Add style and utility to your bathroom with a new tub
When your muscles are sore and your body aches, there are few things better than a long, hot, relaxing soak in the tub. Taking a bath not only relieves physical pain and discomfort, it can also reduce stress. In addition to helping you and your family get clean, a bathtub can be used to wash your pets as well. With a multitude of styles featuring soaking tubs, freestanding tubs and clawfoot tubs, any kind of tub you install will depend largely on how much room you have for it, what you plan to use it for and your personal style preferences. Whether you are remodeling your bathroom or building a new one, consider the following questions to find the ideal tub for you:
• How often will you use your tub? For what purposes?
• Where would you like to place the bathtub?
• How much room is available in the desired location?
• What design or style best fits your bathroom?
• What color and material will look best?
Installation Considerations, Types and Materials
Prior to shopping for a new tub, you'll need to consider a number of physical issues, such as how much room you have, how big you want your bathtub to be, where the drain needs to be located, do you want shower doors, walls and surrounds and more. You'll also want to take a close look at your décor and determine what color and style best complement your design scheme. If the bathtub is used on a daily basis for a number of people, including children and pets, you'll want to select a material that will stand the test of time. Larger bathtubs are ideal for sitting and soaking while smaller tubs are good for quick cleanup in smaller bathrooms. Bathtubs can require a great deal of work to install and tend to last for many years, so make sure your new tub has the style and features you want both now and in the foreseeable future.
Installation Considerations: If you're replacing an old bathtub and don't want to do any major bathroom remodeling, you may be somewhat limited in your selection of a new unit. If, however, you're completely overhauling the bathroom or building a new house, you'll have the freedom to install just about any type of bathtub you want. Measure carefully to make sure there is sufficient room. Standard tubs usually have inside measurements around 5' long, 30" wide and 14" to 16" high and exterior measurements between 5' and 6' long and 32" to 60" wide. Some bathtubs are designed to accommodate two people simultaneously while others are made for a single individual. Tubs may be positioned against a wall, in a corner or even in the middle of the bathroom.
• Lie down in a tub before purchasing to make sure it feels comfortable
• 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
• Choose from a variety of colors such as white, cream, blue, green, pink and more
• Determine whether the drain and spout need to be on the left or right
Recessed and Corner Tubs: Recessed, also called alcove, tubs abut walls on both ends and along one edge. They feature only one finished side and are the most commonly installed type of bathtub. Recessed units often have wall-mounted faucets and are easily configured to incorporate a shower with the simple addition of a surround or wall kit, which provides an easy-to-clean, watertight barrier around the alcove. Corner bathtubs are designed to be installed in a corner area to help save space. Some models feature a finished side and end while others are designed to be installed diagonally in a corner for a more open feel. Not all corner tubs are able to accommodate a shower.
• Recessed bathtubs are an affordable choice for budget-conscious decorators
• The finished side of a recessed tub is called an "apron"
• Drains are available at either end of a recessed tub to accommodate plumbing
• Built-in recessed tubs need to be specified as right or left, depending on drain position
• Corner tubs are available in a number of different design options
• Install corner units next to a vanity or set of cabinets for greater economy of space
Freestanding and Platform/Drop-In Tubs: Freestanding tubs provide incredible versatility when it comes to placement and don't require any special faucet drilling. They offer a classical look, are easy to install and come in a variety of styles. Dual claw-foot tubs have a center drain and two rounded ends, allowing you to choose the most comfortable bathing position. Rolltop tubs have a curved rim around the entire unit and are the most common design. Slipper tubs have high backs to make sitting more comfortable. Platform tubs do not have any finished panels. Instead, they are dropped into a platform or sunk into the ground, allowing them to be incorporated into a range of different bathroom styles. Many feature integral faucet ledges that allow for easy use.
• Freestanding tub feet come in a wide array of designs, including claw, ball, pedestal and more
• Freestanding tubs often feature a sloped back for greater comfort
• Showers may be integrated into freestanding tubs, though they are not common
• Platform tubs offer versatile placement possibilities and are easy to clean
• Platform tubs require extra work to install and may require a larger up-front investment
Materials: Choosing the right material for a tub depends in large part on how frequently it will be used and your personal style preferences. Consult the chart below to learn about some of the more commonly used options.
Points to Consider
|Acrylic||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
• Resistant to abrasion and fading
• 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
• 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
|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
|Fiberglass||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
• 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
• Retain heat well
• Available in a wide range of colors
Mosaic/Ceramic Tile: If you're looking for a customized tub, find a qualified contractor who can build one lined with mosaic or ceramic tiles. It will cost a little more, but you'll have a beautiful, unique finish.
ADA Compliance: If you have an elderly family member in your home or someone with special needs, look for a tub that's compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. These bathtubs will often feature grab bars and other useful features that make getting in and out easier.
Whirlpools: For ultimate relaxation and comfort, there's no better way to end a long day than soaking in a whirlpool. Look for one with customizable jets and other features to make bathing a more enjoyable activity.
Other Tub Styles: Roman tubs, or bathing pools, feature a filler spout that rises up off the deck. They are deeper than standard bathtubs, making them ideal for soaking. Japanese tubs are even deeper than Roman tubs, allowing you to immerse yourself up to your neck. Greek baths are similar to Japanese models, but they may take up a little less room and allow for the incorporation of a shower.