23 February / 2018
How To Choose A Bathtub: Get A Superior Soak
A bathtub is a huge part of a bathroom upgrade. Before choosing a brand, think about the Who, What, and How, as in: Who will be using the tub. What type works best for you, and How it changes your space’s layout. We’ll fill you in on the Where and Why too. Answer these questions and you’ll be in hot water in no time. In a good way.
WHY A FREESTANDING TUB?
As the name suggests, freestanding tubs, unlike standard or alcove tubs, are visible from every angle, often times in the middle of your bathroom, with minimal floor contact. Because they are not against a wall, freestanding tubs open up your space, lending it an airy, contemporary feel.
WHAT’S YOUR TUB TYPE?
The place to start when weighing tub options is the material they’re constructed from. None is better than the other it just depends on how you’ll be using it: Quick shower? Relaxing all afternoon? A little of both? Whatever it is, the material characteristics listed below will guide your decision.
1. Acrylic – Most important, acrylic tubs heat up fast, always something to consider in winter time, cold climate, or early morning when it’s coldest. Notable for its extreme lightness which makes installation or subsequent removal/repositioning easier.
2. Cast Iron – Cast iron tubs traditionally came with feet but now there are all kinds of styles in this material. Cast iron is known as a superior insulation material so water temperature stays consistent for extended periods. Their porcelain surface, sometimes referred to as enamel, lends a luxurious feel and the surface is stain-resistant and easy to clean.
3. Solid Surface – Like acrylic, solid surface tubs are a synthetic compound whose benefits include excellent temperature insulation, durability and, most uniquely, a repairable surface that lets you buff out scratches or abrasions.
If you do go with a freestanding model, do you want a soaker, a single or double slipper, pedestal or something else?
Then you need to think about shape, water capacity, and overall dimensions. If you’re fantasizing about afternoon-long baths, you want to make sure length and water depth are sufficient. Some tubs’ drains are located at one end or in the center, so make sure this isn’t an issue. Some come without overflows for a continuous smooth surface. Just make sure you don’t fill them too high.
Slipper tubs have a classic elegant look and are designed specifically for leisurely baths. A double slipper lets you recline from either direction which is doubly nice. Circular tubs avoid the directional question problem altogether.
Already know your type? Then consider whether you want shower and tub combined, whirlpool capability (air- or water-jet?), or other feature.
Pedestal tubs save your back if you’re bathing kids. They offer more safety when lowering yourself into a tub, but a full ADA-compliant tub will be walk-in style.
Even though alcove tubs are what’s considered a “standard tub,” that doesn’t mean they can’t be beautiful. Alcoves can be undermount or drop–in style for a more sophisticated look.
Some alcoves are referred to as corner tubs, nestling against two walls instead of the usual three giving you the openness of a freestanding tub with easier installation. Corner tubs are very designer, and the price will reflect this.
WHEN SHOULD I DO THIS?
No time like the present but in general the following developments can trigger a new tub purchase. 1) Repurposing your bathroom from everyday hygienic function into a restful retreat. 2) As your family grows. 3) There are cracks or damage in your current tub. And if there are plumbing issues, now is the time to upgrade since you will be disconnecting/fixing/adding pipes anyway.
PLACEMENT: WHERE INSIDE THE BATHROOM IS BEST?
Converting from a wall-mount or alcove to any kind of freestanding tub requires plumbing modification. If the tub is going to be the center of your bathroom, the pipes need to reach your drain which, unless you’re a serious DIYer, you’ll need to hire a contractor for. Don’t forget that tub filler and faucet handles will also be freestanding and require pipe extension or some form of adaptive plumbing.
Some tubs come with a flexible tube to attach to the drain, a huge labor savor that eliminates the need for rerouting pipes or additional plumbing if a direct install is not possible.
HOW TO (FREE)STAND OUT: GET CREATIVE
Looks are not as critical as tub type and placement, but it’s still important. A minimalist acrylic tub in a traditional bathroom might look strange. Conversely, wouldn’t an Imperial-style clawfoot tub in a spa-style space ruin the Zen vibe?
Choose from shapes that are squat and high-walled or elongated and rounded-edged; soft and curvaceous to austere and angular; or any permutation thereof. There are hybrid designs in which the tub fits into a wooden frame. Or skirted tubs if you want to rock a two-tone look.
Besides the three tub materials outlined at the beginning of this post, there are more exotic ones for those with specific tastes:
Copper. A great choice as far as insulation and warm metallic finish but it is expensive. And heavy.
Bamboo. For an all-natural look. It’s cheap, earth-friendly, durable, and waterproof.
Concrete. The rough texture, and utilitarian vibe of these tubs have gotten increasingly popular among homeowners desiring something practical and simple, especially in modern lofts or baths with industrial themes.
Marble. From Italy’s famed carrara to Spanish varieties including nero marquina and crema marfil, marble lends your space a glamorous aura. The downside is that it can be prohibitively expensive. It is also prone to cracking.
IT’S SO WORTH IT
Besides the immediate benefits of a more relaxing and beautiful bathroom, a tub update pays less tangible dividends. Guests will envy you, and you’ve potentially added to your home’s value. Think about that as you soak your troubles away.
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