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What’s The Difference Between The Types Of Wooden Hot Tub?

Hot Tub - Wooden Hot Tub

Wood-fired hot tubs are a gloriously simple, luxurious experience that very often have first-time users longing to go back.

When hopeful wooden hot-tub hunters come to research their own purchase, the range of wooden hot tub options available can feel daunting and seem almost overwhelming.

We’re going to discuss the types of wooden hot tub available, and how your choice will affect the years of enjoyment they’ll bring you, so you can decide on the best wooden hot tub for you without the information overload.

What’s Out There?

Wood-fired hot tubs can be categorised into 4 types:

  • Fibreglass Hot Tubs
  • Lined (or Polypropylene) Tubs
  • Wooden Hot tubs
  • Ofuro Hot Tubs

While each of these works the same way; with a wood-fired stove heating the bathing water within the hot tub, the type of tub you choose will make all the difference to your delightful wood-fired tubbing experience.

Let’s take a look at each type of wooden hot tub, and talk about the differences…

Fibreglass Wood-Fired Hot Tubs

Often described as the most luxurious wooden hot tubs, Fibreglass lined hot tubs comprise a shaped liner sat within the wooden facade of the tub.

Thanks to the superior structural properties of fibreglass these liners are ergonomically shaped, making them exceptionally comfortable.  This strength also makes fibreglass lined hot tubs the only type of tub suitable for use with an integrated external heater; the stylish centrepiece fire that is the signature feature of these tubs.  The liner is moulded around a heater set within the timber hot tub exterior, allowing easy access and a sharp, clean appearance to the final installation.

The shape of the fibreglass liner also means that the hot tub’s water capacity is reduced without compromising the comfort of bathers or the depth of experience.  This makes it faster to drain a fibreglass hot tub for cleaning, and faster to fill it again afterwards.  Less water is consumed for each fill, for a given hot tub size when compared to a wooden or lined hot tub.

In terms of user convenience, the glossy coating of the fibreglass hot tub liner makes cleaning the tub a wipe-down exercise, and lets you clean the tub with the same products you’d use on your bathtub.  The moulded fibreglass hot tub liner eliminates internal corners, instead shaping gentle curves.  This means cleaning is quicker and easier, reducing the time it takes to look after your tub and making your tub ready to use again even sooner.

The fibreglass liner also gives rise to a void behind the wooden exterior of the hot tub.  This makes it simple to conceal air lines and wires, opening up a world of possibilities for accessorising the hot tub with lights, jets and bubbles to make the experience even more magical.

Fibreglass liners can be manufactured in a range of colours, from standard bright white to charcoal grey or even customised to any colour you choose.  As with all Royal Tubs, the exterior timber is also customisable so you can make sure your tub fits right in.

Water quality can be maintained for longer as the liner completely separates the bathing water from the timber exterior.  This means chemicals can be added to prolong the periods between cleaning, and it is possible to fit a range of filtration systems. 

Lined Wood-Fired Hot Tubs

Polypropylene lined hot tubs are the “middle ground” between a traditional wood-fired hot tub and a fibreglass-lined hot tub.

The wooden exterior of the hot tub is fitted internally with a resistant, recycled plastic liner, separating the timber exterior from the bathing water.  This allows the use of chemicals to maintain water hygiene for longer, extending the time between drain downs and cleaning.  The interior finish also makes it very easy to clean a lined tub – no scrubbing is required; the interior can simply be wiped down.

Lined wood-fired hot tubs can be fitted with either internal or external heaters, making them a versatile choice for any garden.

Thanks to the discrete fitting of the liner, from the outside a lined hot tub looks completely natural, with only the timber construction on show.  This makes lined tubs the perfect fit for country gardens where the natural aesthetic allows them to blend seamlessly into their environment.  The exterior of the hot tub can also be customised to match its final setting. 

A poly-lined hot tub can be fitted with lights, bubbles and filtration systems, as with a fibreglass lined tub although the range of options is more limited in comparison, in order to maintain the natural appearance of the tub.

Traditional Wooden Hot Tubs

Traditional wooden hot tubs are the purest approach to relaxing amidst nature and warm water.

Crafted from natural timber, traditional wooden tubs provide a no-frills way to enjoy fresh air and relaxing warm water.  A wood-fired internal or external heater delivers warmth directly to the bathing water.  Supported by wooden benches within the tub, bathers sit deeper and can enjoy the unencumbered simplicity of the experience.

Well suited to back-to-nature retreats and natural gardens, traditional wooden hot tubs are made to similar designs as were first conceived hundreds of years ago.  Their appeal tends to lie in their budget-friendly cost and rustic charm.  

Thanks to their bench seating, traditional wooden hot tubs also feel deeper than fiberglass tubs, allowing for a more immersive experience. 

As the bathing water is in direct contact with the timber of the hot tub, these tubs are unsuitable for use with chemicals so draining and cleaning every few days when in use is a must.  Traditional wooden tubs are sealed by the swelling of the timber in contact with water, so they must always be left filled to avoid leaks.  

Cleaning is a little more involved than with a fibreglass or poly-lined tub.  To prevent growth of bacteria on the internal surfaces, the tub needs to be scrubbed thoroughly each time it’s drained.  While most owners insist that this is a small price to pay for the benefits tese tubs offer, many customers prefer to opt for a poly or fibreglass lined hot tub to make cleaning a bit faster, or open up the possibilities of using chemicals to maintain water hygiene for longer. 

Some filtration systems can be used with traditional wooden hot tubs, but these do not lessen the frequency of cleaning required.

Traditional wooden hot tubs can be fitted with lights, but there are fewer customisation options in comparison to fibreglass or lined wood fired hot tubs.  

Ofuro Hot Tubs

Unlike the types of wood fired hot tubs above, Ofuro refers to the shape of the wooden hot tub.  

Originally crafted by the Japanese as a luxurious deep soaking bath and often dubbed “Love Tubs” for their intimate nature, Ofuro are instantly recognisable thanks to their oval shape.

The key feature of Ofuro Hot Tubs is that they’re suitable for 1 or 2 people only to use at one time.  This makes them popular for couples and holiday retreats, but not for larger gatherings.

Ofuro Hot Tubs are available in Fibreglass, poly-lined and traditional wooden options, and can be customised in the same manner of other tubs of these types.  

Their unique shape means Ofuro hot tubs can only be used with an external heater (which doesn’t take up space within the bathing area), and they are often chosen to sit neatly into alcoves, or unobtrusively on decking or a patio.


Although they can seem confusing at first, each type of wood-fired hot tub has its own benefits.

For the budget conscious, traditional wooden hot tubs offer a cost effective solution.

Wood-fired fibreglass hot tubs offer superior comfort and a wide range of customisation options, however they tend to be the more expensive option.

For those looking for the convenience of a fibreglass tub without the investment, lined hot tubs are the perfect choice; easy to maintain and friendly on your wallet.

Ofuro Tubs are the “Couple’s Tub”.  With a neat, compact design and available with all the features of the other tubs listed here, they’re a versatile option for those looking for quiet, peaceful enjoyment with the person who matters most.

Of course, if you’d like any more advice on the best wood-fired hot tub for you, you can call our friendly team for a chat; just go here to find out how to contact us.

Go back Read Next: Can I Use Chemicals In A Wood-Fired Hot Tub?