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Drop-In vs. Freestanding Tubs: Why It’s Worth The Splurge For A More Stylish Bathtub

Upgrading to a big, luxurious soaking tub is often the highlight of a large-scale bathroom remodel – and one of the updated features you’re probably most looking forward to. But when you opt for drop-in style bathtubs, even the roomiest, most decadent tubs won’t look much different than a standard model. For bathtubs with looks that match your excitement levels, you want check out freestanding tubs instead. Not only are they more unique looking, but they also give you a few interesting ways to play with your bathroom design.

Freedom of Design

Cielo Freestanding Whirlpool Bathtub FT512-0026 from Anzzi
Cielo Freestanding Whirlpool Bathtub FT512-0026 from Anzzi

With few exceptions, most drop-in bathtubs have a pretty standard rectangular design. Either they have their own apron designed to fit snugly against your wall (sometimes complete with shower walls), or they’re designed to be set in a usually-rectangular mount. Freestanding bathtubs, on the other hand, can come in almost any size and shape, from classic oval clawfoot bathtubs to really unique, sculptural shapes. While it’s possible to build a visually interesting mount for a drop-in tub, freestanding tubs definitely have a leg up in terms of stylistic uniqueness, especially right out of the box.

Freedom of Placement

Axor Massaud Freestanding Tub 18950000 from Hansgrohe
Axor Massaud Freestanding Tub 18950000 from Hansgrohe

Similarly, freestanding tubs offer you a little more flexibility in terms of where you can install them. While plumbing is an issue any time you replace (or relocate) an existing bathtub, freestanding tubs are designed to stand on their own, no matter where you put them. That means you can get a little creative and make your bathtub the literal focal point of your space. Double points if the bathtub you put front and center also happens to have a unique design.

Unique Presentation Options

Soaking Freestanding Tub N200GLD from Streamline
Soaking Freestanding Tub N200GLD from Streamline

Even if your freestanding bathtub is pretty traditional in design, being free from that ubiquitous rectangular shape (and the need for a built-in mount) means you can also have some fun staging your tub. Whether that means simply painting or tiling an accent wall to offset your tub, or going the whole nine yards with unique lighting, flooring, and accents to really draw attention to your tub, it’s much, much easier to create a dramatic, striking look with a freestanding tub than it is with a more traditional model.

Bigger, Better-Shaped Bathtubs

Salto 8"1 Freestanding Bathtub KFST1271 from KubeBath
Salto 8″1 Freestanding Bathtub KFST1271 from KubeBath

Another drawback of most traditional tubs is that while you can mold the inside of the tub to be a little more ergonomic, there are limitations on how creative you can get with the shape of the tub itself in terms of comfort. With freestanding tubs, it’s not uncommon to see designs with big, curving, arched backs, designed to give you the head and neck support that more traditional drop-in tubs lack. As a bonus, these tubs also have pretty unique silhouettes, which means they’re not only comfy to soak in, but also double nicely as a statement piece.

Eye-Catching Material Options

Azul Man-Made Stone Freestanding Bathtub in Regal Blue FT520-0026 from Anzzi
Azul Man-Made Stone Freestanding Bathtub in Regal Blue FT520-0026 from Anzzi

By and large, most drop-in tubs (and really most traditional bathtubs in any style) are made of either acrylic, fiberglass, or porcelain, in a dazzling rainbow of colors that range from white to just slightly off-white. Freestanding bathtubs, on the other hand, open up a whole new world of options. Like vessel sinks, freestanding tubs can come in almost any material – the traditional porcelain and acrylic, but also glass, stone, wood, or metal. Each type of material has a distinctly different appearance and personality, but whichever you choose it’ll have a huge impact on the style of your bathroom – whether it’s a regal copper tub or a futuristic colored glass.

Far Out There Statement Bathtubs

Gala 80" One-Piece Acrylic Freestanding Bathtub in Glossy Black and White FT-AZ220 from Anzzi
Gala 80″ One-Piece Acrylic Freestanding Bathtub in Glossy Black and White FT-AZ220 from Anzzi

It’s also worth noting that many freestanding bathtubs are made specifically to act as statement pieces, with all the pomp, circumstance, and style that entails. That can mean anything from the aforementioned unique, sculptural shapes and unusual materials to really wild, personalized tubs that are stylized to resemble other objects – everything from boats to hammocks to high heeled shoes. Of course, really bizarre tubs typically come at a premium, but if you really love a good bath and want to make your tub the star of your next bathroom remodel, it might be worth the splurge to go a little wild and get a more interesting bathtub.