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Buyer's Guide: Baths

Last Updated Feb 17, 2012 · Written by Rob Schneider

There's nothing more relaxing than a nice hot bath at the end of a long day. Considering its importance to our emotional well-being, though, it's surprising how little thought we put into the bathtub when building or renovating. While a standard, utilitarian bathtub may be all we need, having a bath that is aesthetically pleasing or has extra features makes bath time even better. This buyer's guide to baths is your introduction to some options in bathtubs you may not have thought of before.

Types of Baths

There are two basic types of baths: built-in and freestanding:
  • Built-in baths are also called drop-in baths because the tub is "dropped in" to a specially built cavity. Usually they are installed into a raised platform, but occasionally are installed at or near floor level. Corner baths have two finished sides, while alcove baths fit between a rear wall and an ceiling height alcove.
  • Freestanding baths were the original bath tubs. In the beginning, they were little more than oversized buckets designed to be used when needed and then put away. More permanent claw-foot baths were origally for royalty only, but as modern manufacturing methods brought them down in price, they came into common useage. For a time, freestanding baths went out of vogue, but they are back in style again, thanks to the twin trends of ultra modern and period styling.
Within these two basic bath types is a world of options. Built-in baths are ideal for bath-shower combinations with glass shower enclosures or spa baths that require hidden plumbing for water jets. Freestanding baths are a stylish and minimalistic alternative to built-ins. Because they do not require a framework, they take up less space than drop in baths and because they stand off the floor and have inwardly curving exteriors, they give the illusion of even greater spaciousness.

Things to Consider When Buying Baths

When looking for baths, start by asking yourself these 5 questions:
  • How often will the bath be used?
  • Why will I or my family use the bath?
  • How much space is available for a bathtub?
  • What style of bath will suit my bathroom design best?
  • How much does the bath cost?

If you have young children, you may want to look for a bath that makes bathing children as safe and easy as possible. If you are going to combine your bath and shower, don't forget to take the style and cost of your shower screen into consideration, too.  If the ultimate in relaxation is your goal, look into spa baths. If style is your number one priority, then check out the latest ranges of freestanding baths. You may even want to do this before you design the rest of your bathroom, because some freestanding baths are like modern sculptural works of art and you may want to make yours the centrepiece of your bathrroom.

Start by finding the ideal bath and then find out if you can afford it. You will probably discover that you can. For example, spa baths have come down in price dramatically over the years and those designer freestanding baths you see in interiors magazines do look great in multi-million dollar mansions, but don't cost a fortune to buy. Also remember that your bath is going to last as long as your home does, so over the years, it will give you far more service and pleasure than its initial cost.
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