When shopping for a hot tub, two common materials that you will come across are wood and acrylic. While both can be great choices, it is important to understand the differences between the two in order to make an informed decision.
In this article, we will compare wood and acrylic hot tubs, highlighting the pros and cons of each material. We will also discuss factors to consider when choosing between the two, such as cost, maintenance, and durability.
By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of which type of hot tub is right for you.
Wooden hot tubs are less expensive than acrylic hot tubs, especially if you buy a wooden hot tub DIY kit. Wooden hot tubs cost between $3,000 to $10,000, depending on the type of wood, the size of the tub, the accessories, and the heating source.
Gas and electric wooden tubs cost more than wood-fired hot tubs. They also cost more to operate; however, they’re much easier to use. Gas-powered wooden hot tubs start at around $4,000 but typically range in cost from $5,000 to $10,000.
Most electric wooden tubs cost between $4,500-$9,000, but basic versions (e.g., ones with a single-speed pump) start at about $3,000. Meanwhile, wood-fired wooden hot tubs usually cost between $2,500-$5,000.
|Wooden Hot Tub Type||Price Range|
|Gas-powered||$4,000 – $10,000|
|Electric||$3,000 – $9,000|
|Wood-fired||$2,500 – $5,000|
The cost of operation is also something to consider. The operating cost for wood-fired hot tubs depends on how much wood you buy. Meanwhile, if you use electric and gas wooden hot tubs, expect a rise in your utility bill of $50 to $100 a month.
Acrylic hot tubs can cost $8,000 to $12,000 or more. They are much heavier, bulkier, and harder to move around. They come with pre-installed features like jets and lights, which is one of the reasons they’re more expensive than wooden hot tubs.
The cost of operation for acrylic spas is less than that of electric and gas wooden hot tubs. You should expect a total increase in your electricity and water bills of $30 to $50 per month.
Acrylic hot tubs require less maintenance compared to wooden hot tubs. Wooden hot tubs are more prone to growing bacteria in the water due to their wood surface.
The wood exterior should also be stained and sealed regularly to protect it from damage. Staining and sealing the wood helps to create a barrier that protects the wood from moisture and other damaging factors, helping to prolong its lifespan and maintain its strength and stability.
It is generally recommended to stain and seal the wood exterior of a wooden hot tub every few years, or according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
When cleaning the inside of a wooden hot tub, it is important to use a stiff brush and hose, but avoid using harsh chemicals like chlorine as they can damage the wood. It is also important to regularly maintain the filter and chemicals in a wooden hot tub.
Acrylic spas are much easier to maintain. They are mostly equipped with advanced features that make it simple to maintain them. Acrylic hot tubs have smooth acrylic surfaces and don’t get much bacteria build-up. They also have synthetic exterior cabinets that don’t require staining or painting.
However, you’ll need to clean the filter once a month, add sanitizing chemicals several times a week, and monitor the hot tub’s pH levels each week. In addition, you’ll want to drain, clean, and refill the tub every three to four months.
Most wooden hot tubs can last up to 20 years. While some higher-quality wooden hot tubs can last even longer, wooden hot tubs typically don’t last more than 30 years.
However, if you don’t take care of your wooden hot tub, it won’t last nearly as long. By committing to regular maintenance and upkeep, you can extend the lifespan of your hot tub. The biggest thing to watch out for is protecting your wooden tub from rot, especially if it’s exposed to the elements.
Wood is a tough material, but it will eventually weaken when constantly exposed to water and heat. So, no matter how much you maintain your wooden hot tub, the wood will eventually rot. However, 20 years of use is still a very long time for a wooden hot tub. Most acrylic spas don’t last that long.
Acrylic hot tubs have a lifespan of approximately 10-12 years, although with proper maintenance and repair, they can last even longer. The surfaces of acrylic spas may become scratched, chipped, or faded over time, but these issues can often be easily addressed through maintenance and repair.
Acrylic hot tubs are known for their durability, thanks in part to their reinforcement with fiberglass. These hot tubs are generally resistant to structural damage, making them a long-lasting and reliable choice for outdoor relaxation and enjoyment.
One advantage of wooden hot tubs is that they have minimal plumbing, which makes them relatively easy to clean. With fewer pipes and other plumbing features, there are fewer places for biofilm to accumulate and grow.
This can help to reduce the risk of bacteria and other contaminants in the water, making it easier to maintain a clean and healthy hot tub environment.
Another benefit of wooden hot tubs is that the wood contains natural antiseptics that can help to prevent the growth of bacteria and algae on the surfaces of the tub.
Some types of wood, such as yellow cedar, thermo-processed wood, and larch, are particularly effective at inhibiting the growth of these contaminants due to their natural resistance to rot and insects. These antiseptic properties can help to keep the water in a wooden hot tub clean and free from unwanted microorganisms.
Acrylic hot tubs typically require more time and effort to clean compared to wooden hot tubs. One reason for this is that they have longer pipes and hoses, which can create more opportunities for biofilm to grow if they are not properly cleaned and treated. If left unchecked, biofilm can harbor bacteria and other contaminants that can be harmful to the health of users.
Another factor that can make acrylic hot tubs more difficult to clean is the fact that the acrylic material itself may break down over time. As the acrylic ages, it may become more prone to discoloration, staining, and other forms of wear and tear. This can make it more challenging to keep the tub looking clean and fresh, and may require more frequent and intense cleaning efforts.
Aesthetics and Appearance
Wood hot tubs have an old-world aesthetic that is very appealing. A wooden hot tub will make your patio or backyard look more pleasant. However, it’s not just the classic look of the hot tub that makes the difference, but also the natural appearance which fits right into the landscape.
Wooden hot tubs are often preferred by people who want to relax in a natural setting and enjoy the ambiance and sounds of their surroundings. These hot tubs offer a more rustic and organic experience, and they can be a great way to reconnect with nature while soaking in warm, soothing water.
Many people find that the natural wood aesthetic of wooden hot tubs enhances their relaxation experience, and appreciate the sense of tranquility and peace that these tubs provide.
While acrylic hot tubs may not have the rustic charm and natural aesthetic of wooden hot tubs, they can still be very appealing in their own way. These hot tubs often have a sleek and modern appearance and come in a wide range of colors and styles to suit a variety of home design preferences.
The surface of an acrylic hot tub is known for its smooth, lustrous finish, which can add a touch of glamour and luxury to any outdoor space. While they may not be as closely connected to nature as wooden hot tubs, acrylic hot tubs can still provide a relaxing and enjoyable soak experience for users.
Wooden hot tubs are often known for their simplicity and lack of advanced features. Many wooden hot tubs have a minimalistic, bare-bones design, with few bells and whistles beyond the basic components needed for a soak.
Some wooden hot tubs may have digital controls for adjusting the temperature and other settings, but many are fairly low-tech compared to more modern hot tub designs.
While some people may prefer the simplicity and uncluttered aesthetic of a bare-bones wooden hot tub, others may want more advanced features and amenities. Some wooden hot tubs can be customized with add-ons like lights, jets, and other features, but these options may be more limited compared to acrylic hot tubs, which tend to have more advanced features and options as standard.
Acrylic hot tubs are known for their wide range of features and amenities, which can add a level of convenience, comfort, and entertainment to the hot tub experience. These features can include jets for massage and relaxation, molded seats and headrests for comfort, lights for ambiance, stereos for music, and controls for adjusting the temperature and other settings.
Acrylic hot tubs may also come equipped with water purification systems, waterfalls, and other decorative elements that can enhance the visual appeal and ambiance of the hot tub. Some acrylic hot tubs even have audio and video capabilities, allowing users to watch movies or listen to music while soaking.
One of the key advantages of acrylic hot tubs is their insulation, which helps to keep the water warm and maintain a consistent temperature. The insulated walls of an acrylic hot tub are able to retain heat more effectively than wooden hot tubs, which can make them more energy efficient and comfortable to use.
Overall, acrylic hot tubs offer a wide range of features and amenities that can add to the enjoyment and convenience of hot tub use.
Wooden hot tubs are built much deeper such that bathers can fully submerge into the hot tub. The vertical exterior walls of the tubs use space efficiently and create more legroom for tall bathers or a higher number of bathers.
In addition, the smell of the wood in wooden hot tubs can give the bather a sense of relaxation that can’t be experienced in an acrylic spa. However, wooden hot tubs use wooden benches as seats, which are not as comfortable.
Acrylic hot tubs also provide some level of comfort. For instance, they have water jets, bucket seats, molded lounges, and headrests.
However, acrylic hot tubs are not as deep as wooden hot tubs, so you won’t be able to stretch out like you would in a wooden spa. Also, acrylic hot tubs don’t have a pleasing aroma like wooden tubs.
You can heat a wooden hot tub relatively quickly. It takes 1-3 hours. It is advisable to empty wood-fired and gas-heated hot tubs after each use or after 24 hours. This is a better option than treating the water regularly since some chemicals can be too harsh for the wood.
Electric wooden hot tubs are a hybrid type of hot tub that combines the natural aesthetic of a wooden hot tub with the convenience and features of an acrylic spa. Like acrylic hot tubs, electric wooden hot tubs are designed to be used repeatedly without the need to drain the water after each use.
This is made possible by the use of a powerful filtration system that helps to maintain clean and clear water, as well as an efficient heating system that can keep the water warm for extended periods of time.
One of the key benefits of an electric wooden hot tub is the ability to enjoy all the benefits of a traditional wooden hot tub, such as the natural wood aesthetic and the soothing sounds of water, while also having the convenience and features of an acrylic spa.
This can make electric wooden hot tubs an attractive choice for people who want the best of both worlds in terms of design and functionality.
Most acrylic hot tubs will take at least 12-24 hours to heat, but once heated, you can set the temperature and use the spa as you wish. But ensure you treat the water regularly to keep it clean and in good soaking condition.
A wooden hot tub is generally less efficient than an acrylic hot tub that has proper insulation and cabinets. Acrylic hot tubs tend to have better insulation than wooden ones, although an insulated cover can help improve the efficiency of a wooden hot tub.
The thickness of the wood can also affect its ability to retain heat. However, it is worth noting that even with these measures, a wooden hot tub may not be able to match the insulation levels of a well-insulated acrylic hot tub.
Most acrylic hot tubs are well insulated. Some manufacturers insulate the interior of the hot tub with a thick layer of expanding foam. While some insulate just the underside of the shell and the interior floor.
Because acrylic spas are well insulated, they use less heat energy than wooden tubs. They’re also great at retaining heat, thereby keeping the hot tub water warm for longer.