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Can You Put a Hot Tub on Gravel? (Best base foundation)

When purchasing & installing a hot tub, there are a lot of different decisions to make, including location. But with poured concrete being expensive, you may have wondered can a hot tub be placed on gravel?

As a general rule, a hot tub can be placed on gravel. But first, remove all grass with a shovel & dig down 6 inches. Level the dirt & add then 6 inches of gravel. Pea gravel can be used but should be placed over heavy-duty gravel. Make sure the gravel is completely level before adding the hot tub.

But that’s just a quick glimpse into the answer and solution.

There are many different stable options for you to choose from, such as patios, decks, and concrete pads. But today we will be talking about gravel pads.

Keep on reading to find out how gravel pads work with your hot tub, if they work well, and how much you can save by using one.

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What are the benefits of a gravel base for a hot tub?

A gravel base offers several benefits when it comes to setting up a hot tub:

  1. Drainage: Gravel provides excellent drainage, allowing water to flow away from the hot tub efficiently. This is crucial to prevent water accumulation around the tub, which can lead to damage and potential issues such as mold or mildew growth.
  2. Stability: A gravel base offers a stable and level surface for the hot tub. It helps distribute the weight evenly and prevents any wobbling or shifting during use. This stability enhances both safety and comfort while enjoying the hot tub.
  3. Protection: Gravel acts as a protective layer between the hot tub’s base and the ground. It helps prevent direct contact with the soil, reducing the risk of moisture seepage, rot, or damage to the tub’s bottom.
  4. Versatility: Gravel is a versatile material that can be easily leveled or adjusted to create a suitable base for hot tub installation. It can conform to the shape of the tub and accommodate irregularities in the ground, providing a customized and secure foundation.
  5. Aesthetics: Gravel can enhance the overall look and feel of the hot tub area. It adds a natural and visually appealing element, complementing the outdoor environment and landscaping.
  6. Accessibility: A gravel base can make maintenance tasks more accessible. It allows easy access to plumbing and electrical components underneath the hot tub for repairs or inspections.
  7. Cost-effective: Compared to other base options, gravel is a cost-effective choice. It is readily available and relatively inexpensive, making it a budget-friendly solution for setting up a hot tub.

Remember to use proper landscaping fabric or a geotextile membrane beneath the gravel base to prevent weeds from growing through and minimize the risk of gravel migration. This will help maintain the integrity and longevity of the gravel base for your hot tub.

Just remember that any hot tub base must be stable and level. A dip in the surface your hot tub is on can cause the hot tub to crack.

Additionally, do not place your hot tub directly on grass.

In general, it should never be placed on the bare ground at all. Gravel pads have some advantages over concrete pads. To begin with, they promote drainage and end up cracking, unlike concrete pads.

Additionally, a gravel pad will also resist shifting. This is due to its composition of tiny pieces of loose gravel. The gravel also conforms to the hot tub base and will hold it in place. These are important considerations.

So, why should you use gravel? Well, besides being able to drain water, gravel is aesthetically pleasing. Gravel complements a variety of backyards.

Gravel is also very easy to install. It’s a quick option that only takes a few hours, unlike concrete or building a deck. Additionally, it also won’t end up cracking over time like concrete.

Gravel will also mold over time and conform to your hot tub. Gravel will also not shift over time. Finally, gravel is relatively cheap to purchase.

But concrete and gravel aren’t your only options! 2 of my 4 hot tubs have been on wooden decks.

When placing your hot tub on an existing structure such as a wooden deck, you should be mindful of the weight of the hot tub (especially when filled with water and occupants) and the structural support that the deck provides.

If you’re wondering how to figure out if your deck can support your hot tub, read this recent article.

I not only get into how to determine if your deck can hold a hot tub. But I also cover how to reinforce yours if it can’t, with the exact blueprint used for my current deck and hot tub.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How do you make a gravel pad for a hot tub?

You can easily create a gravel pad for your hot tub.

Remember to make sure that you’re constructing a gravel base on a completely flat and level surface. Trying to create your base where the earth is bumpy, hilly, or has other deformities may cause the hot tub to not work properly or be damaged.

Step 1

For step one, you should first measure your hot tub.

You need to know the exact dimensions of it. Then, you will also want to have a few extra feet around the hot tub to place gravel for draining and aesthetic purposes. Once that is done, decide where you are going to place your hot tub.

Check the area you have chosen for your hot tub.

Make sure there are no overhead power lines. Additionally, make sure no trees or shrubs are close by. Tree roots, in particular, can cause the hot tub to shift over time and no longer be level.

You will also want to make sure that the chosen site would not block your access to your septic tank, sewer lines, or any other utilities.

Next, make sure the site of the hot tub is close to a water source that can refill it if needed.

A hose should always be nearby. You will always want your hot tub at least five feet away from an electrical panel or outlet. Some hot tubs plug into outlets, and some require electricity connected by an electrician.

The kind that plugin (110v hot tubs) typically come with a 15-foot cord, and should not be used with extension cords. So think about how far away the plug is if that’s the kind you have.

Step 2

Next, remove the grass from an area of your lawn large enough to hold your hot tub.

You will want to dig at least six inches into the ground with a shovel. 6 inches will allow the right amount of space for the gravel.

Without enough gravel, drainage can be compromised. With too much gravel, the hot tub base may become too soft and sink over time. To avoid muddy areas around your hot tub, extend the gravel out around your hot tub by 1-2 feet.

Check the ground with a level before adding gravel. You can adjust the levelness of the ground a little with the gravel. But you want the bare ground to be as level as possible to start with.

Step 3

Fill in your hole with the gravel of your choice.

There are different types of gravel, with different looks and qualities. If you’re going to use pea gravel, add only 4 inches of medium-grade construction gravel. You will fill the rest of the area (2 inches) with pea gravel.

Step 4

Finally, smooth out the surface of your gravel with a shovel or thick-bristled push broom. Ensure that the gravel is flat and level. Hot tubs must be on a stable and level surface!

A hot tub must be level!

An unlevel hot tub can cause stress fractures in the shell. But it can also cause the wood frame to crack if it’s too unlevel.

Read this recent article if you’re unsure if a hot tub needs to be level. More importantly, I also get into some easy ways to level a hot tub if yours isn’t level.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Can I set my hot tub on pea gravel?

Using pea gravel as a base for your hot tub has some distinct advantages.

Aesthetically, gravel can complement a variety of types of landscaping. Practically, a pea gravel base offers the advantage of easy drainage, unlike a solid brick, concrete, or wood base.

A secure and lasting pea gravel base can be made with simple tools and materials. And it’s not nearly as costly as many other hot tub bases.

So, yes, you can absolutely set your hot tub on pea gravel! But it’s not the only inexpensive alternative to concrete!

Check out this recent article to see all the alternatives to concrete pads to hold your hot tub, including 1 that is almost 90% less expensive than concrete.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

What type of gravel is best for a hot tub base?

When it comes to selecting the best type of gravel for a hot tub base, there are a few factors to consider. The primary goal is to choose a gravel material that provides adequate support and drainage for the weight of the hot tub.

Here are some popular options to consider:

Crushed Stone: Crushed stone is a common choice for a hot tub base due to its stability and compactness. It offers excellent load-bearing capacity and provides a solid foundation for the hot tub. Crushed stone is available in various sizes and can be compacted to create a level surface.

Pea Gravel: Pea gravel consists of small, smooth stones that are typically rounded in shape. It is a popular choice for its natural appearance and comfortable texture. While not as stable as crushed stone, pea gravel still provides adequate drainage and support for the hot tub. However, it may require more frequent leveling and maintenance.

Decomposed Granite: Decomposed granite is a mixture of small particles of granite rock and fine gravel. It offers good drainage and compacts well, making it suitable for a hot tub base. It has a natural, rustic look and provides a stable surface. However, it may require occasional re-leveling and may not be as comfortable to walk on compared to other options.

Paver Base: Paver base is a crushed aggregate material specifically designed for creating a stable base for paver installations. It is a cost-effective option that provides good drainage and stability. However, it may require additional compaction and leveling to ensure a flat surface for the hot tub.

When choosing the best type of gravel for your hot tub base, consider factors such as load-bearing capacity, drainage capabilities, and your personal preferences for appearance and comfort. It is also essential to consult with the manufacturer’s guidelines and local building codes to ensure compliance and optimal performance of your hot tub.

Can you put an inflatable hot tub on gravel?

While gravel may seem like a convenient option for placing an inflatable hot tub, it is generally not considered an ideal base. Here’s why:

  1. Stability and Support: Inflatable hot tubs require a stable and level surface to ensure proper support. Gravel can shift and settle over time, leading to an uneven base that may cause the hot tub to tilt or become unstable.
  2. Punctures and Tears: Inflatable hot tubs are susceptible to punctures and tears, especially when placed on rough surfaces like gravel. Sharp stones or debris hidden within the gravel can easily damage the delicate material of the hot tub, leading to leaks and costly repairs.
  3. Comfort and Enjoyment: Gravel can be uncomfortable to sit or walk on, especially when you’re looking to relax and enjoy your hot tub experience. The uneven surface can make it challenging to find a stable and comfortable seating position.
  4. Maintenance Difficulty: Cleaning and maintaining an inflatable hot tub on gravel can be more challenging. Debris, dirt, and small stones can easily accumulate in the hot tub, requiring more frequent cleaning and potentially damaging the filtration system.
  5. Warranty Considerations: Placing your inflatable hot tub on an inappropriate base, such as gravel, may void the manufacturer’s warranty. It’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and recommendations to ensure the warranty remains valid.

For these reasons, it’s generally recommended to place an inflatable hot tub on a smooth, level, and firm surface. Suitable options include concrete, wooden decking, or a purpose-built hot tub pad. These surfaces provide better stability, reduce the risk of damage, and enhance your overall hot tub experience.

How much gravel do you need for a hot tub base?

As a general guideline, you can estimate approximately 3/4 to 1 ton (1,500 to 2,000 pounds) of gravel for a standard-sized hot tub with a depth of 4 to 6 inches.

Here are some considerations:

  1. Hot Tub Size: The dimensions of your hot tub will influence the amount of gravel required. Measure the length and width of the hot tub to determine the surface area that needs to be covered.
  2. Gravel Thickness: The recommended thickness for a hot tub base is typically around 4 to 6 inches. This thickness provides adequate support and helps distribute the weight of the hot tub evenly.
  3. Calculating Volume: To calculate the volume of gravel needed, multiply the surface area of the hot tub by the desired thickness. For example, if your hot tub measures 8 feet by 6 feet and you want a 4-inch thick gravel base, the calculation would be: (8 ft x 6 ft) x (4/12 ft) = 16 cubic feet.
  4. Conversion to Yards: To convert cubic feet to cubic yards, divide the volume by 27. In the example above, 16 cubic feet divided by 27 equals approximately 0.59 cubic yards of gravel.
  5. Adjusting for Slope: If the installation site has a slope or uneven ground, you may need to adjust the amount of gravel to ensure a level base. In some cases, additional gravel may be necessary to create a level surface.

Remember to consider the specific recommendations provided by the hot tub manufacturer, as they may have additional guidelines or requirements for the base material and dimensions.

It’s always a good idea to consult with a landscaping professional or a supplier of construction materials to get accurate measurements and determine the exact quantity of gravel needed for your hot tub base. They can provide guidance based on your specific situation and ensure that you have the appropriate amount of gravel to create a stable and level foundation for your hot tub.

How deep should a gravel base be for a hot tub?

The recommended depth for a gravel base under a hot tub is typically around 4 to 6 inches.

This depth allows for adequate support and stability for the weight of the hot tub, ensuring that it remains level and secure. However, it’s important to note that the specific depth may vary depending on factors such as the size and weight of the hot tub, the type of soil or ground conditions, and any local building codes or regulations.

To determine the exact depth for your hot tub’s gravel base, it’s best to consult the manufacturer’s guidelines or consult with a professional installer. They can provide you with specific recommendations based on the requirements of your hot tub model and the conditions of your installation site.

Following their guidance will help ensure that your hot tub is properly supported and provides a safe and enjoyable experience.

What’s the best base for a hot tub?

A proper foundation for your hot tub is key before installing it! You want to make sure you can get the most out of your hot tub without any issues, and this will ensure that.

Some of the most common surfaces hot tubs rest on are:

  • Level concrete pad
  • Reinforced decks
  • Ground-level decks
  • Patio pavers

Do not, however, place the hot tub on grass or bare earth.

As previously stated, gravel beds are great for outdoor hot tubs. The gravel conforms to the hot tub base and will hold it in place.

Another cheap option is a prefabricated base typically called a spa pad.

But if time, money, and labor are no object, there’s still no better surface to support the weight of the filled hot tub than a concrete slab. A concrete pad will be super-strong, won’t wear out over time, and unlike most other surfaces, a concrete base won’t shift over time either.

This is a system of interlocking pads that can be used to create the base. Many say it is just as good as concrete, in addition to being significantly cheaper.

An EZ pad may be plastic, but it can take the weight!

And unlike loading up 60 or so stone pavers into your car from Lowe’s, this thing only weighs 15 pounds total for an 8’x8′ pad, delivered to your door for free from Amazon!

CLICK HERE to see my pick for a spa pad on Amazon.

As long as the surface is uniform, solid, level, and can support the weight of the hot tub (remember to include the hot tub filled with water and occupants in your calculations) then you are all set to go.

Haven’t bought your hot tub yet?

Read this recent article for 23 crucial tips you should know before purchasing your first hot tub! I cover every question you didn’t even know you had, including 2 that could easily double the total installed cost if you don’t check them out first.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Final thoughts

Gravel pads are a great choice for a foundation to support your hot tub.

Gravel pads resist shifting, mold to your hot tub to ensure it is sturdier, and they promote drainage. They also do not end up cracking over time, like concrete pads.

Gravel pads are also very easy to install and are significantly cheaper than pouring concrete. They are also easy enough for almost any DIY-enthusiast to put in themselves.

Happy hot-tubbing!

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Jeff Campbell