Can a Hot Tub Sit on Pavers?

So you’re getting a hot tub? One of the things to consider is what it will sit on. Of course, the ideal base might be a concrete patio. But that isn’t always an option. So, what about pavers? Can a hot tub sit on pavers?

Here’s what I know, having owned 4 of them:

Hot tubs can sit on pavers because they are extremely durable and are made of high-density material. However, they should be perfectly flat, without ridges, and should be placed on sand or gravel on top of completely level ground.

In this article, we’ll explore how thick should pavers be for a hot tub.

We’ll also explore how much weight can pavers support and the dos and don’ts of paver installation for a hot tub. We’ll also check out whether it’s okay to use sand under pavers for your hot tub. Lastly, we’ll look at the cost difference between cement and pavers?

Read on to learn more about why pavers are a strong base for hot tubs.

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How thick should pavers be for a hot tub?

Pavers between 1.5 and 3 inches thick are ideal for a hot tub base and will provide the perfect level of support for the fully loaded weight of the hot tub.

But you can’t just set the pavers on grass or bare ground.

First, think about where the hot tub will be in relation to your disconnect box. The disconnect box will ideally be located at least 5 feet from the hot tub, but not much further away than that.

The disconnect box is a breaker that allows you to cut power completely from the hot tub. It, in turn, is then connected to the main breaker panel outside your house.

The power line from the disconnect box to your hot tub should be buried in the ground per your local codes. But in most cases, that will need to be 18″ below the surface.

The hot tub base should be located where you can easily access water from a hose and also drain the tub.

You may want to prep the base by digging down about 9 inches to where you have a flat piece of bare ground that is at least 12″ wider than the hot tub on all sides.

Then pour down a layer of sand that is about 3″ thick. level it off, wet it, and tamp it down, so it is hard and flat. Then add a layer of fine gravel also about 3″ thick. Again, level that off, so it is perfectly flat and level.

Now lay down your pavers perfectly square with no gaps in between them.

If you notice a spot that isn’t perfectly level, or as you get halfway into it, you notice the pavers are starting to gap, now is the time to fix it. You don’t want to get any further along than necessary to realize you need to take a few steps back. And spending the time now to make sure it’s perfectly level will be well worth the finished result.

Ultimately all of this is designed to help equally distribute the weight of a hot tub loaded with both water and people.

By the way, how much does a hot tub weigh? I explored this in a recent article of mine where I explained that hot tubs range from 600 lbs to 800 lbs and that when it’s filled up, with water and people, some of the largest can weigh between 3000lbs to 6000lbs.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How much weight can pavers support?

Pavers can withstand 8000 pounds per square inch. They are 4 times as strong as concrete. In effect, they can handle 4 times as much weight as a typical concrete slab. They are made from various materials such as clay, concrete, marble, flagstone, or composite.

So they can easily support the weight of a large hot tub full of water and people.

They are so strong that some manufacturers even offer a lifetime guarantee. But, in addition to their strength, an important factor to consider is how level is the ground on which the pavers would be laid.

The surface must be flat and even. And, they should be laid on bare ground, not on grass. If it’s not on a flat surface, the weight of the hot tub won’t be evenly distributed.

That can put extra pressure and weight in certain areas of the pavers. This can lead to cracks, and ultimately, damage to the hot tub shell.

Pavers also have a low absorption rate compared to traditionally poured concrete slabs. Concrete slabs can be affected by salt-scaling (technically called efflorescence).

This is a situation where the concrete can end up scaling and tearing up in thin strips! Pavers are immune to this problem because they’re not nearly as porous as regular concrete is.

How level does a hot tub really need to be?

Do they have to be perfectly level, or can they be a little bit off? I get into the specifics of that in a recent article of mine. They are designed to hold thousands of pounds when filled with water and people.

But this weight must be distributed evenly. As such, they must be level. If they are not, stress fractures could be triggered in the wood and the acrylic, leading to damage!

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Dos and don’ts of paver installation for a hot tub

The dos and don’ts of installing pavers for a hot tub include:

  1. Map out the area to be covered with pavers
  2. Only buy pavers that are perfectly flat without grooves or ridges
  3. Don’t lay pavers on grass or bare ground
  4. Make sure the ground and sublayers of sand and gravel are perfectly flat and level
  5. Be precise when laying the pavers, and don’t be afraid to redo a step if it’s not perfect

Let’s look at some of these in greater detail.

Measure the size of the area that needs to be covered

It seems like an obvious thing, but it’s worth emphasizing the importance of having a clear picture of the area you want to cover. It should be adequate for the base of the hot tub to sit on it and at the same time leave some room for bathers to walk conveniently close to the tub before they climb in and to be able to walk out of it.

Knowing the exact area would impact the quantity of materials required and the associated cost. Pavers are relatively inexpensive. So, you may want to cover a substantial portion.

Don’t cut corners

You know the size of the proposed hot tub base, and you’ve placed your order for materials (if you’d be handling the paving yourself). The next step is to make sure the phone and electric lines are untouched and make a provision for an extra foot on each side of the area you want to pave. Say the area to be paved is 10 feet by 5 feet. Make a provision to excavate 11 feet by 6 feet.

Don’t place plastic under the paving

Some folks place plastic under the pavers believing that this would prevent weed growth. Not true. It would retain water, and that would cause problems later.

The best method for preventing weed growth is to use polymeric sand. Ensure the joints are filled to within ⅛ inch of the surface.

Be precise as you lay and arrange the pavers

The strength and beauty of paving stones lie in part in how well they are arranged.

Each piece must be properly arranged. When one piece is not done correctly, all other pieces are affected. To have a strong base, ensure that you use landscaping paint/ tape or a string to have them all perfectly arranged.

The inside and the edges must be accurately laid.

Can I just use sand under pavers for my hot tub?

Sand, alone, is not ideal to be used under a hot tub. This is because, over time, sand can shift, resulting in an unreliable base. If the sand shifts, the pavers resting on it would shift too. This exposes the hot tub frame and shell to the risk of cracking from uneven weight distribution.

This is why typically, sand is combined with gravel to form a base for the pavers to sit on.

Sand comes in a variety of forms. Some are coarse, while others are fine. Fine sand, as you can imagine, cannot form a solid base for pavers. Sand often shifts, resulting in an uneven foundation.

The hot tub would now rest on the pavers, which are on the sand base, and hot tubs, when filled with water and bathers, can weigh a lot!

So, you want to use sand that’s coarse and has been mixed with gravel to make it stronger.

Sand is often mixed with crushed stone for the best effect. The Interlocking Pavement Institute recommends washed concrete sand as the best sand base for pavers because it is coarse and does not trap excess moisture beneath the pavers.

Concrete sand is also known as bedding sand.

Which is cheaper: cement or pavers?

Poured concrete is more expensive than pavers. An 8-foot paver base can be done for under $250, whereas an 8-foot poured concrete patio typically costs $640.

Concrete is easier, though, as often a concrete company would be hired to simply pour the patio as opposed to manually digging, pouring sand and gravel, and then laying the patio stones.

The downside of concrete is that it’s best to wait 28 days after it was poured before putting a hot tub on it. It has to cure, and putting that much weight on there prematurely can result in it flaking off and becoming less level and less stable.

Pavers also have an edge since they are made of individual pieces. When one cracks, it can be removed and replaced without any effect on the rest of it.

Is concrete the best foundation for a hot tub?

In a recent article, I explained that a hot tub doesn’t need to be placed on concrete. It can be placed on any stable level surface as long as there’s no risk that the surface would become unstable due to moisture or weight.

Some common alternatives to concrete include paver stones, wooden decks, spa pads, and gravel beds.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Conclusion

We explored how thick pavers should be for a hot tub, how much weight can pavers support, and the dos and don’ts of paver installation for a hot tub.

We also checked out whether it’s okay to use sand under pavers for your hot tub. And, we wrapped things up by looking at which one is cheaper: cement or pavers?

Ultimately a hot tub can sit on pavers just fine. It’s an inexpensive way to create a totally solid foundation for your hot tub.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, hot tub lover, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market.

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