Whether you’re remodeling your bathroom or building a custom home, choosing the right bathtub can mean the difference between a relaxing sanctuary and a stark, cold cell. Your bathtub is more than just a functional space to wash; it’s a soothing space for you to reflect and rejuvenate. It can also act as a stunning focal point in your bathroom. That’s why manufacturers produce a wide variety of styles, features, shapes, and sizes to fit your individual needs.
If you’re changing up your bathroom space, or creating one from scratch, the options are seemingly endless. Here’s what you’ll need to know to make the decision. Average costs below do not reflect the cost of faucets, carpentry and tile for drop-in or corner, etc.
The alcove tub-shower combination is the most common style and is meant to maximize space. They have only one finished side, are sandwiched within a typical three-sided alcove, and generally have a wall-mounted shower. Since they are most popular, they are also most affordable, running from about $300 to $2,000.
Drop-in tubs are exactly what they sound like. They are installed within a fitted enclosure in the floor or on a platform and convey the feeling of a swimming pool. They are supported on all sides by the rim and feature simplified looks and minimal design. The cost is typically between $800 and $2,000.
The corner bathtub is a variant of the alcove design blended with the drop-in design. They fit snugly in the corner of a bathroom, so they typically do not take up much space. They are an excellent option for smaller or oddly-shaped bathrooms. The cost runs anywhere from $800 for a basic model and up.
The freestanding bathtub is the most unique and usually the most expensive. They occupy a space of their own and tend to act as the visual centerpiece of the bathroom. These tubs feature a sculpted bathing bowl on a solid base or cradle, with or without feet, and stand completely on their own. Prices start around $1,000.
Once you decide on a bathtub type, you must choose your material. Different materials offer different benefits at distinct price points. Some types and styles are not available in certain materials, however.
Most bathtubs are made of acrylic because it is lightweight, easy to install, and resistant to chipping, cracking and staining. Tons of color options are available and repairs are a breeze.
Fiberglass gelcoat or fiberglass-reinforced plastic (FRP) creates a glossy, easy-to-clean appearance that is similar to acrylic. However, it comes at a lower price point and is not as durable or resistant as acrylic.
One of the most long-lasting, durable, and resistant choices for a bathtub material is cast iron. They are definitely one of the more expensive options, as they are sturdier than most materials and more difficult to install. They can be susceptible to chipping and rusting without proper care.
Stone and wood:
While rare, it is possible to have a bathtub carved from natural stones and wood. These are definitely statement-makers and work best with freestanding tubs. Unfortunately they are difficult to clean and maintain, which is why they fall on the more expensive side of the spectrum.
Porcelain on Steel:
Get the look of cast iron for less with a porcelain-on-steel tub. It’s a lighter weight option, but still is susceptible to the same chipping and rusting as a cast iron tub.
Style and Additional Features
Additional features are available depending on your desires, such as jets and bubbles, chromatherapy LED lights, attached speakers, digital controls, and ADA compliancy. Depending on HOW you live and expect to use your tub, these features are available as add ons to just about any tub style.
Make sure to choose a tub that coordinates seamlessly with the style of your home and its surroundings—modern-contemporary, traditional, and transitional options are all available for you to choose from. Most of all, choose the bathtub that just feels right for you.