Refinish Your Hot Tub Wood: A 6 Step Guide!

If you have a modern hot tub with beautiful cedar wood cabinetry surrounding an acrylic hot tub shell, you are probably someone who values cosmetic appeal. The problem with cedar is that even though the oil in the wood oftentimes resists insects and moisture, the constant exposure to the sun and elements can dry out and cause it to lose some of its natural color. Instead of ditching the hot tub entirely when the exterior starts to look warn, how about just giving it a face lift?

If you’re in that boat, feel free to follow this quick guide. It should only cost you a bit in supplies and a few hours of your time to refinish your hot tub wood.

Here are a few supplies you’ll want to acquire before you get to work:

  • Heavy duty rubber gloves
  • Breathing mask
  • Drop cloth
  • Painter’s tape
  • Sand paper
  • Paint clothes/apron
  • Lint-free rag/brush
  • Boiled linseed oil/wood stain
  • Turpentine


Your first step will be to prep the wood. You’ll want to either use sandpaper or a small handheld sander to get off any residual stain or eliminate wood roughness. Start with a lower grit (60 or 80) and then go over it a second time with a higher grit (150 or 180) to get it smooth.


At this point, rinse off the residual sanding dust and any other debris. You can use a washcloth and a wood cleaner or something you attach on a garden hose like a deck wash. Then let the wood dry completely before starting the next step.


Prep the hot tub. This includes removing the cover, putting down a drop cloth (especially if your hot tub sits on a deck and you don’t want the oil or stain to drip) and taping off the acrylic with some thick painter’s tape.


So you basically have two suggested options to use for coloring/resealing the wood: traditional wood stain or boiled linseed oil. The boiled linseed oil mixed with a small amount of turpentine (to enhance absorption and speed up drying time) is half the price of other wood preservatives and gives it a natural look. If you’re looking for a deeper color or very specific look, stain might be your best option.

Once you’ve made your choice, don your gloves, clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, and mask (make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area) and get to mixing. If you’re using stain, you might just need to shake the can and put it in an easier to manage container. If you’ve gone with linseed oil and turpentine, use a large measuring cup and mix 2/3rds cup boiled linseed oil with 1/3 turpentine (or 2:1 ratio) and stir well.


Dip your rag (or brush) in the mixture and rub in the direction of the wood grain. Allow to dry completely with coats—it make take anywhere from 2-4 to get the color you’re looking for. After your final layer, wait 24 hours and wipe down everything with a clean rag to get rid of any excess oil/stain.

If you’ve done a stain, put on a coat or two of exterior polyurethane before finishing.


Enjoy your newly renovated hot tub! Make sure everything is cured before use.

Extra tips:

    • Boiled linseed oil doesn’t exactly sound like a regular ol’ item you’d find at any hardware store. Some of the big box stores probably won’t have it. Your best bet is either to go to a woodcraft store, specialty paint stores, or even some smaller scale hardware locations. If that fails, you still always have the internet.
    • Check the weather before you start this project. You don’t want to do it on the weekend where you’ll have unexpected rain storms wreaking havoc on your home improvement plans.
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