Achieving the Perfect Setup for Your Wood-Fired Hot Tub: Location, Base and Maintenance Tips

Choosing the right location and preparing an appropriate base are essential to the successful installation of your wood-burning hot tub. Given the tub’s potential to become a central feature of your garden, this selection process warrants careful thought.

Position Your Tub Wisely for Safety and Efficiency

A standard feature of most hot tubs, including yours, will likely be an integrated wood-fired heater, which necessitates a chimney. Fire safety regulations dictate that your chimney should be situated at least ten feet (three meters) from flammable structures or materials.

Avoid placing your hot tub on a wooden or recycled PVC decking near combustible items, especially around the heater’s door. Sparks may fly when feeding logs into the heater, and while it won’t heat to dangerous levels, it can cause damage. Protect the base pad of your hot tub with tiles, sheet metal, sheet glass, or similar materials, much like you would safeguard a wooden floor near a fireplace.

The location of your hot tub can also impact the chimney’s draught, and thus, the heater’s combustion. If your chosen spot is too serene or close to trees or structures, the chimney’s draught may not be adequate. In such cases, consider purchasing a 40-inch (1 meter) chimney extension to rectify the issue.

Moreover, consider the drainage when choosing a location. You might want to nourish your garden plants and lawn with the water after use, but you should avoid flooding your own or your neighbor’s garden. Plan ahead and arrange for a hose to connect to your drainage system if necessary.

Prepare a Stable and Load-Bearing Base

A filled wood-fired hot tub can weigh around 4400 lbs (2000 kg), necessitating a strong, stable surface. Concrete slabs, a wooden deck, or recycled PVC deck boards are popular choices for a hot tub base pad.

Ensure that the tub is set on a flat, stable foundation. Once the base is leveled, use a level tool to double-check the balance. If your hot tub is placed on a lawn, consider an agrotextile cover to prevent vegetation growth underneath.

Extend the Lifespan of Your Hot Tub with Minor Adjustments

Opting for a concrete foundation, paving slabs, or gravel for your hot tub’s base pad can extend its lifespan. These materials provide stability and prevent the wooden parts of the tub from absorbing moisture from the ground.

If your hot tub is positioned on a lawn with an agrotextile cover, it should be elevated by 4 inches (10 cm) to promote air circulation. This can be achieved simply by placing concrete slabs under the tub’s contact points. Also, ensure there is no dense vegetation surrounding your hot tub. This could limit the wooden components’ ability to breathe, fostering decay.

The Grand Entrance of Your Hot Tub

By following these guidelines, you’ll be well prepared to integrate a hot tub into your garden securely and efficiently. Whether for cozy soaks or lively family gatherings, you’re now ready to welcome your hot tub home!

Customize Your Space

The degree of site preparation and amenities will be up to your discretion. For all hot tub sizes, a solid, stable, and level foundation is key. You might find that the majority of your time is spent planning and constructing the whole installation rather than simply assembling the tub.

Choose Your Site Wisely

The hot tub’s location is of paramount importance. While it may seem obvious, the closer the hot tub is to your house, the more frequently you are likely to use it, regardless of the weather. If the tub is placed away from the house, ensure there is a pleasant, accessible path leading to it all year round.

Installation Considerations

When installing your tub, ensure it is not merely placed on leveled ground. The tub, even with supporting joists, is only a few inches off the ground. Soil can splash onto the tub’s bottom and staves due to water splashing from people entering and exiting the tub, as well as rain runoff. Over time, the acids in the soil could cause the wood to deteriorate, even rot-resistant species like Western Red Cedar and Redwood.

A concrete pad makes an ideal ground installation base. With a properly compacted bed and a level surface, you’ll have a durable platform that should last the tub’s entire lifespan. The 4-inch thick pad should be reinforced with mesh to manage cracking. If you’re considering additional amenities, such as chairs or a small table, you might want to extend the pad beyond the hot tub’s basic footprint.

Alternative Hot Tub Bases

While a concrete pad offers long-term stability, there are other suitable on-ground bases. A popular choice is a gravel base surrounded by railroad ties or treated lumber. Essentially, you would excavate a pit of the right size, about 12 to 18 inches deep, then fill it with river rock or medium-sized gravel. Crushed rock, possibly mixed with sand, provides a more stable filling as it compacts better. Although this type of base may sag over time, it’s easy to level again when the tub is being cleaned. Concrete pavers and patio blocks are other ground options worth considering.

Deck Installations

Incorporating a hot tub into or onto a deck can create a visually pleasing and practical setup. Decks are usually located near the house, making access quick and easy. Furthermore, hot tubs placed on decks can offer fantastic views. The deck’s support structure must accommodate the weight of the filled tub, plus a safety margin. Always check local regulations as they may have useful guidelines for your deck installation.

If the hot tub is recessed into the deck, ensure there is adequate access for potential maintenance. Leaks or other plumbing issues will inevitably occur in the least accessible places. As the wood ages, it may lose some of its resilience, and leaks can develop. If you allow the hot tub to go through cycles of wetting and drying out, this becomes even more likely. Access to the hoops and lugs for tightening, or to the staves for reseating with a mallet, is essential.

Hot Tub Inside a Structure

Some owners choose to build a freestanding structure or an addition to their sunroom to house their tubs. This approach offers a convenient location to store towels, wood for wood-fired tubs, and a place to change or dry off. If you’re considering this option, remember that local building codes will apply, especially if you plan to run a wood stove chimney through a roof. Always adhere to local regulations regarding wood-fired appliances for your safety.


Planning the ideal base and location for your wooden hot tub is crucial for both safety and optimal performance. Key considerations include proximity to flammable materials, chimney draught conditions, and proper drainage. The base must be even, stable, and have the necessary load-bearing capacity. Common options include concrete slabs, wooden decks, and recycled PVC deck boards. Extra tips to prolong the life of your tub include elevating the tub for proper air circulation and avoiding dense vegetation around it.

If you’re considering ground installations, a concrete pad or a gravel base are good choices. Deck installations provide easy access and aesthetic appeal but require a sturdy support structure. Some owners opt to install their tubs in a separate structure or sun room for additional convenience. Regardless of the installation method chosen, local regulations and safety guidelines should always be adhered to.

Leave a Comment