Hot Tubs Vs. Spas

When remodeling a home’s exterior, many owners contemplate adding a pool, hot tub or a spa to their backyard oasis.


A family in an outdoor hot tub.A family in an outdoor hot tub.
However, choosing between a spa and a hot tub can be difficult if the consumer is unsure of what the differences are. Furthermore, purchasing a hot tub or spa includes many variables, such as the cost, the features and the overall required maintenance.

The terms "hot tub" and "spa" have been used interchangeably since the late 1960s. However, the origin of hot tub referred to large tubs that were made out of cedar or redwood. These tubs would hold hot water and were heated using various methods, such as a wood burning stove. Today, hot tubs, or spas, have simply evolved to include jets, filtration systems and other features.


The vast majority of hot tub or spa models can be used either indoors or outdoors. They can be used in many different climates, from the hot heat of the Arizona desert to the frigid Alaskan winter. Though they can also be used indoors, the vast majority of people choose to keep their hot tub in an outdoor space. Other factors that should be taken into consideration when choosing a location include the potential size of the hot tub, how many the owner would like to seat and how accessible the spa tub will be.


Since the terms can be used interchangeably, the overall cost of a hot tub or spa can vary greatly. The cost is determined based on the size of the tub, the materials used to make the tub, the various features, such as the number of jets and, if necessary, the cost of installation. For example, the cost of building a custom spa or hot tub on site can vary from $200 to $450 per square foot as of August 2011. The overall average cost for a ready-made hot tub is approximately $5,000. However, there are models that may be cheaper or significantly more expensive.


To maintain a spa or hot tub, there are a few requirements. The filter in the filtration system of the hot tub should be rinsed out at least once a month, either using water or a filter cleaning solution. The cover for the top of the spa should be wiped down at least once a month. Furthermore, the water should be sanitized using chlorine or sanitizing tablets at least once a week. And the tub water should be drained and refilled four times per year, or once every three months. The exterior and interior of the tub should be wiped down using a sponge as needed.