Buying Guide

Buying Guide for Bathtubs

Bathing is a relaxing and a hygiene necessity for all of us. While showers predominate as bathing utilities, bathtubs have been favoured for a variety of reasons. After a hard week in the office, an unwinding weekend in the bath tub for a hot soaking bath with incense and salts is simply irresistible. A relaxed wash in the bathtub reduces stress and is truly invigorating. However, it is important for us to know the essentials as a buying guide for bathtubs.

Types of Bathtub

There are a number of types of bathtubs available in the market to suit the size of the bathroom, size and weight of persons likely to use the bathtub, material of the tub and plumbing needs, which include faucets, drainage and bathing position. Some of the types are:

Recessed and Corner tubs: Recessed tubs are also referred to as alcove tubs and are the most common type. These usually abut walls on both ends and one edge. This configuration is highly space efficient and a shower can be easily incorporated. They usually have wall mounted faucets too. Corner tubs, typically, are designed to be placed in a corner and may or may not incorporate a shower. Recessed tubs are more affordable and a cheaper option.

Freestanding tubs: These tubs come in variety of designs giving a classy look and often have a sloped back for greater comfort. They are versatile in terms of placement in the bathroom and are easy to install.

Platform or Drop –In tubs: These tubs are costlier and are slight time-consuming to install. Platform tubs do not have finished panels and are dropped into a platform or sunk into the ground and thus can be set in a variety of bathroom styles. They also have integral faucet ledges built-in. By design, they occupy comparatively larger space, but are easy to clean and maintain.

Other styles: There are other types of tubs which are specialised in use, ie free standing tubs, which do not require walls and can stand anywhere in the bathroom, much like Roman tubs, Jet tubs, which have whirlpool jets built-in for a water massage

Bathtub Materials

There are a number of materials of bathtubs available in the market. Your choice depends on the frequency of use and style preference. Some of the materials used are:

Acrylic bathtub: It is lightweight, resistant to abrasions and offers a wide choice of shapes and sizes. It primarily uses acrylic and reinforced with fibreglass with metal reinforcements. It is tough and durable. It is also expensive than other materials.

Fiberglass bathtub: This is economical, lightweight but does not retain heat well enough. In this fibreglass with a layer of polyester gel coat is used and comes in many styles and shapes. It has an attractive gloss finish and is also the most popular. However, do watch out for the consistency of the gel coat over the entire tub surface.

Cultured marble bathtub: It is the most stylish of the lot and is expensive. It is a made of crushed limestone and polyester resin with gel-coat finish, giving it a rich and luxurious feel. It requires more maintenance and installation is difficult. It is also reported to scratch easily.

Cast Polymer bathtub: It has the look of stone, typically onyx, though made of polymer and given a gel coat. It also retains heat well.

Enamelled cast Iron bathtub: This is the most durable and is solid in construction. It is heavy (about 300 lbs) and may need floor reinforcing. It is moulded cast iron and has enamel finish. It is also expensive.

Enamelled steel bathtub: This is the least expensive, but is noisy when in use. It is made of moulded steel with enamel sprayed on it.

Installation of Bathtub

There are some parameters to be considered before you go shopping for a bathtub.

These are:

  • How much space is available and the style preference you have
  • Location of the drain and plumbing requirements
  • Decor and design to complement your bathroom ambience.
  • Material and budgets available.
  • Maintainenece requirements.
  • Remodelling or overhauling of bathroom needs

However, before purchasing the bath tub do check out the tub by lying inside the tub and test its suitability, select the colour and ensure matching of the drain setting (left or right) as per your bathroom settings. Also do remember, that bathtubs have long lives and therefore the style and features you desire are present. Also do consider, if you wish to use the tub to bathe your pets which will determine the material of the tub.

As a tip, larger bathtubs are well suited for sitting and soaking, while smaller ones are for normal baths. Standard tubs have inside sizes of 5 feet by 30 inches wide and 14 to 16 inches high. The exterior sizes are larger, so do check out the sizes in relation to the space in your bathroom, especially for a recessed type of installation. Normally, tubs are designed for only one individual.

Safety Features

In case there are senior citizens or someone with special needs or disabilities in the family, then select tubs compliant to the disabilities act. These have features of grab bars and some special accessories. Ask for them specifically, while enquiring prior to purchase.

Additional Features

There are additional features, which you may consider while buying the bathtub. These could be Bathtub liners, which are usually made of acrylic and work best over old cast iron tubs.

There are some niche bathtub styles available, such as Roman tubs or bathing pools which are larger in size and deeper too with a filter spout. These are ideal for soaking. Japanese tubs are similar, but yet deeper than Roman tubs. Greek bathtubs are akin to Japanese designs yet occupying lesser space.

So, while embarking on a bathtub purchase, do refer to the guide above and make a pleasurable and well informed choice. Choose the design, style and material of the tub with care and ensure a smart purchase for yourself and your family.