How to Choose a Bathtub

Taking a bath after a long day is the ultimate relaxation; however, getting the right bathtub can be fraught not just with stress but anxiety as well.

There's an array of materials, sizes, and shapes available today, but it is a decision that you have to get right. Removing and replacing a tub is not high on any person’s list of exciting and fun activities. Take your time throughout the selection process and be meticulous by following the steps that we have laid out below.

What is your desired bathing experience?

If you are someone who likes a long bath, then your top consideration has to be the experience that you get from a new bathtub. The type of bathtub you get can play a massive role in your bathing experience, particularly with features like water and air jets, but there are more considerations that you need to remember.

The size and shape of the tub can influence how comfortable and how well you’ll fit inside. If your tub isn’t of the right size, especially when it is too short, you can’t fully recline in it. If it is too long, you’ll miss being able to put your feet up from one end of the tub.

Likewise, the depth of your tub will affect the amount of water you will be able to fill the unit with. There are people who appreciate being submerged fully to a certain degree and this may only be possible with soaker tubs. A soaking tub has extra-deep dimensions, which allow the user to completely submerge the entire body in water for the ultimate relaxation.

If you wish to turn your bathroom into a romantic retreat for you and your significant other, you might want toopt for a bigger, two-seater wrirlpool tub with jets that push water around to provide a gentle, soothing massage.

How well insulated your tub’s walls are will also determine the duration for which your tub stays hot.

Natural Wood Freestanding Soaking Bathtub
White China Oval Freestanding Soaking Bathtub
Black White Acrylic Drop In Soaking Bathtub
Acrylic Square Drop In Air Bathtub
Acrylic Rectangular Illumatherapy Whirlpool Bathtub

How to correctly determine the size of the tub?

Size is a very important consideration during your search for the best bathtub. If you are putting a tub into an already designed bathroom, then you will have a much easier time if you’ll go with one with the same dimensions as your existing tub.

In most cases, this will mean the standard tub with interior measurements of 30 inches wide, 16 inches high, and 5 feet long. However, don't assume a tub you are replacing has the standard measurements. Make sure you take your time when measuring the space and determining the tub’s size that will reasonably fit within the allocated space.

Mind you, the tub size is just the beginning. Most tubs are designed to be dropped into a surround, which means you need to add a margin to the potential tub measurements on all sides. How much you add will pretty much depend on whether you are planning to display bathroom accessories on the surround.

Finally, this might sound obvious, but take the measurements of your doorway to ensure the tub will fit through it, especially if you are going for an extra large tub or a whimsical shape.

We suggest you spend some time browsing so you get a feel as to what the different size options are. You can also work with a contractor to determine what dimensions make sense with the bathroom that is being designed.

ADA Compliance Walk In Bathtub
White Acrylic Chromatherapy Corner Whirlpool Bathtub
Acrylic Drop In Air Bathtub
White Porcelain Freestanding Soaking Bathtub

What types of bathtubs are there?

Bathtub types or style can impact your installation options. Here are the most common types to consider:

Alcove Tubs: The most common among all bathtubs, alcove tubs are also commonly referred to as recessed tubs. To be installed, they have to be adjacent or against three walls. Most models come with an apron along the front, which eliminates the need for tiling work and makes the installation easier.

Drop-in Tubs: They are “dropped in” to holes cut in the tub deck, a custom surround or a floor recess, and are usually on the heavier side. They have a finished rim and are available in a multitude of shapes, including heart or diamond.

Undermount Tubs: They are mounted beneath your tub deck. This requires that the opening be cut to mimic the size and shape of the bowl. As a result, it leaves only the tub interior visible, so it’s great for some bathroom interiors.

Freestanding Tubs: Freestanding tubs can stand alone, even in the middle of the bathroom. They don’t require to be placed against a wall, so the installation is least troublesome sompared to other types, but obviously, they have to be installed near plumbing lines. Clawfoot models are a fabulous choice for vintage bathrooms and freestanding models in general scream posh!

Soaking White Acrylic Rectangular Alcove Bathtub
Classic Style Alcove Soaking Bathtub
White Fiberglass Acrylic Alcove Soaking Bathtub

What are the best bathtub materials?

Most bathtubs that you encounter have a fiberglass or acrylic construction as they are affordable and made of readily available materials.

Acrylic is popular as it is also lightweight, durable, and has the ability to hold heat in well. As for fiberglass, it is lightweight, but it is prone to scratching. It does not hold heat well compared to acrylic. Not the most durable and sturdy options for homeowners, they are still good options if you want a bathtub that offers various options in terms of color and style.

Glossy Acrylic Rectangular Freestanding Bathtub
Oval White Acrylic Fiberglass Freestanding Bathtub
Acrylic Polish White Freestanding Bathtub
Oval Glossy White Freestanding Bathtub
Gloss White Polished Chrome Freestanding Bathtub
Black White Fiberglass Acrylic Freestanding Bathtub

On the other hand, if you are prepared to make an investment in something that is both beautiful and heavy-duty, then consider the following materials for bathtubs:

  • Cast Iron: Cast iron is a good choice as it is sturdy, durable, and can hold heat well. The only downside is it is fairly pricy.

  • Steel: It is affordable and resembles cast iron with its benefits but it can chip more easily.

  • Marble: Coming in a wide array of patterns and colors, marble is beautiful; however, it is expensive and has to be taken care of properly.

  • Cast Polymer: Made to look similar to natural stone, cast polymer is an affordable choice. It can retain heat and is more durable compared to acrylic.

  • Copper: Copper brings aesthetic qualities that other materials can hardly compete, but it is among the most expensive options.

Corner Fiberglass Acrylic Soaking Bathtub

How to match the tub with bathroom design?

Keep the overall aesthetic of your bathroom as a whole in mind as you shop for a tub. Some bathtubs have curved aesthetics and are excellent for more elegant bathroom interiors. Others might be more rigid in appearance and are great for industrial bathrooms that are a favorite for spartan-style men.

Most bathtubs tend to have slightly curved interiors and a rectangular exterior to facilitate safety and a calming aesthetic. But there are plenty of bathtubs with more inventive shapes, like triangular or ovular ones. These are excellent as corner tubs since they can be built to squeeze right into place without taking up lots of floor space.

Color matters a lot here, as well. It’s a good idea to match the color of your tub to your bathroom interior in general. White is a traditional color, but you can also change the color of the exterior or rim to better work with the rest of your bathroom walls or counters.

Corner High Gloss Acrylic Whirpool Bathtub
White Walk In Whirlpool Bathtub
Acrylic Round Pedestal Whirlpool Bathtub

What extra features to look for in a bathtub?

  • Digital Controls: If you want a tub with lights or jets, you need to make sure they come with digital controls so you can control the settings easily.

  • Tub Lighting: This is a feature that is currently gaining in popularity. Underwater lighting allows for chromatherapy and adds to an incredible bathing experience.

  • Speakers: Do you like listening to music while in the tub? If so, then consider getting a tub with speakers.

  • ADA Compliance: An ADA-compliant tub is designed specifically to address the needs of those who have mobility issues. If you have a family member with a disability or you are preparing for you or your loved one’s senior years, then look out for bathtubs that are ADA-compliant.

Cast Iron Double Ended Slipper Freestanding Soaking Bathtub
Oval Copper Freestanding Soaking Bathtub
Silver Fiberglass Freestanding Soaking Bathtub

What's the Maximum Weight Your Bathroom Floor Can Handle?

Most of the materials that are of high quality are heavy. If you will be getting a metal or stone bathtub, check its weight.

A heavy bathtub requires extra work during the installation process. You also need to ensure that your floors will be able to take the weight of the new bathroom addition. This is all the more important if the tub is installed in an older house.

If you are leaning towards getting a tub that is on the heavy side, we suggest you consult with your contractor as to the effect of the tub to your home, the overall cost, and the installation process the tub needs before you make your decision.

Follow the steps mentioned above in order for you to choose the right tub and enjoy your new bathroom addition.

What budget should you set for a bathtub?

The basic or standard tub that does not include any additional features and is of fiberglass or acrylic starts at $200 to $300. You can spend little with that price range as your starting point. If you like an air bathtub or whirlpool tub, then you are looking at $700 to $900 a piece, which is at the lower end. It can cost more than $1,500 for combination.

Bathtubs that have unusual sizes and shapes, whether to fit in a unique bathroom configuration or for comfort, most likely cost more than the standard bathtubs. Those that are high in quality or made of aesthetic materials like stone and copper can be pretty expensive as well.

It is important that you keep in mind a tub’s cost is not the final cost. The installation of the bathtub may be too complicated for you to do unsupervised by a professional. Unless you are an expert yourself, you will need to consult and hire one.

There are kinds of bathtubs that require more during the installation process compared to others, particularly the undermount and drop in bathtubs. If you are replacing an existing one or you are doing a remodeling, selecting a different place in the bathroom and/or a different type and size of tub will increase the installation costs.

If you choose a deeper tub than what you had before, then you will find yourself needing to purchase a water heater. Be prepared for this extra cost. Any tubs with new technology like whirlpools and air tubs would require more ongoing maintenance. Not to mention, future repairs.

Working out the entire cost of a bathtub is complicated and it is worth talking to an expert for advice and assistance on every aspect. Do so before you make a purchase, so you have an idea on the cost of your new bathroom addition.

Foter Magazine is a premier architecture, decoration, interiors and design website. We inspire and guide you to make your home a more attractive place.


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