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Installing your spa out in the open is a great option if you want to feel at one with nature, and appreciate the great outdoors while you enjoy those long, hot soaks.
But are there benefits to putting an outdoor hot tub under a roof?
Covering your hot tub with a roof will help protect it from weather damage, as well as provide privacy from neighbors. But a permanent roof can also block night sky views and remove some of the enjoyment of soaking outdoors in nature.
Let's consider the pros and cons in more detail, and look at the various options you have to provide some form of overhead cover for your hot tub.
The benefits of putting a roof over your hot tub
Protection from weather damage
As obvious as it may seem, putting a roof over your hot tub is one of the best ways to prolong the tub's (and especially the cover's) lifespan.
A roof will help keep direct sunlight and rain away from the hot tub, and less exposure to the elements means you'll encounter fewer problems related to weather damage like leaks, fading or excessive weight on the cover due to snow pileups in the winter.
Having a hot tub under a roof also means you can go for a soak regardless of the season or weather of the day.
Instead of worrying about sunburn on a hot day, getting wet in the rain (I've definitely sat in my hot tub with an umbrella before!), or that you don't want your head exposed because it's snowing, you can now enjoy your hot tub stress-free as you'll be safely covered by the roof.
In an ideal world, we would never have to position our hot tubs in sight of neighbors or passers-by, but in reality that's not always possible.
Unfortunately, not having a roof over the hot tub means you'll have less privacy from your neighbors' prying eyes. So unless you're comfortable with your neighbors seeing you change or undress before a soak—or even just walk to and from the tub in a robe—this is a considerable disadvantage if you don't have a roof over your hot tub.
If you do have neighbors overlooking your spa, covering the area is a great way to create a more private bathing space, and avoid unwanted attention.
The downsides of having a roof over your spa
For many of us, there's nothing quite like soaking in our hot tubs while gazing up at a clear night sky. Unfortunately, one downside to adding a roof over the hot tub is that you won't get to enjoy these magical nighttime views.
Lack of service access
If you choose to enclose your spa from all sides instead of just over head, it could make servicing your hot tub more difficult if there is limited space for the professionals to work around.
This should be avoidable as long as you plan a large enough enclosure to house your tub to start with, and consider the access needs upfront.
By opting for open air, you'll get to reduce your costs overall as you won't have to spend extra installing a roof over the tub. One less expense is always something to celebrate.
Roof ideas to cover a hot tub
Not all options for cover have to be expensive, or permanent.
If you're really looking to cover your hot tub—and you have the space—you can house it in its own outbuilding, sunroom or greenhouse:
This will protect it from all sides, but is obviously a permanent fixture. That means you will need to comply with any permits required in your local area.
In addition to providing overhead cover, fully enclosing your spa has other benefits like keeping pests out. It's also often more energy efficient, as the building will provide some insulation around the tub so it doesn't have to work as hard to maintain its temperature. This can be especially useful if you live in a very cold climate.
Pergolas are wood structures that are generally open on the sides, and can either be open, covered, or partially covered on top.
You can combine them with outdoor privacy panels or add sections to the sides if privacy is an issue, like this version which blocks out the neighbors' view:
Although undoubtedly a high-end option, companies like Pergola Roof and Retractable Awnings offer pergolas with retractable covers, so you get the best of both worlds, plus an attractive structure to surround your hot tub.
Gazebos are also usually permanent structures. Either freestanding or attached to a wall, they offer full protection from the sun, rain and snow (thanks to a solid roof), but are traditionally open on all sides.
Similar to pergolas, you can also add extra side panels for privacy if needed, like this rustic example:
If you're not willing or able to build a permanent addition to your property, you still have options.
These are essentially portable gazebos, like this popup canopy from Amazon. They have solid roofs for sun and rain protection, and either open or optionally paneled sides:
Temporary shelters like this might be less aesthetically pleasing, but they are a flexible and affordable way to get some of the benefits of a roof over your hot tub—without any of the commitment.
In fact, many hot tub owners choose temporary popup-style shelters, so they can take them down to enjoy the outdoors on a night with clear, starry skies, while putting them up to protect the tub on days when the weather is bad, or it isn't in use.
Another temporary but attractive contemporary option, waterproof sun/shade sails are also designed to provide overhead protection from the weather.
You do need something to mount them on, be this your house, or some kind of fence or post, but they're easily removable, and have a great geometric look that will complement any style of modern hot tub: