Choosing a Bathtub: 5 Tips To Help

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stylish bathtub tiled bathroom

Choosing a bathtub is a crucial decision when it comes to bathroom design. But, it’s also a question of comfort, too. Here are some thoughts on getting the balance right.


For some of us, a bathtub is refuge from a cruel world. It’s a port in the storm. For respite at the end of a tough day, a soak in a great bathtub can make all the difference in your resilience, so does the kind of tub really matter? It sure does.

From enamel chips to heat retention and even volumes of water used, there’s a lot to consider with choosing a bathtub. Choose a wide tub and you’re looking at using 10%, 20%, or even 30% more water time after time to fill it. What havoc might that wreak on your water bill? Living in a cold climate and picking a charming cast iron clawfoot tub might lead to those hot baths getting lukewarm fast.

5 Tips for Choosing a Bathtub

Measure Your Space

You’re limited by the space you have. It might be wise to use our floor plan creator to see what different layouts in your bathroom can give you for bathtub space. You’ll need an idea for the length and width of the tub, and once you have these numbers, you can exclude a lot of options. A tub smaller than the space you have will allow you to build in a ledge or fit in a towel-warming rack or other nice attributes to make your space feel more complete.

The larger your space, the more options you’ll have. You could have an alcove-style bathtub, maybe a beautiful freestanding bathtub, a large soaker tub. Make sure your space can handle a tub of the size and weight you’re looking at, especially when it’s filled with all that water and a human too.

bathtub and tile bathtub surround
The space for your bathtub helps to create important design context. Here, the bath is surrounded by waterproof porcelain tile that provides practicality, but also some pretty stylish visual context, too.

Know Your Budget but Aim High

Spending beyond your budget sucks, and we know this, but buying a cheap tub because it’s all you can afford now is something that could really haunt you later. Replacing a bathtub isn’t like buying a new sofa.

It can involve destroying rows and rows of tiles, damaging marble slabs, creating costly floor repairs, and worse. Replacing your tub in a few years is not an option you should leave on the table because it’s almost guaranteed to cost more than you think in the long run. It’s far better to hold off for a couple months now if it means buying a higher-quality bathtub likely to last potentially years longer.

Get In the Tub

There are no one-size fits-all tubs out there. Make sure your bathtub fits the folks who’ll use it most. There are all kinds of features you need to know whether you want. Armrests, for instance, aren’t important to everyone and can get in the way for some folks.

Us big-bottomed women don’t want tubs that curve up on a generous slope on the sides, whereas slimmer people might like that feeling of being cradled. A back slope can be a wonderful thing, if you like lying in the tub to read a book, but if you’re a “deep soaker,” the backrest might not be to your fancy. Length is important. I personally enjoy my feet pressing against the end wall of the tub, but maybe you don’t.

wood floor in bathroom with tub
Putting your chosen tub into a stylish context is as important as finding the right one. Here, the tub is surrounded by water-resistant vinyl planks which doubles as flooring, of course.

Do It Yourself

Don’t even think about letting a contractor or someone else pick out a bathtub without you having a say in it. You absolutely must “test-drive” your tub to see if this critical home therapy system is up to your liking.

Consider All the Styles

From deep-seated tubs to wide bathtubs to claw-foot and jetted Whirlpool soaker tubs, there’s a whole world of bathtubs, and brands, to choose from. If you think that these baths every week can be the difference between you feeling relaxed and content with life versus wanting to lash out and rage at people, then maybe investing even more in your tub and getting massaging jets will be worth the splurge. There’s no sense in considering this if you can’t leave adequate space for future repairs in case the system goes on the blink someday, though.

But Wait, There’s More!

Beyond all these points, there’s the finish materials too. We’ll talk more about selecting a bathtub later, when we can debate finishes like acrylic and European enameled steel and much more.

There are a lot of areas in your home where you can always do an upgrade later, but when you’re picking your bathtub, this isn’t something you should replace in a decade. In fact, expectancy guides say that quality tubs, even if they’re a whirlpool tub, should start at 20 years of life and work up past 100 years of life expectancy. So, choose carefully, pick a color you can live with for a long, long time, and make sure it’s a quality product you’ll love to soak in for decades to come.

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Steffani Cameron

Steffani Cameron is a Victoria BC-based writer on a variety of topics. Here on the BuildDirect blog, she specializes in writing about smaller, urban spaces. How do you make the most of your smaller space? How do you decorate it to suit you? And how do you wage the war against clutter and win? This is Steff’s specialty.