Hot tubs are popular additions to decks. They provide a quiet and private place to relax and comfortably enjoy the view of the outdoors, and they're great for entertaining guests or simply collecting yourself after a hard day. It's best to contact a professional to install a hot tub on your deck since the weight of the people using the hot tub, the water in the hot tub, and the hot tub itself requires extra structural support. Here's what you need to know about building a deck with a hot tub.
1. Choose Your Hot Tub First, Then Design the Deck Around It
The primary concern with installing a hot tub in your deck is the added weight of the hot tub. Hot tubs are heavy even before you fill them with water and people. A large hot tub with four or five people using it can easily weigh over two tons – that's like parking a car on your deck! The average deck isn't built to handle such a heavy load. If your deck isn't built with the necessary structural supports to handle the weight, you run the risk of your deck collapsing, most likely when you and your guests are using the hot tub.
You'll need to contact a professional deck builder with an engineer on staff to determine the level of structural support necessary for your deck. Decide which model of hot tub you want first, and then inform the deck builders of its dimensions and dry weight so they can calculate the total weight of the hot tub when it's in use. A thick concrete slab needs to be poured on the ground underneath the hot tub to act as a footing. This concrete is poured at the start of the deck installation process, and how thick it needs to be in order to support the hot tub is determined by how heavy the hot tub is. That means it's important to choose your hot tub first and build your deck around it. Afterwards, a double set of joists will be installed underneath the hot tub to support the excess weight of that portion of the deck.
2. Ensure Your Hot Tub Has Easy Maintenance Access
Hot tubs contain a motor and pipes that require periodic maintenance, so it's important to design your deck in a way that allows service personnel to easily access the hot tub. A sunken design where the rim of the hot tub is flush with the deck makes it nearly impossible for technicians to service the hot tub. They'd have to go underneath your deck and climb up on a ladder in order to service it, and the small working space makes some repairs impossible to perform. To make it easy to service your hot tub, don't sink it into your deck. Make sure all the access panels are easily accessible to you and service technicians.
3. Use Materials Resistant to Rot and Corrosion
As you and your guests use your hot tub, you'll splash water around when entering and exiting. A large amount of water on your deck is a recipe for mold. Worse, the water in your hot tub usually has additives such as chlorine and bromine in the water to act as a disinfectant, which can corrode any carbon steel used in the construction of your deck. Use stainless steel instead of carbon to avoid rust, and construct your deck out of a rot-resistant wood such as cedar or semi-synthetic material such as composite.
A hot tub is a beautiful addition to your deck that gives you a chance to relax and entertain your friends, but hot tubs require the expertise of a professional to successfully install. If you're interested in building a deck with a hot tub, choose the model of hot tub to purchase and then contact professional deck builders to design a deck that can support it.