How to Build a Deck Around a Hot Tub with Awesome Results!

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A hot tub is not too expensive but can give hours of relaxation to the whole family. The deck is a great place for a hot tub. More than relaxation, an outdoor hot tub or a spa can improve both your physical & mental wellness.

When it comes to a hot tub on a deck you have three options:

  1. Place the hot tub on top of the deck
  2. Sink the hot tub into the deck
  3. Build the deck around the hot tub

Let me explain the three options in some more detail.

Hot Tub on Top of the Deck

This is the easiest of the three options. It will work for a new deck. It will also work for an existing deck. In either case you will need to ensure that:

  • The deck is structurally strong to handle the weight of the hot tub, the water and the occupants at full capacity
  • The decking is sealed or otherwise protected from the damaging effects of water splashes, moisture condensation and the hot tub sanitizing chemicals
  • There is enough space for the hot tub. There should also be enough clearance for installing plumbing, drainage, electricity, etc.

Sink a Hot Tub into the Deck

You may not like the aesthetics of a hot tub on top of a deck. It blocks the line of sight to your beautiful yard or pool.

A standard hot tub is usually about 3’ (36”) tall. Bigger hot tubs can be 3 ½’ (42”) or taller. Add to it the height of the hot tub cover and the space between the hot tub bottom and the deck.

A sunken hot tub is a solution. You will have your hot tub and your view. 

In case of an existing deck it requires considerable remodeling of the deck. It is a lot easier if you can visualize and incorporate the sunken hot tub in the deck design and construction.

Build a Deck around the Hot Tub

You may decide to build a deck around the hot tub because

  • The existing deck is too small, too old or inconveniently located to accommodate a hot tub. Better to build a new deck around the new hot tub. 
  • Your existing hot tub is on a stand alone concrete pad. You want to improve the aesthetics & convenience by building a deck around it. 
Stone Tile Depot

Should a Hot Tub Be Flush with Deck?

The last two options present you with another decision to be made. Should a hot tub be flush with the deck? 

The hot tub can be flush with the deck or protrude 18” – 24” above the deck surface. The pros & cons of each design option are in the table below:

FLUSH WITH DECK18”-24” ABOVE DECK
PROS* Maximum line of sight
* High aesthetic appeal
* Easy access for servicing
* Medium line of sight
* Easy to get in & out
* More seating for entertaining
* Easier to have a conversation with people sitting outside on deck chairs
* Tub cover is at a more convenient height for lifting
* Low deck height is OK
CONS* Requires a high deck
* Higher risk of kids or pets walking into the tub accidently
* Service access to control panel & pump may be a bit difficult

My personal preference is for a half sunk hot tub but if you fancy the luxurious look of a “flush with deck” hot tub, go for it.

How to Build a Deck Around a Hot Tub?

If you have the option, it is a lot better and easier to build a deck around a hot tub than to sink a hot tub in a deck. It is also more forgiving of minor dimensional mismatches.

Here is a step by step process of how to build a deck around a hot tub.

STEP 1: Choose your Hot Tub

Start by selecting the hot tub. Research several options online. Narrow down your choice to a few options. Then visit the hot tub showroom and see the actual models. 

Sit in the show units, with your family. This will give you a pretty good idea of the exact brand, model & size, that will work best for you. Get the brochure so that you have the exact dimensions, weight, electrical & plumbing requirements.

STEP 2: Design the Deck

Sit down with your deck builder and give him an idea of how you want your deck to look. Incorporate inputs from your family. Ask the deck builder to present to you a few rough sketches.

After a couple of meetings you should be able to finalize the rough sketch. Once you give the green light the deck builder should come back to you with engineering drawings, bill of materials and a quote.

After a thorough study and some negotiation you should be able to sign the contract.

STEP 3: Placing the Concrete Slab

When you build a deck around a hot tub, the deck does not support the weight of the hot tub. The hot tub actually sits on an independent concrete slab on grade.

The process of placing the concrete slab involves:

  1. Mark out the area where the slab will be placed. The size should be bigger than the hot tub and allow for additional space for benches and working area for service technicians.
  2. Dig a hole in the ground. The depth of the hole is determined by adding the base thickness to the slab thickness. 
  3. Build at least 4” + 2” of base.
  4. The bottom 4” should be layers of crushed stone or recycled concrete for strength. 
  5. The top 2” should be gravel as it will help in drainage.
  6. The layers must be compacted at each stage.
  7. Cover the base with “geotextile”
  8. You are now ready to pour the concrete. 
  9. A 4” thick concrete slab will easily support the hot tub weight. Rebar reinforcement is not required but you may use wire mesh or a fiber mesh.
  10. Screed the concrete mix. A very fine finish is not required.
  11. Let concrete cure for at least 4 weeks

STEP 4: Building the Deck

Once you place the hot tub on the deck and have it level you are ready to start building the deck. The process of building a deck does depend on the code and soil conditions in your area.

It is best you let the deck builder walk you through the process. You can also check out this detailed and helpful guide on how to build a deck from Home Depot.

Make sure that plumbing and electricals are incorporated in the deck structure or sub-structure.

STEP 5: Finishing the Deck

This is the final and the most exciting part of the project. You can compare and pick the decking boards based on your personal preference.

The cool thing about building the deck around a hot tub is that you can get the boards as close to the hot tub sides as you want. 

You can play with a lot of ideas too. For example, if you position your hot tub at a deck corner away from the house, you could have a ledge on the two outer edges of the tub. They can be used to hold drinks while you and your friends chill in the hot tub.

One of the sides could be the regular deck which is 18” – 24” below the hot tub lip. This makes it super easy to get in and out of the tub. 

The fourth side could be a sunken deck. Provide seating in this area so that your guests, who are not in the hot tub, could lounge.  They will be at the same level as the people in the tub and conversation will flow effortlessly.

NOTE: The hot tub placement must allow sufficient space for movement around the entire tub. Access to the control panel & pump are essential.

Need some inspiration? Check out https://www.houzz.com/photos/sunken-hot-tub-phbr0lbl-bl~l_142675

THE POOL AND DECK SLIDESHOW
THE POOL AND DECK SLIDESHOW

Thank you very much for reading the post. I do hope you found it informative and helpful.

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