Choosing a bathtub
today isn't as easy as it used to be. With everything from budget tubs to designer spas to choose from, it can be a very difficult decision. It's worth making a careful, informed decision, though, because you're going to be using your bathtub for a long time. Wouldn't you rather enjoy your bath than just "have a bath"?
Your first considerations when choosing a bathtub should be practical ones, so ask yourself a few questions:
- Are you doing a complete bathroom renovation or just replacing your bathtub?
- How much space do you have for your bathtub?
- What is your bathtub budget?
If you're doing a complete renovation, you will have the greatest number of options, but if you're just replacing your existing bathtub and are willing to do some minor renovations as well, you'll be surprised by how many options you still have. Even if you have limited space or are on a tight budget, if you choose carefully, you can still have a luxurious bathtub that you will love to use.
Five types of materials are most commonly used in bathtub construction:
1. Cast Iron
: The classic bathtub, enamelled cast iron still has a lot of advantages. The cast iron retains heat better than any other material and although not the cheapest, enamelled tubs are both affordable and very durable. They are subject to chipping, but bathtub resurfacing services are very economical, so that is not as much of a consideration as it used to be.
2. Cast polymer
: (sometimes called composite) These are catching on as an alternative to cast iron. Made from a mixture of ground marble, fibre reinforcing materials and polymer resins, they retain heat even better than cast iron and are much lighter in weight as well. The finish on them is a gel coating similar to that used on fibreglass and has the same disadvantages of being slippery and not as scratch resistant as acrylic.
3. Enamelled steel
: These bathtubs look and feel much like cast iron tubs, but have the advantage of being much lighter in weight. If support for your bathtub is an issue, enamelled steel may be a viable alternative. Enamelled steel tubs don't retain heat as well as cast iron and tend to be noisier, so if the weight of the tub is your major worry, then you might want to consider another lightweight alternative.
These bathtubs are the most economical solution. They come in a wide variety of shapes and configurations and are extremely lightweight. On the downside, fibreglass bathtubs aren't as durable as some others and their polyester gel coating can become very slippery.
: These bathtubs are a popular alternative to fibreglass. They are more expensive than fibreglass, but are more durable and retain heat better. You need to be careful with them, though, because they stain more easily than other types of materials.
At the top end of the market are stone, metal and timber bathtubs. If you're looking for something elegant and unusual, take a look at these, but be prepared to pay more for them.
Choosing a Bathtub
There are three types of bathtubs to choose from:
1. Built-in tubs are installed inside of a (usually) tiled framework. They are often considered "standard" bathtubs because they are the most commonly used.
2. Free standing bathtubs were once the only type of bathtub available, but went out of vogue when cheaper built-ins became available. They are back in style, though, thanks to the stunning variety of styles designers have come up with.
3. Spa bathtubs (or Jacuzzis) have massage and whirlpool jets built into them. Because of all the plumbing, they are almost always built-in. If you're looking for luxury in your master bathroom, you can't do better than a spa tub.
There are several variations on these types of bathtubs as well:
- A "drop-in" tub is installed below floor level, allowing it to be much lower than a standard built-in.
- A corner tub is a space-saving alternative to the traditional rectangular bathtub.
- If you're renovating and can take a little more space from an adjoining room, a recessed tub built between one long and two short walls can feel like a cosy, relaxing private nook.
If there is not enough space for a separate shower and bathtub, enclose the tub in a shower screen and install a shower head.
Whatever type of bathtub you choose, ergonomics should play a part in your decision. If it is designed well, even a relatively small bathtub can be very comfortable. Also take into consideration ease of access. If there are any special needs in your household, think about including steps and/or sturdy handrails to make access easier and safer.
Finally, there is a wide selection of colours to choose from. White is the classic favourite and is usually a safe choice, but you may want to choose a colour that complements the colour scheme of your bathroom instead.
Still confused? Why not check out some bathroom design ideas
in our photo gallery? You'll be able to see all the incredible styles of bathtubs that are on the market today and how they work in different settings. While you're there, create an inspiration board and you're sure to come up with some great ideas of your own.