Why Hot Tubs and Composite Decking Are a Great Match
So, your client wants to put a hot tub on the new composite deck that you are designing for them? Don’t panic! (Never panic.) Simply ask the homeowner to give you as many details as they can – as soon as they can. With basic information such as the planned size, shape and potential location(s) of the hot tub, the next step is to determine exactly how much additional weight will need to be supported in that area of the deck. Then determine what the local building codes require. Based on this information, you should be able to design a safe, stable decking platform for the hot tub to be installed.
A Hot Tub for Everyone
New technology, including chlorine-free water systems, super-insulated shells and energy efficient pumps have made owning a hot tub more attractive to a greater number of people. Long enjoyed in other, more temperate regions of the country, hot tubs are also very popular with homeowners here in the Northeast as well.
“Hot tubs and outdoor spas are an important part of a healthy lifestyle,” says Diana Locke, general manager of Mainely Tubs in Scarborough, Maine. “Soaking for just 20 minutes a day can relieve stress and tension, ease muscle aches and pains, reduce soreness and stiffness from many chronic conditions, such as arthritis.”
Deck Design Considerations
Designing a new deck made with a combination of hardwood composite decking and pressure treated (PT) wood framing and supports will require some additional planning and considerations for the deck contractor and homeowner to discuss together. Specifically:
Where on the deck will the tub be located? Keep in mind the proximity to the homes electricity source, sun and shade, trees, prevailing winds, privacy and line of sight with neighbors and other passerby’s.
What size hot tub will best match our needs? A typical 8’ x 8’ 350 gallon hot tub could weigh 5,000 lbs. when fully loaded with water and people. A two-person 150 gallon tub may weigh only 2,000. Each will require some reinforcement to support the weight safely.
What else will be located near the hot tub? The surrounding deck area should be large enough to accommodate the hot tub cover without getting in the way of other people on the deck. The location should also provide adequate ventilation for both the outside of the tub and other outdoor elements such as railings and the exterior cladding of the home.
Make sure the orientation of the tub allows for easy access to the service panel and hot tub motor.
Strength Below Deck
First and foremost, homeowners should never install a hot tub on top of a deck that was not specifically designed to handle the additional weight of the tub, water and occupants. As a contractor, it is important to reiterate this to your clients. If they are considering potentially adding a hot tub to their outdoor living space at some point in the future, explain the advantages of designing the size/shape/location of the deck in a way that will make that possibility less troublesome for them down the road.
If you are designing a completely new composite deck space for a customer’s home that you know will have a hot tub installed on it, the best way to safely accommodate for the additional weight is by building a frame-within-a-frame that is dedicated to supporting the hot tub only. In other words, if the rest of the deck were to get stripped away, the decking and supports under the hot tub should be able to remain standing on its own.
Check Depth and Number of Deck Footings
Always check local building codes for the specific requirements about the number, type and locations of the footings anchoring the deck to the ground below. Once you have calculated the footings for the entire decking area, additional footings should be installed to support each corner of the tub.
Decks can be built using standard dimensional pressure-treated posts as well as standard joists. The joists should be spaced a maximum of 12" on center to account for the concentrated load from the hot tub.
Composite Decks Are Always a Better Choice!
When it comes to helping homeowners decide how to finish their new deck, builders should inform their clients about the many advantages of using a high-quality composite decking product such as DuraLife Hardwood or DuraLife Landscape eco-friendly decking. Made in Maine, DuraLife’s unique polypropylene and hardwood composite decking material outperforms both pressure treated wood and composite decking products made with polyethylene plastic. Not only are new composite decking materials stronger and easier to clean and maintain than traditional lumber, composites are also safer because they won’t splinter, crack or rot. Lastly, while manufactured without the use of toxic chemicals, such as formaldehyde, Duralife composite decking is also highly resistant to moisture, inhibiting mold and mildew growth, a common issue typically found in areas around a hot tub.
This article is made possible by DuraLife.DuraLife’s unique polypropylene and hardwood composite decking materials simply outperform all other wood and composite decking products.More solid and safe under foot, DuraLife decking is backed by a 25-year warrantystain and fade resistant, mold and mildew resistant, and is available in the colors and deck railing options you want. Get Samples, try our Composite Deck & Railing Visualizer, or contact DuraLife now to learn more.