Does a hot tub need to be level?

By Jon Filson

Hydropool Hot Tubs and Swim Spas

Published May 15, 2024

We see this question on the chat rooms online and hear it in our stores at Hydropool: Just how level does a hot tub have to be?

What to put your hot tub on and how level it has to be on it are both common concerns of anyone shopping for a hot tub. It’s possible you have a place already in mind, but not quite sure it will work out. It’s possible that are about to build out a location, and want to know what to tell the contractor. Or it’s possible your contractor has already created a spot, and you want to know if it will work.

All are great reasons. Whatever the reason you want to know the answer, we are here to tell you that it does absolutely matter how level your hot tub area is. You want it to be level.

You also want it supported underground so that it stays level. A hot tub needs a strong, flat and level surface to sit on and one that won’t shift and become out of level as the years go by. It needs to be solid.

Having your hot tub properly installed is the kind of thing you want to get right the first time. It will only lead to problems down the line if not. So we strongly recommend that you speak to a local dealer who can give you advice on how to get your hot tub installed properly.

So in this article, we will go over:

  • Does a hot tub need to be level?
  • How level does a hot tub need to be?
  • What is the difference between flat and level?  
  • How can you level a hot tub?
  • What are the best surfaces for a hot tub so that it stays level?

Keep reading below to find out why it is so important to have a level, sturdy base for your hot tub as well as some recommendations for site preparation.



Why Level a Hot Tub?

A hot tub needs to be level or else you will risk warping the acrylic over time. That can lead to cracking, which will essentially destroy your hot tub.

Once a hot tub has been filled with water and bathers, it can weigh over 8,000 pounds. Any surface dips underneath that weight can create stress on the hot tub shell, which can lead to cracking. When leveling a hot tub, it is important to ensure that the surface is completely flat but also that water drainage can easily occur underground so that the surface remains level over time.

So while there is no question there is work to ensure the pad is level before you buy your hot tub, the consequences of not getting the base right are quite high: You’re putting your entire hot tub at risk as well as likely violating your warranty agreement.

How level does a hot tub need to be?

If we had a choice, we’d say all hot tubs should be placed on a flat, strong, level surface. Completely level.

But we know that some flat surfaces are built to slightly slope to keep water off. If that’s the case, then we’d say you can allow no more slope than ½” over 8 feet. Which is to say, the surface remains pretty level.

If you’re going to err, err on the side of being more level rather than less.

What is the difference between level and flat?

Ahah, this is a key question. Because flat is 100 per cent required. As shown above, there is some give with level.

The main difference is that you have a sloped surface that is flat. But due to the slope, it won’t be level. A flat surface will support your hot tub in all areas, and that is the most important element when installing a tub. Its weight must be supported evenly in all areas, to spread the weight around.

If there are low spots or uneven spots, weight won’t be evenly distributed and you will wind up with too much pressure being created in those uneven areas.

How much pressure? Even a small hot tub filled with water and people weighs thousands of pounds. Hot tubs are designed to spread that pressure evenly, which is why a flat surface is required.  

Can you level a hot tub?

We see this question frequently. It comes in a variety of forms:

  • Can you add shims underneath your hot tub?
  • Can you slide in asphalt shingles, which can take weight but not move?
  • Can you jack up your hot tub and add more dirt underneath it?

In all cases, we recommend not doing any of these things. Flat, sturdy, level surface is what you want to build. Focus on that first!

What are the best surfaces to create a level hot tub?

Poured concrete is an inexpensive and sturdy solution for your hot tub’s base.

Our favorite method is a poured pad of concrete, at least 6” deep, with gravel underneath it for drainage is your best bet and a relatively low-cost option.

While above-ground hot tubs can be stand alone on a paver type base, in regions where freezing temperatures occur, there is a risk that splash water can form under the base and shift the structure of support, causing damage to the hot tub. It is recommended to install a level concrete pad for your above ground hot tub by using the following method:

  • Dig out 8”-12” below your desired base level and level the ground.
  • Install 4” to 6” of crushed stone.
  • Install 4” to 6” of poured concrete.
  • Level the concrete and use a broom-type finish.

We’d also ensure that the concrete pad is about six inches larger than the hot tub all the way around.

Does a hot tub pad need to be level?

It’s ideal if it does, yes. A strong, flat and level surface is what’s best. A flat surface is more important than a level one, because it will offer stable support underneath all parts of the hot tub. But a level, flat, strong surface is what’s ideal.

You need it to be strong underneath so that the ground doesn’t shift over time, which can happen with soil that has water running through it, from precipitation or even from water splashed over the side of the hot tub.  

We are asked about how to install hot tubs and how level they need to be on a regular basis at Hydropool. We hope this article answered the major questions you have about levelled hot tub. But if not, our retail team will be happy to take any questions: Reach out to the closest retailer to you here.

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