Hot tub sales have been climbing in the U.S. and worldwide for years, and it has become more practical and more affordable than ever before to own your own hot tub at home.

The lack of privacy, issues with unavailability, and perhaps questionable health standards of public hot tubs may be major factors in motivating you to buy your own. The health benefits, muscle relaxation, and stress relief hot tubs can bring are great reasons to have one in your own back porch (besides the socializing function these tubs have!).

But the very next step, after deciding a personal hot tub needs to be in your future, is to learn about the different types of tubs available so you can make an informed decision you will never second-guess.

What Kind of Hot Tub Should I Buy? -

Portable Vs. Inground Hot Tubs

The very first category choice you need to make in regard to your new hot tub is whether you want a portable tub or an inground tub. The main advantages of inground are that you can make them any shape you want and any size that’s required in order to accommodate a larger group simultaneously. But in most other ways, portable tubs really have the advantage.

Portable hot tubs allow you to move them seasonally, reposition them on your property, move them to a friend’s house for a getaway weekend, and replace them without a hassle when they are old or you want an upgrade.

Portable units also come as whole packages with all the features rather than requiring you to spend extra for a lot of “basic add-ons” and they cost less overall as well. You won’t need to hire a contractor to fit them into your decking or natural stone surrounds, and maintenance tasks will be much easier.

Of course, if you want a built-in poolside hot tub that piggybacks on your pool’s filtration system or a swim spa style tub with an underwater treadmill, you’ll need to go inground.

What Kind of Hot Tub Should I Buy? -

Three Types Hot Tubs

Here are three of your main hot tub options that you will run into as you do further research:

  1. Inflatable: These are your vinyl-liner hot tubs that are inflated with air instead of being a solid material throughout. They are sometimes called “soft tubs” but they are quite sturdy though. You can get many of the same features with inflatable models as with more expensive hot tubs.
  2. Acrylic: This is your number one selling type of hot tub, though inflatables are the most common portable tubs. It is very durable when used outdoors as compared to other options, and it comes in an exceptionally wide variety of shapes, sizes, and styles.
  3. Unicast: Unicast tubs are so named because the main tub piece is molded as a single whole. This does mean that unicast tubs will tend to be a little smaller, but they are big enough for many purposes. And they frequently come in an attractive wooden cabinet.


As to water filtration systems, there are also three main types:

  1. Salt-chemistry: This kind of hot tub produces its own chlorine, eliminating the need to add tablets.
  2. Ozone: This is the filtration type where you need to add chlorine and bromine tablets to keep your tub sparkling clean.
  3. UV-germicidal: Here is the “new kid on the block” of hot tub water filtration. Intense UV light rays are used to kill germs instead of chemicals.


Here are your three major seating options and why you would choose them (or a combination of more than one seating option):

  1. Therapy seats: Great for targeted massage. Normally, these seats have strong water jets.
  2. Lounge seating: These seats let you lie down almost vertically and sort of float. This is the best kind of “relaxation seating.”
  3. Cool down seats: This is a kind of entry/exit seat that lets you sit partly in, partly out of the water. Let and foot massages may be done here as well.

Water Jets

Finally, your basic water jet types are:

  1. Rotary: These are basic, versatile, therapeutic massaging jets.
  2. Pressure point: These are intense jets to put lots of pressure just where it’s needed most.
  3. Relaxation: These are big, gentle jets that help you relax and may even bubble.

Any and all of the above-listed factors should help you make an informed hot tub choice. But also look for special features like sound systems, lighting, built-in spa-style “pillows” on the headrest, and more.