What’s better: having a deck in your backyard or, sitting in a hot tub to relax? The answer for hot tub people is both; sitting in a hot tub while out on your deck. Mixing a deck and a hot tub can truly create some amazing places to hang out and soak but what does it take for a deck to support a hot tub?
You essentially need to double the supports of the deck for it to hold a hot tub. You will need larger lumber and more of it. This all would need to be engineered to your specific project details like how high off the ground, how much total weight, and more.
Mixing a hot tub and a deck can come in so many different forms. You could already have a concrete slab patio out back with a hot tub on it and you just want to surround it with a raised deck so that the tub has a sunk-in feel to it. Or maybe your ideal spot is twelve feet up off of a master bed slider and you want to make sure that you have enough lumber underneath it to hop in every night and not pray for your deck’s strength.
If you want to learn more about some different hot tub deck ideas and how to implement them then read on but if you just want to talk to someone right now about your next backyard project then give us a call at 970-663-2868 or just shoot us an email.
Ground level decks
To get off on the right foot, it’s essential to get all of the measurements of your backyard or project area. We need to consider the fence or property line, the size of the deck in relation to the house, and lastly, where to put the hot tub.
For ground-level decks, we don’t recommend installing the hot tub on top. Instead, we suggest setting the tub on a concrete pad. This offers the much-needed footing of the hot tub. We then build the deck around it as this makes the entire process much more efficient.
But what if you want to remove the hot tub from the deck after a few years? We have options for that also. Every deck built around a hot tub consists of framing members. We keep them at least 1 inch away from the surface of the hot tub. This gives enough space to take out the hot tub if you want. The deck offers support to the short cantilever so that it fills the area closest to the tub leaving a nice clean reveal.
You will have some creative control over the height of your deck but not much. I say that because there are some great places to attach a deck to the back of your house, for instance, and one of them is the main floor or rim joist of the home. Well that is already a constant so you will most likely want to walk-out from your back door out onto a deck.
The height of the deck isn’t the only thing to consider while installing the hot tub. We also need to take care of the concrete pad if that’s the direction you’re wanting to go. First, we build the concrete pad according to the local building code.
The installation team also gets clearances on the operation and arm dimensions of the tub and cover. Additionally, we also take clearances for deck in mind so that you don’t run into permit complications later.
It’s easy to miss these crucial points if you are trying to DIY this and install the deck and hot tub alone. Apart from these factors, we also keep a gap of up to 1/4″ inch between the deck boards and the tub. This gives the hot tub and deck room to expand and contract in extreme weather conditions.
Above ground decks
We don’t specialize in any one shape or size of deck because we build ’em all and have built somewhere in the thousands of decks at this point, some pretty big ones with a hot tub.
Sometimes the deck is at a higher level than the tub or we have to deal with an even ground to build the deck. These things don’t worry us as we have some of the most experienced and certified technicians for the job. The engineer will look over your project and make decisions about attachments, connections, and material size your deck will be made from.
If you are doing this DIY then you will need to figure out what size posts and what size framing material you will use. Posts used are generally 4×4, 6×6, and 8×8 inch material and framing lumber is usually in the 2×6, 2×8, 2×10, or 2×12 categories.
Another big factor will be the joist layout to provide ample support for the amount of weight a hot tub contains. Again, check local guidelines and if it calls for 8 inch on center then you are going to have to double your joist count. Those spaces get pretty tight to work in at 8-inches on-center. That will also add to your hardware count which definitely adds to the overall cost.
In such cases, we start by laying out where the hot tub will sit and where the outside dimensions of the deck will sit using a string line or marking device. Again, this step involves following the local building code. It also allows us to determine the spacing requirements for each post hole.
Following local code, we will punch out holes in the ground with a huge drill called an auger to be able to have an inspector come out and sign off. We can then pour concrete to create the caussons that your deck will sit on.
We can then use lasers to figure out how tall to cut the posts that will hold up your deck. After a ledger gets attached to your house and a perimeter frame put up, the joists just start rolling in. Our crews have so much experience with so many different projects that stages like this can literally fly by.
If you’re on your own, this part can get very tricky as you would have to use a lot of temporary lumber to hold pieces up. You would need to order extra 2×4’s or 2×6’s and use them as diagonal bracing. It would be a slow process but with enough patience and temps you can get anything up in the air.
Building lift out hatches
Another important aspect of building a hot tub deck is framing the lift out hatches. These provide access to stuff that is hidden underneath the deck like the service panel of the hot tub. We don’t want to be tearing out decking if something goes wrong with the hot tub, so we plan out and create small deck hatches or access panels.
We first mark the location of the lift out hatch on the deck’s joists. Depending on the width of the hatch, we remove one or more joists to provide the space the hatch needs. We can then create a small framed rectangle to work through for hot tub maintenance. Now we can create another couple rectangle frames that just barely fit down in that finished access frame hole.
You can attach the lower of the two frames making the top frame removable and hopefully perfectly flush with the rest of the deck frame.
Laying down decking
So by now we should have a very solid frame that has passed at least two inspections and is ready for decking material. Your specific project or personal preferences will determine whether you start at the house and work out or start with the very outside board and work in.
No matter which way you choose, after you get that first board down you can really start to fly. This is especially true if you are using a hidden fastener system and some air tools to really snap those boards down into place.
This step is usually a lot easier with a partially loaded deck meaning that you’ve loaded the frame with about 60-80% of the loose deck boards to make a temporary place to stand while you attach the decking down to the frame.
Also, if you aren’t using hidden fasteners and are screwing down the boards then just use something like a triangular speed square to create a consistent gap every time.
As you are laying down the decking you can mark and cut out the access panel hatch. You could almost just deck over the top adding screws to the inner and outer frames of the access panel and marking where the cut will go. Then at the end snap a line and cut the access panel free. It should now be almost indistinguishable from the rest of the deck.
The Real Hard Part (Getting the Hot Tub onto the Deck)
This really can be the trickiest part, especially if you are going at this alone. A very ideal situation would be to hire on an actual hot tub mover or be at the stage of buying a new one. I say that because these people mentioned have had to deliver hot tubs to so many different situations and know what you can and can’t do to a hot tub before damaging it.
But if you are left to your own ingenuity, then having multiple pipes around will most certainly help as you can get them under the tub and use them to roll it closer to where you need it if the ground is smooth enough. After that you will have to use some form of pulleys, levers, and brute strength.
Wrapping up the deck
Toward the end of the project it’s time to set the handrail posts and build the railing. I’ve purposely left stairs out of this writeup as they can be little mini decks that take just as long as the main project. After all that the deck should be ready for skirting or otherwise known as fascia. Fascia covers the outer perimeter of the deck to hide the framing and it also dresses up the sides of stairs.
Reading about building a deck is easy but making a deck to support a hot tub isn’t one of the easiest jobs around. That’s where our experience plays a crucial role. We can make customized decks according to your needs that compliment a hot tub perfectly. Give TNT a call now at 970-663-2868 or just click here to contact us. You can also learn more at our deck building services page.