The third type of hot tub is the traditional wooden hot tub, a throwback to the early wine-barrel tubs. Generally made of cedar, teak, or redwood -- and often hand-crafted -- these tubs boast natural aromatherapy benefits due to the fragrant woods from which the tubs are constructed. Priced similarly to mid-range above-ground spas, these hot tubs are harder to find and require greater care on a regular basis to keep the wood in optimum condition.
Like standard above-ground spas, wooden hot tubs require a concrete pad or other permanent, firm surface for installation. They tend to be simple in style, offering basic bench seating with no frills. They are also deeper than standard spas, often up to 41 inches deep. Many lack jets and other hydrotherapy tools, as wooden tubs are primarily designed for simple soaking.
One element that sets wooden hot tubs apart from all other types is the heating system. Heaters on wooden hot tubs are disconnected from the actual tub, unlike standard above-ground spas, and may be fueled in a variety of different ways. Several manufacturers offer electric heaters, gas-powered heaters, gas/electric hybrid heaters and old-fashioned wood-fired heaters. Using a gas or wood-fired heater can allow wooden hot tubs to be installed in more remote locations without any electrical work.
Because wooden hot tubs require a great deal of care, including wood treatments and periodic draining and drying so that the wood can be re-stained and sealed, they are certainly not right for everyone. Because of their quiet, natural ambience, wooden hot tubs are popular with nature-lovers and those who want their hot tub to fit into a larger landscaping plan. They are harder to find, but are available through several specialty retailers, primarily on the West Coast. In addition, wooden hot tubs may be built from kits or schematics/plans available from specialty retailers and hobby shops.
Brands include Roberts Hot Tubs, Callaway Woodworks and Snorkel Stove Company.