What are the Advantages of a Wooden Hot Tub vs. the Acrylic Spa ?
Do Wooden Hot Tubs leak ?
How hard are they to assemble ?
Aren't natural wooden tubs (and even spas) unsanitary ?
Are hot tubs difficult to clean  ?
What are the therapeutic benefits of a Hot Tub ?
Why only Clear Heart Redwood or Western Red Cedar ?
Does the Thickness of the Wood Make a Difference ?
How much water does a hot tub hold ?
How easy are they to install ?
How much do they cost to operate ?
Chlorine vs. Bromine.
What Accessories and Options are available ?

What are the Advantages of a Wooden Hot Tub vs. the Acrylic Spa?

Although acrylic spas are by far more prevalent today than wooden hot tubs, it was the wooden hot tub that began the experience of social bathing in America. Whether to purchase an acrylic spa or a wooden hot tub depends mostly on personal preference and each individual situation. There are many reasons for choosing a wooden tub over a plastic spa.

Because they are assembled on site, they can be carried through any doorway, stairs or other narrow access. With a spa, you have a large one-piece which can be unwieldy or impossible to move into its final location.

The vertical walls and greater depth of the wooden tub surround the bather with more water than would be found in a spa, so there is a greater effect of buoyancy in the hot tub. In addition, there is typically much more leg room since you can stretch out under the bench, and taller bathers are more comfortably accommodated.

Because of a wooden hot tub's greater depth, a smaller diameter hot tub will seat the same number of people as a larger spa. For example, a 5' round hot tub will seat as many people as a 7' square spa. And a smaller surface area means less heating expense.

And, of course, there's the rustic look of a traditional wooden hot tub. From an aesthetic point of view, nothing matches the appearance of a wooden tub.


Do Wooden Hot Tubs leak?

This is one of the two most common misconceptions about wooden hot tubs. Indeed wooden hot tubs will leak ever so slightly for the first few days after assembly, but the amount of leaked water is generally not even noticed.

After making wooden tubs for over two decades, we can say that there are basically only two reasons why a natural wooden hot tub would leak. Without a doubt the most common reason is overuse of chlorine or bromine, which can attack the wood, causing leaks.

This problem can be avoided simply by being diligent enough not to exceed safe levels of halogens in the water or by using an ozonator which will greatly reduce the need for halogen sanitizers.

If a tub holds water perfectly for months or years and then begins leaking inexplicably, this is usually indicative of over-halogenization. And, if the problem is identified early enough, the damage can be halted and repaired with little cost or time.

Much less common than leaks due to halogens are leaks in a hot tub due to improper assembly. This is indicated by a tub that never seems to seal at all. Our assembly instructions offer an easy and detailed description of the proper assembly procedure, so this is only ever a problem for installers that fail to read the assembly instructions.


How hard are they to assemble ?

They're not at all difficult to assemble. We can generally assemble them, on site in under 40 minutes. Figure about 2 hours for the novice, a little less if you have some help. Our assembly instructions take you step by step through the assembly process, and we're always just a phone call away for more help.

Aren't natural wooden tubs (and even spas) unsanitary?

This is the other most common misconception with regard to wooden hot tubs. In fact, wooden hot tubs are no less sanitary than acrylic spas. Improperly sanitized, both the wooden tub and acrylic spa can represent a health hazard, but there is no evidence that the natural wood is more likely to harbor organisms as compared to the acrylic (in fact, in recent studies of kitchen cutting boards, it was found that while bacteria multiplied and prospered on plastic boards, it died on the wooden ones).

The important point to remember is that, regardless of the material from which your tub or spa is made, proper sanitization is the key.


Are hot tubs difficult to clean ?

Absolutely not ! This is another common misconception about hot tubs. In fact, unlike spas, hot tubs don't crack, chip, blister, bubble, fade or stain. To clean a hot tub all one has do is drain the water and rinse it out. If necessary or desired they can be gently scrubbed with a soft brush. And unlike a spa, wherein 8 to 10 inches of water remains, when you drain a hot tub all the water drains out. With age a hot tub just looks better and better.


What are the therapeutic benefits of a Hot Tub?

Whirlpool water therapy is both physical and mental. A number of muscle-skeletal aliments and injuries are treated with whirlpool therapy, from arthritis to sports injuries.

The whirlpool improves circulation, and a properly designed and operating system will have jets powerful enough to have a massaging effect for the "garden variety sore muscles" from which we all suffer from time to time.

Those sore muscles often come from the stress of daily life, and therein lies the added effect of hot water bathing. As you relax in the whirlpool, you're working on the root cause of your problem - stress.

Unlike the limitations of plastic spas, in a wooden hot tub jets can be places virtually anywhere you like, weather it be high on the side for massaging your neck, low for your lower back, or even on the floor for your feet.


Why only Clear Heart Redwood or Western Red Cedar?

There are stringent requirements for the grade and type of wood that should be used to make a wooden tub, although these are not always adhered to by other manufacturers of wooden tubs .

The wood must be naturally decay resistant and must swell enough to provide a good seal, but it must not swell so much that buckling occurs.

No knots or sapwood (the lighter colored wood from the outer part of the tree) can be used, since the knots can leak and the sapwood will decay like any other white wood. Only the heartwood from the center of the tree possesses natural decay resistant properties.

The wood to be used in a wooden hot tub must also have a pleasant appearance. Despite the high cost and limited availability, Redwood fulfills all these requirements better than most any other wood, providing the grade is clear and all-heart (teak, jarrah and a variety of cedar are also excellent woods for hot tubs).


How easy are they to install?

Our instruction manual is written with the do-it-yourself installer in mind and no special tools or skills are required.

The bottom of the tub is supplied in two or three pieces. In a wooden tub you even have the opportunity to customize the locations of the jets around the circumference of the tub.

All plumbing is accomplished by gluing together PVC piping, and the support equipment is shipped complete with everything necessary to install your system. With the help of a friend, even the average homeowner can assemble a wooden tub system in one day.


Does the Thickness of the Wood Make a Difference ?

While other manufacturers use redwood that is as thin as 1", our redwood hot tubs are a full 1 3/4" thick. The extra thickness adds a much greater insulation value and over time there is much less proneness to warping thereby extending the longevity of your hot tub.


How much water does a hot tub hold?

The form below shows approximately how much water is held by a variety of sizes of our hot tubs. Multiplying the gallons by 8.3 will give you the approximate weight, in pounds, of the tub filled with water.

Straight Sided Round Tubs
diameter overall height gallons
3' 4' 200
4' 3' 250
4' 4' 300
5' 3' 375
5' 4' 500
5' 5' 610
6' 3' 600
6' 4' 725
6' 5' 900
7' 3' 700
7' 4' 1000
7' 5' 1250
Conical Round hot Tubs
5' 4' 450
6' 4' 600
7' 4' 800
Oval Hot Tubs
32" x 50" 29" 130
32" x 50" 3' 170
32" x 50" 4' 210
36" x 60" 29" 200
36" x 60" 3' 270
36" x 60" 4' 340


How much do they cost to operate?

The cost of operating a Hot Tub varies widely depending on the size of the tub, the climate, the configuration of the installation, and most importantly, the price of gas or electricity in your area.

While this question is virtually impossible to answer here, what we can tell you is this; while a hot tub may hold more water than a spa, due to the fact that hot tubs have a smaller surface area than a spa that has the same seating capacity, they generally cost about the same to operate as a spa.


What Accessories and Options are available?

There are a number of options and accessories that you may wish to consider along with your hot tub system.

Larger Pumps, Extra Jets:

All 5' and larger hot tub systems come with a 1 1/2HP pump and three massage jets , this is generally adequate. However if you would like more jets, it is a simple matter to add a larger, or additional pump to accomplish this. The smaller oval tubs generally have two jets, one at each end, while the ofuros and soaking tubs usually don't have any jets.

Air Blower System:

The next accessory to consider is the Bubbler System, . The bubbler, or air blower. blows bubbles through a small holes in a ring of pipe that is attached beneath the bench. The effect it creates, sometimes call a Champaign effect, can be very soothing.Included with the Bubbler System is a 1 HP compressor, additional plumbing and controls.

Larger Gas Heater Option:

The standard gas heater provided with our hot tub systems is a 100k Btu gas heater. Larger heaters can a great option if you want to be completely spontaneous as to when you want to use your tub .(see chart for heat up times)


There are two different types of covers that you should put on your hot tub. One is an inexpensive floating blanket that rests right on the water. The other is an insulating cover which fits over the top of the tub. These two covers and the layer of air between them virtually eliminate surface energy losses and will pay for themselves in a short time, even on indoor installations.

The complete hot tub systems come with a UV inhibited marine grade vinyl covered 4" thick foam cover. Some of the available cover options are, wooden cover, aluminum cover, or our roll cover. Please see the section on covers for descriptions in more information.

Low Voltage Light:

The Low Voltage Light for hot tubs features subdued lighting inside the tub. The light is supplied with a separate spa side switch and a set of colored lenses to suit your particular mood. Colored lenses can be changed from inside the tub without any need to drain the water.


Chlorine vs. Bromine

OK, so you've decided that you don't want to spend the extra money on a chemical free water purifier, and you're going to do it the old fashioned way - with halogens. You go down to the big spa store and are overwhelmed with the different types of sanitizers. available.

Before we talk about how you get the stuff into the water, let's talk about the differences between chlorine and bromine. Both are halogens, although the use of bromine in pools and spas is much more recent than chlorine.

When bromine first came into vogue, in the early 1980's, it appeared to be the best thing for spas and hot tubs. It is more stable in water than chlorine since it has a very high evaporation point as compared to chlorine. Less of it escapes from the tub as a gas.

Bromine continues to sanitize the water even after it combines with organic compounds to form bromamines. When chlorine combines to form chloramines, they are at best a nuisance and just serve to sting your eyes and smell up your tub. Chloramines are eliminated either by draining and refilling the tub, or by shocking the water with fresh chlorine, which can be deadly to a natural wooden tub.

So, bromine seemed like a great thing when it first appeared. But then the industry started to pick up on the problems with bromine. It was so stable that it was difficult to get into the water. Erosion feeders needed to be supplied with a mixture of one third chlorine and two thirds bromine so the chlorine could give the bromine a "kick".

They're have also been reports that bromine is not as wide spectrum a sanitizer as chlorine. That is, there are some forms of organisms, most notably certain forms of either a black fungi or algae according to anecdotal reports, that are not susceptible to bromine.

Furthermore, because bromine is so stable, its odor is much more difficult to wash off the skin after bathing. And, those wonderful bromamines that maintained their ability to sanitize? It turns out that they are far more carcinogenic (cancer causing) than their chloramine cousins.

With chlorine there are three basic types, liquid, sodium-trichlor and sodium dichlor. The first two should only be used in swimming pools. Liquid chlorine will throw your pH so far out of wack it will be nearly impossible to balance your water. With the trichlor, the higher temperatures of hot tubs tends to make it a little caustic to your skin. If you choose to use chlorine, sodium-dichlor is the way to go.

The fact that both bromamines and chloramines are carcinogenic is reason enough to consider eliminating halogens with an ozonator. After years of experience, we have come to the opinion that if you must use halogens, granulated chlorine added manually is still the best method. This way, you have complete control over the process.

Regardless of which halogen you use and regardless of the method you employ to get it into the water, testing will be required to verify that the halogen levels are neither too high nor inadequate.