What to Look for When Selecting a New Bathtub

If you’re remodeling your bathroom or, perhaps, adding a bathroom to your home, one of the decisions you’ll need to make is choosing a bathtub. While it may not get daily use, the bathtub is often the focal point of the bathroom, making it an important design component. Even if you’re more of a shower person, a bathtub is a great place to relax and unwind. But with the immense selection of bathtubs on the market, choosing one can be overwhelming.

The first step in choosing a new tub is to determine the dimensions of the space where your tub will go and the type of installations that will work there. If you’re replacing an existing tub and not making any structural changes to your bathroom or moving any plumbing, you may be limited to certain sizes and types of tubs.

Next, you’ll next want to consider what you want from your new tub. Is it going in a kids’ bathroom or a guest bathroom where you just need a basic tub? Or is it going in the master suite where you might want something more luxurious? Do you want a jetted tub for soothing tired muscles or a deep tub for soaking? Do you want features such as chromatherapy or built-in speakers? Do you need a walk-in tub that will accommodate mobility issues? These are all features to keep in mind when considering different tubs.

You’ll also need to decide what type of style you like and what your bathroom will accommodate. The most common style is the 3-wall alcove tub, which typically combines a tub with a shower. This tub is the most space efficient. Drop-in tubs, which work well with jetted and air tubs, fit into a framed enclosure. This enclosure can house the pumps and plumbing, but also takes up more space. With an undermount tub, the tub rim is covered with a deck top. This style is often used for floor-level installations. Corner tubs are a variation of the drop-in tub and require considerable space. These tubs are often large enough to accommodate two people. Freestanding tubs, including clawfoot tubs, are supported by legs or a base. Freestanding tubs making a stunning focal point for your bathroom.

There are also a variety of tub materials to pick from, with each offering different advantages and price points. Acrylic and fiberglass tubs tend to be the least costly and come in a wide variety of colors. Acrylic tubs offer a high-gloss look similar to enameled cast iron but weight less. Fiberglass gelcoat tubs are also lightweight and cost less than acrylic but don’t tend to last as long. Enameled cast iron tubs, also known as porcelain, are extremely durable and long lasting, but they are also very heavy and may require structural reinforcement in the subfloor to support them. Composite tubs are made from an engineered material coated in enamel and offer the heat retention of cast iron but weigh far less, making them a great choice for second-story installations. Other options include enameled steel, copper, and natural materials such as marble, onyx, and granite.

A bathtub can be a significant expense. Regardless of which style and material you choose, make sure that the tub is a comfortable fit for you and meets your specific needs. Will it provide enough space to fully extend your legs? Is it deep enough to allow you to be fully immersed? Will the height and slope of the backrest support you comfortably? These are all important factors to consider before making a final decision.