The right bathtub can add style and utility to your bathroom


Choosing the perfect bathtub will largely depend on how much room you have for it, what you plan to use it for, and your personal style preferences.

Tip: Lie down in a tub before purchasing to make sure it feels comfortable.

Installation Considerations

  • Standard tubs usually have inside measurements around 5’ long, 30” wide and 14” to 16” high. The exterior measurements are usually between 5’ and 6’ long and 32” to 60” wide. Measure carefully to make sure that there is sufficient room.
  • Not all tubs allow for the installation of a shower.
  • Be sure your water heater can generate enough hot water to fill your tub.
  • The floor underneath heavy tubs may need to be reinforced.
  • Determined whether the drain and spout need to be on the left or right.

Bathtub Types

  • Recessed Bathtubs. Also known as alcove tubs. Abuts walls on both ends and along one edge. Features only one finished side. Often have wall-mounted faucets and are easily configured to incorporate a shower.
  • Corner Bathtubs. Installed in corner of bathroom to save space. Not all are able to accommodate a shower. Available in a number of different design options.
  • Freestanding Bathtubs. Easy to install and doesn’t require any special faucet drilling. May be able to integrate a shower. Comes in a variety of designs, including claw, ball, pedestal and more.
  • Platform/Drop-In Bathtubs. Easy to clean and offers versatile placement possibilities. Requires extra work to install and may require a larger up-front investment.


Consult the chart below for commonly used options for bathtub materials.

Material Description Points to Consider


Acrylic sheets are heated, formed into a mold and reinforced with fiberglass, after which wood or metal reinforcement is usually added.

  • Offer a wide choice of styles and shapes
  • Resistant to abrasion and fading
  • Lightweight
  • Hold heat well if insulated
  • More expensive
  • May scratch

Cast Polymer

Solid-color polymer-based materials often made to resemble onyx or granite. Finished with a polyester gel coat.

  • Mimic the look of stone while offering the flexibility of synthetic materials
  • Thick
  • Retain heat well
  • Gel coating is somewhat less
    durable than acrylic

Cultured Marble

A manmade material composed of crushed limestone and polyester resin with a gel-coat finish.

  • Require more maintenance
  • Offer many colors and patterns
  • Provide a sleek, stylish look
  • May be brittle and scratch easily
  • More expensive

Enameled Cast Iron

Cast iron molded into a bathtub shape and finished with enamel. Generally thicker than other materials.

  • Durable and solid
  • Available in a range of colors
  • Retain heat well
  • Excellent soundproofing
  • Heavy−may require structural reinforcement

Enameled Steel

Resembles cast iron and is produced by spraying enamel onto molded steel and firing the tub at a high temperature.

  • Less expensive than cast iron
  • May chip somewhat easily
  • Provide a smaller choice of colors
  • May be noisy when water is


A fiberglass backing material finished with a layer of polyester gel coat. Wood or metal reinforcement is often added.

  • Economical
  • Offer a wide choice of styles and shapes
  • Lightweight
  • Don't retain heat as well

Solid Surface

Made with acrylic and/or polyester resins and baked into sheets. Resin provides flexibility while polyester provides dramatic coloring.

  • Color and texture remain intact despite wear
  • Retain heat well
  • Available in a wide range of colors
  • Stain-resistant


  • Mosaic/Ceramic Tile. Beautiful, unique finish. Will probably require a qualified contractor to install.
  • ADA Compliance. Features grab bars and other useful features to make getting in and out easier for elderly family members or someone with special needs.
  • Whirlpools. Includes customizable jets and other features for a relaxing and comfortable soak.
  • Other Tub Styles. Roman tubs (bathing pools) are deeper than standard tubs and feature a filler spout that rises up off the deck. Japanese tubs are even deeper than Roman tubs. Greek baths take up a little less room and can accommodate a shower.