Gunite Hot Tubs: What You Need to Know
Hot tubs are popular for their relaxing health benefits and the fun they can bring to your family or social life. When you think of a hot tub, there’s a good chance you are imagining a gunite hot tub. This type of spa is generally found at hotel resorts, next to in-ground pools, and maybe even indoors.
If you’re considering buying a hot tub, a question you need to answer is what type of hot tub is best for you and what features will give you the biggest bang for your investment buck. We can all agree that owning a spa can go a long way to improving your life, so let’s discuss the differences between an in-ground gunite (aka concrete) hot tub and a portable spa.
Gunite vs Fiberglass vs Acrylic Spas. Which is Best?
There are three main materials that are typically used to create hot tubs, and all have their pros and cons. Let’s take a look at the differences:
You might be wondering what gunite even is. It’s very similar to concrete and is a commonly used material for in-ground pools and spas. To build a gunite spa, contractors will use a rebar framework and spray-in method for installation, which creates a stronger, more durable material than poured concrete.
The typical Gunite spa is run by a single pump and might have an additional blower to create a movement of air bubbles through the water. Because of the nature of these spas, they are usually outfitted with 7-10 jets in the entire spa (which is a small fraction of the number in acrylic or fiberglass spas). If your spa is designed to feature more jets, you’ll have to keep in mind that your spa will require another pump. In the case of gunite choices, adding more jets is something that must be done as the spa is installed and cannot be changed down the road. Jet placement in these spas is permanent.
A fiberglass spa is made to be inexpensive. It’s pre-formed in a factory, usually using a press, then plumbed with a pump and jets, and placed in a cabinet to become a hot tub. The lowest-priced spas you’ll find are most likely made from fiberglass because the materials used to build it are the most inexpensive. Keep in mind, though, that cheaper isn’t always better when the compromise is quality.
Fiberglass shells are prone to scratching, cracking, and fading in the sun or under other weather conditions. The most well-made fiberglass options might last around ten years.
The typical fiberglass spa is outfitted with between three and seven jets per seat, and is run on a single pump, or sometimes two, depending on the size of the spa. The rule of thumb, in most cases, is one pump for each 20-30 jets.
Spas created with acrylic shells are slightly stronger than their fiberglass counterparts and are made to last for at least double the amount of time you get from one made from fiberglass. Rather than being pre-formed, they are usually injection or blow molded into the shell, which is backed with many more layers than the typical fiberglass spa. This makes it stronger and also gives it excellent insulation.
Acrylic shells have the best temperature retention of any materials on the hot tub market, making them energy efficient, which saves you money in the long term.
The average acrylic spa is outfitted with around 30 jets for the standard three-person spa. This number of jets only requires the use of one pump, however, the more jets in a spa, the more pumps will be required. Acrylic spas are the best spas for therapy and the most comfortable to sit it.
Gunite Hot Tub Costs
The price of installing a gunite hot tub varies, as the price of building materials like the concrete used in gunite are in a semi-permanent state of fluctuation that changes often. In order to have a gunite spa installed, you’re looking at around $25,000 and going up from there. Remember that this is a permanent installation, so once it’s there, you are unable to adjust or change the placement of your spa; keep in mind that the jet capacity is significantly different, as well.
Alternative In-Ground Hot Tub Options
If you had your heart set on an in-ground spa, but are beginning to wonder if you prefer the benefits offered by one of the other options, (like more powerful jets), you might be trying to decide between what’s more important to you: the aesthetics or the actual functionality benefits.
Luckily, you can have both. You can get a portable acrylic spa with all the upgrades and features and have it installed below ground or partially in-ground. There are a number of ways to accomplish this. It should be a relatively easy job for a professional contractor. Just make sure they do it in a way that makes it possible to still service the spa if needed, such as installing an access grate.
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