What You Need to Know about Decks and Hot Tubs

Adding More to Your Outdoor Living Space

Here is Summit County, with breathtaking views of the Ten Mile Range to the Gore Range, having a deck is an essential part of the mountain lifestyle. Even better is sitting in a hot tub enjoying the views.

For properties in Breckenridge, Silverthorne, Dillon, Frisco and Keystone, hot tubs are a mainstay for successful rentals, and considered must-haves. However, adding a hot tub to your deck requires careful planning ensuring adequate structural support to meeting the electrical requirements. When you are thinking about a hot tub, here are some things to consider for outdoor living space.

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Photo Credit:Fiberondecking.com

What to look for in a hot tub

When you start looking for a hot tub or spa, it’s best to consider the model carefully in case you need to make any structural or design decisions. With so many models that have LED lights, integrated cup holders, and stereo systems, it’s just as important to find a “full-foam” insulated tub. This high-density, closed-cell polyurethane foam fills the space between the spa’s outer cabinet and inner shell, and reduces heat loss and noise levels.

Suggestions for finding your hot tub or spa:

• Spend time researching manufacturers online
• Visit reputable dealers and test-drive the tubs you are considering for your home
• Compare time and costs associated with routine care and maintenance
• Delivering and installing these spas can be a challenge, find out more about costs

How to calculate the necessary structural support

Concrete slabs are a great location to place your hot tub. If you’re building a new deck, the slab should be formed and poured at the same time as your concrete footings. Having hot tubs rest on a deck, is also a great way to support your deck in Summit County. To design the decking, joists and beams accurately for such a heavy load, it’s important to understand the structural support.

So how much support? You will need to add up the tub’s dry weight plus the water capacity (1 gallon of H2O equals roughly 8.3 lbs.) plus the number of recommended occupants multiplied by an average weight per person.

Here’s an example from deckmagazine.com:

• A 56-sq ft. hot tub with a dry weight of 855 lbs. can hold 420 gallons of water and seat 6-7 people (average weight per person = 185 lbs.).
• 855 lb. tub + 3500 lbs. water + 1295 lbs. for 7 occupants = 5655 lbs. total weight.
• 5655 lbs. divided by 56-sq ft. = 101 lbs. /sq. ft. = design load the framing must be able to support.

Design Considerations: 

• Make sure the cover for the spa can be lifted and properly function for air to circulate.
• Orient the hot tub in relation to weather including wind, snow, sun and shade.
• You may need a privacy screen, pergola or other feature to shield your
• Position your spa to maximize backyard scenery
• Ensure there is a well-lit path for easy access.

And if you don’t want to walk on splintered wood deck, upgrade to low-maintenance, easy-on-your-toes composite decking from Trex, Timbertech or Fiberon. It never needs staining, sanding, or refinishing. Unlike wood, composite decking won’t rot, splinter, or crack, either. 

Plan on leaving easy access to the spa’s control panel

When you have a hot tub installed, it’s critical there is access to the motor and controls for service. Most access panels are easy solutions for tubs placed on the deck’s surface. If you choose to have the hot tub recessed, be sure to suggest leave the access panel side accessible.

Power up your hot tub

• You’ll need a nearby electrical source to power your spa and an electrical contractor to do the work. You’ll need an electrical contractor, obtaining permits, as well as ensuring all necessary electrical work is completed appropriately.
• You will need ground-fault circuit interrupter (GCFI) to shut down the system immediately if it detects a change in current flow.
• Some basic spas can be plugged into a GFCI-protected 110v/20-amp outlet, but larger hot tubs usually require a 220v/50-amp connection to work properly. A nearby emergency shut-off (usually within 5-15 feet of the unit) is also required by code.

Are you ready to maximize your outdoor living space with a deck and hot tub? Get in touch and we will help you design an awesome outdoor living space fit to view the Rocky mountains.