Every spa owner wants to start their journey off on the right footing, though the literal footing is one of the last things that a new spa owner will consider. Bases and foundations are amongst the least glamorous elements of a spa pool, but they’re also amongst the most important.
The best spa bases are those that are strong enough to protect the spa, robust enough to last years or decades, and feature insulation that ensures none of your spa’s heat is lost to the ground... all boxes that a Hot Spring spa pool base plate will tick!
In this article we’ll take a closer look at exactly what a foundation and a base for a spa is, what they do, and what the best spa foundations and bases look like.
Why are spa bases important?
The base of your spa is the part of the unit that touches the ground and which is usually made of heavy duty plastic. It is different from the foundation, which is the surface that the base sits on, whether earth, concrete, timber decking or anything else. These terms can at times be used interchangeably, which can lead to confusion.
Spa bases are important for two reasons:
- They hold the weight of the entire spa, and protect the internal machinery and shell.
- They insulate the water from the ground (which is particularly important in cold climates).
Cheap spa pools tend to feature flimsier bases that don’t offer the strength or robustness required to last. They can develop cracks, wear and tear, which may mean you need to replace your spa pool sooner than you had planned.
The more cost-effective options also lack the insulating properties to keep the spa water warm. The cold travels up through the ground, through the base into the spa, and cools your water from beneath – sort of like a reverse hot plate. The main ongoing cost of spa pool ownership is the power used to heat the water, which means a low quality base can lead to higher energy bills. Any money saved on the sticker price might soon be spent on power.
They’re an unglamorous feature, sure, but spa bases are incredibly important, and should be something every prospective spa pool owner should consider.
What should a spa base be made of?
Now that we know why spa bases are important – and what to avoid – what does a good spa base look like?
One example of the best base for a hot tub: those found at the bottom of a Hot Spring spa pool.
Hot Spring models, like those in the Highlife® Collection, feature a lightweight polymeric substructure designed to insulate the spa from any cold that might come up from the surface that the spa is sitting on. This insulation is then wrapped in a sealed, heavy duty base pan that protects the spa during transport, installation, and from all the elements that it may face over the course of its working life.
In short, a spa pool shopper should look for a base that’s strong, supportive and built to last on the outside, and offers high-end insulation on the inside.
Beware spas that lack a base pan. Some cheaper options feature a simple plastic sheet at the bottom, while others don’t have a sealed base at all.
What surface should a hot tub sit on?
Just as important as the base to the longevity, efficiency and comfort of your spa pool is the surface you place it on. Most Hot Spring owners place their spa pool outdoors, so the most common surfaces that the units are placed on include:
No surface quite competes with concrete when it comes to strength – provided the concrete is thick enough. At Hot Spring we recommend that your concrete slab is at least 100mm thick if you plan to place your spa pool on it – otherwise you risk cracking the slab. Be aware too that concrete can get cold, so it’s important to choose a spa pool with a high quality, well insulated base.
Where concrete can crack if an overly heavy load is placed on it, pavers tend to warp – slowly sinking and becoming uneven. If you plan to place your spa pool on pavers, make sure they’ve been professionally installed. Be aware that pavers are more likely to warp in areas with sandy soil.
One of the most convenient and aesthetically pleasing places to put your new spa pool is a few paces from your back door, on your deck. While most new and professionally built decks will be strong enough to hold a spa pool, remember that these machines can weigh two tonnes or more when full of water and people, so you should always have your deck inspected by a professional before you commit to placing your spa pool on it. Your local Hot Spring dealer will be happy to help.
What is a good foundation for a spa?
No matter which type of foundation you place your spa on, it should be:
- Strong: The largest Hot Spring spa pools can weigh over three tonnes when full. The foundation you choose must be able to take that weight, not just for a moment, but for a period that can stretch years, or in the case of a Hot Spring, even decades.
- Level: A level foundation doesn’t just ensure that the water stays in your tub, it’s also critical for the safe operation and longevity of your machine – you can’t fully drain your spa if it doesn’t sit perfectly flat, for example.
- Dry: In order for the base of your machine to last the test of time, and not degrade too quickly, you need to avoid placing your spa in an area where water tends to pool.
- Near a drain: In order to enjoy a safe and luxurious soaking experience, you should drain and refill your spa regularly. Wherever you place your spa, you’ll ideally have a drain that sits lower than the base of your spa so you can empty your spa with the help of a hose and gravity. If your drain sits above the base of the spa, you may need to use a submersible pump to empty the water.
At Hot Spring we’ve developed a reputation for building the finest spa pools on the market. We’re as passionate about our base plates as we are about every other aspect of our spas – we have invested heavily in researching and developing the most robust and energy efficient bases on the market, which is why our spas boast market-leading efficiency, costing as little as $1 day to run.
Then there’s the famous levels of service from our dedicated network of dealers – if you’re unsure of where to place your spa in your backyard, or if you need someone to check whether your foundation is strong enough, we’re ready to help.
Ready to start your spa pool journey on the right footing? Get in touch with our friendly team today.