Finding the perfect tub won’t be difficult once you know and understand what you are looking for. By keeping your goals in mind, starting at the beginning and working your way toward the end you will ultimately enjoy your perfect tub, and be glad for all the time and effort you invested into selecting it. As you begin your search you will see that most manufacturers allow you to customize their tubs by offering a variety of upgrades and features. This guide will help to eliminate the confusion and will assist you in purchasing and creating a tub custom fit to your specific needs and desires.
With all the choices available, finding the tub that best suits you may take some time, but it is not something you want to do very often. You want to make an informed decision and make certain that your purchase will be something that will last you for years.
We have prepared a guide to assist you in your quest. Follow these steps to work through the many decisions that will come your way.
Size & Style Requirements- Firstly, you have to measure and figure out what size, installation style and shape the tub must be in order to fit the allotted space and design requirements.
Size: Depending on the bathroom you are purchasing the tub for, you may have different specifications that you will need. If the tub is going in a master suite, you may want it to be a more luxurious, deeper tub and maybe even wider to accommodate two bathers. If it will be in a bathroom used by many bathers you want the tub to be simple to clean and maintain. If young children will be using the tub, you do not want the tub to be too deep, so that you don’t have to strain when bathing the kids.
Keep in mind that even if two tubs have the same dimensions, the actual bathing well (inside of the tub) can be different in size and shape. A larger person is more comfortable in a deeper tub and shorter people, children or those with disabilities may be more comfortable in a shallower tub.
Installation: You may want the tub to be under-mounted, dropped in, or recessed. It can be placed in the corner of a bathroom or as a freestanding anywhere in the bathroom. The installation type you need will depend on the area in your bathroom that you want the tub placed and the type of tub you decide to purchase.
- Under mount installation-a custom deck is built around the tub and the bath edge is mounted beneath the deck material and is therefore invisible.
- Drop-in (Podium) – the tub needs to be supported on all sides by a frame. It has a finished rim and is designed to drop into a deck or custom platform. The lip or edge of the tub will then be exposed and visible. Sometimes the tub controls or faucet can be placed on this edge. Recessed/alcove- the tub has one finished side showing, and is bordered on the other three sides by bathroom walls.
Some tubs can be installed in a few different ways but many have specific installation requirements. For example, a tub may be able to be installed as an under mount or drop in if it has a flat edge that can either sit under a deck or on top. You may have to specify when ordering the tub how you will want to install it. A corner tub can be built with a deck around it and may be able to be under mounted or dropped in.
Shape & Style:
- Corner Tub- a corner tub is designed to fit into the corner of a room. It is triangular and usually has only one of its sides finished because the other two are against walls. Corner tubs are great to use in a smaller bathroom or in an oddly shaped older bathroom or in a room with a large alcove. Corner tubs can also create a nice focal point. If there is a deck around the tub it can be used to add décor features or interesting faucets to spice up the bathroom.
- Free Standing Tub- a freestanding tub will be finished on all sides and can be installed anywhere in the bathroom. Some freestanding tubs have claw feet or an optional pedestal base on which the tub can sit. Whether you select an antique, traditional or very modern style you can create a very powerful design statement with a freestanding tub.
- Walk-In Tub- The walk in tub is designed to provide individuals with a safer, more convenient and comfortable bathing experience. Walk in baths are typically intended to suit those with mobility challenges such as the elderly or people with physical handicaps. The walk in tub features a door through which you enter or exit the bathtub so that you don’t have to climb or lower yourself to bathe. It usually also includes a bench in the tub on which the bather can sit.
The size of the tub and the shape you choose will depend on the space available in the bathroom. Measure the room carefully.
Drain & Faucet: At this point in the decision process you should also see if the area will require the drain to be on a specific end of the tub (left or right handed) or if it needs to be a center drain. This will depend on the plumbing in the bathroom and where you want the faucet to be located. You don’t want to bump into the faucet or drain when you enter or exit the tub, so you will want to take the entry location into consideration.
Important Tip! If you are doing a renovation, make sure to measure and ensure that the new tub you choose will fit into the house and through all doorways.
Color and Material- Your next step will be deciding the color and material of the tub. Keep in mind that the weight of the tub varies according to material used, so one has to ensure their bathroom can handle the weight of the tub, including once it’s filled.
- Acrylic is a useful clear plastic that resembles glass. The acrylic sheets are heated and softened and then poured over a tub mold in order to create the desired shape. It is a very popular choice amongst today’s consumers. It is available in many choices of styles, colors and sizes. It is lightweight and will hold heat well if properly insulated.
- Fiberglass is another lightweight option but it doesn’t hold heat well, can scratch and fade and is not as durable as acrylic.
- Stone tubs are on the high end scale of tub materials. They will lend a contemporary custom look to the bathroom. They are very heavy, but they do retain heat well.
- Cast iron has a very substantial look. It is durable, retains heat well, and is available in a wide variety of colors. Cast iron tubs are very heavy. Ensure that the bathroom floor can handle the weight of the tub when filled.
- Brass and Copper tubs have a very traditional almost old world look and they can be purchased as a beautiful high quality freestanding soaker or air tub. The material retains heat well.
Important Tip! It would be a good idea for you to run your selection by a qualified contractor. You want to insure that the bathroom you are constructing or renovating will have an adequate electrical supply and hot water tank as well as that the tub will be able to be installed correctly in the designated space.
On To The Fun Part:
Your next step will be the most fun! You now get to choose which type of tub system you will prefer. There are four different tub systems, a soaker, whirlpool, air tub and whirlpool/air combination. Each system will create a different experience for the user.
The Four Types of Tubs:
- Soaker refers to a standard basic bathtub without any jets. An additional feature to some soaker tubs is that they are deeper and allow the bathers body to be fully submerged in water.
- The Whirlpool has a pump which mixes air with bathwater and forces it out the jets, creating massaging bubbles, designed to massage and invigorate the body. This system will provide a targeted deep tissue massage, and will help relieve tension, joint ailments and sore and tired muscles.
- In an Air tub system air is sent through tiny air holes, creating a bubble effect. The system will provide a gentle, full-body soothing experience. Oils and bath salts can be used with this system for an effervescent and relaxing experience.
- The combination tub allows the user to benefit from both the whirlpool and air system simultaneously or one at a time.
The main differences between a whirlpool and air tub:
- Whirlpool will have a massaging and therapeutic effect. An air tub will give the bather a “bubble bath” and relaxing experience
- Whirlpools have special cleaning needs, because water stays in the pipes after a tub is turned off, creating a bacteria build up. Tubs can be purchased with special cleaning systems designed to clean the jets after bath usage. When using an air tub there is no bacteria build up and most air tubs come with an automatic purge system which is a system used to dry the air holes.
- A whirlpool will require more space than an air tub because the whirlpool has a pump that needs to be installed with it and the air tub has a blower that blows the air through the holes, which can be remotely mounted and placed in a nearby closet or vanity (as long as allowed by the manufacturer).
Make sure that you will have access to reach the pump in case you need to make any repairs and that you do not plan on tiling over the area where the whirlpool pump is located.
The Small (important) Details:
Nitty Gritties: by now you have made all the major decisions regarding your tub- congratulations! There are still a few different things that you will require to operate your tub, but the tub manufacturers do not include. Make sure to go through these options and purchase them.
Tub Stopper- Every tub will require a stopper in the bottom of the tub that can be closed to hold the water in the tub and opened to release the water. This stopper is typically called a drain because it is connected to the pipe that removes the water from the tub. Most manufacturers do not include the stopper in the cost of the tub and the consumer is required to select a drain. The drain is connected to the overflow at the top of the tub. The overflow is a hole close to the top of the tub. If water reaches the overflow location, the water will enter the overflow hole and drain out of the tub through the pipes, preventing flooding. When you order the drain it will include a cover for the overflow hole. Some manufacturers offer a few different types of drains in a variety of colors. If a manufacturer does not offer a drain color that you like, a generic drain can usually be ordered for you. A freestanding bath tub may need a specific drain.
Three basic drain types:
- Lift and turn- When using a Lift and Turn drain you place your hand in to the bath tub and turn the drain to plug or release the water.
- Cable driven- A Cable Driven uses a lever mechanism by the overflow to operate the drain.
- Toe tap- With a toe tap drain you push up or down to open or close.
Tub Filler- Tubs do not include tub fillers. You need to select the tub filler based on the area you want to install the faucet. Decide if the faucet will be installed on the deck of the tub, or on the surrounding deck, on the wall or as a floor mount faucet mounted on the floor next to the tub. Each filler type is available in many styles and colors. Make sure to measure that the spout will have an accurate reach into the tub based on the location of the faucet. Tubs do not have pre drilled faucet holes, but many tub lips have room for you to drill the holes according to your requirements.
Making It Perfect:
There are a few things that may be necessary for you to add to the tub in order to give you optimum use. All of these will be considered add-ons by the manufacturer.
Whirlpool Cleaning System: If you have decided to purchase a whirlpool check to see that it includes a cleaning system. If a whirlpool tub does not have a cleaning system bacteria and scum will build up in the jets. If the system is not included with the tub then it can be added to the tub as an upgrade. The cleaning systems from varying brands operate differently but the purpose and effect is the same.
Tub Heater: If you are going to sit in your tub for longer than a few minutes you will want to add a heater to the tub in order to maintain the heat of the water, otherwise the water will get cold and you will have to keep releasing some cool water from the tub and adding hot water. If you are purchasing a whirlpool you can add a heater which functions in tandem with the whirlpool jets, maintaining the heat of the water as it runs through the jets. Nowadays, some manufacturers offer heating systems that can maintain the heat of an air tub or soaker. Heating systems on an air tub or whirlpool will not heat the water, only maintain the temperature.
Grab Bar: Grab bars assist the bather in entering and exiting the tub. It is a handle like bar on the inside wall of the tub made of metal or acrylic. Some people may not want to have a grab bar and some may want it on either one or two of the inside walls of the tub. Grab bars may be integrated into the build of the tub or may be available as an upgrade for the tub, depending on the tub model.
Tile Flange: If the tub is installed against a wall a tile flange (a thin piece of acrylic) should be placed on the lip of the tub behind the tile in order to prevent water damage to the bathroom walls. Some tubs will include an integral tile flange. On other tubs you need to specify to the manufacturer which sides will require a tile flange and on others you can buy a tile flange and install it on site.
Textured Bottom: Some companies include a textured bottom in the tub. The textured bottom adds texture to the bottom of the bathing well so that the base is not so smooth and slippery. In most cases a textured bottom is offered as an upgrade when purchasing a bathtub. If you will be using the tub as a shower as well you may want to add a textured bottom to prevent slipping while showering.
Bathing In Style:
Tubs can be upgraded to provide a very luxurious and relaxing atmosphere to unwind and enjoy. Enhancements such as lighting and aromatherapy will enhance your bathing experience.
Lighting: Lighting can be added as an upgrade to a tub. Lighting such as Chromatherapy lighting will enhance your bathing experience. Chromatherapy is the use of colors to create a therapeutic experience. Different people associate different colors with various moods. When adding the Chromatherapy Light feature to your tub, you will be able to select from the available colored lights and bathe in the colored water. You will then be surrounding yourself in a color that relaxes you.
Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy can be defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to promote the health of body, mind and spirit. Aromatherapy can help a person relax, perk up or feel better. The aromatherapy feature can be added to an air tub. You add oils into the tub or the special oil chamber of the tub and the aroma will be diffused to the bather.
Jet Personalization: On some whirlpool tubs the jets may be changed to larger or smaller jets and sometimes additional jets can be ordered with the tub. The jet locations can sometimes be specified by the user, to target and massage the desired areas. Jet finishes can usually be chosen and upgraded to a metal finish such as chrome or brushed nickel instead of the standard color match to the tub.
Tub Pillow: A water proof pillow can be purchased for added relaxation and comfort to the bather. Some companies will offer jetted pillows for an even greater massage feature.
Wow, you’ve gone through the whole process to choose your perfect tub. Hope you found this guide helpful. We wish you a very pleasant bathing experience.