Choosing a New Bathtub

Your bathtub is one of the most impactful pieces of bathroom “furniture” you can buy, and one of the key fixtures of the entire home. Because they take up so much space, both literally and visually, the choice of bathtub can influence the entire feel, style, and look of the room. The right choice makes all the difference for your bathroom remodel.

However, there are so many options available that it can sometimes be difficult to determine what the right choice is for you. Sometimes the bathtub that is the most visually appealing isn’t the best one for your space or your lifestyle.

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How to Choose a Bathtub – Eliminate some variables

Begin narrowing down your bathtub choice by eliminating some of the most obvious variables. Scratching some options off the list entirely will make the ultimate selection easier and simplify your bathroom renovation.

Budget: When shopping for a new bathtub for an existing bathroom, you need to not just consider the purchase cost of your new tub. It’s important to factor in the cost of removal of the old bathtub, and the cost of installation of the new one. If your new bathtub will require relocating taps, drains, and tiles, those costs can add up quickly. Discuss your plans with a contractor or plumber and get an estimate (or three) before making any firm decisions.

Space: The standard bathtub is 60 inches long and 30 to 32 inches wide. Generally speaking, it’s also good to allow another 60 inches by 30 inches of clearance for floor space beside the bathtub. This can be difficult in a small bathroom.  Measure your bathroom to see how much space you have to work with, and remember to allow the necessary clearance in your bathroom design.

Bathtub Size

Bathtubs come in a variety of sizes, suited to all kinds of bathrooms and body types. When thinking about how big the bathtub should be, there are a few other things to consider:

  • The bigger the bathtub, the more time it will take to fill.
  • In some houses, the hot water heater may lack the capacity to fill a big tub.
  • While extra-long bathtubs can look luxurious, they may not be necessary if the person using it most isn’t very tall. In fact, these tubs can be a bit uncomfortable for a short person.
  • The rim height makes all the difference. While it’s easy to think about bathtubs in terms of length and width, the height of the rim is actually a huge factor for usability. A high rim may be an obstacle for children or aging adults, making it difficult to get in and out of the tub. On the other hand, a high rim also allows a deeper, more satisfying soak. Sometimes when a person thinks they want a “big” tub, what they really want is a deep one. Smaller, deeper, soaking-style bathtubs can offer spa-like luxury without taking up a lot of floor space in a bathroom.

Once you have narrowed down factors like space, size, and cost of installation, it simplifies choices regarding the tub style and material.

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Types Of Bathtubs

Alcove: An alcove or recessed tub is a rectangular tub surrounded by three walls, typical in many bathrooms.

Platform: A platform tub is dropped down into a raised structure that surrounds the tub. This is ideal for whirlpools and other tubs that have additional pumps and plumbing requirements, since the structure hides the necessary hardware.

Undermount: An undermount tub often looks much like a platform tub, but the weight is supported from beneath, rather than being supported by the structure.

Freestanding: A freestanding tub stands on the floor with no surrounding structure.  These types of tubs are often called a claw foot tub.

Walk-in Bathtub: A walk-in tub is often found in the home of senior citizens.  There is no need to climb into the tub, you simply walk in through a door.

Types of Bathtub Materials

Acrylic: Acrylic is a plastic that can achieve a high-gloss finish, and is easily molded and formed into whirlpools. Acrylic is lightweight and easy to repair.

Fiberglass: Fiberglass is similar to acrylic, but less expensive and less durable.

Cast iron: A cast iron tub is classic and enduring, and one of the most durable fixtures in a home. A cast iron clawfoot tub with oil-rubbed bronze faucets look amazing. However, the combined weight of cast iron and water may require structural reinforcement.

Steel enamel: Tubs made of steel and glazed with enamel are popular in Europe and rapidly growing in popularity in America as well. These materials look like cast iron and have the same heat-retention properties, at a fraction of the weight.

Natural materials: Bathtubs can also be made out of natural stone, marble, onyx, granite, glass, copper, and wood. These materials can be absolutely stunning in a bathroom, but each will have individual cost, care, and maintenance issues that will need to be researched.

New Bathtub Upgrades

Go ahead and consider adding some luxurious extras to your bathtub. Here are some fun bathtub upgrades:

  • Jets and bubbles: Jets and bubbles add a massage to your soak, and value to your bathtub. There are a wide variety of options for a jacuzzi bathtub, and many have sound-dampening features to reduce the motor noise and make your bath time more relaxing.
  • Chromatherapy: Underwater LED lights enhance both the ambience and your mood, and transform the bath experience.
  • Music: Sound and music options are an increasingly inexpensive and popular way to enhance a bathroom. Bathtubs can be purchased with resonant speaker panels that will sync to your playlist and vibrate through the water.
  • Make it digital. Sophisticated bathroom and bathtub options can all be upgraded to operate with touch pad controls, or integrated into a digital home system.

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Don’t Forget to Try it On

This part may sound strange, but visit a showroom and sit in your new bathtub. The height of the sides, the slope of the back, the way you extend your legs… all these specific considerations of shape and fit are highly individual and difficult to evaluate without literally “trying it on”. A new bathtub is a big decision and a big expense, so take the time to sit in it and see how it feels before taking the plunge.

With so many options to choose from, shopping for a bathtub can be a bit overwhelming. Following these steps should help you choose the perfect bathtub for your tastes, your space and your habits.

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