Congratulations! You made the wise decision to put a hot tub in your backyard. Soon, you’ll have a place where you can soothe those muscles and unwind. It’ll be great.
But don’t haul it in yet. First, you need to decide what to put it on. The base has to be able to support the hot tub, which can weigh anywhere from 3,500 to 7,000 pounds when filled with water, and even more when filled with people.
That means no grass. Your lawn is simply too soft to support the weight of the tub. You know what will happen to your hot tub? It’ll sink into the grass and eventually bend and crack from the lack of support – not the outcome you want for your precious investment!
So what should you use to make the base? We’re so glad you asked.
Pavers Are a Great Choice
Pavers are a great choice for a hot tub base as they provide ample support. BUT (big but), the real strength lies beneath the pavers. The thing that supports the pavers is the base in the ground, and if your base isn’t prepared properly, the whole thing will shift and you risk breaking your hot tub.
So if you choose to use pavers, promise us you’ll follow these two rules:
Rule #1: The whole base must be leveled.
Laying pavers for a patio is not the same as laying pavers for a hot tub. Your patio may slope away from the house to allow water to drain properly. But for a hot tub, the installation must be leveled to support the weight of the tub uniformly.
Rule #2: The whole base must be deep enough and properly compacted.
On the other hand, both patio and hot tub bases have similar depths. Our suggestion is to excavate 12” of soil so that you can place 10” of gravel and 1” of sand below the pavers. If you can’t go that deep, make sure to have at least 6” of gravel. The gravel must be compacted incrementally, making it as tight as possible.
Pavers are great, but they’re not the only choice. Consider some of these options below. These materials are able to support a hot tub, and may be cheaper or provide more stability than pavers.
- Gravel. Stick with plain old gravel! Gravel is strong enough to support a hot tub when compacted properly. We love gravel because it’s easy to work with and inexpensive. Who wants to spend a fortune on the base after splurging on a hot tub? Besides, gravel makes a lot of sense for a hot tub because it allows water to drain. To top it off, you can add plastic grids (check out TrueGrid permeable pavers) with the gravel for an installation that will stand the test of time.
- Wood Deck. Do you have an existing wood deck? Maybe there’s some extra space on your deck where you can plop down your hot tub. As long as your deck is built to code, chances are it has the structural integrity to support a hot tub!
- Concrete Slab. Some contractors will tell you to build a concrete slab to hold your tub and call it a day. They certainly know what they’re talking about. It’s hard to beat a slab of concrete when it comes to uniform support. So why take chances when that’s the most important thing for hot tubs? Still, some people prefer the aesthetics of pavers over poured concrete, while others would rather have a less permanent structure for when they decide to return the area to grass.
- Concrete Slab & Pavers. Why choose one when you can have it all? You can build a concrete base for maximum support and lay pavers over it using mortar to conceal the concrete. Another idea would be to build a concrete slab for the hot tub to sit on, then lay pavers around the tub for a decorative effect. You could even build stairs leading up to the hot tub with pavers so they have a decorative and practical use. Combining a slab of concrete with pavers gives you the best of both worlds: strength and aesthetics.
Sticking With Pavers?
The perfect base for a hot tub is something that is leveled and can provide adequate, uniform support. You can definitely use pavers, either set over a bed of sand or mortared over a concrete slab. Just make sure, and we can’t emphasize this enough, that the base below the pavers is deep (best to dig out 12”) and properly compacted!
Have Fun Out There!