Buying a new bathtub is a great way to reinvent your bathroom space. It’s functional and stylish, and can even improve the value of your home. Your bathroom is one of the most highly-trafficked rooms on a property, but unfortunately, it doesn’t often get treated as such—with that in mind, now is a better time than ever to give your bathroom a much-needed upgrade. But like most things, making a decision when it comes to larger investments like a new bathtub isn’t always a walk in the park. Here’s what you need to consider when it comes to buying a new bathtub:
Tub Style & Shape
Your tub’s shape and style should both match your personal style, preference, and the bathroom space (and plumbing setup). To get a better feel for a tub’s comfortability, it helps to visit showrooms where you can hop in a bathroom and see how it feels. Always visit a showroom with measurements on hand. Of course, the space available in your current bathroom will dictate your buying options. But on that note, if you do have a bit of extra wiggle room, you might even consider a less conventional shape, like a soaking bathtub or oval freestanding tub. Here are a few tub styles for consideration:
Freestanding tubs are becoming increasingly popular, as they don’t require connecting walls and can make your bathroom highly aesthetically pleasing. You can also opt for an angled freestanding tub, which provides optimal back support because it’s angled at an upward slope at sits at the nape of the neck when leaned back. This is the perfect way to enjoy a relaxing tub. Additionally, freestanding tubs are easily compatible with many bathroom accessories that take bathing to a spa-like level.
An alcove tub is very popular with smaller properties. In this case, alcove refers to the section of the bathroom where the tub is intended to fit perfectly. You’ll find this type of tub in many modern homes and apartments. They don’t take up too much space, and are great for a tub/shower combo.
Drop-in tubs (also called undermount) are made to look uniform in any bathroom. With this style, the tub is essentially “dropped” into a frame (called a surround). There’s plenty of versatility with this option; for example, your surround can have more space for accessories around the rim, or fit perfectly to the tub itself. You can also outfit drop-in tubs with powered jets.
Soaking tubs tend to come in oval/circular shapes and are designed to allow individuals to comfortable soak for longer periods of time. Because of this, they are taller than traditional tubs, although they do come in a variety of sizes. Their primary intent is relaxation, so they can hold more water than other types of tubs. This is ideal for a prime spa experience.
A clawfoot bathtub is a classic, and although there were standard decades ago, they have become more modernized and mainstream today. In the 19th century, they were made from cast iron and porcelain, but today, they can be made from acrylic, fiberglass, and many other materials. As an added benefit, with a hand shower, it’s much easier to clean and maintain than other types of tubs.
Bathtub Material & Weight
The materials your inner surface and core are made of are very important. Weight is important because the load capacity of the floor needs to be able to support it. If your tub is bigger (and can therefore hold more water in a tub) or heavier depending on the material, then you may need additional framing support depending on your current setup.
In terms of material, fiberglass allows the interior of the tub to be hollow—which reduces the weight. Fiberglass is comprised of reinforced plastic sheets; typically this is the cheapest option.
You can also opt for acrylic, which is made with a combo of materials and reinforced with fiberglass, this material is cost-efficient and works will with drop-in and freestanding styles). High-end luxury tubs may be much heavier and made out of natural stone, copper, or marble, while less expensive and sturdy options might include materials like metal and enamel.
Because you’ll be spending so much time in the tub, it’s crucial that it feels like you and that you enjoy the way that material feels against your skin. You also need to consider maintenance and durability. For example, while ceramic is a beautiful tub style, it may require more maintenance many years down the line if it begins to crumble.
Installation & Plumbing
Drain and pipe placement are integral to a smooth tub installation. Ideally, you can work with your existing drain and pipe placement to fit your ideal tub, but this isn’t always the case. However, it could add a couple hundred more to your final installation bill. If you’re looking to renovate to sell your property, certain upgrades may not have a great return. But if you want to renovate for yourself, a better bathroom that you can enjoy will be well worth it, and you may recoup those costs when and if you do sell later down the line.
As previously mentioned, some styles and sizes will make installation a bit more difficult—and costly as well. Drop-in and alcove tubs tend to be easier to install, but if you have the space for a fell in love with a different style, you shouldn’t let small installation difficulties deter you. However, for heavier tubs and tubs that require you to alter your plumbing, it’s always best to work with a professional. Even when the instructions seem clear, professional installation can help prevent damage (like leaking) later down the line.