Liners have been used on swimming pools for what seems like decades. They are certainly nothing new. However, the question we are going to answer in this blog post is whether you can use a liner on a DIY hot tub?
What is a Liner?
According to Google – A swimming pool liner is a vinyl surface that is attached to the walls and floor of a pool in order to help keep in the water, improve the looks of a pool and to provide a more inviting surface for users.
That is certainly true and I have been in a number of vinyl lined pools and they are great. They are much quicker to put together than a tiled surface, but unfortunately, they don’t last as long as tiles and do need replacing periodically.
They are also very difficult to fit and not something you should really be trying as a DIYer. You would want a pool professional with the right suction equipment to come and fit your liner.
As Brandon, one of my customers who I will introduce shortly found when he tried to fit his, it was really difficult to get it to sit flat and that was on a small hot tub!
I also think the clue is in the name – Swimming Pool Liner – there is no mention from Google for a Hot Tub Liner.
The short answer
Yes, you can but it is really not advisable. Also, it is not a project I would want to get involved with myself.
In the rest of this article, we are going to discuss why.
My Experience with Hot Tub liners
My own experience with hot tub liners is very limited. To be totally honest, it is limited to just one project. You can read about Brandon’s DIY Hot Tub here.
This project was a wood framed hot tub that made use of a PVC pool liner. Brandon’s project seemed to last for ages and we were forever trying new things, different techniques, new products. The end result? He got there in the end but spent a fortune on replacement parts and spent 100s of hours trying to get it to work. Not to mention the stress and constant disappointment of the “next solution” not working.
What was the conclusion from that project?
The conclusion was quite simple. Brandon said that he would never attempt another DIY Hot Tub with a liner and I agreed the same. From that project forward, when people ask me if it is possible, my answer is no. Technically you can get it to work, but it is not worth the hassle.
Parts Supply Problem for Hot Tub Liners
If we brush aside the difficulty of getting a liner to fit properly on your hot tub, which is an issue in itself, the biggest problem is parts supply.
There are really two types of jets for hot tubs. Jets that are designed for plastic shell hot tub and jets that are designed for concrete or block built hot tubs.
There are no parts that are designed specifically for liner hot tubs. Yes, you can pick up a skimmer because that is a pool part, but you can’t get the jets or the suction you need. Any “suction for liner pools” will be pool grade and the flow rates will be too low.
This causes a problem. If you think of the number of openings you are going to need to let the jets and the inward suction through the liner, you are talking at least 16-18 on a standard hot tub.
That is 16-18 potential leaking points and this was the problem that Brandon had. We were trying to use jet bodies that were designed to seal up on plastic shell tubs with a gasket not on a liner.
What that means was that it was extremely difficult to get enough tension on the jet to hold the liner in place and to stop it leaking too. It would just move or pull loose and you would then end up with either water outside of the tub or worse still, behind the liner.
This was also the same with whatever glue or solvent we tried to keep them in place.
Hot Tub Liner
What are the alternatives to hot tub liners?
With a hot tub liner out of the question, what alternatives exist? Well, I would always recommend tiles – they are durable, look great and they also add a waterproofing layer to your structure.
If the cost of tiles is prohibitive, you can finish with a concrete render which you can leave natural or you could even paint it. Either paint it with a swimming pool grade paint or an epoxy paint – both would work.
Whilst it is technically possible to use a hot tub liner, you are going to spend so much time fixing leaks and “messing with parts” that one might as well conclude that it is not possible.
Personally, I would highly recommend looking at an alternative way of creating your hot tub that is easier, will give you less of a headache and be longer lasting and more durable in the long run.
It might take a little bit longer to complete and might cost a little more – but it is worth it.
Stress-free DIY is what we are looking for – liners=stress!
Happy Hot Tubbin’