Rub-A-Dub-Dub, Here’s How to Choose a Bathtub
When you’re ready to upgrade your bathtub, choose the style, color, and features that will integrate smoothly with your existing bathroom. As you shop, you also need to think about your personal tastes, your home’s style, and the space you have available. Begin the research process of finding your ideal tub by learning about the variety of products that are available.
Choosing a Tub Type
After you know the size and shape you need, consider the various types of tubs. To pick the right type of tub, consider what type of functionality you need and what price you want to pay. Basic tubs are the least expensive and have few luxury features. Whirlpools and air baths have a higher price tag, but these types come with hardware to make your bath more relaxing. Below are some of the various types of tubs you can find.
Designed for relaxation, soaking tubs offer more depth than you can find with standard bathtubs. Soaking tubs can be stand-alone products, claw-foot models, or inset tubs. With insets, the design raises the tub above the floor and surrounds it with waterproof tile, marble, or other material.
Soaking tubs with more width or taller sides offer the most capacity to accommodate more water and larger people. Consider the height of people who will use the tub as well as how much slope you prefer to support your back.
Increasing the therapeutic value of the bath, whirlpools circulate water through strategically placed jets to create the kind of muscle stimulation you receive during a massage. To help you have an enjoyable bathing experience, most whirlpools have adjustable jets, which can allow you to reposition them as needed. While traditional and soaking tubs typically accommodate one person, two-person whirlpools are available. Additional features available for whirlpools include hand bars, raised seating, built-in neck pillows, a textured bottom to prevent slipping, and lumbar support.
Since they need a more advanced mechanical system to run, whirlpools often have a higher price than soaking tubs. You may need help from a professional during installation to ensure correct placement of pumps, hoses, and other equipment.
Unlike whirlpools that move water rapidly through jets, air baths produce thousands of bubbles that give you a light, effervescent sensation during a bath. With air baths, you get a relaxing experience, but you’ll find less direct muscle stimulation than you’ll get with a whirlpool. Air baths can also accommodate one or two people, depending on the size and shape of the tub itself.
If you’re having trouble choosing between an air bath and a whirlpool, you can find models available that include both features. Close your eyes as jets propel water on your back and countless bubbles create a soothing sensation across your entire body. With these combination tubs, you can enjoy the best of both experiences.
Selecting Your Tub’s Material
Manufacturers make tubs from a variety of materials. Opt for the material that meets your requirements for durability, weight, cost, and appearance.
Lightweight and glossy, acrylic is a type of plastic that’s ideal for making bathtubs. Even though acrylic can scratch more easily than some sturdier materials, these signs of wear are relatively easy to repair compared to tubs made of metal. Since acrylic is easy to form into different shapes, this material is a popular choice for air baths and whirlpools.
Tubs made of fiberglass-reinforced plastic (FRP) usually have a dazzling, shiny appearance thanks to a gelcoat. Thanks to this top coat, tubs made from FRP are easy to clean. Like acrylic, you can manipulate FRP into different shapes, making it ideal for whirlpools and air tubs. While fiberglass tubs handle wear similarly to acrylic, they are less durable. With the right amount of force, a single impact could cause lasting damage, such as a crack or deep scratch.
Although you may typically think of cast iron as a material used for cookware, cast iron can also be useful for bathtubs. Highly durable, cast-iron tubs usually have a porcelain enamel finish. Avoid abrasive cleaners and vigorous scrubbing since the coating can scratch.
When enamel wears away, the exposed cast iron may rust. Due to their heavy weight, cast-iron tubs need adequate support so that they don’t put undue stress on your flooring. Tubs made from cast iron typically hold heat better than tubs made of other materials, ensuring your bathwater stays hotter longer.
Tubs made of enamel-covered steel have a look that’s comparable to cast-iron tubs. However, steel tubs weigh less than their cast-iron counterparts. Thanks to their lighter weight, steel tubs may work better in bathroom remodeling projects than cast-iron models.
With enamel-covered steel tubs, the porcelain is easy to clean, but overzealous scouring can leave scrape marks. As with cast iron, exposed metal may rust, potentially compromising the tub’s integrity.
Several manufacturers have created proprietary composite materials used to make bathtubs. The composite material is usually the tub’s infrastructure, and an enamel covers the material. The goal with composite is to create a tub that’s durable and can keep in heat like cast iron, but weigh much less than cast iron.
Depending on the manufacturer, tubs made of composite materials can be one-third the weight of a cast-iron tub. This feature is a plus for homeowners who install their tubs on the second level of their homes.
Sometimes called cultured marble, this material consists of resins and marble. Covered with a topcoat, these tubs have a high-gloss, durable finish that doesn’t stain easily. Minor scratches are an easy fix with a buffer tool, but cracks typically can’t be repaired.
When shopping for a new bathtub, look for the model that brings together the features you want, the size you need, and the price you can afford. Once you find tubs that fit these criteria, you can pick your favorite from among the finalists.