6 Expert Tips To Choose A Bathtub

Bathtubs are meant to be a place of comfort and relaxation – even though shopping for one can have you dizzy from all the options. With a few important questions as guiding posts, you can decide on a bathtub that fits your needs and looks great in your bathroom. Check out the seven tips below for a flawless bathtub-buying experience.

Table of Contents [Hide]

What are the different types of bathtubs?

  • Freestanding

This bathtub style is sculpted to stand alone. It is placed onto a solid base or cradle, not requiring a wall to settle against. This bathtub tends to be larger and heavier than other styles, but the upside is you can place it anywhere in your bathroom, giving you some extra freedom when decorating your washroom space.

Glossy White Acrylic Freestanding Soaking Bathtub
White Acrylic Freestanding Soaking Bathtub
Matte White Solid Surface Freestanding Soaking Bathtub
White Fiberglass Acrylic Freestanding Soaking Bathtub
White Chrome Acrylic Freestanding Soaking Bathtub
Biscuit Acrylic Freestanding Air Bathtub
  • 3-Wall Alcove

This is a tub-shower combination that is meant to make the best use of available space. It can be tucked into a tight space, with the unfinished ends usually landing against an exterior wall. This bathtub style is often joined by a wall-mounted shower to complete the tub-shower look.

White Cast Iron Alcove Soaking Bathtub
White Acrylic Alcove Soaking Bathtub
White Acrylic Alcove Air Bathtub
Polished Chrome Acrylic Alcove Soaking Bathtub
Bone Acrylic Alcove Soaking Bathtub
White Acrylic Combination Alcove Bathtub
  • Corner

This bathtub style is designed to be tucked neatly into a corner. They are installed by being dropped in and generally require two walls for support. This bathtub helps you save space in your bathroom while allowing for significant water depth that creates a good space for bathing.

White Fiberglass AcrylicCorner Whirlpool Bathtub
Glossy Acrylic Freestanding Corner Whirlpool Bathtub
White Acrylic Corner Whirlpool Bathtub
White Acrylic Chromatherapy Corner Whirlpool Bathtub
Fiberglass Acrylic Pedestal Corner Bathtub
Acrylic Rectangular Corner Air Bathtub
  • Drop-In

This is a more common bathtub style – it’s designed to be “dropped in” to an already carved out location. This style makes installation easy and saves space, which is especially important if your bathroom is in a tight room. This style of bathtub generally requires a wall or other structure to be anchored to, so you will likely be limited when arranging your bathroom.

White Acrylic Drop In Whirlpool Bathtub
Plastic White Drop In Whirlpool Bathtub
Square Acrylic Drop In Air Bathtub
Fiberglass Acrylic White Drop In Soaking Bathtub
White Fiberglass Acrylic Combination Drop In Whirlpool Bathtub
Acrylic Rectangular Center Drop In Soaking Bathtub
  • Clawfoot

This is a great bathtub for soaking – great for environments that boast a historical feel, such as vintage and Victorian homes. Some clawfoot bathtub designs include a high back that allows for support of the head and neck during soaking. Perfect for when you’re seeking luxurious bathtub experiences.

Red Acrylic Freestanding Clawfoot Soaking Bathtub
Polished Chrome Cast Iron Oval Clawfoot Bathtub
Black Cast Iron Oval Clawfoot Bathtub
Scorched Platimum Cast Iron Clawfoot Soaking Bathtub
White High Gloss Acrylic Clawfoot Soaking Bathtub
White Acrylic Clawfoot Soaking Bathtub
  • Whirlpool

When you want to add a little intensity to your baths, consider a bathtub with jets. Whirlpool bathtubs are equipped with jets placed around the interior of the tub that infuse your bath with pressured water to massage tired muscles.

Acrylic Rectangular Undermount Whirlpool Bathtub
Glossy White Oval Acrylic Freestanding Whirlpool Bathtub
Center Acrylic Chromatherapy Whirlpool Bathtub
Acrylic Chromatherapy Lighting Whirlpool Bathtub
Roll Top Acrylic Freestanding Whirlpool Bathtub
Oval Acrylic Drop In Whirlpool Bathtub

What Is the best kind of bathtub to get?

The best kind of bathtub for you is dependent on several factors.

How will you be using your bathtub?

If you don’t have must-haves in mind, like jets, headrests, or grab bars, you will likely be able to make do with a simple, moderately priced bathtub style. However, if you’re looking for a luxurious soaking experience or require additional support, like slip resistant flooring, you will need to choose a bathtub that includes your must-have features.

How much space do you have to work with?

Don’t get ahead of yourself without first measuring the space where your bathtub will be placed – don’t forget to measure doorways as well! Also, be sure to note the placement of the drain to choose a bathtub that not only fits but aligns with the draining system. Once you have these basic pieces of information jotted down, you can move forward with looking for a bathtub that fits your specifications.

Consider any installation requirements.

Certain bathtub styles will require specialized installation. Drop-in styles are the easiest to install, however, if you’re splurging and going for a jetted tub, consider that you will require a pump, air switch, and electric timer. Think ahead to installation when shopping for your perfect bathtub and you won’t be caught off guard when it’s time to install.

Is your water heater equipped for the bathtub you want?

Bathtub sizes affect your water bill. Baths generally use 2/3 hot water and 1/3 cold water so be sure to consider what you will be demanding of your water heater tank. Your water heater should be large enough to comfortably fill your new bathtub with 2/3 warm water.

Consider the weight of the bathtub.

Some tubs, like acrylic and fiberglass tubs, are relatively lightweight and can be easily installed in second and third floors. However, some bathtubs, like cast-iron tubs, can weigh as much as 1,000 lbs. When filled with water, the weight will increase. First floors may be better suited for heavier bathtub models.

Is the bathtub comfortable during use?

This may just be one of the most important factors to consider. So, get in the bathtub model you’re considering and settle back to envision your perfectly drawn bath. If you can’t quite get comfortable, move on to a model that will better envelop you.

What important features do bathtubs have?

  • ADA compliance

If you or someone within your household is disabled, it’s imperative you install an ADA compliant bathtub. These tubs include safety features, like non-slip floor surfaces, grab bars, and wider edges that allow for comfortable entry into the tub. A walk-in tub may be the best choice if you or someone in your home has limited mobility.

  • Music

Some tubs are equipped with speaker panels that offer a palpable experience of your preferred tunes. Sounds from the speakers travel through the water, which make it so you can feel the vibrations on your skin.

  • Digital controls

A built-in touch pad makes it easy to control your bathtub’s features. Want to turn on the jets? Change the temperature? Change the music or turn lights on and off? This digital feature will come in super handy.

  • Chromatherapy

Some bathtubs have LED lights that sit underwater, providing you with an illuminated soaking experience. Choose calming colors, like blues and purples for a relaxing bath.

  • Jets and bubbles

This is the ultimate bathtub model for when you require ongoing support to soothe tired muscles. Additional features of jetted tubs include in-line heaters that keep your bathwater warm, silent motor technology to promote a peaceful environment, and foot massage jets that are perfectly placed atop underwater footrests.

The two basic types of jets are air jets and water jets. The basic difference between the two is that air-jet tubs are self-drying, which means they can remove stagnant water from pipes and limit the risk of pathogen growth. For this reason, they are recommended to people who are not going to use the tub frequently.

What are the different materials bathtubs are made of?

  • Plastic

Plastic is made with either acrylic or fiberglass and is a great material that insulates well, meaning it’ll trap the heat of your bath longer. You will find a wide variety of colors with these materials and they are also the most cost-effective option. If you want to step into a store and walk out with your new tub, you’ll find that this bathtub type is readily available at most home improvement stores.

Brushed Nickel Fiberglass Acrylic Freestanding Soaking Bathtub
White Trim Acrylic Freestanding Soaking Bathtub
Polished Chrome Acrylic Freestanding Soaking Bathtub
Glossy Black Acrylic Freestanding Soaking Bathtub
Acrylic Slipper Freestanding Soaking Bathtub
Acrylic Polished Chrome Oval Freestanding Soaking Bathtub
  • Enameled steel

This bathtub material is reasonably priced and carries with it a reputation for being tough – this means it’s extremely resistant to staining and scratch marks. However, color is limited with this material so you may have to trade a specific aesthetic appeal to gain the durability this bathtub material offers.

Fiberglass Enameled Steel Walk In Bathtub
White Enameled Steel Freestanding Soaking Bathtub
Enameled Steel Porcelain Alcove Soaking Bathtub
Enameled Steel Rectangular Drop In Soaking Bathtub
Alpine White Enameled Steel Freestanding Soaking Bathtub
Enameled Steel Double Seat Corner Whirlpool Bathtub
  • Cast-Iron

Heavy cast-iron is ideal when you love a hot bath. It traps heat longer than other materials, keeping your bathwater warmer longer. This is a significantly heavier material, so be sure to have some good muscle on hand. Expect to pay a reasonable cost, comparable to acrylic and enameled steel.

Black Exterior Cast Iron Freestanding Oval Bath
Cast Iron Double Ended Skirted Freestanding Soaking Bathtub
Stainless Steel White Cast Iron Freestanding Soaking Bathtub
Faux Copper Bronze Cast Iron Clawfoot Soaking Bathtub
Cast Iron Oval Soaking Bathtub
White Interior Cast Iron Soaking Bathtub
  • Porcelain

These bathtubs are constructed using a mix of materials, including steel, glass, and iron. They are then coated with porcelain enamel and are temperature fired to protect the newly applied porcelain coating. Porcelain is resistant to scratching, but requires very gentle cleaning agents.

Porcelain Enameled Steel Whirlpool Soaking Bathtub
Porcelain Polished Chrome Freestanding Soaking Bathtub
Bronze Cast Iron Porcelain Freestanding Soaking Bathtub
White Cast Iron Porcelain Clawfoot Soaking Bathtub
Oval Cast Iron Porcelain Freestanding Soaking Bathtub
Glossy Porcelain Finish Soaking Bathtub
  • Copper

Copper is an envy-worthy material that pairs well with luxury interior design. Expect to spend a pretty penny with this material; but also, expect to have guests gawk at its standalone beauty. Mold-resistant, rust-proof, and antibacterial.

Antique Copper Freestanding Soaking Bathtub
Oil Rubbed Bronze Japanese Style Copper Bathtub
Antique Recycled Copper Freestanding Soaking Bathtub
Antique Hammered Copper Soaking Bathtub
Gauge Pure Solid Copper Freestanding Soaking Bathtub
Hammered Copper Double Whirlpool Slipper Bathtub
  • Stone and wood

Natural rocks, like limestone and travertine make beautiful bathtubs. So do woods like mahogany and walnut. These materials work perfectly for freestanding tubs, so the overall aesthetic can be appreciated from every angle. Expect to invest a significant amount when choosing these materials. As may be expected, neither option is your best bet if the tub will be exposed to tough treatment.

Stone Resin Hand Painted Freestanding Soaking Bathtub
Graffiti Hand Painted Stone Resin Freestanding Soaking Bathtub
High Grade Stone Resin Freestanding Soaking Bathtub
Concrete Oval Freestanding Soaking Bathtub
Ash Concrete Freestanding Soaking Bathtub
Natural Wood Freestanding Soaking Bathtub

What is better — porcelain or acrylic tubs?

Each of these bathtub materials has pros and cons. Consider how much each of the following factors will influence your decision.

  • Durability

Although porcelain is a harder material than acrylic, it could be chipped by a hard blow. However, porcelain is resistant to scratching. Consider porcelain if you’ll be using your bathtub to wash your four-legged furry friends but remain mindful of any hard impacts that could damage the tub. Acrylic is not as scratch resistant as porcelain, but it can be buffed with a baking soda paste to reduce the appearance of scratches.

  • Ease of Cleaning

Acrylic is tough enough to handle different chemicals, changing temperatures, and even direct sunlight. Usually, you’ll only need to use some mild, nonabrasive cleansers. Avoid using scouring powders, as these will erode the tub’s surface. If this happens, soapy residue and dirt will get trapped, creating stains that are hard to get rid of. Porcelain also does well with mild detergents – avoid using any acids on porcelain as they can damage the porcelain polish.

  • Heat Retention

Acrylic tubs are better at holding heat. Porcelain tubs will feel colder and will lose the heat from your drawn bath more quickly, unless they are insulated with foam.

  • Restoration

When an acrylic tub loses its high gloss finish, it could be restored by buffing the surface. If the finish has been damaged, fine sanding may do the trick; however, for more severe cases, professional restoration is the best route. When a porcelain tub is damaged, it can be refinished via the application of porcelain enamel. There are DIY kits for this, so you may be able to bypass professional assistance. However, you’ll likely find that paying a professional yields a better result.

How to choose a bathtub that complements my interior décor?

  • You will find plastic drop-in bathtubs to be the most versatile, as they easily complement any interior design style, from traditional to coastal. Even bohemian styles can welcome plastic drop-in tubs, as you can customize the color to match your vibrant aesthetic.
  • Stone, wood, and copper tubs fit rustic and industrial interior designs well, either deepening the darker colors of this aesthetic or offering an accent, like with copper.
  • For shabby chic, vintage, and Victorian styles, a freestanding clawfoot bathtub is an ideal choice to bring a luxurious feel into the space. So long as you have enough space to house a stand-alone tub, you can choose to take your baths settled comfortably into a tub that supports your neck as you soak.
  • When your preference for specific features supersedes your desire to perfectly match your bathtub to your décor, go all out with a jetted bathtub so you can sink into relaxation while your muscles and feet receive a well-deserved massage.
  • When you find your bathtub failing to perfectly match your interior design, just dress it up. Plants, wall art, candles, and a bath caddy can quickly transform a bland tub into a customized tub that reflects your tastes.

There are tons of bathtub styles to choose from, it’s true, but when you know what you’re looking for, you get to choose from a narrowed down list. While some features may sound attractive, you’ll have to decide if they’re worth the extra investment. If you’re going for the most common and moderately priced options, remember that so long as it’s comfortable, you are bound to enjoy it. Plus, with a couple of interior design touches, you can increase the aesthetic appeal and have a transformed bathroom you’ll love.

Lily is a modern designer with great appreciation for sleek architecture, a love for art in its many forms, and a passion for sharing her experience with people. If you’re looking for advice on how to modernize your old-fashioned place or make your new restaurant a visual blast, she’s definitely the one to ask.