Building your own DIY Wooden Hot Tub is arguably one of the great DIY projects you can undertake. It requires skill. It requires attention to detail. The end result however, is just fantastic! There is nothing more satisfying that sitting in your own home made wooden hot tub.
If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will know that I have made my own DIY Hot tub. Not out of wood, but in fact bricks and concrete. You can read about it here. What I wanted to do in this post was compile everything that I have read from around the internet and combine that with my knowledge.
I would then put my own twist on the design adding my DIY Hot Tub plumbing knowledge and come up with a guide for building the ultimate wooden DIY Hot Tub.
The considerations for building your own wooden DIY Hot tub are really no different from a regular Hot Tub. You need to think about where you are going to locate the wooden tub. What is the base going to look like? Can the base take the weight of the tub?
Remember, water is heavy when you fill a large vessel with it – we’re probably talking over a ton for sure.
How many people is this going to seat? How am I going to heat this up to temperate? This point is kind of key as the bigger the body of water, the more power is needed to bring it up to and maintain the temperature.
The worst thing that you could do is design something that is too large to ever get up to temperature. At one point, I thought that this was going to be the case on my own build. Thankfully, I had the guidance of “pool man John” who reigned in my size expectations. That advice is advice I pass on to my own clients now.
Yes, you can have a big hot tub but you need to make sure you plan and design correctly so that you can actually heat it up!
What Wood Should I use for my DIY Hot Tub?
Cedar is a beautiful timber and is certainly my favourite. I actually made my own decking with Cedar Timber. The most difficult part of a DIY cedar hot tub is finding an affordable source of clear cedar lumber. You don’t want any cedar with knots for your hot tub as these can blow out and cause a major leakage! That said, clear cedar (#1 grade) is expensive and most lumber yards don’t stock it, so it’s somewhat rare to come by.
You are going to need to fund a lumber yard that probably stock the Grade 2 Cedar. You also are going to need to find one that will let you sort the timber yourself. These are quite hard to come by for safety reasons so its probably a case of ringing around.
Larch, Beech, Oak, Pine
All of these are cheaper options for building your own DIY Wooden Hot Tub. The timber is much cheaper than the Cedar so if you are trying to do this on a budget, then we would highly suggest that you use one of the above.
How do I Make a Cylindrical Shaped Hot Tub?
In order to make a cylindrical Tub with your timber, you are going to need to use bead and cove joinery to do it. Using a router, you are going to need to make the edges look like the image below. This is not something a first time wood worker can probably have a go at successfully. Especially if you have shelled out on the expensive Cedar timber, it would make for really expensive fire wood if you get it wrong and don’t know what you are doing.
You are then going to need to strap it together to your cylindrical base. To hold the tub together, use a 3/16″ vinyl-coated cable which shouldn’t cause any harm to the wood. You will need two clamp sets for each cable to give the ends a nice finish. You then need to attach the two ends with a stainless steel turn buckle
You tub is going to swell as the timber absorbs water and it is also going to leak the first time you fill it. This is totally normal and it may take a few days for it to swell enough to seal all of the leaks. What you also have to consider is that if you leave it unfilled and in the sun, the timber is going to shrink. Again, this is normal.
Bead & Cove
Wood Hot Tub
Do I need a Cylindrical Hot Tub?
Absolutely not. Building the ultimate wooden hot tub doesn’t mean that it has to be cylindrical. Conversely, it is actually easier to make a cube or square shaped Hot Tub. Yes, there is still an amount of skill that is required to building any wooden hot tub, but arguably it is much easier to make a square tub.
This tub below is being built (at the time I am writing this post) by one of my customers Brandon in the USA. He actually set out to have a Stock Tank hot tub but couldn’t find the supply of the tank he wanted, so decided to make it out of wood.
Wooden Hot Tub
Just as a side note here, there are also different ways of waterproofing your wooden Hot Tub.
How do you Waterproof a Wooden Hot Tub?
In the cylindrical option that we have explained above, the design of that tub is that it is “self-waterproofing”. The joints you make are designed so that when the tub absorbs water, the wood swells, the joints become tighter and as such, so tight that it is waterproof.
The option that Brandon is going to use above, is a pool liner inside of his wooden shell. There is no reason at all that why this option is not viable. It actually works really well and is much easier to do.
How will I heat my DIY Wooden Hot Tub?
DIY Wood Fired Hot Tub
You can’t argue with the fact that the wood burning stove-powered Hot Tubs just look cool. Never mind the fact that they are not costing you a fortune to run. The lure of a hot tub that doesn’t hurt you in the wallet is certainly something that some aspire to having.
There are two different types of wood burning hot tub heaters. There are the heaters which sit in the tub with you and the fire is basically on the other side of a metal wall. Usually, there is a cover over it to stop you touching it. These heaters do on the flip side take up some space in your tub that could be used for another person for example.
The other type of wood burning Hot Tub heaters are external. If I were going to build one of these, this would be the style that I would go for. Built the fire on the outside, and let the heat flow into the tub.
Lastly, there are the “cooking pot” style that have a hot tub sitting above a fire. I just don’t like the idea of this and it looks to me more like a witch’s pot cooking a human rather than a hot tub. Not for me. But each to their own of course.
Propane of Natural Gas
Propane or Natural Gas heaters are nothing new to the swimming pool world. The are more suited to a swimming pool because of the sheer power that they can generate. To give you an idea, my Hot Tub heater is a 3KW heater. In the USA, I design systems that run on 5KW heaters.
There is no shortage of Propane heaters that will generate a whopping 32KW of heat. That is a serious heater!
I guess the argument is the same with electric, you are going to need a supply to your tub in order for this to work. This really depends on a lot of things but running gas pipe isn’t something you can do yourself as a DIYer, you do have to get someone in (or risk voiding you home insurance policy!)
Depending on the placement of your tub, this could be somewhat problematic. That said, if you are going to need a “big boy” heater as you are basically building something the size of a swimming pool, then this might be an option for you.
Call me predictable, but this is the option I would choose. Yes, it costs more to run, but there is reliability. There is predicability. There is just less hassle. The idea that I would have to go out and build a fire, get it going, then wait for the tub to heat up before I can use it just to me seems like too much hard work.
Use the control panel. Set the temperature and let technology do the rest.
For me, this is what I am going to us in the design of the ultimate DIY wooden Hot Tub.
Do I need jets in my wooden Hot Tub?
The “traditional” wood burning or wood fired DIY Hot Tubs generally don’t have jets. In my mind, this kind of design is more like a bath than a Hot Tub. Therefore, when I was coming to design the Ultimate DIY Wooden Hot Tub, it just had to have jets. In my mind, it was going to be exactly the same as if I was designing with a Stock Tank Hot Tub or a Concrete tub.
The pluming, although slightly different parts are needed, does remain pretty constant. My ultimate wooden hot tub was going to have jets. It was going to have a heater, a filter and a pump. It was going to be a proper (again, of course, this is subjective, but proper in my mind) Hot Tub.
To answer the question, yes, you need jets in a wooden Hot Tub.
Do I need a Filter?
There are a lot of tubs out there that you can find by Googling on the internet which are as I describe above, simply wooden baths. If you dont put a filter and a pump in, it is a bath. Again, this is in my humble opinion.
If you are filtering the water, adding chemicals to it, not changing it every time you need to use it, then this is a proper hot tub. A bath is just that. It is a one time use and then you empty it.
For something that is arguably much larger than a domestic bath, it doesn’t make sense to have it only as a single use tub. Firstly, it is a waste of water and secondly, you are going to be heating up what is quite a large body of water just to throw it away afterwards. Doesn’t make sense.
So, in answer to the question, yes, you do need a filter if you are building a wooden hot tub.
What is the Ultimate DIY Wooden Hot Tub?
In my mind, the Ultimate DIY Wooden Hot Tub comprises of a cedar tub, combined with the “mod cons” of Jets, a Filter, a 2 speed pump, an electric heater and a blower.
It will look something like the below image.
Ultimate Cedar Hot Tub
As with all things DIY, this can of course be customised. If you would like the plumbing diagrams and the designs for this Tub, plus the tips and tracks and the parts lists, then click on the Icon below.
If you would like a customised quote for a different number of the jets, or no skimmer etc. Fill in the form below and we’ll get a quote over to you.