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What To Consider When to Buying A Bathtub

For many people, a bathtub provides an escape from your 9-5, a place to relax and ease your stress away, so purchasing the right bathtub is not something to be taken lightly. Whether you want something basic or to purchase an oasis from work, there are a variety of factors to consider before buying, so here’s what you need to know to find the right bathtub for you.

Types of Bathtub

When choosing the right bathtub, the first choice you should make is what kind of bathing experience do you want? Different bathtubs excel at different things, so choosing the right one that suits your lifestyle is a good place to start.

Standard Tubs

As its name suggests, the standard bathtub is perhaps the most common bathtub, providing a basic bathtub that accomplishes everything a bathtub needs to do while being easier to install than other types. Standard tubs are generally the most affordable models, allowing you to have a bathtub anywhere between $200-500 starting price, also available in alcove, drop-in and freestanding styles in case you wanted more variety. However, while the standard bathtubs are great for a number of people, the other bathtubs listed below provide a more specialized role that may suit your individual needs better.

Soaking Tubs

Built with a much deeper water depth than standard bathtubs, soaking bathtubs are for those that want a longer soak period, whether for medicinal or relaxation purposes. The general difference between a soaking tub and a standard bathtub is that these are built to be much wider, usually rounded, allowing a person for full immersion with the water. The additional space comes at a cost however as soaking tubs are generally more expensive than standard bathtubs, usually coming in around $300 more than a standard, but these bathtubs are a great deal more ideal for the elderly or those who suffer muscle injuries.

Whirlpool Tubs

In a similar vein as soaking bathtubs, whirlpool tubs are bathtubs that have jets positioned to help relieve major muscle groups as they lie in the bathtub, relaxing that area, helping to reduce aches and pains as well as muscle soreness. Jacuzzis or hot tubs are common types of whirlpool bathtubs and as you can imagine, cost a great deal more than both soaking and standard bathtubs due to the addition of the jets-starting at around $700 and climbing to $1,000 and beyond. That being said, these bathtubs are perfect for those that suffer with high stress and tension.

Shower & bath combination tubs

For those that have trouble choosing between a shower and bathtub, a combination bathtub provides the benefits of both while doing away with much of their negatives. Almost any bathtub can be fitted with a shower head for a very reasonable price, giving you the option of a much more expedite shower while also having a fully functioning bathtub available should you desire a much more leisurely experience. Of course, these tend to be more expensive than a standard bathtub, but the price jump is only roughly $100-150 more than your bathtub.

Walk-in Tub

Walk-in bathtubs are perfect additions for seniors and those with movement impairing disabilities. Custom built with extra hand-holds, grips and railings, the purpose of a walk-in bathtub is to provide safety and comfort for an individual to walk in and out of the bathtub without the danger of falling or slipping. The only drawback to Walk-in bathtubs would be their exuberant price, usually averaging $2,000 starting and easily climbing to $6,000 and beyond depending on the quality of the material, the size and any extra features included. However, as stated before, walk-in bathtubs are very ideal for elderly citizens and those with disabilities, making their bathing experience much safer, thus validating the cost greatly.

Installation Bathtub Types

There are many factors to consider when choosing the right bathtub, but the most important factor should be installation. Every bathtub requires a different installation type and based on the size, weight and style, certain bathtubs may not end up being such a good fit for your home. So when installing a new bathtub it is important to understand your options and what you need to configure so a bathtub can safely be installed in your space. Below are the main options available so you can find the right fit for your home.

Alcove Tubs

First up are alcove bathtubs, one of the most common installation options which are installed usually in an enclosure of three walls, with an open space on the fourth or outer side. Since it is installed within a walled enclosure, adding a shower head faucet is remarkably easy, making these the ideal choice for shower/bathtub combinations. In general, alcove are the most affordable option on the market due to their ease of install and their overall size.

Freestanding bathtubs & Clawfoot tubs

Distinct from alcove tubs, freestanding bathtubs are designed with no sides and can be placed anywhere in the space of your bathroom due to having feet or a large base to support themselves. However, for the freedom to be placed anywhere, freestanding bathtubs tend to be much larger than alcove tubs due to their larger design. These also tend to be much heavier so consider the strength of your floor before placing a freestanding bathtub.


Corner Bathtub

Similar to alcove bathtubs, corner bathtubs are three-sided with one open side, usually placed in a corner to save space. These tend to be popular with those have smaller bathrooms since they tend to be smaller than both alcove and freestanding bathtubs, giving you much more space. Since they are designed in a sort of triangle shape, the shape of the bathtub may be strange for some, so consider sitting in one to see if it is the right fit for you.

Drop-in Bathtubs

Both corner and alcove bathtubs can be drop-in bathtubs, as the name just describes their installation method. Drop-in bathtubs are the basic shell of the bathtub, with no finished side that you can simply “drop in” anywhere that you wish to place a bathtub. The advantage of this is that you can dictate where you want to place your bathtub for a cheaper cost than a freestanding tub and without taking too much available space. The drawback is that you need to carve out the space or enclosure yourself, which can be tricky for those inexperienced with home renovation.

Undermount tubs

Similar to a drop-in bathtub, an undermount bathtub is a bathtub that is finished on all sides, so that it can be made flush with it’s surrounds and the rim which is installed above, usually made of tile or stone. As with a drop-in bathtub, the enclosure must be carved out by hand, making installation more costly but as with drop-in bathtubs, you get a bathtub that is very aesthetically pleasing in addition to saving space.

Factors to consider when buying a bathtub

bathroom in new home


When it comes to buying a new bathtub, the most important factors to consider before purchasing would be your desired bathing experience, size, cost and weight.

Bathing Experience

This will ultimately differ from person to person, but bathing experience is an important consideration before purchasing a bathtub. Questions such as “Do you take long or short baths? Do you prefer to relax and soak or simply scrub and carry on with your day?”Is resting your feet important?” The answers to many of these questions will determine the style of bathtub you need and whether you need additional features such as powered jets or additional features in your bathtub. This will also determine the general size and shape of bathtub you want as there is a large difference between a bathtub you can stand in and a bathtub you can comfortably recline in. Finally, the depth of your bathtub will determine how much water it can hold and there are some who enjoy being fully submerged while others do not, so consider your wants and needs and most importantly the needs of your household before purchasing.

Bathtub in the modern interior


Shower options

The size and shape of your bathtub will also determine how easy it is to affix a shower to it. While there are some who like to keep the two separate, a bath and shower combination certainly helps to keep those with different preferences happy. But if having these options isn’t as important to you than you can simply choose a bathtub that is more suited for your preferences.

Size

The size of your bathtub is perhaps one of the most important considerations in addition to weight. The size of your bathtub will ultimately be determined by the available space in your bathroom. A standard bathtub usually measures to about 5 ft long, 30” inches wide with a height of fourteen to sixteen inches, however, this is just a general average, so take the time to measure your bathroom to determine how much available space you have before purchasing a bathtub. If you are still unsure, you can certainly consult a contractor to better determine which bathtub makes the most sense in your space.

Cost

When it comes to cost, there are several factors to consider. First, the price of your bathtub. Depending on the style and material, this can be anywhere from $200 starting to $2000 depending on the size and material. A basic drop-in fiberglass bathtub is usually around $200 for example, whereas a large copper freestanding is usually around $2000. There are a multitude of different bathtubs available in between these two, so it is important to determine how much you are willing to pay for the bathtub itself. After that, we move on to installation cost. In general, this will comprise the bulk of the price point of installing a bathtub unless you chose to make it a DIY project. If not, you will need to hire a contractor, which, depending on the size and weight of your bathtub in addition to it’s complications in terms of install, you are looking at anywhere from $800-1500 extra. Your bathtub may also be on the heavy side, meaning extra reinforcement may need to be done to the floor to support your filled bathtub, driving your price ever higher. Lastly, keep in mind that additional features such as jets for air tubs and whirlpools will require ongoing maintenance which means future repairs down the road. In short, it is best to consult a professional before purchasing a bathtub for your home to avoid future headaches.

Weight

As size is perhaps the most important consideration, weight would be the second. Bathtubs in general are quite heavy objects, combine that with a plethora of materials required to make them, and you can easily have a bathtub that your bathroom can’t handle. For bathtubs on a second or higher story floor, if you choose materials such as cast iron or copper, you will need to have extra reinforcements built to make sure your bathtub does not fall through the floor. If you are unsure of what to do by yourself, consult a contractor or professional to learn about what additional work needs to be done in your bathroom.

Materials

The most common material on the market currently would be either Acrylic or Fiberglass, as they are perhaps the most affordable options. Fiberglass is the most affordable option, offering a material that is very lightweight but not especially durable, prone to scratching, chipping and the material is porous, meaning it will absorb water over time. Acrylic fixes many of these issues, giving you a material that is sturdier than fiberglass, non-porous and has decent heat retention.

After both acrylic and fiberglass would be Cast Iron and Steel. Cast iron is sturdy, durable and has perhaps one of the best heat retention of any material on the market but it is a great deal more expensive and it weighs significantly more than most other materials on the market. Steel is a more affordable alternative to cast iron, providing similar benefits bu it’s durability is slightly worse, allowing the material to chip easier than cast iron.

The remaining materials offered would be Wood, Marble, Copper and Cast Polymer.

Wood is a very attractive material with a great deal of character, but it’s very expensive as wood bathtubs will need to be custom built and it will eventually deteriorate over time. Marble is equally unique and comes in a wide array of colors and patterns but it will require heavy maintenance to keep its appearance vibrant. Copper is considered to be one of the best materials on the market due to its unique properties that patina and add more character to it’s look, but it is also one of the most expensive materials on the market for its unique properties. Lastly you have Cast polymer or Stone resin, which is made through a combination of natural stone and bonding resin, creating a look that imitates the look of natural stone while being much more affordable and easier to handle as it weighs significantly less.

Additional Bathtub Features to consider

Tub Lighting

Underwater lighting can help with chromatherapy and improve your overall bath experience

Speakers

Having speakers present can help to provide a more relaxing bathing experience as you listen to your own music and as an additional benefit, they are remarkably easy to install.

Custom Faucets

For those that want something a little different from their bathtub’s normal water output, custom faucets can add a more vintage or modern look to your bathtub, as well as change how you want the water to flow into your bathtub.

Digital Controls

Digital controls make your life easier, giving you easier access and control over features such as jets, lights, speakers and water flow, giving you more time to relax without worrying about setting everything just right.

Custom Engravings

To create a unique look to your bathtub, you can add in custom engravings to truly make it your own

ADA compliance

ADA compliant tubs are designed to help those with disabilities. If there are any elderly folks in your home or those with movement related disabilities, ADA compliant features include adding things such as hand holds and grips to your bathtubs, allowing them to bathe in safety.

Warranty

Bathtub installation can provide it’s own set of headaches and sometimes things just happen to go wrong in a few years. A good warranty can help to ease your mind about any problems that may pop up down the road.

Popular brands

With proper care, your bathtub can easily last a lifetime. To further ensure this, going with a reliable brand can help to find a quality bathtub that you’ll be satisfied with in the long run. Below are a list of top brands to help you decide.

American Standard

Considered to be a premier brand of bathtub, American Standard provides a huge range of options and positive feedback from a large customer base. Their bathtubs are praised for being affordable, easy to maintain and aesthetically pleasing.

Badeloft

A relative newcomer, Badeloft provides high quality stone resin bathtubs as well as other bath furnishings such as sinks and fixtures. Badeloft products have been reviewed as affordable, sturdy and pleasing on the eye.

Avano

Available in a wide range of styles, Avano bathtubs are built with an eye to aesthetics. Made from high quality material, Avano bathtubs are generally reviewed positively for being comfortable and beautiful.

OVE

A Canadian company built with the ideal of providing high quality bathtubs and home furnishings at a reasonable price. OVE bathtubs are built to be aesthetically pleasing and custom made for your needs.

Jacuzzi

An older company synonymous with hot tubs, Jacuzzi doesn’t just provide the comfort and fun of hot tubs, but offers a wide range of bathtubs of varying shapes and styles. Their bathtubs are known for being aesthetically pleasing comfortable, providing excellent heat retention and being constructed from high quality material.

Kaldewi

Kaldewi offers bathtubs in a large variety of shapes and styles. Touted for their excellent heat retention and durability, Kaldewei bathtubs are designed to last. Their measurements are a bit different than normal US bathtubs, so consider double checking their measurements to see if it is suitable for your home.

Kohler

A highly popular brand offering a wide array of home goods, Kohler provides bathtubs that are made from quality material, sturdy and are comfortable to use. With a wide selection of models, it would be hard press for you not to find something you like from Kohler.

Mirabelle

Mirabelle bathtubs are touted for being made of good quality material, comfortable to use and are aesthetically simple. If simplicity is what you are looking for, Mirabelle is a good place to turn.

Proflo

Proflo provides bathtubs that are a good value, easy to install and spacious. While their bathtubs may not have many of the extra features that the others offer, they still provide a solid and well made bathtub at a good value.

Toto

Toto has a sterling reputation for high quality products along a wide range of home goods, with their bathtubs matching the brand’s overall high reputation. Repeat customers praise them for their aesthetic, easy of use, good maintenance and overall high quality.

Buy Online or In Store?

As with anything, where you buy your bathtub will greatly affect affect the overall cost of your installation. There are both pros and cons on where you buy your bathtub so you should consider each option before buying.

Online:

Pros:

All inventory is available with real time updates on availability

  • Custom orders are possible/much easier online than in store, more options in terms of customization
  • Purchase can made from the convenience of your home

Cons:

  • Unable to test or sit in your bathtub until it arrives
  • Will be a wait where as in-store you will receive product day of.
  • Delivery and shipping costs drastically higher than in store delivery

In Store:

Pros:

  • You can sample product in store, get a feel for its size and look before purchase
  • You will receive the bathtub day of, instead of waiting for a delivery date
  • Cheaper than online purchase without the need for shipping and delivery costs

Con:

  • Not all stock is readily available
  • Limited options in terms of customization

When is the best time to buy a bathtub?

Typically, the best time to buy a new bathtub is when you are looking to remodel your bathroom. This way, you are already leveling or renovating your bathroom so the rest of your space is clean and empty, giving you the largest amount of room to install your bathtub without any danger of damaging the surrounds. Of course, you can still install a bathtub without renovating your entire bathroom, but keep in mind that it may not be as easy.

Buying a bathtub is a huge undertaking both in time and money. So consider the needs of your household carefully before purchasing one, measure your available space and decide on which material is right for you to ensure you find a bathtub that will last a lifetime.

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