Relaxation and downtime aren’t just for the indoors; a healthy combination of stress relief and rest is also right at home in the backyard. While comfy lounge chairs, inviting plants, and cozy outdoor furniture set the stage for an idyllic gathering space, there’s another therapeutic item.
What’s that missing piece? Look no further than the hot tub. This outdoor soaking tub offers rest and recreation. Hot tubs never fall out of season–as they can be used year-round–and provide much-needed tranquility anytime.
Whether you seek therapeutic qualities or time to unwind, hot tubs can provide quality care. These soaking tubs can use less water than a bathtub since they don’t need to be drained after every use. From fun to stress relief, hot tubs are a perfect addition to a backyard space. When you begin researching soaking tubs, you will quickly discover that there are several on the market. And, depending on your lifestyle and home, choosing the right one can be tricky.
However, there are a few factors to consider when hunting for the oh-so-perfect hot tub. Before taking the plunge, determine yard size and space required. Then, consider how often you expect the tub to be used. Next, make a budget to include installation, maintenance, warranties, and repairs. From there, make a shortlist of must-have features–like smart controls and tech–and color swatches and styles. Then, you’ll be on your way to browse hot tubs.
Check out our guide below on hot tubs.
Types of Hot Tubs
A hot tub is a home piece all its own.
What makes a spa or hot tub distinct from a conventional tub? The hot tub is constantly heated, features jets, and is much larger to accommodate multiple people.
Let’s dive into the three types of hot tubs for the home. Essentially, they are in-ground, portable, and custom. We will break these three categories down further as they align with the best product for your consideration.
Most commonly, hot tubs are standalone units. However, in-ground models are custom-built and installed below ground, making these spas not external at all. So, this hot tub style can cost more as it’s completely customized to fit your terms of design, size, and tub features.
In-ground units can be designed from the ground up or purchased as shells and lowered into the ground, which drives up the price. Completely customized in-ground hot tubs can be constructed with concrete and are generally placed further away from the house compared to portable tubs.
It’s worth noting that these tubs tend to be higher in price due to their uniqueness or size and can require more maintenance.
Custom spas can be above or in-ground. Pricing for custom hot tubs varies by materials, size, and shape. A custom unit is ideal for a homeowner with a large budget who has a keen design eye.
A custom-made tub allows the homeowner to craft every single element – whether it’s a spa made of stone, unique colors, metal fixtures, special features or modes, and even a specific number of jets.
Would you prefer a larger selection? Portable hot tubs offer the most options on the market.
This spa-style is also one of the most popular across the country. These are also budget-friendly since they are not as expensive as unique builds or in-ground options.
A plus for portable tubs is that their performance is universally applauded–these units are durable and energy-efficient and can be moved to any area in the backyard.
Shopping options: Essential Hot Tubs Syracuse Hot Tub ($8,200)
4. Rotationally Molded
This water spa is cast in a mold of polyethylene resin and includes contoured seating. The rotationally molded style offers more affordable solutions for homeowners who delight in hydrotherapy but have a specific budget and available space.
These hot tubs can be moved but not easily, as they can weigh around 300 pounds. While extremely durable, the resin might not be as sustainable as some homeowners would like.
Shopping options: Essential Hot Tubs Arbor Hot Tub ($3,700)
Want a little workout with your soaking spa? A swim or exercise hot tub is the way to go.
Forewarning: the backyard or an outdoor structure–like a pool house–requires ample space to house the swim spa. This type of unit can be longer and wider in length to engage in water-based fitness moves. Since the spa is larger than classic hot tubs, the price will also increase.
Lightweight but sturdy, the soft-side tub marries portability and efficiency. These smaller, vinyl-wrapped tubs are still mighty: they often feature four to 12 water jets and plug into any outdoor 110-volt outlet.
Soft-sided hot tubs are perfect for the seasonal water spa fan. Since these tubs are size conscious, they’re also price-friendly compared to other stand-alone units.
For the newbie or occasional user, inflatable water spas are the ticket. This tub is ultra-portable and can be moved anywhere outdoors.
Typically, the unit is composed of polyester or laminated PVC, and just like soft-sided tubs, they can be plugged into any outdoor 110-volt outlet. There’s zero installation involved, too.
Inflatable tubs are not designed for prolonged use, as they are subject to holes and tears. Plus, an inflatable hot tub is much less energy efficient than other options.
8. Wooden and Wood-Fired
Wooden hot tubs are bubbling with classic charm and are constructed of barrel-style wood. Some wooden spas require wood fire to heat the water and keep it nice and hot. Other wooden hot tubs can use gas or heaters to fire up the water.
These tubs can be manufactured from a variety of wood, but cedar and redwood offer aromatherapeutic qualities. While these units look more retro, they’re often more expensive and come with fewer features. This tub is a great option for a minimalist and streamlined experience.
Stephanie Valente is a Content Director and Editor in Brooklyn, NY. She’s previously held writing and social media positions at Barkbox, Men’s Journal, and currently works at a full-service advertising agency. She’s a self-confessed home and design enthusiast. Stephanie is an award-winning poet and fiction writer. When she’s offline, you can find her taking a yoga class, running, hanging out with her rescue dog Pepper. Find her on stephanievalente.com.