Swim spas are quickly becoming very popular backyard additions. They benefit people who like to practice their swim stroke in the privacy of their own home without requiring the amount of space or maintenance needed for a full-sized swimming pool. They also have the benefit of doubling as a hot tub. Many swim spas these days are composed of two separate tanks – one designed for swimming and the other used for soaking. Whether you’re using your swim spa for swimming or soaking, you’ll need to assess your situation in regard to installation. You may wonder, “Do I need a concrete pad for swim spa?” or “Will I be able to incorporate my existing deck?” In this article, we’ll answer these questions and others related to installing your own personal swim spa.
Above Ground Swim Spa Bases
Installing an above ground swim spa is the easiest installation process available. To start with you’ll need a stable, flat and level area on which to place the tank. This may come in the form of a concrete pad, paving blocks, a crushed stone base, a prefabricated swim spa pad or simply placing the swim spa on a reinforced deck. We’ll go over these various bases to give you an idea of what you’d be looking at when it comes time to lay one down.
As the name suggests, concrete pads are a slab of concrete onto which you place the swim spa. You just need to pour a layer of concrete that’s level and of the necessary thickness to withstand the weight of a swim spa. It’s often suggested that concrete pads be at least four inches thick, but this will also depend on the size of your swim spa. Very large tanks could require a thicker pad.
Because they may already exist, quite often swim spas are installed on paving blocks. Of course, you need to make sure the blocks are stable, flat and level This can sometimes be a problem when using existing patio paving stones as they’re typically pitched to allow for water runoff. They can also sink or buckle over time which can affect the evenness. If it’s too difficult to work with an existing set of patio stones, you might consider removing them and laying a fresh set. This allows you to ensure the area where the swim spa is placed is perfectly level while allowing for a pitch in other areas to promote water runoff.
Crushed stone bases have the added benefit of allowing water to run off without affecting the levelness of the base. However, there needs to be prep work done to the ground before laying down the crushed stone. This involves digging up the grass and topsoil and digging down a further four or five inches. You can fill the area with crushed stone, pack it down and make it level to create a space onto which you can put your swim spa. The weight of the swim spa will cause the crushed stone to further settle, so you need to keep an eye on it to make sure it stays level.
Another way to cut down on the cost of pouring a concrete slab is to use a prefabricated pad. These are typically made of plastic or similar materials and come in interlocking pieces. Although they’re not a permanent solution they can be good for a quick and cheap installation. That said, you’ll still need to prep the ground before you lay down the pads. Just like crushed stone bases, you’ll need to dig down about four or five inches and level the ground before installing.
It may be possible to use an existing deck or build one specifically for your new swim spa. That said, if you have an existing deck, you’ll need to make sure it has the capacity to handle the weight of a full swim spa. The amount of water needed to fill the tank is not insubstantial by any means. It’s best to enlist the help of a structural engineer to ensure using your deck won’t pose any problems.
To learn more about swim spa installation requirements, download a swim spa buyer’s guide.