Choose the Right Material
Beaulieu uses Western Red Cedar for most of his projects. That’s because it’s naturally resistant to rot, decay and insects. Plus, it just looks beautiful – especially when paired with a brand new hot tub!
“Considering the quality/price ratio, Western Red Cedar is the best material you can use to create beautiful and long-lasting outdoor structures. Period.”
Think Location, Location, Location
In terms of placement, Beaulieu’s number one rule of thumb is the closer the hot tub is to the home, the better – particularly if you live in a colder climate.
“The further the hot tub, the less you will use it – especially during winter, unless you like to shovel snow as a workout before relaxing in your hot tub! Also, electrical wire used to supply power to the hot tub is very expensive by the foot. Another reason to place the hot tub close to the house.”
Elevate Your Soaking Experience
It’s the age-old question: Should you place your tub atop or plumb with the deck? Beaulieu says neither. For him, 20” from the floor of the deck to the top of the tub is ideal.
“This height allows you to get in and out safely because your hips stay level with the deck; and therefore optimal for balance. Often the mechanical arm anchoring system to help lift and put back the cover goes down to about 20 inches or more, depending on the cover.”
Make Room for Tech Support
Beaulieu always builds removable floor panels into the frame to ensure accessibility for pump maintenance, etc. Sometimes, only one side is needed, but depending on the hot tub model, you may need to do this on all four sides.
“Homeowners should get a professional technician to do the maintenance work. With that in mind, the panels need to create a clearance of 18” – minimum. Less than that, and you’ll need to look for an ex-contortionist from Cirque du Soleil to do the tune-up work.”
Gage your Gap
As for spaces between the deck and the hot tub, you need to factor in, among other things, soaker safety and lumber longevity.
“The gap should be small enough to prevent your toe from entering, but large enough for water to drain and the wood to expand and contract. We leave ½” space on our projects.”
Build a Solid Base
When it comes to structural support, the safest bet is a solid base independent of the deck. But if you want to go the post and cement footing route, Beaulieu recommends consulting a professional to ensure your load calculations are correct.
“All our projects usually feature a concrete slab or a compacted crushed stone base. If the hot tub absolutely needs to be resting on the deck, an engineer should be hired to approve the plans.”