If you’re wondering how to build a concrete slab or base for your hot tub, this step-by-step guide is the resource you’ve been looking for! There are many benefits of having a hot tub in your backyard. It is the perfect place to relax after a long day, and it can be used for entertaining guests as well.
However, before you get started with installing your new hot tub, on indeed building one, you have to make sure that you have done all of the proper prep work too! The first thing that must be taken care of is building the base for the hot tub. This post will cover how to build a concrete base for a hot tub so that everything else goes smoothly from here on out! Whether you are building one or buying one, you need something for it to sit on!
Measuring Up for your Base
First, you will need to measure the area where your hot tub is going. This includes measuring how deep and wide it needs be so that there are no issues with stability or safety later on. No one wants their new hot tub to collapse, so you have be sure that it is sturdy enough for the job! You also might want to consider where you are going to place the hot tub cover when it is removed. They are quite large so it is a good idea to have a space ear marked for where it will sit whilst you are in your tub.
The next step is to decide what kind of foundation you would like. If your budget allows, a poured concrete slab will be the best option for stability and longevity! This can also help with drainage issues as well since it makes water pooling less likely than if there were just dirt or other materials underfoot; this could lead over time too subsidence of your tub into the ground which we clearly want to avoid.
What size should a concrete pad for a hot tub be?
The size of a concrete pad for a hot tub should be slightly larger than the dimensions of the hot tub itself. A general rule of thumb is to add 6 inches to the length and width of the hot tub to determine the appropriate pad size. This extra space provides room for steps, access panels, and drainage.
For example, if a hot tub measures 8 feet by 8 feet, a concrete pad measuring 8 feet 6 inches by 8 feet 6 inches would be recommended.
Here’s a table summarizing the recommended pad sizes for different hot tub dimensions:
|Hot Tub Dimensions
|Recommended Pad Size
|6′ x 6′
|6’6″ x 6’6″
|7′ x 7′
|7’6″ x 7’6″
|8′ x 8′
|8’6″ x 8’6″
|9′ x 9′
|9’6″ x 9’6″
|10′ x 10′
|10’6″ x 10’6″
Additional factors to consider when determining the size of the concrete pad include:
Desired clearance around the hot tub: If you want to leave room for furniture, landscaping, or walkways around the hot tub, you may need to add more space to the pad size.
Type of hot tub steps: If you plan to use steps to access the hot tub, you’ll need to account for their space on the concrete pad.
Future expansion plans: If you think you might upgrade to a larger hot tub in the future, you may want to consider a slightly larger pad size to accommodate the potential change.
How Thick should a concrete pad for a hot tub be?
The thickness of a concrete pad for a hot tub should be at least 4 inches. This is the minimum thickness required to support the weight of the hot tub and its occupants. A thicker pad, such as 5 or 6 inches, may be necessary for larger hot tubs or those located in areas with poor soil conditions.
Here are some factors that can affect the thickness of a concrete pad for a hot tub:
- Weight of the hot tub: The heavier the hot tub, the thicker the pad needs to be.
- Number of occupants: The more people who will be using the hot tub, the thicker the pad needs to be.
- Soil conditions: If the soil is soft or unstable, a thicker pad will be necessary.
- Climate: In areas with heavy snowfall or freezing temperatures, a thicker pad may be needed to prevent frost heave.
It is always best to err on the side of caution and make the pad thicker than you think it needs to be. This will help to prevent the pad from cracking or sinking over time.
Here are some additional tips for pouring a concrete pad for a hot tub:
- Choose a level location: The pad should be level to prevent the hot tub from tilting.
- Excavate the area: Dig a hole about 6 inches deep and wider than the dimensions of the pad.
- Install a gravel base: A gravel base will help to drainage and prevent the pad from cracking.
- Form the pad: Use wood forms to create the shape of the pad.
- Pour the concrete: Mix the concrete according to the manufacturer’s instructions and pour it into the forms.
- Level the concrete: Use a screed to level the concrete surface.
- Allow the concrete to cure: The concrete should cure for at least 24 hours before you use the hot tub.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your concrete pad is thick enough to support your hot tub and provide years of enjoyment.
Clear the Area for a Concrete Slab or Base for your Hot Tub
Next up: make sure all of this space has been cleared out for construction purposes too (this means removing any trees/bushes from around). It’s important not just because they can get damaged during installation but also due their roots getting into concrete which could cause problems over time as well…and we don’t want anything like a tree root coming through our new flooring now do we? 😉
Ok, so once the area has been cleared, next it ‘s time to start building the foundation for your hot tub. The first thing that you need to do is to cover the area with a type one ballast or small gravel that you will then pound flat with a “whacker” or similar machine.
Once the gravel has been pounded down, the next stage is to create a form or mould, which will be made out of wood and then filled with concrete for your slab or base for your hot tub. The form will need to be a little bit larger than the hot tub you are installing or building. When you make the form, it is essential that it is perfectly level. In that way, when you pour the concrete, you know when it is full to the top of your form it will be level and not sloped.
Wood Frame & Waterproof Membrane
The next step is to add a waterproof membrane to the form. This will ensure that the concrete does not leak out and ruin your deck or patio. The membrane can be made of a variety materials, but it is best to use one with high-density polyethylene (HDPE) as this material has excellent resistance against water damage.
Placing a membrane beneath a concrete pad serves multiple important purposes, one of which is preventing the ingress of dirty water. Here’s a detailed explanation:
Waterproofing and Protection:
A concrete pad membrane, often referred to as a moisture barrier or waterproofing membrane, plays a crucial role in safeguarding the area beneath the concrete from water infiltration. Concrete is a porous material, which means it can absorb water and moisture from the surrounding environment. Without proper protection, this can lead to various issues, including:
Dirty Water Ingress: When rainwater, groundwater, or even surface runoff carries dirt, sediment, or contaminants, it can seep through the concrete and accumulate beneath it. Over time, this can create a muddy or even waterlogged environment, making the area unsuitable for various purposes, such as building foundations, flooring, or even hot tub installations.
Damage to Concrete: Excessive moisture can weaken concrete structures and cause cracks, spalling, or erosion. Additionally, freezing and thawing cycles in colder climates can further exacerbate concrete damage, leading to costly repairs or replacements.
By installing a membrane beneath the concrete pad, you create a waterproof barrier that effectively blocks the ingress of dirty water, preventing the issues mentioned above. This protective layer ensures that the area remains structurally sound, clean, and suitable for its intended use, whether it’s supporting a hot tub, serving as a foundation, or providing a stable surface for other purposes.
In essence, the membrane acts as a shield against moisture and contaminants, preserving the integrity and functionality of the concrete pad over the long term.
Now you are ready to add a metal rebar constriction to your form. This will give the concrete a sturdy and strong structure. The rebar should be placed every two feet around your form, with one end of each piece sticking out about six inches from where it is inserted into to make sure that they do not bend when you pour in the concrete.
Do I need to insulate a concrete hot tub pad?
Insulating a concrete hot tub pad is not strictly necessary, but it can provide several benefits, including:
Reduced heat loss: Insulation will help to prevent heat from escaping through the concrete pad, keeping your hot tub water warmer and reducing your energy costs.
Improved comfort: Insulated pads can make your hot tub feel more comfortable to sit or stand on, especially in colder months.
Reduced soil temperature fluctuations: Insulation can help to stabilize the soil temperature beneath the pad, which can help prevent the pad from cracking or sinking.
Extended hot tub life: By reducing heat loss and preventing temperature fluctuations, insulation can help to prolong the life of your hot tub.
If you live in a cold climate or plan to use your hot tub frequently, insulating the pad is a worthwhile investment. However, if you live in a warm climate and only use your hot tub occasionally, you may not find it necessary.
There are several different types of insulation that can be used for hot tub pads, including:
Expanded polystyrene (EPS): EPS is a popular and affordable insulation option that is easy to install.
Extruded polystyrene (XPS): XPS is a more durable and moisture-resistant insulation option than EPS.
Polyurethane foam: Polyurethane foam is a high-performance insulation option that is very effective at preventing heat loss.
The type of insulation you choose will depend on your budget, the climate you live in, and your personal preferences.
Here are some general guidelines for insulating a concrete hot tub pad:
Insulate the entire pad: Don’t just insulate the area where the hot tub will sit. Insulating the entire pad will help to prevent heat loss from the sides and edges.
Use a minimum of 2 inches of insulation: Thicker insulation will provide better results, but 2 inches is a good minimum thickness.
Install insulation under the gravel base: This will provide the most protection against heat loss.
Cover the insulation with a vapor barrier: This will help to prevent moisture from getting into the insulation and reducing its effectiveness.
If you are not comfortable insulating the pad yourself, you can hire a professional to do it for you.
By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your hot tub pad is properly insulated and will provide years of comfort and enjoyment.
Do I need to waterproof the hot tub concrete pad?
Yes, it is important to waterproof your concrete hot tub pad to protect it from moisture damage. Concrete is a porous material that can absorb water, and if left unprotected, this can lead to several problems, including:
Cracking: Water can freeze and expand in the pores of concrete, causing it to crack.
Spalling: Water can also cause the surface of the concrete to flake off, or spall.
Erosion: Water can erode the concrete, causing it to lose strength and become unstable.
Leaching of chemicals: Water can leach chemicals from the concrete, which can contaminate the surrounding soil and water.
Rust: If your hot tub has a metal frame, the concrete pad can rust if it is not properly waterproofed.
To waterproof your concrete hot tub pad, you can use a variety of methods, including:
Concrete sealers: Concrete sealers are applied to the surface of the concrete and create a barrier that prevents water from penetrating.
Membranes: Membranes are installed under the concrete and prevent water from reaching the concrete from below.
Admixtures: Admixtures are added to the concrete mix and make the concrete more resistant to water penetration.
Integral waterproofing systems: Integral waterproofing systems combine several of the methods listed above to provide the most comprehensive protection against water damage.
The best method for waterproofing your concrete hot tub pad will depend on the specific conditions of your site and the type of hot tub you have. It is always best to consult with a professional to determine the best method for your needs.
Here are some additional tips for waterproofing a concrete hot tub pad:
Make sure the surface of the concrete is clean and dry before applying any waterproofing materials.
Apply waterproofing materials in strict accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
Inspect the waterproofing regularly for cracks or other damage.
Repair any damage promptly to prevent further problems.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your concrete hot tub pad is properly waterproofed and will provide years of protection against moisture damage.
Metal Rebar for your Hot Tub Slab
Rebar can be purchased in sheets as you can see above. This makes it much easier to lay. It should be kept off the ground so that the concrete can flow underneath it when you pour.
When constructing a hot tub concrete slab, the incorporation of rebar becomes a vital aspect of the process to ensure the structural integrity and longevity of the foundation. Rebar, made from steel, is an essential reinforcing material that adds tensile strength to the concrete, preventing it from cracking and enhancing its load-bearing capacity.
The primary purpose of rebar in a hot tub concrete slab is to distribute and withstand the pressure and weight exerted by the hot tub, especially when it is filled with water and occupants. The weight of the water and people inside the hot tub can put significant stress on the concrete slab. Without proper reinforcement, the slab could develop cracks and compromise the stability of the entire structure over time.
To effectively utilize rebar in the concrete slab, it is commonly laid in a grid pattern before the concrete is poured. This grid pattern consists of intersecting horizontal and vertical bars, forming a mesh-like reinforcement throughout the slab. The size and spacing of the rebar depend on the dimensions of the hot tub and the anticipated load it will bear.
By incorporating rebar in the concrete slab, several benefits are achieved:
Increased Strength: Rebar reinforces the concrete, providing additional tensile strength and making it more resistant to bending or flexing under pressure.
Crack Prevention: The presence of rebar helps distribute loads evenly, reducing the risk of cracks forming in the concrete, even under heavy loads.
Enhanced Durability: With rebar reinforcement, the hot tub concrete slab gains increased resistance to wear and tear, resulting in a longer-lasting foundation for your hot tub.
Improved Load Distribution: Rebar evenly distributes the weight of the hot tub, ensuring that the load is adequately supported throughout the entire slab.
To further ensure the strength and durability of the hot tub concrete slab, proper concrete mix design is essential. The concrete mix should be appropriately proportioned, and the placement and compaction of the concrete must be carried out with precision.
In addition to rebar, other reinforcing methods, such as fiber-reinforced concrete, can also be used to complement the structural integrity of the slab. The combination of these reinforcing materials ensures that the hot tub concrete slab remains robust and resistant to various environmental factors, such as temperature changes and ground movement.
The next step is to mix your cement. You will need a wheelbarrow, shovels and hoes. Better still a cement mixed will save you some back ache and conservable amount of time.
What type of Cement should I use on a hot tub concrete pad?
The type of cement you should use for a hot tub concrete pad is a high-strength concrete mix. This type of mix is designed to have a higher compressive strength than standard concrete, which means it can withstand the weight of the hot tub and its occupants without cracking or sinking.
Here are some of the benefits of using a high-strength concrete mix for a hot tub concrete pad:
- Increased durability: High-strength concrete is more resistant to cracking and sinking, which will help to extend the life of your hot tub pad.
- Improved resistance to chemicals: High-strength concrete is less susceptible to damage from the chemicals used in hot tub water.
- Reduced risk of structural damage: High-strength concrete is less likely to be damaged by heavy traffic or extreme weather conditions.
Here are some specific recommendations for high-strength concrete mixes that are suitable for hot tub pads:
- Portland cement: This is the most common type of cement used in construction, and it is available in a variety of strengths. Choose a portland cement with a compressive strength of at least 4,000 psi for your hot tub pad.
- High-early-strength concrete: This type of concrete is designed to cure quickly, which can be helpful if you need to start using your hot tub soon after the pad is poured.
- Air-entrained concrete: This type of concrete contains tiny air bubbles that help to reduce the risk of cracking and make the concrete more resistant to freezing and thawing.
In addition to using a high-strength concrete mix, there are a few other things you can do to ensure that your hot tub pad is durable and long-lasting:
- Use a gravel base: A gravel base will help to drain water away from the pad and prevent it from becoming saturated.
- Reinforce the concrete with rebar: Rebar will help to prevent the concrete from cracking.
- Cure the concrete properly: Concrete needs to cure for at least 28 days before you can use your hot tub on it.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your hot tub pad is strong and durable enough to withstand the weight of your hot tub and its occupants for years to come.
You should mix the cement in batches of about 50 pounds at time to make sure that it is mixed thoroughly before you add more water or sand as this can cause lumps if not done properly . You want your concrete mixture wet enough so when squeezed together with hands there are no visible dry patches but also firm like cookie dough without being too sticky where they stick on each other’s fingers (this means adding just right amount of sand and water). The ratio for mixing mortar usually ranges from one part cement to one and a half parts sand.
The next step in building an outdoor hot tub base is pouring cement into the form until full level on top. To get a perfectly level finish you can use a trowel to smooth the surface of your concrete.
When you are done, cover it with plastic and let dry for at least 24 hours before removing the form or adding any water . You can also use an electric sander if desired but be careful not too sand off all that hard work!
Remove the Wooden Frame / Mold
The next day remove from mold by lifting up on one side then pulling out gently while using other hand as support under base until fully removed (be sure there is no excess cement left in corners). If needed add more mortar mix into corner gaps so they don’t crack later when drying completely which could cause leaks around edges where hot tub sits against wall/ground over time due lack proper waterproofing sealant applied during construction process;
It is highly advisable that you add waterproofing agent to your cement mix before pouring the base. Concrete as a material by nature is porous. This means it is not waterproof. You should try and make the concrete waterproof by adding a waterproofing agent into the mix. This will help prevent cracks later down the line.
The best way is adding a waterproofing agent like “Sika Sarnafil” (available at most hardware stores) into your cement mix before you pour it, but if not available then just apply some after finishing concrete has dried completely for 24 hours . It’s important because this step helps protect against water seeping through from below ground level as well where hot tub sits.
In cold areas, if this water freezes your base could crack!
This was the exact process that Neil followed – you can read all about his build here.
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Thanks - Andi
Hi, Andi here. I own Buildahottub.com and also write all of the articles and info pages on the site. Some years back now, I built my own hot tub but struggled to find the information I needed. So, once my tub was complete, I started this website to help others in their own pursuit of hot tub and plunge pools DIY building information.
Today, I've helped over 1000 DIY customers just like you all over the world build hot tubs and pools. Have a good look around the site, there are lots of resources here. Please do get in touch if I can help you. - Cheers, Andi