Just as with other household fixtures, the options for the best types of bathtubs you can install have grown immensely. Special styles for small bathrooms, elegant free-standing tubs and unique wooden tubs are just some of the kinds to consider when upgrading or remodeling the bathroom. So which kind of bathtub to choose? Personal style, the size of the bathroom and budget are some major considerations. Beyond that, all sorts of bells and whistles are available to make your bathing experience as special as you can afford. Music, lights, novel shapes and colors are just some of the special features available. Whether you’re looking for a slightly-better-than-basic tub or a real bathing adventure, there are certainly plenty to choose from.
The first thing you need to decide is what type of tub you really want and need. Is it for adults to use for leisurely, relaxing soaks? Will it have to accommodate small children who need assistance meaning that parents will need to lean over the tub’s edge frequently? Does it need to do double duty and accommodate a shower head? Here are the basic types:
Alcove tubs are designed to fit into a recessed area — an alcove — in the bathroom. This means that three sides of the tub will be unfinished because they will be facing the walls. This type of tub is often used in combination with a shower fixture and the addition of a sliding door or shower curtain. It’s one of the most common styles installed today, especially in standard new construction.
Drop-in bathtubs are not finished on any of the sides and are meant to be “dropped in” to a frame or other type of tub surround. The part around the tub can have tiling, concrete, wood or any other finish you choose. The rim around the top edge of the tub attaches to the top of the frame and is visible from the outside, unless you choose the option for an undermount.
Freestanding tubs became popular when indoor plumbing first became available. They don’t have to be installed in an alcove or against a wall. In fact, they are often positioned by a window or in the center of the room because they are such a major focal point. Of course, the bathroom has to be large enough to accommodate this type of bathtub and the floor might have to be reinforced to support the weight of the tub, the water and the people inside it.
Clawfoot tubs are a vintage design type of freestanding tub that focuses on the details of the feet that support it. The same ball and claw design that was popular on furniture made its way into the bathroom and onto the tub. Always associated with luxury and elegance, a clawfoot tub makes bathing a special experience. Modern designs combine technical materials advances with the vintage look. These types of tubs became popular in the late 1800s after originating in Europe.
Water jetted tubs can be therapeutic for both mind and body. Fitted with jets that circulate the water at various levels of intensity, these types of tubs can turn bathing into a true spa experience, as well as alleviate aches and pains. Popular in both fitted and freestanding styles, the installation of these tubs is a little more involved and the noise can be a drawback for some people.
Corner bathtubs are typically manufactured as drop-in or alcove models; however, new freestanding styles are starting to appear on the market as well. Corner tubs are a great option when space is at a premium or you are confined to a predetermined bathroom size and layout. In larger bathrooms, corner tubs that accommodate more than one person are also an option.
Best Alcove Bathtub
Far more stylish than the typical alcove tub, Kohler’s Archer bath looks like a high-end soaking tub. The angular architectural design of the interior is very attractive and the sides are actually a low step-over height that allows you to get in and out of the tub with ease. Although it is a smaller size, it offers the same experience as a deeper soaking tub.
The size of the tub is 60″L x 32″W x 19″H and it includes a slotted overflow that allows you to fill the water to the same level as a standard 20 to 21-inch tall bath, despite the lower step-in height. The back of the tub is comfortably slanted, allowing you to relax and enjoy a soaking experience.
- Easy to get in and out yet enjoy full-depth water in the tub.
- More stylish look.
- Installation is straightforward.
- Soaking tub experience in a smaller bathtub style.
- Among the more affordable options.
- Must fit into a defined space with walls on three sides.
- Feels more closed in than some other bathtub styles.
- Few options are available for the types of materials used.
- If plumbing problems arise, repairs will require cutting into the wall.
Best Drop-in Bathtub
Another extra-deep, super-relaxing option is America Standard’s Evolution tub, which can be installed as a drop-in but also has an undermount option. The styling is rectangular and it is a real soaking tub thanks to its 32-inch depth, perfect for real bath lovers. The tub is made from durable acrylic with fiberglass reinforcement and included armrests that are molded into the tub interior. The deck edge on this tub is 3.25″ wide on both long sides.
Available in white or Arctic, the Evolution tub is ideal for a casual bathroom decor style.
- Easy installation.
- Comes with a pre-leveled bottom.
- Can be used with a shower fixture.
- Requires the purchase of a separate Deep Soak Max drain that allows three additional inches of water.
- Has no textured bottom to prevent slipping.
- Plumbing repairs require cutting into the surround.
Best Freestanding Bathtub
It’s no surprise that freestanding tubs are trending and because they are the most stylish and elegant option. While many models can be very pricey, the Woodbridge Freestanding Contemporary Tub is affordable as well as very attractive. The size is ample but it still fits in a variety of spaces.
This Woodbridge bathtub is crafted from easy-to-clean high gloss Lucite acrylic and reinforced with resin and fiberglass. Measuring 59″ long x 29 1/2″ wide x 23 1/4″ deep, the tub has a sloping interior that fits bodily curves making it very comfortable. The tub can sit on a pedestal or directly on the floor according to your bathroom design and preference.
- It has an anti-leak drain and pipe system that is easy to install.
- The package includes the overflow, available m brushed nickel or stainless steel.
- They can be installed anywhere in the bathroom.
- It’s the most beautiful tub style available.
- Freestanding tubs likely will require new plumbing because of their nonstandard placement.
- No storage space within reach of the tub.
- It might be too large for your bathroom.
Best Clawfoot Bathtub
The epitome of luxurious bathing, this clawfoot tub has the added flair of a slipper design that makes it look even more elegant and gives it a historic, royal air. Fitted with ball and claw feet done in brushed nickel or polished chrome, the tub is made from Acrylicast, which is an acrylic that has been reinforced with a hardened composite and lightweight fiberglass for extra durability and a glossy scratch-resistant surface.
With a 44-gallon capacity, the tub is designed for relaxing baths. The dimensions are 60″ Length x 30″ Width x 29″ Height, which means it’s plenty wide for luxuriating in deep water. The slipper design makes the backrest super comfortable, and the side walls have been straightened out to allow for an extra 2 inches of room where the tush hits the tub.
- Elegant and stylish vintage design.
- Comfortable and deep enough for long soaks
- Excellent durability at a great price
- Drain and overflow hardware is included
- Slipper style sacrifices some interior tub space
- Higher cost than some other styles
- Extra cleaning required under and around the tub
Best Water Jetted Bathtub
Popular for decades, water jetted tubs provide the relaxation and relief many people crave. This freestanding model from Whirlpool offers up the modern style of a freestanding tub combined with all the personal luxury of hydrotherapy. The tub’s 10 adjustable jets create a combination of water flow and well as air bubbles to create a massage that is comfortable but also powerful enough to relax sore muscles.
At 71 inches long and a water capacity of 60 gallons, this tub is bigger than many other models of freestanding tubs. (Its full dimensions are 71″ long x 31 1/2″ wide x 29 1/8″ high.) Whirlpool’s tub is also fully constructed from fiberglass that is finished with an acrylic topcoat that ensures it is durable and easy to clean. Even better, it has two layers of acrylic that help keep the water temperature at your desired level for a longer period.
- Stainless steel sanitary full-draining jets
- Underwater mood lamp adds to the atmosphere
- Overflow and drain are pre-installed in the factory
- Pop up drain is located in the middle of the tub, which can accidentally be triggered.
- Despite the fact it is larger than others, the slope means that it can still be a tight squeeze for very tall people.
Roomy and comfortable, the tub is built for a leisurely and restorative bathing experience.View Deal
Best Corner Bathtub
If a hot tub is not possible or desirable, this corner bathtub solves a design challenge and also provides the luxury of your own deep-tissue massage tub. Crafted specifically to fit into a corner, this two-person tub has 10 strategically located jets that powerfully heat and propel the water out, giving you a rejuvenating hydro massage.
Crafted from glossy white acrylic the dimensions of the stand-alone tub are 59 in. long x 59 in. W=wide x 28 in. high. This means that it has plenty of room for both people and for stretching out and relaxing, especially with its lumbar arch support. Because this tub is designed to fit right into a corner, it does not require any special construction or a surround.
- Doesn’t require a surround as it fits into any corner.
- A factory-installed heater keeps water at the optimum temperature
- The tub is roomy and the soaking depth is great.
- Designed only for corner installation.
- Cannot be used with a full tub surround.
Best Wooden Bathtub
Of course, not everyone wants a modern tub and for those who prefer a more rustic tub, the ALFI Freestanding Cedar Tub is a great choice. It has a natural, earthy look thanks to the raw wood that makes up the tub. The solid cedar tub is reinforced for stability by three electroplated iron wraps that are finished in black and gold for a rustic accent.
While no special cleaning products are required, the tub must be rinsed after each use to preserve the finish. Since the tub is crafted from real cedar, it is designed for regular use and if not, it should be left at least on-thirds full, otherwise, the wood can crack or split as it dries out.
- Installation is very simple.
- Comes with a free wooden hanging basket for bathing necessities.
- Pop-up chrome drain is included, along with a tub filler and hand-held shower head.
- The tub is narrow and although it is labeled as large enough for two, it is most comfortable for one.
- The chrome hardware can be at odds with rustic decor.
- Headrests are not particularly comfortable.
Jetted bathtubs are still amazingly popular and the technology has come a long way from the models first available in the 1980s. Designs are sleek and there’s a size to fit virtually any bathroom. Do your homework before purchasing to make sure that you choose a tub that will work for the particular bathroom you are remodeling as well as for your family’s needs. Chosen well, this type of tub can provide decades of spa-like relaxation in your own home.