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Bathtubs vs Shower: Which is right for you?

by Badeloft | August 12, 2018

Looking to spruce up your home or apartment? Often the best way to do so is to renovate your bathroom, but often times, a common question plagues most homeowners; a shower or a bathtub? A good question, as they both appear similar, but they in fact serve different purposes in the long term, so doing your research ahead of time will save you some headache down the road along with a lower water bill.

Main Differences Between a Shower and Tub

When it comes to a shower and a bathtub, there are a myriad number of little differences between the two, but the most obvious is size and overall function. Showers are generally walk-ins and are for the purposes of bathing standing up, which means they are generally tall in design, meaning you can save a lot of space as you don’t need as much area width wise for a shower. Bathtubs on the other hand are elongated, having significantly less height compared to a shower, which means they will take up much more floor space compared to a shower as they are much longer in length and are generally designed for the purpose of bathing in a seated position. Showers also allow for quick bathing purposes and are seen as having more of a utility function as they consume much less water when compared to bathtubs, which fit a more luxurious function as they are more suited for longer soak sessions and provide a more relaxed bathing experience.

 

Walk-in Showers Pros & Cons

A Walk-in shower is typically any shower that you can physically step into without changing your position, allowing you to bathe freely while standing. This of course has numerous benefits compared to a bathtub, but also carries a few drawbacks as well.

Walk-In Showers Pros

Price

On average, a shower is much cheaper and easier to install compared to a bathtub due to its overall simplicity in design. Since the space is much smaller, it is easier to fit in every bathroom large or small, thus lowering your overall install cost, giving you more money to spend on your bathroom instead.

Space saving

As discussed above, since the shower is tall and not wide, it can practically be installed anywhere you like, giving you additional freedom in designing your bathroom space without losing any form or function as a result.

Water Efficient

Since you do not need to wait around to fill a large bathtub, the shower ends up saving you a fair bit of water and time in the long run as you simply need to turn it on and off as your bathing needs dictate.

Easily accessible to those with mobility issues/injuries

As it only requires you to walk-in, a shower is much easier on those with mobility issues compared to a bathtub as there is an even shower surface to walk on compared to a slippery bathtub surface. Special handholds and bars can also be installed in your shower to help aid those who require additional support as well.

Wide variety of designs and sizes

As their overall design is more efficient, there exists a wide range of customizable options on the market, allowing you a wide range of freedom in how you want to design your shower. There are also a few high-end options as well such as waterfall rain showers, massage jets, steamers or more luxurious double-sided designs.

Walk-in Shower: Cons

Less friendly towards young children

As most walk-in showers are quite tall in comparison to bathtubs, they are not suitable for young children without requiring adult assistance.

Requires greater additional maintenance compared to other bathtub types

Most walk-in showers are designed with glass sliding doors which eventually accumulate a fair bit of grout and lime stains over an extended period of time. If left untended, these tend to be a greater hassle to clean when compared to maintaining some bathtubs regularly.

Not as appealing for resale value compared to a bathtub

Strangely, most homeowners do not like the idea of a shower-only home and having only a shower in your home will greatly impact your overall resale value.

 

Bathtub Pros & Cons

A bathtub allows for longer, more relaxed bathing. It is contrasted against a shower as the shower is more efficient and more affordable while a bathtub requires a few more additional weights on it’s upkeep but overall will provide you with the more enjoyable bathing experience.

bathtubs pros and cons

Bathtub Pros:

Ideal for relaxation & therapeutic

Studies have shown that allowing yourself to soak in hot water once a day will help your muscles relax and ease tension that builds up from accumulated stress. With a bathtub, you can utilize therapeutic oils and specialized massage jets to further the medicinal properties of a nice, calming bath.

Friendly to small children

As many bathtubs are low to the ground, and there a number of safety features for controlling water levels, they are easily the best choice for bathing small children.

Wide variety of special features

As stated previously, there are a number of bathtubs with built-in massage jets and different faucet styles and extenders that can help you bathe easier or relax, whichever you prefer.

Very appealing to homeowners & increased value

Contrasted against showers, homeowners really like bathtubs in the home, thereby increasing the resale value much higher when compared to having a shower in your home.

Freestanding variants can be installed anywhere

Bathtubs come in two popular variants; freestanding and drop-in, the former having the additional benefit of being freely installed anywhere in your bathroom as it is finished on all sides.

Bathtub Cons:

Price

Though it does give a better bathing experience overall, bathtubs tend to be pricier than showers as their installation costs are usually quite a bit higher. Also, most of the mid-high range bathtubs are all constructed from more expensive materials, adding more to your overall bill.

More difficult for those with movement issues to navigate

Due to the nature of how many bathtubs are designed, the surface of them is generally a bit slippery, making it more difficult for the elderly to use as there isn’t really anything physical like a hand-hold they can easily grab hold of to hoist themselves in.

Takes up more space

Compared to a shower, the bathtub takes up much more space. Even with the smaller bathtub designs, the overall space is roughly around twice the size of how much a shower will take up in your bathroom, so plan accordingly.

Not water efficient

Compared to a shower, the bathtub is not water efficient at all. It requires a larger capacity water heater to have enough hot water to fill your bathtub to full, meaning a larger drain on your water bill, not including the fact that you need to wait and fill your bathtub to full before you use it each and every time then drain it out completely as well. It does provide a much more relaxing experience as a whole, but you do pay for that luxury
.

Do you own a stand alone bathtub now? Switching to a shower

The easiest solution if you want a shower and you only have a stand-alone tub, is to install a shower and create a bathtub/shower combo. A very common setup in many homes, no matter how much space you have, you can easily install a new faucet and showerhead along with some curtains to create a shower that you can also utilize as a bathtub if desired. If you don’t want this, then the solution is to first rip out your existing bathtub, re-tile your floor and carve out a large enough space to install a new walk-in shower.

 

Do you own a walk in shower? Switching to a bathtub

Switching from a walk-in shower to a bathtub is a bit more tricky than going from a bathtub to a shower. Many master bathrooms actually have both, as showers and bathtubs serve different functions, and several homeowners would advise you from removing one in favor of the other as they serve the needs of different people, be it elderly, children or adults. But if you lack the requisite space to have a bathtub and a shower, then first you would need to demolish your walk-in shower, clear out the debris, then reinforce your base depending on whether you want a drop-in or freestanding bathtub, both of which will require their own installation methods-you need a cut-out foundation for the drop-in to rest inside of and for a freestanding, you need to make sure your floor can support the additional water weight.

 

Tub vs Shower Cost: Which is cheaper?

Traditionally, showers are seen as much cheaper than bathtubs. But initially, the prices are fairly comparable. You can purchase a mid range shower for roughly $300-500 and a decent drop-in or freestanding bathtub is comparable to that number, maybe an extra $50-100 difference. After that, however, is when the prices begin differing with installation being the next step. Since the number of moving parts to a shower is minimal and the space it takes is much smaller, installation is much quicker and less expensive than a bathtub. While installing a freestanding or drop-in bathtub is ‘easy’, the process is fairly pricey with additional space needing to be mapped out and drywall needing to be cut. After installation is regular use, which in the case of a shower is much cheaper as you don’t need a large water heater to run a shower, which lowers your water bill due to less consumption when compared to regular bathtub use. On the whole, over time, the shower will end up being the more cost effective option in the long run.

 

Who would be using the shower or bathtub?

A key factor in your decision should be who is using either the shower or bathtub. Traditionally, showers are seen as better for older children and adults due to their ease of use and functionality. When fitted with hand-holds and grips, they are also a much better option for the elderly or those with movement disabilities, as there is less danger to them when compared to a bathtub. Bathtubs on the other hand are for young children under supervision and adults. Due to the slippery surface of the bathtub, these are not recommended for the elderly or movement infirm as there is a high danger of them slipping and hurting themselves. Of course there exists a variants of bathtub called the walk-in bathtubs that are safe for the elderly as they allow one to be seated while bathing, but these are generally much smaller in design and the larger ones are more expensive and require custom installation, so please, consider carefully the needs of your household before purchasing.

 

Are you concerned about energy and water waste?

For those who are energy conscious, at first glance, a bathtub is not something you should purchase. A bathtub on it’s own as your primary bathing unit can easily spike your water bill by double or triple compared to just owning a normal shower. Also, you may need to install a larger capacity water heater if you want to fill your bathtub consistently with hot water. This may not seem like a big deal, but using your bathtub more than a few times a week can easily strain your water heater as well as your wallet. This can easily be remedied however as there are shower and bathtub combos that you can install, meaning that you use your bathtub sparingly on special occasions and you use your shower for more frequent everyday use. That way, you can keep your energy bill low and enjoy the benefits of both worlds.

 

Bathtubs vs Shower Resale Value

Strangely, showers are not seen as valuable commodities in the home buying market. Showers do very little to increase the value of your home and by that token, the resale value as well, perhaps because they are seen as ‘cheap’ regardless of what material they are constructed from. Bathtubs on the other hand, provide the opposite effect and will often increase the value of your home for resale as they are widely popular and very well-received. Since shower bathtub combos are very commonplace, perhaps you can install one and enjoy the benefits of both without losing out on the value of your home.

Ultimately, choosing between a shower and a bathtub will come down to your budget, your needs and the needs of your household. So consider carefully what each offers you and think if that is right for you, it’s your bathroom after all.

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