These days, whirlpool tubs are a practically-mandatory addition to a luxury bathroom remodel. And with luxury bathroom remodels in the home improvement spotlight, there’s a good chance that, if you’re planning a major renovation, a new whirlpool tub is on your to-do list. But not all whirlpools are created equal, and choosing the right one for your bathroom is a little more delicate than deciding to add one in the first place. Especially if you’ve never owned (or even used) a whirlpool tub before, there are a few things you should definitely consider to make sure you get the most of your purchase.
If I say be aware of size, and you think “But I’ve already checked the dimensions!” you haven’t done all your homework. You see, there’s more to your new whirlpool tub than it’s exterior measurements. How big the tub is also means how much water it will hold, which means how long it will take to fill, whether or not your water heater will be able to fill it at all, and how heavy it’ll be once it’s full. Lukewarm baths are not so luxurious, and not all floors can handle hundreds of pounds of water, so be sure to find out what the capacity and water weight of your bathtub are BEFORE you buy. It might mean opting for a smaller tub (or the larger investment of a new water heater), but you’ll definitely get more you out of it than you would a lot of cold water or a hole in the floor!
What Kind Of Whirlpool?
This is a topic that I’ve written about before, but I’m mentioning it again here because it’s one that’s incredibly, incredibly important to make sure you get a whirlpool tub that you’re going to enjoy. Whirlpools come in three main types: water jet tubs (or the traditional whirlpool) air jet tubs (which produce a gentler, bubblier air jet) and combination tubs that let you alternate or mix between the two. This is especially important to consider if you haven’t really used a whirlpool tub often before. Water jets can be too intense for some, while air jets don’t give the deep tissue massage you might be looking for. If possible, you should try out different types of whirlpool tubs before you settle on one. The good news is, many whirlpool tub styles are available in each of the three configurations, as well as a range of sizes and capacities.
How About Accessories?
It’s entirely possible to get a whirlpool tub that just has whirlpool jets. But it’s just as common to find tubs with a whole host of extra features, from rainbow colored chromatherapy LED lights to built in sound systems. Which features your tub has will vary from one manufacturer to another, but look for ones you think you’ll use, or that will enhance your bathing experience, like heated air jets or whisper-quiet motor. If you’re on a tight budget, be aware how much certain features increase the cost of your tub, and don’t feel the need to get all of them if you don’t think you’ll use them.
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Don’t Skimp On Heating
While all the accessories I mentioned above can be nice to have, and certainly enhance your bathing experience, the only one I would say you can’t do without is in line heating. If you’ve ever taken a long bath in any size bathtub, you know that eventually your water loses heat. This is especially true if you have a large tub that takes a while to fill, even if your water heater is up to the task. In line heating circulates and reheats the water in your tub for as long as you’re using it, ensuring that your bath is a comfortable, stable temperature. This not only saves you the frustration of having to constantly top off your tub, but can also cut down on your water bill, too.
And Don’t Forget The Deck!
Once you have your tub, you’re also going to have to build a place to put it. When you see a whirlpool tub in a catalog or a showroom, it’s already set in a beautiful bathtub mount – a support frame with a stone, tile, or wood finish. But when you get your tub, the inside will look the same, but the outside will likely be an unfinished mess of mechanical guts. So you’ll have to decide how you want to stage your tub and build the setting for it. This is the main reason that whirlpool tubs are more often associated with major bathroom remodels and not-so-much a weekend project – you want to get all your bathroom tile done at once. Unless you opt for a freestanding whirlpool, which are often more expensive, planning and building your tub deck should be just as big a consideration as the tub itself.
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Do I Need A Whirlpool At All?
Almost any real estate agent will tell you that a master bathroom without some kind of bathtub – regardless of what other luxury features it has – is hardly a master bathroom at all. No bathtub is a major mark against in the eyes of buyers, and many people put a whirlpool in automatically because of it. But at the same time there’s an epidemic of luxury bathtubs going unused because people simply don’t have the time to even fill up a big tub, let alone lounge around enjoying a leisurely bath. If that sounds like you, it might be worth reconsidering getting a whirlpool at all. Now, I’m not saying skip the bathtub, but the difference between a whirlpool and a standard acrylic tub is a difference between a couple thousand dollars and a couple hundred, to say nothing of installation and water costs. Even designer soaking tubs are often half or even a third of the price of identical whirlpool tubs, which is a lot of money you could put toward, say, building a custom shower that you can enjoy every morning.
Many of the choices you’ll make when planning a major bathroom remodel are primarily cosmetic, but if you have your heart set on a whirlpool, you need to consider functionality as much as aesthetics to get a tub you’ll really enjoy.