Bathtubs have come a long way, baby. Where once, the only choice was a built in tub/shower or a claw foot tub, today there are endless choices for both built-ins and freestanding tubs. If you're remodeling your bathroom or simply replacing your tub, it's a grand time for tub shopping.
“When deciding to renovate a home, one of the things many people decide they want is a new high-end tub or shower," says Jason Larson, president and founder of Lars Remodeling & Design in San Diego.
Freestanding, all-encompassing tubs are today's bathroom focal point with exposed curves and a furniture-like feel. They can be placed anywhere in a room, even in the center. A stand-alone tub with an exterior faucet from the wall or floor can provide both function and a desirable design aesthetic. The Weymouth Chrome Two Handle Tub Filler, for example, lends an elegant Victorian statement with a refined spout and porcelain inlays to any freestanding bathtub. And Roman Tub faucets like the Wynford Chrome Two-Handle Diverter Roman Tub Faucet, even include a hand shower—both handy and attractive on today's tubs.
Freestanding tubs are easy to install, especially during a bathroom remodel. However, they can be heavier than other tubs, especially when filled, so you must make sure the floor can support the weight or be retrofitted with floor supports. One consideration is the age of the homeowners. “They may need to sit down and bring their legs over, rather than step in (or out)" says Leslie Saul, AIA, NCIDQ, LEED AP BD+C, of Leslie Saul & Associates Architecture and Interiors. A freestanding tub with wide top ledges may be necessary.
Moen also offers bath safety products that are American Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant such as the Moen Homecare Brushed Nickel 36" Designer Grab Bar.
Built-ins or drop-in tubs, must be installed against a wall or tub surround but are no longer restricted to the utilitarian unattractive tubs of yesteryear with tiled surrounds, sleek fixtures and larger models. Installation works well in even the smallest bathrooms. “Built-ins are surrounded by pretty much any kind of tile or solid surface material to give it any look you want," says Bruce Graf, CR, CAPS, CKBR of Graf Developments, exclusive interior renovations.
Which tub type is best for you depends on a number of factors including how you'll use the tub, cost, preference, space availability and bathroom design impact.
Who's in the tub?
Before you decide on a bathtub consider how your tub will be used. Is there just one person who likes to bathe, do they prefer long quiet soaks, or jet action relaxation? “The epitome of the spa-like experience for many people is the jetted tub," says Larson. Will the kids bathe here or will Max the family dog need his bath in this tub as well?
“Old fashioned claw footed tubs are great for little kids. They have plenty of room to splash, and the bottom is elevated, making it easier for the adult to help the child in or out," says Saul.
Consider your space
Most bathrooms can accommodate a traditional drop-in tub. If you're remodeling or have an open floor plan, you may be able to go with a freestanding model such as a claw-foot tub. “This classic look is appealing from a design standpoint," says Larson. "Claw foot tubs are roomy and comfortable. This style is ideal in many bathrooms where other designs won't fit. Determine where your bathtub will be located, figure out your space constraints by speaking with your contractor or installer and decide on your style.
Try tubs on for size
When you actually shop for tubs, and you should, try them on for size. Selecting your tub isn't something you should leave up to a contractor or design professional. A soaker tub, for instance, may be large and take a lot of water to fill. Some things to look for when you hop in:
- How's the height and slope of the backrest?
- Can you stretch your legs all the way out?
- Does the tub seem too small or too large?
- Can you fit two adults, if that's important?
- Would your whole body fit underwater if it's a soaker tub?
- Can you enter and exit safely and easily?
Consider the material
Tubs come in a variety of materials from inexpensive to high end. Certain material may even retain water temperature longer. The least expensive tub material is typically fiberglass, which is lightweight, easy to install but prone to scratches and cracks. Acrylic tubs, popular today, can scratch or discolor over time but newer models tend to be more resistant. Porcelain is heavy but durable against scratches. Cast-iron, the heaviest tub, may last a lifetime but costs more. Resistant to chipping and scratching, it may retain heat longer than other materials, but could be prone to additional installation fees and floor support issues.
Cultured marble looks elegant and high end and comes in many colors and styles. The cost lies between acrylic and cast iron tubs. When shopping for tub material, also consider the color of the bathtub as it relates to the rest of your bathroom's design. Tubs come in varying shades of white, grey, cream or even bright colors.
Whichever tub you choose, it should be a reflection of your bathroom design, your tastes and style, your budget and the preferences of the people who love to take a bath.