedar
- Ipe or Hardwood
Composite material made from wood fibers and other products is a low maintenance route to take for your deck but it needs quite a bit of structural members to make it strong enough for a hot tub.
While maintenance of a composite deck is much lower than a regular wood deck, it also tends to get damaged easier. Newer composites are much better at not getting damaged as much or staying cooler if you have a deck that gets full sun.
Pressure-treated wood is an inexpensive option to use for decking. This kind of wood is prone to warping and only has a life expectancy of around 15 years. It is a softer wood and on the bottom of the scale for the amount of weight it can handle.
Western red cedar is a recommended option when it comes to hot tub decking. It is softer, which reduces the chance of getting any splinters. It is also insect and fungus resistant. This wood will last on average 30 years. If you want a certain color you will have to stain it every 2-3 years. Otherwise, it will turn a natural gray.
Ipe wood is an exceptionally long-lasting wood with a life expectancy of around 40-50 years. It comes from Brazil and has very few knots to contend with. It’s also low maintenance, only needing upkeep in the form of oiling it once or twice a year. It is also very strong with a much higher weight tolerance.
Choosing a material for your deck can be difficult, and you should consult a professional planner to find the best one for you. There may be something perfect for the climate and conditions you live in that you don’t even know about yet.
Turn Your Deck into a Luxurious Getaway
For many people, putting their hot tub on the deck is the first choice. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to install a hot tub on your deck if you take the appropriate steps to ensure it is up to the task. You can even create a gazebo for your hot tub.
If you are unsure of how much weight your current deck can handle, you should consult a structural engineer for a professional opinion. Having someone skilled in the field of designing and building decks take a look is also extremely helpful when considering putting a hot tub on your deck.
All you have to do is make sure everyone that might be going for a soak is safe and sound in the process. Once you know you’re up to code, you can have the hot tub of your dreams right outside your back door.