Hot tub on a budget (plus how to install a paver patio)

Hello friends! I wanted to pop in today to let you know what’s going on around this pad. Since the flip house sold last month, we’ve been going crazy knocking out projects around our own house.

I painted the living room and kitchen and also painted about half of our front porch railing. We also installed a new kitchen floor and organized the garage. But my favorite project right now is the hot tub and paver patio we’re putting in!

A sweet friend from church mentioned she knew someone who wanted to get rid of a hot tub, and she asked if we were interested in it. We’ve always discussed how much we’d like to have a hot tub, but we didn’t want to spend a fortune on one. Well … long story short, we checked out the hot tub and bought it for $600!

Here’s a picture of it when we went to check it out before we bought it. Our little guy calls it the “hot pool.” 🙂


It’s a 6-person California Cooperage®. After we agreed to buy it, we had to figure out where in the world we were going to put it! Matt really wanted to create a paver patio for it, which I was reluctant to try because it seemed like a very labor-intensive project. I was leaning toward a poured concrete pad. We agreed to go with Matt’s idea and began preparing the backyard.

How to install a paver patio

We leveled about a 13’x13′ section with a rototiller, shovels and rakes. I say “we,” but mostly Matt tackled this part (praise God).


After Matt had everything fairly level and framed out, we added about an inch of sand, and Matt and Eva “dragged” it to ensure a completely level spot that would be ready for the paver base panels.


We chose these paver base panels instead of a stone base, simply for ease of installation. Matt said the price of the panels was comparable to using the crushed paver stone.


After laying out the panels in the framed area, the base was ready for the pavers. We chose Newline™ English Cobble™ stones. We mixed and matched the Riverbed Beige and Fieldstone colors, and set them in a random pattern. We were able to get the entire patio laid in one evening with me, Matt and the kids all helping.

english-cobble-riverbed english-cobble-fieldstone

After laying the stones, we filled in the cracks with polymeric sand from Lowe’s. We brushed that out, then wet the patio with a hose to set the sand.

Here’s the hot tub on its new patio base.


Whew. After that, it was on to the beautification process. As you can see, the hot tub was a bit faded, so I decided to stain the exterior cabinet. After much research, I decided on a ZAR® wood stain in Moorish Teak. For some very helpful information on how to stain fiberglass, plastic or other non-wood surfaces, click here.



You can see the dramatic transformation in progress. I stained the whole tub, and now I’m letting it “cure” for about a week. After that, I’ll go over it with a exterior-rated polyurethane with UV protectant built in.

While the stain dries, I’m landscaping around the new patio.


I’ve chosen all evergreen bushes and plants because I want the hot tub area to feel like a woodland oasis. I’m using 2B river stone around the plants.

I can’t wait to show you the “after” pictures when everything is done! Total, we’ll probably have about $2,500 invested in the hot tub, patio and landscaping. This is a chunk of change for sure, but nowhere near what we would have paid for a new hot tub, or for someone else to install the patio.

What do you think of our progress so far? Stay tuned for the final reveal coming soon.

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21 Responses

  1. Nikki Gwin says:

    I am excited to see the finished product. We bought a hot tub last year and are now in the process of getting a small wood deck built. Then I will landscape. I can’t wait!
    🙂 gwingal

    • Susan says:

      Thanks, Nikki. I hope you’re enjoying your hot tub. I am so excited to try ours out … hopefully this weekend. Just a tip on landscaping. Last year, I bought a bunch of evergreen plants for the flip house at the end of October/early November. I was able to get them at 70-percent off at Lowe’s and Home Depot. That time of year is a great time to buy because you can get great prices on them! Best of luck with your hot tub landscaping and deck project. 🙂

  2. Patty says:

    Beautiful job, I know you will enjoy that hot tub girl with all the hard physical work you do.
    I really can’t wait to see it when you have the landscaping in.

  3. Kim R says:

    What a great project! and so timely for my life. We have a mountain home and we are looking at purchasing a hot tub. I think I will be checking Craigslist, etc, for a used one to save some $$.
    We already have a concrete pad outside our basement, but it is not very attractive. I really like the look of your pavers, especially the mix of colors. I am very impressed with you (and your hubby’s) DIY skills!

    • Susan says:

      Aw. Thanks so much, Kim! I’m excited to finally get the thing finished and filled up, lol. Best of luck finding your own bargain-priced hot tub. 🙂

  4. Beth Allison says:

    Hey Susan,
    This looks fabulous. Your so talented! Awesome price! Can’t wait to see the finished result.

  5. Julia Murphy says:

    Thank you for posting this project! It’s exactly what we are looking to do!!! As I search this concept all I kept seeing is better do a concrete pad. Beautiful Job!
    Our used tub is round.

  6. Kat says:

    This was SO helpful! Exactly the materials we want to use. Did you have to use a “stamper” to pack down the sand? Still not sure how best to get the first grass layer up, and how far down did you dig?

    About to do some more research to find the following out, but if you have time to respond: Should we purchase a rototiller, or can we rent one?

    Lastly, do you have the finished landscape photos now? I’m all about landscape but no CLUE how to do anything more than basic mulch and couple of plants/shrubs.

    • Susan says:

      We didn’t dig down very far … just enough to get the spot level. We did not use a stamper but we did use a trick; check the link at the end of this comment for details … Yes, you should be able to rent a rototiller to get the ground loose. Check at your local hardware store. Yes, I have the finished project posted here: Best of luck with your project and thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  7. Matt Cole says:

    Hi Susan,

    I am looking into the paver base that you used on this patio. I was wondering how your brick patio has held up. Are there any portions that have shifted or become uneven?

    • Susan says:

      The brick patio has held up great … even with the heavy hot tub on it. No shifting or unevenness. The only additional work we’ve had to do is add a little more sand in the cracks as the sand has settled over time. We love it. The key is good preparation and leveling prior to install.

  8. Laura says:

    Can I ask if the pavers base panels worked out okay under the hotub?

    • Susan says:

      They work great and there has been really no shifting or sinking. We have pretty rocky soil, though, so that may help. We prepped well beforehand.

  9. Shawn says:

    Curious, some comments/instructions online say not to use the Brock PaverBase under hot tubs. After 3.5 years, how has it held up?

    I’d like to do something along the same lines as you guys did, but don’t want to risk destroying the tub.


    • Susan says:

      It has held up great. What I do find is that some moss will try to grow in a few of the cracks after you fill them with the recommended paver sand, so I have to dig that out. I do usually add a smidge of sand each year, since it seems to wash out a little. That’s the only complaint I have about using the paver base, pavers and sand rather than a concrete pour.

  10. Ben Gilchrist says:

    I am looking to do a similar project and I can’t find alot of info for people who did this and put down a hot tub. Has it still held up over time?

  11. LisaJenn says:

    HI this is a dynamite post, I am glad I stumbled onto it. I have a plain concrete patio that I am having slate pavers put over. I wanted to know if the pavers (thin pavers .59″ thick) would crack under the spa. I still don’t know that but I loved this post and am enjoying your blog. Can you post a link to your final reveal? I would love to see the woodland landscaping you did.

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