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Bathtub Guide: How to choose the bathtub

Bathtubs have changed a lot in the past couple of years. Modern day’s bathtubs have features like vibrations, aroma, multiple heat waves, whirlpools and changing the color of water. Bathtub advantage is not limited to only give you a luxurious relaxing bath. But they are a good investment for your family’s health too. Water therapies are used for a long time to give therapeutic treatments. This therapy is used to relieve pain, reduce stress, improves flexibility and even relieving constipation.

Water therapy was used by Romans, Greeks, Swiss monks, Japanese, Indians, and Chinese throughout history. There is a variety of bathtubs available in the market. With so many options sometimes it can be confusing to choose the bathtub. That’s why we listed all the important points to keep in mind, so you can choose the bathtub like a pro.

Taking a bath in the bathtub is more than just getting clean. They are more like a relaxation area in the bathroom. A bathtub helps you to relax and refresh after a long day of work. If space in the bathroom is not a problem then we will definitely recommend you to consider having a bathtub.

In this post, we will tell you how to choose the bathtub. Some of the features to consider are the size of your bathroom, draining and plumbing location, selection of style and material, budget and return while reselling. The bathtub is not a small investment and it is worth to spend some time in research before choosing yours.

Most people face the problem of space while installing the bathtub. Before taking a final decision to purchase a particular type of tub, you must know whether your bathroom can accommodate it or not. You can choose bathtubs from different styles such as soaking tubs, whirlpool tubs, air tubs, walk-in tubs, and many more.

Size of bathtubs

Standard bathtubs are 60 inches (152 cm) in length and 30 to 32 inches (76 to 81 cm) in width. The depth varies depending on style. For common styles, it can be anywhere between 14 inches (35 cm) to 20 inches (50 cm).

You can go for other sizes according to your bathroom size and need. For example, taller people can opt for 66 inches in length. If you opt for the longer bathtub, make sure that it still fits within the measurements of the bathroom. It is better to measure the space and doorways. You have chalked out the drain outlet and need of some space for installation of a shower. You should also check the tub’s height. It should have a height from where you may easily step in without any problem. Hence, before buying a tub, not only try the size but also literally climb in, settle back, and imagine yourself soaking. In this process, you will find the answer whether it is the comfortable fit tub or not for you. Think about how you would like the bathtub to be installed within the bathroom area. Will it be an alcove style tub, free-standing, under-mounted, or drop-in, etc to fit there?

Bathtub features

Before you choose bathtub, consider the variety of different features in the bathtub. Whether you intend to go for a simple standard soaking tub (filled with water) or complete featured modern bathtub, with features like the whirlpool, air-bath, or combination tubs. You can also have features such as aroma, underwater lights, and music, digital controls and ADA compliant.

  • Whirlpool feature: This is the most common feature nowadays. In this multiple jets or single jet is installed with the walls of the tub. They help in relaxing tired muscle with the massage from the jet of water. You can have jets at the different position and different speed which help you in relaxing most.
  • Air bath feature: This is similar to whirlpool feature. Instead of water, air is used in this to give message action and relaxing you. Circulation of air is through tiny holes of jets or hoses to give the bubbly message. Air bath is less adjustable as their position is fixed. They are more easy to clean and more prone to problems like clogging.
  • Underwater lights: Chromotherapy is a therapeutic technique that involves the variety of colors to stimulate sensations from a brain. This feature involves led lights which are installed in bathtubs to improve your mood while having the bath. For example cool colors like blue help you to relax and give peace while having the bath. Whereas bright color helps you to enhance alertness.
  • Underwater vibrations: the Acoustic system is placed on the walls of the bathtub to experience vibrations through your body. You can choose music through your own playlist or default list to broadcast music underwater.
  • Aroma: In this feature, gentle aroma is scented while you are having the bath. This helps you to relax and get recharged. Tubs have built-in pumps which help to diffuse scented aroma of your choice in regular intervals.

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Types of bathtub based on installation

Installation is the key factor to consider when you choose the bathtub. The right choice of bathtub should be according to the configuration and design of your bathroom. Installation depends upon space and plumbing of your bathroom.

Alcove Tubs

Alcove bathtub is the most popular choice for small size bathrooms and affordable. Alcove bathtub is enclosed on three sides, except the fourth one which is the exposed side. They often have wall mounted faucets and are easily combined with a shower.

In Small homes with a single full bathroom, people often install alcove tub cum shower combination.  This type of tubs helps to maximize the size. This kind of tub can be installed into the small size bathroom very easily. You simply need to choose the size that will fit the best.

Alcove Bathtubs are available in the market in the small, medium and large size from 54 inches to 72 inches Long and 30 to 36 Inches wide and 15-20 inches height.

Since alcove is a space bounded bathtub by three walls and only one side is open, alcoves are installed easily in narrow bathrooms. There are many styles of alcove tub models available in the market. This is the easiest and affordable option if you are replacing your old bathtub.

Free Standing Bathtubs

Freestanding tubs are stand-alone tubs which are designed to be self-supported. Exterior faucets and drains act as the focal point and enhance the aesthetics. This choice of bathtubs is easy to install and can compliment vintage look very well. This choice of bathtubs requires more space while installation as compared to others.

In this angled freestanding tub, one end is higher than the other end.  Higher end provides support for neck and head as well as for body to feel relaxed in a hot water. We may find Angled tubs in various styles. You can go for traditional accessories or sleek take for modern looks. Oval Free Standing Tubes, Rectangle Free Stand Tubes, Pedestal Free Standing tubs, Clawfoot freestanding tubs, are other varieties of Free Standing Tubes.

Standard dimensions for a freestanding bathtub are:

  • Medium size freestanding bathtub: 60” long, 30” wide and 19” depth.
  • Small size freestanding bathtub: 55” long, 27” wide and 15” depth.
  • Large size freestanding bathtub: 72” long, 32” wide and 20” depth.

Walk-in Bathtubs

The walk-in Bathtubs are a great option as well as very popular among kids. They are also good for mobility issues, for senior residents and wheeled chair people.  A walk in bathtub is elevated higher, with a door on the side, which give you a way to walk in and sit in the bathtub and easily accessible. The handrails and grips are designed in such a way that keeps your head above the water and you easily get in and get out of the bathtub itself.

These tubs are also available in the market with the large, medium, small sizes but interestingly their water depth is more or less the same, around 30 inches. You are the best judge to purchase accordingly to your need and utilities. Each style of bathtub offers a wide variety of sizes to fit in your bath space.

Corner Bathtubs

This Bathtub is installed in corner of the bathroom to save space and well suited to small as well as large homes bathrooms. This bathtub has triangular or clover shape having two unfinished sides that fit up against walls and the front side is open finished side.  This bathtub is available in a large number of styles and design in the market.  Please take care if you choose the bathtub of this type, then all of them are not able to accommodate a shower.

Drop-in Bathtubs

They are also called platform bathtubs. These kinds of tubs are the just basic shell of the tub, which is placed into the frame. This frame can be the floor or a platform. This gives a bathroom clean look as all plumbing is concealed. This choice of tubs gives the deeper level of water and ideal for those who love to take a long soaking bath. This type of installation is more complicated and can cost higher than other types of installation.

Bathtubs Based on Materials used

Most modern bathtubs are made of thermoformed acrylic, porcelain enameled steel, fiberglass-reinforced polyester (FRP), porcelain enameled cast iron and Cast Polymer.

Cast iron bathtubs

This tub is made by molten iron which is molded into the desired bathtub shape and then coated with a surfaced porcelain enamel to produce a smooth surface.  This type of tub is certainly very strong, indestructible and resistant to all scratches & chips and able to retain water heat. But, on the other side, this tub is very heavy in weight and required a strong foundation. Installing of cast iron bathtubs requires some additional work in turn and additional costs also occur. Your bathroom may require additional supports to handle this weight.

A family with young children should consider a cast iron bathtub as it is almost indestructible and strong and also able to stand up against any abuse. Cleaning the tub is very easy.  By using cloth of a soft sponge with soap and water is sufficient to clean the tub.  A strong foundation for a cast iron tub is very important as the tubs are heavy and more so when filled with water.

Porcelaın enameled steel material

This type of tub is made of steel with several layers of porcelain or enamel coating. Enameled steel Bathtub is lighter weight than cast iron, it is long lasting, easy to clean, less expensive. On the other side, these tubs are often quite heavy in comparison to other materials tubs like Acrylic, available in the market and more prone to rusting and chipping.  The number of designs available in the market of this material is very limited.

AMERICAST is an exclusive, patented material used in American Standard bathtubs. It is American Standard’s unique patented process that fully bonds a high-quality porcelain surface with an enameling grade steel and a molded reinforcement composite backing. It is very good in appearance and strength.

Acrylic material bathtubs

Acrylic is a solid sheet of material which is molded in the appropriate bathtub shape. Acrylic tubs are manufactured from vacuum-formed acrylic sheets which are reinforced with fiberglass.  Acrylic tubs are easy to install and lightweight.

Acrylic is the most preferable choice of material nowadays. It becomes more popular because of its natural warmth, easy maintenance, and ability to be formed into soft contours, and design flexibility. They have long lasting colors, glossy surface, textures, durability and strength. Some types of acrylic like Lucite has proven to be a long-term durable material for bathtubs.

Acrylic can be maintained with regular cleanings using a mild, non-abrasive cleaner. Water lines can easily be wiped off with a soft cloth. This acrylic material is reinforced with fiberglass for its strength and for waterproof.

Therefore, Acrylic is strong and durable as well as easy to install, easy to clean and is versatile. Acrylic bathtub retains heat. These bathtubs are available in the market in various colors, styles, and design. The weight factor is also its plus point. An acrylic tub can weigh around 100 lbs, as compared to a cast iron tub which can weigh around 500 to 600 lbs.

In the cons side, the price of acrylic tubs is a moderate and little higher side but after using acrylic bathtubs people hardly notice this.

Fiberglass bathtubs

In the Fiberglass tub, a type of resin, shining material, known as “Gelcoat” is laid on the top of fiberglass. Beneath of fiberglass, reinforced polyester material is used for coating. In the pros side these tubs are lightweight, strong, flexible, low cost, can be easily repaired, and easy to install. On the other side, these tubs are porous nature and absorb water. They are brittle so prone to cracking as a result.

Composite material bathtubs

This material is made with a combination of two or more materials. In result, unique material is produced by this process. The manufacturer used plastic, resin and carbon fiber for this lightweight composite material for lightweight bathtubs so that this ideal material can be used for high rise apartment bathroom. For aesthetic appearance, the finished surface is smooth and glossy and covered with enamel. On the cons side, to maintain the shining or smooth surface and to avoid cracks or chips, careful maintenance and cleaning is the must.

Quartz bathtubs also are known as cultured solid surface tubs are made of crushing stones and adding liquid polyester resin for its strength and durability have gel coat coating for the smooth and strong surface.

Wood & Glass Bathtubs

Wood tubs are very costly and made up of preferred wood Western Cedar because of its wood grain beauty and durability. A wood tub holds warm water longer as it retains heat. The bathtub should be partially filled with water at all times, this will decrease the chances of wood shrinking which can result in water leakage.

The Japanese are fond of wood tubs as they believe the soul is cleansed and the body purified after a bath in wooden tubs.

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As you know by now, there are different types of bathtubs depending on style, installation option, features, and material. Below we wrote a small list which includes important factors to consider when you choose the bathtub.

  • Bath experience and bathtub style
  • Shower option
  • Features like aroma, lights, vibration
  • Whirlpool (water jet, air jet or combination)
  • Size and design of your bathroom
  • Your budget
  • Bathtub material and weight
  • Cost of return and other warranty