Hot Tubs VS. Swimming Pools VS. Swim Spas

People have a number of different reasons for buying pools – to keep fit, just to relax, or maybe both. Whichever it might be for you, hydrotherapy right in your backyard is never the wrong choice. Installing a pool, spa, or hot tub on your property can bring you lots in the way of stress relief and relaxation, which all come with relevant health benefits. With all these great options and perks, choosing just one to put in your backyard might be daunting.

Hopefully, this compilation will be help you out as you set out to install the hydrotherapy pool of your dreams!

1. Swimming Pools

  • Size: Round 12-33 feet, Oval 12×17 to 21×43 feet
  • Price: $2,000 to $16,000+ (this will vary based on installation, size and quality)
  • Usage: Up to five months of the year

The Advantages

Swimming pools are the classic option that can be a godsend in the hot summer months. However, swimming pools aren’t just there for you to cool off on a hot day. You can also use them to get in a great workout or as a venue for a get-together.

Even the most basic pool is going to come with a host of health benefits, like improving your fitness or reducing your stress levels. Swimming comes with improved cardiovascular health and is great for toning and building lean muscle. Since water is so buoyant, you also take a lot of stress off of your bones and joints, making this a great option for rehabilitating injuries or elderly swimmers.

Pools are also great places for social gatherings – think pool parties and sitting by the pool with friends. Even if you live somewhere like New York, you can still squeeze five months of yearly use from your pool if you get a heater built in. This means being able to swim around May until October, as a rough time frame for how long you’ll be able to use your pool.

The Practicalities

Theres a definite temptation to make your pool the main focus of your backyard, but it might be better to match it to the space so it can be complementary instead of an eyesore. Its important to consider the size of your pool when making sure it doesn’t clash with your space. You also want it to be somewhere you can get to quickly from your home. Bigger yards will have a definite advantage here.

Unfortunately, even the smallest of pools are going to require a large space investment. For example, something that’s only 12 by 18 feet in oval might need around 17 by 18 feet of space to install. People with less space to commit to a pool might want to consider a hot tub instead.

Pool maintenance isn’t too complicated. All you need to do is maintain it a little weekly by keeping the walls and floor clean, emptying out the pump baskets, and checking on the water pH levels. If you have a robotic pool cleaner, you’ll have a far easier time of it.

2. Swim Spas

  • Size: 10-21 feet
  • Price: $15,000 to $35,000+
  • Usage: Year-round

The Advantages

Swim spas can give you the all the perks of a hot tub combined with a swimming pool. They basically look like a big hot tub. You can use them to submerge yourself in hot water or use the built in jets for a massage. Finally, fitness enthusiasts can use it for cooler water as well.

Swim spas will let you swim against a current, which you can adjust to your liking. Since there is a bit of resistance, you can build muscle and strength over time. There are also add on rowing kits you can use to alongside resistance bands to further train strength.

Swimming this way can also help out your cardiovascular fitness, both through exercise and through relaxation. The jets can even be used to relieve tension or muscle pains.

The Practicalities

Of course, swim spas are pretty similar to pools – they’re going to require a bunch of space to install. This means they will be more appropriate for medium sized yards. You can put them indoors or outdoors, or even partially underground. The kind of installation you want will depend a fair bit on your budget, as well as your goals. Wherever you decide, you need it to be flat, and have a dependable foundation that can support weight. This means not only the weight of the installation, but the weight of all the water when full. That’s a whopping 20k pounds! Given all that weight, its important to have a professional make sure your foundation can bear the weight for the life span of your pool.

If you install your pool near a source of water, you’ll have an easier time filling it up. You can also ensure that your spa can be quickly connected to power, since the pools need to be connected by a trained electrician to a GFCI hook-up.

How much maintenance does a spa need? You’re looking at a monthly filter cleanout, and a full deep clean of the drained pool every four months. Also, expect to check and balance the water levels once or twice weekly.

3. Hot Tubs

  • Size: 2-person to 9-person
  • Price: $2,000 to $20,000+ (depending on size and quality)
  • Usage: Year-round

The Advantages

Is there anything more luxurious than a hot tub in your backyard? Hot tubs are well known for their relaxing properties, helping fight stress and rehabilitate muscle pains. Relaxing in a hot tub might also have health benefits in the form of improving your sleep. Some people even claim that a hot tub has been helpful in coping with chronic pain issues stemming from arthritis.
If you have the space for a bigger hot tub, it can also become a great place for relaxing with a group.

It’s a nice venue for social events or just a bit of unwinding with the family at the end of the day. Hot tubs will never be as big as a full-sized swimming pool or spa, but you can still use it for some basic stretching and rehab. While submerged in warmth, muscles will become a bit more accommodating and result in temporarily improved flexibility.

The Practicalities

Good news! Hot tubs don’t need as much work as full-sized pools to install, making them suitable for different places. For example, even a cramped space can probably fit in a two-person hot tub. In terms of maintenance, hot tubs fall closer to swim spas on the spectrum. This means they are going to be a bit higher maintenance, requiring weekly check-ins with the water, a monthly scrub of the filter, as well as a full drain and deep clean after three months. Hot tub covers should also be kept clean.

Long-Term Ownership

As you look for the perfect match for your backyard, you should keep in mind that quality will tend to correlate with your investment. Those budget pools that are running under $5000 might look like a good idea at first, but they might end up costing you a lot more long term due to maintenance, or general dissatisfaction with the product you’ve gotten installed. In addition, they might come with questionable warranties and less options when it comes time to replace parts.

Choosing to spend more on a pool you’re confident in will truly elevate your home experience, paying off with years of enjoyment. In addition, you’ll be paying to avoid nasty surprises in the future and retain peace of mind in the long run.

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