Building a pool in your backyard can be a big decision. You’ll have to weigh the size and features against your budget. However, you may also want to consider the option of building a hot tub. A spa might have a few advantages that you haven’t considered, besides the obvious. 

To help you make a decision, you’ll need to know how the two stack up against each other. Below, you’ll find the differences between pools and hot tubs so you can decide which one is right for you. 

Difference Between Spa and Hot Tub

Before getting into the difference between pools and hot tubs, we should clear up the difference between hot tubs and spas. In essence, a hot tub is a freestanding tub of warm water. Typically, hot tubs have built-in water jets that provide a massage effect and are used in hydrotherapy. People often use the word “spa” to refer to various kinds of health and wellness establishments. However, the words hot tub and spa can be used interchangeably. A spa pool is the same thing as a hot tub. 

Difference Between Spa and Hot Tub

Patio Pools Vs. Spas – Water Temperature

Among the key differences between pools and hot tubs is the operating temperature. Patio pools are typically not heated, whereas most people use hot tubs and small spa pools at 100 to 104 degrees. However, that’s not a hard and fast rule. You certainly have the option to build heating into your pool, and it’s a good idea to do so if you want to use your pool year-round. But, heated pools don’t usually reach the temperatures hot tubs are capable of. Instead, heated pools are just meant to keep the water comfortable to swim in. 

Water to Bather Ratio

Another important difference between pool and hot tubs is how much water per person you’ll have. Hot tubs are obviously much smaller than pools. Otherwise, it would take far too much energy to keep the water heated. There are many different sizes of hot tubs, but a typical 500-gallon hot tub that can seat four people. That’s 125 gallons per person. In other words, not a whole lot. A middle-of-the-road pool has about 20,000 gallons of water. The same four bathers would each have 5,000 gallons to work with. That makes a big difference in the quality of the water. Even if people wash before entering a pool or hot tub, their sweat and skin oils will mix with the water. In practice, that means you’ll have to replace the water in the hot tube fairly often.   

Swimming Pool Construction Costs 

Whether you’re considering a pool or a hot tub, chances are you’re not too constrained by budget. So, you’re probably wondering which one is the better investment. In terms of initial expense, pools can easily cost much more than hot tubs. There are even vinyl hot tubs that are pretty inexpensive if you’re not too concerned about quality (but few professionals would recommend it). While a hot tub usually costs between 3,000 and 15,000 dollars, pools can easily exceed that price substantially. Ultimately, a swimming pool construction can be customized to suit your needs and budget, so if you want a giant pool in your backyard, you can have it, but it will carry a hefty price tag. But that’s not the whole story. After all, both pools and hot tubs are a value add for your property. There are a few more considerations that affect the price over the course of the pool’s or hot tub’s lifetime. 

Cost of Ownership

In addition to the construction costs, you’ll need to think about maintenance costs for both the pool and the hot tub. A pool needs to have a pump running regularly to keep the water filtered and prevent stagnation. Running a standard pump will cost between 40 and 100 dollars a month, depending on how often you use the pool and what part of the country you live in. Moreover, you’ll need chemicals and cleaning supplies for the pool. The cost of these supplies will vary widely, but if you add it all up, you’re easily looking at over a hundred dollars a month to maintain a pool. 

A hot tub, on the other hand, will cost a fraction of that to maintain. How much you have to spend on your hot tub will be directly linked to how much you use it. Water care might run you somewhere in the 20 dollar range. Electrical costs will depend on the frequency of use, but likely won’t run higher than 50 dollars.

Pools Vs. Hot Tubs – Material Options

The material you use to build your pool or spa will also make an impact on the costs. Hot tubs are often wooden, and the original hot tubs were made out of wood. It’s not often used in modern spas because it’s hard to clean, but it is an option, albeit an expensive one. Plaster spas are also available, but they tend to be an addition to a pool rather than a standalone piece. Plaster spas are a fine option, but they also need to be cleaned often. Lastly, there are acrylic and other thermoplastic spas available. Plastic spas need the least amount of cleaning because they have smooth surfaces that resist algal growth. Thermoplastic spas are performed, so the installation time is minimal. You just need to pick a design, and it can be installed in as little as a few days. And, thermoplastics interact with the water minimally, so they don’t affect the mineral content, which results in less water maintenance. 

Pools also come in a variety of material options. A vinyl-lined pool is probably the least expensive, but it’s also the most likely to get damaged. Concrete and fiberglass pools are much more resilient but cost a little more than vinyl. Pools can, of course, be customized to fit your property. Preformed fiberglass pools do exist, but if you want something custom-made for you, a pool will likely have more options than a hot tub.

Pools Vs. Hot Tubs - Material Options

Water Replacement

Yet another factor to consider is how often you’ll need to replace the water in a hot tub versus a pool. Once filled, a swimming pool hardly ever needs to be drained. Proper water maintenance and replacement will keep it fresh and clean as long as you need it. A hot tub offers no such convenience. You’ll typically need to replace the water in a hot tube every three to four months, and more frequently if you use it a lot. In addition to replacing the water, you’ll probably have to flush the pipes and pumping system at least twice a year. A spa has significantly less water than a pool, but draining it and replacing the water is still and added chore. 

Spa Pool or Swimming Pool

Those are the basic differences between a hot tube (or spa) and a swimming pool. They each have their pros and cons, so it’s ultimately going to be up to you to decide which one suits you best. Whether you want to install a spa or pool, or you just want an expert opinion, contact us at Florida Pool and Patio. We provide the finest spa and pool construction services in the Miami area. If you have any doubts, one of our experienced professionals will help you choose and design the perfect spa, Jacuzzi, or pool for your property.