I love spas and hot tubs, no matter if they’re installed in the ground, above the ground, or on the roof – I love to soak in warm and fragrant waters with several friends or alone with ‘mi hombre’.
A good friend of mine told me that she was looking into getting a spa, but was having some trouble deciding between a ‘natural’ inground spa built of rock and stone, or a much less expensive portable spa. Good blog topic, don’t you think?
POOL / SPA COMBO
This conversation is not about having a spa attached to a swimming pool. Many people have these, and my friend does have a pool, but the cost of retrofitting a spa to an existing pool can be high. Plus, having a pool/spa combo – is just not a real spa, in my mind. It definitely increases the wow factor of your inground pool, but it’s usually so far from the house, takes too long to heat up, has uncomfortable bench seating, and just 6 or 8 jets.
The question addressed today is the decision of installing an separate inground spa, built of rock and stone, or buying a ready-to-go spa.
Inground Spa or Aboveground Spa?
My friend feels that a portable spa looks big and clunky, and won’t add much appeal to her fabulous backyard (it is quite beautiful). I was quick to tell her that she could certainly sink an acrylic spa shell into the ground, or build a deck of wood or concrete to surround a regular spa.
After looking at her planned location for her new spa, I have to agree that just plunking down a portable spa onto a slab of concrete would not be the most aesthetically pleasing option. She said she likes how my spa is placed. Nothing special, but we have our spa half-sunk into a wooden gazebo type of thing. It’s actually more of a Pergola type of structure, with lots of hanging plants and climbing Clematis that I’ve been trying to nurture.
Inground Spa Advantages
- Unlimited Design, as big or stylish as you want it to be.
- Infinite ability to blend it into backyard decor and themes.
- Can be at ground level or be raised up above.
- Can integrate water features or fountains.
- Variety of materials, such as concrete, tile, vinyl, acrylic, stainless.
Inground Spa Disadvantages
- Large or unusual shapes will need expensive spa covers.
- Can cost considerably more than portable spas to install.
- Not nearly as energy efficient as a portable spa or hot tub.
- Seating is typically not as comfortable or relaxing.
- Cover Lifters are typically not possible for spa covers.
- Exposed equipment requires winterization or constant operation.
- Typically has only 6 or 8 jets, which may be not as powerful.
Aboveground Spa Advantages
- Easy to install, nearly plug and play (most require 230V).
- Very economical to operate, +/- $20 per month.
- Although quite heavy, it can be moved to new locations.
- 30-100 jets are standard in most portable spas.
- Contoured, smooth seating surfaces, at varied heights.
- Can integrate a spa cover lifter, for easy cover removal.
- Spa equipment is protected from the weather, beneath the spa.
- Features such as LED lighting and integrated stereo units.
- Less costly to cover, most portable spas use standard spa covers.
Aboveground Spa Disadvantages
- Not as attractive as an inground spa. Large and bulky.
- Fewer options for interior surfaces, usually acrylic or thermoplastic.
- Entrance and exit can be tricky, especially without spa steps.
- Shapes and styles are more limited than inground spas.
- Exterior wood skirt may require some maintenance.
Each type of spa has it’s own disadvantages and it’s own advantages. Not a clear cut choice. For some, it will come down to budget. And, don’t forget that you can always install a spa shell into any type of structure that you can imagine – stone, wood, rock.
I’ve seen some pretty fancy spas that were built around a spa shell, which is easily ordered from any spa manufacturer. Below are some examples of what I mean.
To see more awesome hot tubs, see Jack’s recent blog post “12 Spectacular Spas & Hot Tubs“.
I’m not bossy or pushy (most of the time) – so I’ll let my good friend make her own decision. Either way, you can be certain that I and ‘mi hombre’ will be one of the first to crash her hot tub!
Hot Tub Works