built-in spa vs hot tub

Built-in spas vs. hot tubs: Which is best?

The relaxation and rejuvenation that a hot tub provides is an experience that many homeowners seek. They want a place to escape to at the end of the day or an opportunity to reconnect with loved ones. Maybe they need the hydrotherapy to move better throughout the day. 

Homeowners can have a lot of options when it comes to incorporating the benefits of hydrotherapy into their backyard. A built-in spa can be incorporated into a larger backyard project. Another option is above-ground hot tubs, such as those from Master Spas. 

The idea of a built-in spa might seem like the more luxe, customizable option as they are integrated into your overall landscaping. Above-ground hot tubs offer versatility and flexibility, as well as ease of maintenance and customer support. 

If you are comparing a built-in spa and above-ground hot tub, it’s essential to consider your backyard, lifestyle, and budget.

built-in spas
Built-in spas can seamlessly integrated into your overall landscaping. But the installation process can take months and be more costly compared to above-ground hot tubs.

Built-in spas vs above-ground hot tubs

People have long sought out spas and hot springs for their therapeutic benefits and the overall sense of relaxation. 

But it wasn’t until the 1970s that people began to have the option of an at-home jetted hot tub. And since then, the options for homeowners have continued to grow. Once having just a few jets and minimal water filtration, hot tubs now have dozens of jets and premium features like LED lighting and waterfalls. There are options, too, to customize your at-home spa experience.

However, as you compare hot tub options, it’s important to factor in the installation, space, features, maintenance, and durability.


You want your new hot tub to add to the design of your backyard — not detract from it. A key difference between built-in spas and above-ground hot tubs is the appearance.

Built-in spas can be integrated seamlessly into your landscape, providing a custom look. These spas are often incorporated into a pool project and are designed to complement the larger design. The landscape contractor can add features such as waterfalls, lighting, and beautiful stonework, which add to the appearance of the spa.

Above-ground, or portable, hot tubs can be installed on a patio or deck. You can choose to tuck it away on a covered porch or install it under a custom pergola. They are available in different finishes and styles to complement your existing outdoor décor.

Master Spas hot tubs come in your choice of acrylic colors and skirting panels. The espresso skirting has a warm look while the graphite gray has cooler undertones. 

buying a house with a hot tub


The colder months are often prime hot tub season. The warm water can feel particularly soothing and therapeutic when there is a bite to the air temperature. But, you are not going to want to walk out to the hot tub on a cold day if it’s more than 10 feet from your patio doors.

When it comes to selecting the perfect spot for their hot tub, many Master Spas owners choose a spot that’s near the house. A covered porch or a backyard patio are often ideal spots because it’s easy to get to from the house. 

But when it comes to an in-ground spa, you might be more limited on the location. You need to factor in local guidelines on setbacks and easements, the location of your utilities, and how it will tie into your landscaping — especially since you will have contractors digging near your house.

hot tub delivery tips


The choice between a built-in spa and an above-ground hot tub isn’t just about the backyard design; it’s also about the installation. Built-in spas are considered to have a more custom appearance. However, the installation is more complex, involving design, excavation, and a range of professional services. 

While working with a professional can lead to a high-quality result, it can sometimes limit the level of customization you have in mind for your spa. Builders may have their own design preferences and limitations, which could affect your vision. 

And because it is a construction project, you can encounter unexpected challenges or delays. Bad weather conditions, permitting issues, or material shortages can delay the project, leading to frustration and even added expenses.

On average, it can take several weeks to a few months to complete the construction of an in-ground spa.

In contrast, the delivery and installation an above-ground Master Spas hot tub can take less than a day once your site is ready. The most straightforward installation is putting your hot tub on a patio or reinforced deck that can bear the weight of the hot tub when filled with water. 

However, you can work with a contractor and your retailer to create a more custom look. Master Spas hot tubs can be installed outside or indoors. You can install it in the ground, just like a built-in spa, or choose a semi-recessed look. 

built-in spa vs hot tub


Budget is a key consideration for anyone who is adding a hot tub or spa to their backyard. Whether your budget is $8,000 or $25,000, you want to get the most for your investment. 

When you are considering the pros and cons of a built-in spa, the cost might be a determining factor. A built-in spa is often the more expensive option. The cost will include excavation, plumbing, electrical work, and often more extensive construction to create a permanent fixture. This can include additional expenses such as permits and landscaping to ensure they seamlessly blend into your outdoor space. You will also have to cover additional costs if there are any issues in the construction process. 

Above-ground hot tubs are available in a range of price points, depending on the features and size. Master Spas manufactures a range of hot tubs, from the budget-friendly Clarity Spas to the ultra-premium Michael Phelps Legend Series. With the features built-in, you will not be surprised by extra costs to get the therapeutic experience you want. 

drain hot tub


Maintenance requirements and ease of upkeep should also factor into your decision-making process. Whether you choose a built-in spa or above-ground hot tub, you will need to regularly maintain the water to make sure that it is clean and clear for soaking. 

But the maintenance goes beyond testing water and adding hot tub chemicals. 

When comparing a built-in spa or an above-ground hot tub, you want to think about how you will maintain the spa. And more than that — what happens if you need service. 

A built-in spa is permanent. You can’t take off a skirting panel to access equipment nor can you drain the spa and move it for the customer service team. Most built-in spas will have an equipment hatch that hides the spa equipment, including the filter and heater. Some can be as deep as 8 feet below ground and can be hidden by a planter or other backyard accessory. 

An above-ground hot tub is easier to access, whether you are cleaning filters or need to access the internal drain when it’s time to change the water. 


A hot tub is an investment in your health and well-being, and you want your spa to last. The lifespan of a spa is another key factor in the decision-making process. The materials, components, how you maintain it, and more can affect how long your hot tub lasts. On average, a well-maintained hot tub can last anywhere from 10 to 20 years.

Master Spas hot tubs are made with premium components and weather-resistant materials to make the ownership experience a positive one. 

The ability to address and repair issues as they arise can extend a hot tub’s lifespan. You want to make sure that you address any problems, in the event that an issue arises. Master Spas hot tubs come with an industry-leading warranty and customer support. The manufacturer has been in business for three decades, and it has a network of retailers and service centers to help you.

When you choose a built-in spa, you are often working with a local landscape contractor or builder. Depending on the contractor, warranties for the spa and its components may be limited. It’s crucial to understand the terms and coverage of any warranties associated with the project. In addition, you want to find out what happens to the warranty and service in the event that the business closes.

ts hot tub

How to buy a hot tub

Look forward to spending more time in your own backyard oasis. A Master Spas hot tub can be enjoyed safely by the entire family. You can click here to learn more about the benefits of hydrotherapy. Or, contact your local Master Spas retailer to learn more about spa ownership. Wondering how much a Master Spas hot tub costs? You can request a quote here.