Many people don’t realise the importance of a good hot tub base until they’ve had to deal with the consequences of a bad one. A weak or uneven foundation can cause all sorts of problems, from premature wear and tear on the hot tub itself to leaks and flooding. That’s why it’s crucial to choose a suitable material for your hot tub base.
From concrete pads to plastic grids and interlocking foam tiles, there are lots of solutions when it comes to things to put under an inflatable hot tub and in this post, we’ll look at the good and bad points of each. We’ll discover why it’s essential to use a solid inflatable hot tub platform and look at where to place your spa.
Inflatable Hot Tub Base Ideas
So, let’s jump in and well answer that all-important question of what can I put under my inflatable hot tub?
Keep reading to find out.
1. Rubber Mat For Under The Hot Tub
A hot tub pad is a portable base for your hot tub, offering many benefits over a permanent structure. The process of installing a hot tub can be difficult and a portable hot tub pad is a great solution if you are a new hot tub owner and don’t have an existing patio or somewhere suitable to place your hot tub in the backyard.
They consist of interlocking tiles that create a level surface for your hot tub when attached. You can buy ready-made hot tub pads online, which are quick and easy to set up all you require is a screwdriver to connect the tiles.
There are four types of tiles to choose from
- Foam tiles – Foam tiles are the cheapest option; they can be put together easily and provide a nice surface to walk on. They can also help insulate inflatable hot tubs keeping your energy usage down.
- Plastic tiles – These offer the most flexibility and you can even choose colours to complement your garden design. They won’t rot and can support a great deal of weight.
- Wooden tiles – These are the most expensive and are often seen in resorts and hotels, as they provide a stylish finish
- Rubber tiles – Like plastic, these are water-resistant and won’t rot. Most are made from recycled tyres, so they are an excellent option for eco-friendly hot tub owners and they provide excellent insulation for both an inflatable indoor hot tub and outdoor tubs.
Just remember you will still need a completely level surface or they won’t be able to support the inflatable hot tub properly.
One of their most significant advantages is that they can be moved, so they are ideal if you only bring out your tub for the summer months or live in rented accommodation. Another benefit is they provide insulation from the cold ground, meaning your hot tub will retain heat better. This is especially important if you have an inflatable hot tub as they are not as well insulated as permanent hot tubs.
- Easy to install
- More portable than any other base as you can easily dismantle them
- None we could find
When it comes to choosing a suitable base for your hot tub, concrete is an excellent choice and will leave you with peace of mind. Not only is concrete one of the strongest surfaces and bases, but it is also affordable, meaning it doesn’t cost you loads of money.
If you have an existing concrete patio with a flat surface, you can choose to place your hot tub on that; however, it must have a strong foundation. Most concrete patio slabs are laid on a base of sharp sand; this will cause the slabs to shift and become uneven over time when faced with the heavy weight of a full hot tub.
Alternatively, you could make a concrete base for your inflatable hot tub to sit on. The spa base must be at least 6 inches thick and although it sounds like a big job pouring a concrete slab isn’t too difficult even for a novice DIYer.
The slab also needs to be slightly larger than the base of your hot tub. Furthermore, because your concrete base will be raised above ground level, you may want to think about incorporating it into your overall garden design.
For example, you could create a raised terrace or patio around your concrete base or opt for decking to help blend in with your landscaping. While concrete may not be the most aesthetically pleasing option available, its many benefits make it a great choice for any hot tub owner.
- Can support heavy weights
- Relatively cheap
- Not very pretty
3. Crushed Gravel
One of the most popular choices when choosing a base for inflatable hot tubs is gravel due to its many benefits. First and foremost, gravel is permeable, which is crucial for ensuring that excess water does not pool around your hot tub and cause damage or erosion.
In addition, installing gravel is a cheap and easy process, making it ideal for homeowners on a budget. Unlike concrete hot tub pads, gravel will not crack or break down over time. Finally, choosing a beautiful type of gravel for the top layer of your spa’s base gives your hot tub an elegant and polished look.
To create a stable gravel base for a hot tub, you will need to start by building a wooden frame that fits snugly around the edges. Next, you will need to estimate how much gravel you will need in order to achieve at least 4 inches of thickness. If using construction gravel as the bottom layer of your pad, one 850kg bag should be enough for average-sized inflatables.
Once you have laid down the first layer of gravel and compacted it thoroughly, you can then add another layer on top and complete any finishing touches as desired.
- Provides excellent drainage
- Looks good
- More durable than a concrete pad
- Not the best for bare feet
Pavers are an excellent option for a hot tub base because they provide support and are easy to maintain. Plus, pavers give your hot tub a nice finished look. If you’re planning to put your hot tub on an existing patio, make sure that the surface is flat and stable before you set it up. However, patios built on sharp sand may shift over time with a heavy hot tub sitting on top.
If not, you may want to consider creating a new area for your inflatable hot tub out of pavers. Pavers come in all shapes and sizes and are made from different materials, so prices can vary significantly depending on your choice. But overall, pavers are a relatively inexpensive way to create a durable and attractive base for an inflatable hot tub.
Building a paver hot tub base is not for the faint of heart. To start, you will need to choose thicker, sturdier stones for your base layer, as these will help support the hot tub’s weight and movement.
Additionally, you should avoid laying pavers directly on bare earth, which can lead to instability and unevenness in your base. Instead, an excavated area will need to be levelled and compacted before any pavers or gravel are laid down.
Once your base is in place, you will also need to add a layer of gravel at least 4 inches thick. This provides a sturdy foundation that helps to prevent movement and cracking in the pavers over time. Finally, you will want to apply a layer of flexible jointing compound between the cracks of your pavers, which helps to seal them together and create a smooth surface on your hot tub base.
While building a paver hot tub base may take some effort and planning, it is well worth it in the end. With the right materials and techniques, you can achieve a beautiful finished product that will last for years to come.
- Lots of choice of designs
- Can be uplifted if needed
- Provides a solid surface even for bigger hot tubs
- The most expensive option
5. Decking – A Wooden Base
If you have a decked outdoor area, it could be an excellent solution when thinning about a base pad for your inflatable hot tub.
Still, there are a few things to take into consideration, the most important being the weight of the inflatable spa when it’s full of water and perhaps four or five adults inside. We have an article that looks at the pros and cons of using decking as an inflatable hot tub base here. Below is a summary.
If your deck is less than two feet above the ground, it will probably support up to 100lbs per square foot, but this decreases significantly for raised decks.
Another factor is the age of your deck; if it’s been there a few years, the wood may start to rot in places.
That’s not to say that decking can’t be used; in fact, it often is as it provides a quality finish, is usually close to the house and it’s one of the best materials underfoot. However, you need to get a professional opinion on whether it needs extra structural support before going ahead.
Is Grass a Suitable Inflatable Hot Tub Base?
Many hot tub owners think their lawn and placing an inflatable hot tub on grass is the perfect solution. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. The moisture and insects could damage the hot tub’s bottom on the bare ground and an inflatable spa will inevitably damage the turf if left on there for more than a few days.
Plus, although the soft texture may feel lovely, every time you get into the hot tub, you will be taking along blades of grass and bacteria on your feet, causing your hot tub to work harder to try to keep clean.
What about artificial lawns?
There’s always an exception to every rule and fake grass is the exception here. It makes an excellent inflatable hot tub base as long as it is installed on a level surface with a strong foundation.
Unlike natural turf, it won’t be damaged by any chemical splashes or deteriorate underneath the tub’s bottom and it’s aesthetically pleasing.
Do You Need A Ground Cloth?
Whatever base you choose for your inflatable hot tub, a ground cloth is essential; not only does it protect the floor of your spa from damage from sharp stones, an insulated ground floor mat prevents heat loss, thereby ensuring your heat-up times are more efficient and saving on energy costs.
Most hot tubs come with a ground cover included; however, they can also be bought online.
Where to Put an Inflatable Hot Tub?
Of course, before you even decide on interlocking foam tiles or a wooden deck, there is the big question. Where is it going to go? The perfect location depends on a few factors you may not have thought of!
An inflatable hot tub will require regular maintenance to jets, the floor mat and the spa surround just to name a few, so access is the most important consideration when choosing the proper position for your spa. You need to be able to get to the pump, put on and take off the cover, and obviously reach all areas for cleaning.
Hot tubs can’t be operated via an extension cable. So we highly recommend having a qualified electrician install an outdoor socket. This should be at least a metre away from the hot tub itself and have RCD protection which will prevent electric shock should any faults occur.
Wherever you place your Jacuzzi, you will need to have adequate drainage beneath and remember the water contains chemicals harmful to aquatic life and plants. You will need to drain the tub regularly, so perhaps don’t place it next to your prized vegetable patch.
Most people who spend quality time together in a hot tub underneath the stars would prefer to do so without being overlooked by the neighbours, but there is another reason for choosing a sheltered position for your spa.
Protection and security from the wind and elements make the spa experience more pleasurable for family and friends and help the tub maintain its temperature better. Hence, it’s good to position your tub behind a hedge or a small stone wall.
What should I put under my Lay Z Spa?
You can buy a thick Lay Z Spa floor protector, which we reviewed here. Alternatively, you can buy ground cloths online or even use a thick foam kids playmat.
What is the cheapest base for a hot tub?
A plastic hot tub base is the most affordable option; these can be bought cheaply online and, as long as they are not placed on uneven ground, can readily support a portable hot tub’s weight.
Can you sink an inflatable hot tub into the ground?
It is technically possible, although it’s a lot of work for an inflatable tub, and it would need protecting inside a frame; plus, you would require access for maintenance and then there’s the drainage when it is emptied. The whole process would likely cost more than the hot tub itself, so it’s a solution better suited to hard-sided or rigid options rather than an inflatable hot tub.
So, what is the best surface for your inflatable hot tub? The answer is it depends. You need to take into account a few factors, such as how accessible you need the tub to be, what kind of drainage you have available, and your budget.
We’ve outlined the pros and cons of each inflatable hot tub base so that you can make an informed decision.
We would recommend choosing plastic resin base pads if you live in rented accommodation or move your tub regularly. An existing patio with a solid foundation may suffice if you want a more permanent option below your tub. Just be sure to use a ground cloth underneath to protect your hot tub’s bottom from damage.