QB FAQs: Whirlpool, Air Tub, or Soaker?

When you’re in the market for a new bathtub, the sheer number of choices can make your head spin. How does one come to a decision?

Here’s a tip: consult this handy bathtub-buying guide and stop worrying! We’re here to simplify your options and make it easy for you to figure out what you want and need.

Tub type

Soaker tub

We’ll start with the soaker; it’s the simplest (yet far from basic, and available in loads of shapes… maybe not so simple after all).

A soaker tub does just what its name suggests: provides you with a place to soak. These tubs are not equipped with any type of jets and are typically deep and/or contoured for a comfortable bathing experience.

Perlato Modena Freestanding Soaker Tub
Perlato Modena Freestanding Soaker Tub
MTI Addison Freestanding Soaker Tub
MTI Addison Freestanding Soaker Tub

Some prefer a classic clawfoot bath:

Barclay Brocton Cast Iron Roll-top Clawfoot Tub
Barclay Brocton Cast Iron Roll-top Clawfoot Tub

A slipper tub is shaped to allow one to recline comfortably while bathing (without craning your neck to keep it out of the water); double slipper tubs are raised on both ends.

Oceania Vienna Freestanding Slipper Tub
Oceania Vienna Freestanding Slipper Tub
MTI Juliet Freestanding Double Slipper Tub
MTI Juliet Freestanding Double Slipper Tub

The newly popular Japanese soaker tubs boast a smaller footprint with deep soaking capacity.

MTI Jasmine Japanese Soaker Tub
MTI Jasmine Japanese Soaker Tub

Whirlpool

A whirlpool tub forcefully emits air and water from jets for a deep-massaging hydrotherapy experience. It is designed to invigorate the body with high-pressure massage power. Whirlpool jets require regular light maintenance to prevent bacteria build-up. Many models are equipped with a self-cleaning function.

Aquatic Estate Collection Universal Oval Whirlpool Tub
Aquatic Estate Collection Universal Oval Whirlpool Tub

Air tub

An air tub uses millions of heated air bubbles to turn a bath into a gently effervescent, relaxing experience rather than the intense deep-tissue massage sensation provided by whirlpool tubs. They require less cleaning and maintenance than whirlpools; it is recommended that users run the jets once the bathtub is empty (or run the drying cycle) to dry them completely.

Duravit Starck Oval Freestanding Air Tub
Duravit Starck Oval Freestanding Air Tub

Combo tub

Can’t decide which type of jetted bathtub you’d rather have? Go with a combo, which allows you to choose air or whirlpool action depending on your mood.

MTI Kalia 3 Whirlpool-Air Combo Tub
MTI Kalia 3 Whirlpool-Air Combo Tub

Mount

Choose a freestanding tub if you have enough room for it and like the look; you can find them in every style, color, configuration, and material imaginable.

Perlato Roma Freestanding Soaker Tub
Perlato Roma Freestanding Soaker Tub
Native Trails NativeStone Avalon Freestanding Soaker Tub
Native Trails NativeStone Avalon Freestanding Soaker Tub
MTI Andrea Freestanding Soaker Tub
MTI Andrea Freestanding Soaker Tub
Aquatic Serenity Freestanding Copper Soaker Tub
Aquatic Serenity Freestanding Copper Soaker Tub
Slik Portfolio Freestanding Cast Iron Mirror Soaker Tub
Slik Portfolio Freestanding Cast Iron Mirror Soaker Tub

A corner tub may allow for more bathing room in some spaces, especially unusually-shaped bathrooms.

Hydro Systems Lara Corner Soaker Tub
Hydro Systems Lara Corner Soaker Tub

Drop-in tubs (also known as overmounts or deck mounts) are “dropped in” to a new or existing surround, while undermounts have a deck around the lip of the tub. Take your existing bathroom, your tastes, and your plans into account when you choose; if you are likely to change the tub in the near future, a drop-in will be easier to replace.

Neptune Elysee Drop-in Whirlpool Tub
Neptune Elysee Drop-in Whirlpool Tub

Many tubs may be mounted over or under. Here’s the same model shown in both mounts:

MTI New Yorker Air Tub (shown with both drop-in and undermount installations)
MTI New Yorker Air Tub (shown with both drop-in and undermount installations)

Take your lifestyle and needs into account when choosing your bathtub. Some points to consider:

  • If you enjoy soaking with a partner, opt for a two-person tub so there’s enough room for both of you.
  • If you prefer showers to baths and are working on a limited budget, choose a tub without all the bells and whistles or forgo it altogether (if you have one in another bathroom)
  • If you are a frequent bather and/or desire a spa-like experience, conversely, splurge: pick a full-featured model with the options that will most enhance your baths (aromatherapy, multimedia capabilities, lights, pillows…)
  • If you will be bathing children or pets in your tub, ensure that it is not too deep for you to reach them. A freestanding or drop-in bath may be your best option; with an undermount, you’ll have to lean over the deck to reach in. Save your back!
  • If your bathroom is not adequately heated, be sure that you have a tub door or curtain to keep the heat in while you soak. Who wants to be cold while bathing?
  • If you are planning on aging in place or have arthritis or other conditions that make it hard to climb into a bathtub, consider a walk-in tub. They are available in soaker, whirlpool, air, and combo configurations, with just as many options as most typical tubs.

Last, but most importantly: make sure to enjoy your new tub and the satisfaction that comes with making a well-informed decision!

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