I don’t know about you, but I’m a big time bather. I prefer long soaks in the tub to a quick shower ten to one, and love to take piping hot bubble baths to unwind. That’s why, from where I stand, choosing a bathtub for your big bathroom remodel is one of the most important (if not necessarily biggest or most expensive) decisions you have to make. There are a whole heck of a lot of different types of bathtubs out there, and even if you aren’t the type to prune your toes in a hot bath, it’s important to choose the right one for your needs.
The Tub Wall
Tub walls, or shower/tub combos, are the workhorses of the bathroom world. Ideal for saving space and keeping to a strict budget, tub walls give you the most utility for the lowest price. Typically made of acrylic or solid surface, they include both a bathtub and a wall (or sometimes just the wall to be paired with a standalone tub of your choice) that continues up to shower height, sometimes with built in shelves or alcoves for storage. These aren’t always the prettiest option, but for a small bathroom or a strict budget, this is easily the most efficient one.
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Standalone bathtubs, aka just a bathtub, is a slightly more versatile option. Ranging from standard sized to extra small to over-large, standalone bathtubs come in a variety of heights, depths, lengths, and widths. Because they’re installed all on their own, that means if you’re especially tall, small, wide, or if you just want a really deep tub, it’s fairly simple to get a bathtub to fit your needs. Moreover, standard sized tubs fit in standard sized holes, making it easy to replace an aging model. And because they don’t come with built in shower walls, you have a little more freedom either to tile the wall yourself for a more sophisticated, finished look, or even install the bathtub underneath a window for a garden style bath.
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Whirlpool bathtubs are so popular they’re practically a buzz word, especially in dream bathroom design. They’re typically bigger and deeper than almost any other type of bathtub, and in addition to various massage settings, they often come with other luxury features, like in-line heating, chromatherapy, and even built in sound systems. There are several different types of whirlpool tubs, with high powered water jets, fizzy air bubbles, and everything in between – including various combo-tubs. Whirlpool tubs are a signature luxury touch and a great way to add spa-style hydrotherapy to your home. That said, they can be quite expensive and take a very long time to fill (sometimes requiring a larger water heater), so you should honestly consider how often you’ll use it before you buy.
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Soaking or Roman Style Bathtub
There are two main drawbacks to whirlpool tubs: the amount of hot water it takes to fill them, and how difficult it can be to keep them clean, specifically the plumbing that feeds water through the jets. Soaking tubs address both of these problems, at least to a certain extent. Roman tubs are very deep tubs designed especially for submerged-up-to-your-neck soaking, but don’t have the jets that whirlpools do and are both much lighter weight and easier to clean because of it. Now, I won’t say that soaking tubs are smaller – after all, it’s sort of the point that they’re big. But often they’re narrower, designed so you can rest your arms on the edge, and can comfortably accommodate two people in a little less space. You may still need a new water heater, but if this is a major concern, it’s worth comparing the maximum fill capacity of various tubs.
For those with larger bathrooms, you might want to consider something a little more out of the box. Now, I use the term “freestanding” pretty liberally here – I mean any bathtub that isn’t designed to fit against a wall or in a corner or niche. From there, there’s a whole world of design possibilities, from big beautiful tub mounts in the center of your bathroom to uniquely shaped designer tubs to tubs mounted directly into your floor. Again, these come in all sizes and shapes, from your standard rectangle to stunning infinity tubs, whirlpools, and everything in between. If you’re looking to make your bathtub a major design feature of your bathroom, this is definitely the way to go.
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Iconic Traditional Designs
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Finally, this list wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention a few of the oldies but goodies: clawfoot tubs and pedestal tubs. These shapely turn of the century style tubs work equally well in traditional and contemporary designs, and offer both a comfortable bathing experience and a truly iconic style. There are a few different types of clawfoot tubs (from traditional roll-tops to shapely double slipper tubs), but if you have the space to let one stand on its own, any and all of them are a great way to add eye-grabbing flair to even a relatively small bathroom.
What style do you like best? Are you a big time bather?