Jetted tub rough-in framing (C) Daniel Friedman How to intall jetted tubs
Installation recommendations for Whirlpools & Spas or Tubs: Best Practices

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Jetted tub installation best practices:

This article discusses best installation practices for jetted tubs, soaking tubs, whirlpool baths and spas.

A list of kitchen and bath product manufactures and sources is included. This article series discusses current best design practices for kitchens and bathrooms, including layout, clearances, work space, and accessible kitchen and bathroom layout, clearances, turning space, grab bars, controls, etc.

We include advice on choosing and installing kitchen countertops, cabinets, and kitchen or bathroom flooring, sinks, and other plumbing fixtures and fixture controls such as faucets.

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Installation Recommendations for Whirlpools & Spas or Tubs

Jetted tub installed (C) D FriedmanThis article includes excerpts or adaptations from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, by Steven Bliss, courtesy of Wiley & Sons. As explained in Chapter 6:

The simplest and least expensive installation is into a two-wall or three-wall cove with factory-supplied skirts to conceal the mechanicals. However, many customers prefer the look of a drop-in model with a custom tile surround (see Figure 6-53).

With either type of installation, it is critical that the weight of the tub be supported by the base, not the lip. With larger tubs, often holding 50 to 80 gallons of water (at 8 pounds per gallon), the framing and subfloor may need to be reinforced to support the total weight of the tub, water, and bathers. A larger water heater may also be needed.

The most common method to support the tub bottom and dampen vibration is to set the tub onto several small mounds of wet plaster or mortar mix that compress and conform to the shape of the tub bottom as it is installed. A non shrinking grout such as Sonogrout 10K (Sonneborn) is best since it will not leave gaps as it dries.

Partially filling the tub with water until the mortar sets will ensure a good fit. Many contractors recommend using mortar even with units including “self-leveling” bases, which are designed to sit on a level subfloor with no additional support.

A few tubs are designed with individual bearing points molded into the bottom of the tub. With this type, it is important to make sure that the bearing points fall on joists or solid blocking. Solid bridging should also be added to help distribute the load to the surrounding joists.

Access Panel Designs for Whirlpool Baths, Jetted Tubs, Spas

Jetted tub access panel (C) Daniel Friedman

With a custom-built surround, it is necessary to leave an access panel. Although access to the mechanicals is rarely needed, it should not require tearing apart the tile surround.

A simple approach is to tile the access panel, hang it with magnets, and caulk the joint between the access panel and surrounding tiles.

If access is necessary, the caulk can be slit with a knife and the panel removed.

Where the tub rim meets tile at a wall or the top of the surround, use a flexible caulk rather than grout, which will crack as the tub flexes, and expands and contracts with temperature changes.

Circulation schematic for a jetted tub (C) D Friedman

Jetted and Soaking Tubs Manufacturers

  • American Standard
  • Aqua Glass Corp.
  • Aquatic Industries
  • Bains Oceana Baths
  • Eljer Plumbingware
  • Hydro Systems
  • Jacuzzi Whirlpool Baths
  • Kohler Co.
  • Lasco Bathware
  • Maax
  • MTI Whirlpools

Bath Fan Manufacturers

  • American Aldes Remote location single- and multi-port exhaust ventilators
  • Broan-Nutone LLC Low-sone Broan bath fans, also single- and multiport remote location exhaust ventilators; Nutone ceiling-mount bath fans
  • Fan Tech Remote location inline-duct fans
  • Kanalflakt Remote location inline-duct fans
  • Marley Engineered Products Ceiling-mount bath fans and general kitchen and room exhaust fans
  • Panasonic Low-sone, Energy-Star-compliant ceiling-mount, inline, and wall bath fans

-- Adapted with permission from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction.


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SPAS, WHIRLPOOLS, INSTALLATION at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

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