Installing a spa tub in your home can transform your bathing experience and provide a luxurious way to relax and unwind after a long day. But before you dive in, there are some key considerations when planning for a home spa tub. As spa tub professionals, we’ve installed countless hot tubs and want to provide our best tips to help you make the right decisions.
Choosing the Right Type of Spa Tub
The first step is deciding what type of spa tub is right for your needs and budget. Here are the main options:
Hot tubs are the classic outdoor spa tub, designed for soaking with friends and family. They typically seat 3-8 people, with options for lounge seating, jet packs, lighting, and entertainment systems. Consider:
- Size – Measure your space and opt for a 2-person, 4-person or larger model.
- Jets – More jets provide a more massage-like experience. Choose a hot tub with different jet types for variety.
- Materials – Acrylic shells and synthetic cabinetry are durable and affordable. Wood cabinetry looks great but requires more maintenance.
- Features – Entertainment systems, lighting, water features and insulation extend use in all seasons.
For a spa experience in your existing bathroom, a jetted soaking bathtub might be the perfect fit. Made from materials like acrylic or enameled steel, these tubs have jets on the sides and ends for a total-body massage. Models range from simple to fully-loaded with air jets, heated surfaces, and even mood lighting.
Inflatable Hot Tubs
Inflatable spas offer an affordable and portable spa tub option. The soft sides inflate with air, while a heating system warms the water. Most seat up to 4 adults and include bubble jets. They’re easy to set up and take down as needed. Just be sure to find a level spot with a sturdy base.
For homeowners who also want the option to swim laps or exercise, swim spas are a great dual-purpose choice. Swim spas have two sections – one large area for swimming in place, and a heated spa section with massage jets. The powerful current allows for serious swimming workouts.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Installation
One of the biggest decisions is choosing between an indoor or outdoor spa tub placement. Here are factors to consider for each:
Outdoor Spa Tub Placement
- Backyard – This is the classic placement, allowing you to enjoy the relaxing hot tub under the stars. Just be sure you have sufficient flat space on a patio or deck.
- Sunroom/Porch – A fully or partially enclosed sunroom adjacent to the main house provides weather protection while still offering an outdoor feel.
- Deck/Patio – Elevating the hot tub on a deck or patio helps protect the components while still allowing you to enjoy the outdoors.
- Gazebo – A screened-in or open-air gazebo provides shade and shelter for your outdoor spa tub.
- Access to utilities like water and power
- Zoning laws for exterior hot tubs
- Privacy from neighbors
- Exposure to the elements
- Ongoing maintenance and cleaning
- Investing in insulation and weather-proof components for year-round use
Indoor Spa Tub Placement
- Bathroom – For a private spa experience, install a jetted soaking tub in your master bathroom.
- Spa room – Convert an extra space into a dedicated spa room for ultimate relaxation.
- Basement – A finished basement provides plenty of space for a full-featured indoor hot tub.
- Garage – In a detached garage, you can install a portable or permanent hot tub.
- Space requirements for the tub and access
- Ventilation to prevent moisture issues
- Ability to easily clean and maintain
- Convenience of indoor access
- Not having to weatherproof the components
If you can’t decide between indoor vs. outdoor, some portable spas allow you to enjoy the benefits of both setups!
Important Spa Tub Features to Look For
Carefully compare different spa tub models to find the right mix of features for your perfect at-home spa experience:
- Seating capacity – Consider how many people you want to fit comfortably in your new spa tub.
- Jet types – Look for a combination of jets to target the back, feet, calves, etc. Adjustable, rotating, and pulsing jets enhance the massage experience.
- Controls – Convenient topside controls allow you to easily operate the jets, lighting, and temperature.
- Heating system – The pump and heater should efficiently maintain your desired water temperature. High-end systems heat quickly and retain heat well.
- Filtration – Multi-stage filtration keeps the water clean and extends time between draining.
- Insulation – For outside or cold climates, insulation reduces operating costs and lets you use the tub year-round.
- Lighting – Most hot tubs include interior multi-color lighting to create a relaxing ambiance. Some also have exterior lighting.
- Cover – A durable, insulated cover is essential for safety, retaining heat, and keeping out debris when not in use. Lockable covers add security.
- Cabinet – Choose attractive, low-maintenance cabinetry made from synthetic, wood, or composite materials.
- Additional features – Consider bonuses like water treatment systems, WiFi/Bluetooth connectivity, entertainment systems, and energy efficiency enhancements.
Taking stock of which features matter most to you will help guide you toward the ideal hot tub or spa tub for your home.
How Much Does a Home Spa Tub Cost?
With so many options on the market, hot tub prices can range dramatically. Here’s an overview of what you can expect:
- Inflatable hot tubs – These no-frills portable spas start at $300-$500 for small 2-4 person tubs. Higher-end inflatable spas with more features are $1,000-$3,000.
- Acrylic hot tubs – Traditional hard-shell outdoor hot tubs start at about $3,500 for a basic model and go up to $10,000+ for large tubs with the latest tech features. Expect to spend $4,500-$8,000 for a good quality mid-range outdoor hot tub.
- Bathtubs – A basic jetted soaking tub starts at $1,000-$2,000. Luxury spa tubs with air jets, heated surfaces, mood lighting, etc. can cost $4,000-$8,000 or more.
- Swim spas – Due to their large size, dual-function, and exercise capabilities, swim spas are a major investment starting around $15,000. High-end models can cost $25,000-$40,000.
- Installation – Plan on an additional $2,000-$5,000 for professional installation of a permanent hot tub.
Keep in mind that more jets, larger capacity, and more features will increase the price. But also consider factors like insulation and cover quality, as these impact energy efficiency and long-term costs. Focus on finding the right mix of value, features, and performance for your budget.
Choosing the Right Spa Tub Size
One of the first things to figure out is choosing the right tub capacity for your needs. Consider these guidelines:
- 2 person – Best for a small bathroom installation or as a minimalist outdoor spa for just couples or solo soaking.
- 3-4 person – Accommodates most families, couples, and small groups of friends. A great size for modest outdoor installations.
- 5-6 person – With more room to spread out, 5-6 person tubs work well for families, gatherings, and entertaining.
- 7-8+ person – Oversized models allow for large groups and parties. Ensure you have ample deck/patio space to fit one.
Measure the space where you plan to install your spa tub. Leave 2-3 feet of access clearance on all sides. An average 4-person acrylic hot tub is 7×7 feet; inflatable models are smaller. Be sure to choose a size in proportion to your available space.
Consider how you plan to use your hot tub. Will it be mainly for intimate gatherings or large crowds? Do you want room to stretch out? Plan accordingly, but you can always start small and size up down the road.
Picking the Right Jets and Jet Types
The jets are what make a spa tub so relaxing, so you’ll want to choose the right configuration. Consider these tips:
- More jets = more massaging action – Choose a tub with 20-40+ jets or more if you really want a massage-like experience.
- Location matters – Look for jets that target the back, neck, calves, feet and other areas for whole-body coverage.
- Mix of jet types:
- Directional jets – Provide a focused stream of water in a specific direction.
- Rotating jets – Rotate continuously for a gentle all-over massage.
- Jet packs – Clustered jets arranged by body zone for targeted massaging.
- Air jets – Inject air to increase force and add a gentle bubbling sensation.
- Adjustable jets – Movable nozzles allow you to customize and redirect water flow.
- Varying intensity – Hi-flow jets offer a more intense massage. Look for adjustable valves to control jet pressure.
Experiment with the jet placements and types in showroom hot tubs to find the ultimate hydrotherapy experience for your needs.
Choosing the Right Spa Tub Shape
Spa tubs come in a variety of shapes to fit different spaces and maximize seating options. Consider the pros and cons of each shape:
Rectangle – Efficient use of space; allows for straight-on lounge seating or face-to-face seating around the perimeter.
Square – Makes good use of corners; offers multiple seating arrangements.
Oval – Efficient layout with ample legroom; curved contoured seating provides comfort.
Round – Fits nicely into corners; curved seating and intimate layout.
Measure the space where you plan to install the tub. Rectangles and squares maximize use of corners; oval and round can fit in curved spaces.
Visualize different seating options. Do you prefer to lounge? To converse face-to-face? This impacts whether rounded or 90-degree seating works best.
There is no universally superior spa tub shape. Choose based on your space constraints, preferred seating style, and visual appeal.
Picking Out Spa Tub Shells and Interior
When selecting a hot tub, pay attention to the shell construction and interior:
- Acrylic – Most common. Durable cast acrylic plastic is easy to clean. Flexible and crack-resistant.
- Fiberglass – Also durable but less flexible than acrylic. Can scratch more easily.
- Steel – Used for enameled steel bathtubs. Prone to chipping and shows age faster.
- Wood – Rare. Requires extensive sealing/maintenance to prevent water damage. Natural appeal.
- Inflatable – Made from vinyl, nylon, or polyester laminates. Softer sides.
- Color – Range from coastal blues to warm browns. Neutrals suit any backyard.
- Texture – Smooth or textured finishes impact feel underfoot. Textured floors prevent slipping.
- Seating – Contoured seats with headrests, lumbar support, and armrests maximize comfort.
- Insulation – Injected foam insulation keeps water hot and reduces operating costs.
- Lights – Multi-color interior LED mood lighting sets the perfect ambiance.
A thoughtfully designed spa tub interior enhances both aesthetics and ergonomics. Ensure it suits your style.
Choosing Spa Tub Steps or Entry Type
Spa tub steps or entryways come in different designs. Assess options like:
- Interior steps – Built into the tub floor. Safest for entering/exiting. Cuts down on interior space.
- Exterior steps – Entry steps next to the tub. Provide security for mobility issues. Can obstruct access.
- Corner steps – When placed in a corner, this Entry point saves space.
- Step-over entry – Most common for portable hot tubs. No built-in steps, so you carefully step over the rim.
- Roll-in entry – For handicap access, some tubs offer a cut-out seat segment allowing roll-in entry.
- Bench seat – Can double as a step-over entryway. Provides added relaxation space.
If safety is a concern, built-in or corner entry steps facilitate secure entering and exiting. Otherwise, a simple step-over entry preserves interior legroom.
Choosing Durable, Low-Maintenance Spa Tub Cabinetry
The exterior cabinetry houses the spa tub equipment. Options include:
- Synthetic – Composite plastic/polymer materials resist moisture damage. Affordable, durable, and low maintenance.
- Acrylic – Matching acrylic cabinetry is lightweight. Acrylics are easy to clean and maintain.
- Wood – Elegant cedar cabinets offer natural style. Require sealing and upkeep to prevent weathering.
- Insulated – Insulated cabinets enhance energy efficiency and noise reduction. A smart upgrade.
Seek stylish, durable, moisture-resistant materials that hold up in wet, humid conditions. Synthetics like acrylic and resin offer the best value. Real wood requires the most care.
Choosing the Right Spa Tub Pump & Heating System
The pump circulates water through the jets, while the heating system keeps the water hot. Seek out:
- Energy efficiency – Advanced heating systems retain heat better, cutting energy use. Look for insulation.
- Powerful pump – Measured in horsepower (HP), the pump drives jet performance. 2-3 HP is common for strong water flow.
- Long-life parts – Ensure pump, heater, and ozone unit offer solid warranties and longevity.
- Rapid heating – The best heaters recover temperature quickly after new water is added.
- Digital controls – Allow you to digitally program the perfect temperature and jet strength.
Thanks to better technology, today’s spa tub pumps and heaters maximize energy savings and use while delivering power and precision.
Shopping Smart for Spa Tub Filters
Filters play a key role in keeping spa water clean by capturing debris, oils, particles, and contaminants. Here’s what to know:
- Multi-stage – Multiple filters (surface, pleated, etc.) clean better. Look for at least dual-stage filtration.
- Easily accessible – Quick access to the filter compartment makes changing filters a breeze.
- Antimicrobial – Filters treated to inhibit mold, fungi, and bacteria support healthy water.
- Sized for tub volume – Match filter size to tub capacity for optimal filtration. Change per manufacturer recs.
- Filter types:
- Pleated – Ultra fine pleated fabric catches micro particles.
- Polyester mesh – Affordable option filters larger debris.
- Cartridge – Disposable paper screens out particles.
Don’t skimp on filtration – multi-stage systems radically simplify maintenance over a spa tub’s lifetime.
Shopping Smart for Spa Tub Covers
A good spa cover is vital for safety, hygiene, locking in heat and blocking debris. Here are smart cover features:
- Insulated – Foam insulation means minimal heat loss while hot tub is covered. Helps control energy costs.
- Weatherproof – Durable marine-grade vinyl stands up to rain, sun, snow and moisture.
- Lockable – Look for covers than can be locked to secure and prevent unauthorized access.
- Hygienic – Covers that fully seal keep out dirt, leaves, pests, and other contaminants.
- Lift assist – Hydraulic arms or slides make removing the cover easier. Helpful for large/heavy models.
- Tight fit – Hinged covers should fit snugly and completely enclose the tub.
Invest in a high quality spa cover that insulates, protects, conceals, and locks. This safeguards your hot tub when not in use. Never compromise on the cover.
Additional Spa Tub Features to Consider
Today’s spa tubs offer advanced features that take relaxation to the next level:
- Entertainment systems – Built-in waterproof TVs and audio systems make your hot tub an outdoor home theater.
- WiFi connectivity – Control lighting, jets, and more right from your smartphone or voice assistant.
- Water features – Relaxing fountains, waterfalls, and laminar jets enhance the ambiance.
- Ozone sanitation – Ozone generators reduce chemical usage for cleaner, fresher spa water.
- Aromatherapy – Add calming scents like lavender or eucalyptus to the bubbling water.
- Exercise jets – Swim jets or tethered jogging with resistance jets provide exercise options.
- Specialty jets – Experience massage jets that mimic bamboo taps or Swedish massage techniques.
While not essential, bonus features like these can take your home spa from basic to luxurious. Decide which fit your vision and budget.