Bathtub buying guide
When buying a new tub, there are a number of factors to take into account – do you want to use it for everyday use or for a weekend soak every now and then? Is it going to be installed on the ground floor or second floor, where weight will make a difference? Materials, budget, space and layout also play a big role in choosing the right tub for your space. Before taking the plunge (pun intended!), read through our comprehensive bathtub buying guide to ensure you’re making the right investment.
3 important questions to ask
Before you even start the process of looking for a tub or making that bathroom design ideas Pinterest board, there are a few things you’ll want to ask yourself about budget, space and plans for use.
1 How much space do you have?
Though a deep-soaker tub may be your dream, your current bathroom layout may not allow for it. Be realistic about the space you have and choose the best shape and size of tub to fit in seamlessly with your bathroom.
2 What will you be using the tub for?
If you’re using it for long soaks at the end of the day, you’ll want to invest in a tub that retains heat well and has a comfortable curve for you to lounge in. If it’s for everyday use, you’ll want to look for a material that can stand up to daily wear and tear.
3 What’s your budget?
Before you throw down cash on a beautiful clawfoot that ranks at the top of your budget, you’ll need to take into account the additional costs that come with a new tub. Faucet hardware, installation and plumbing can quickly add up – factor these costs into the budget first to see how much money you’ll have for the tub itself.
Choosing a design
Tubs these days come in all shapes and sizes, from deep-soakers to whirlpool to traditional clawfoot. The design you choose should be based not only on aesthetics, but also the feel of the tub – sit in the showroom model to make sure the size and shape work with your body.
Standard tubs are generally purchased for bathtub-shower combinations or for alcoved spaces. The two most common standard tub sizes are 60 inches by 30 inches and 60 inches by 32 inches – because of their generic size, you’ll find these tubs in a number of materials and affordable options.
Not reliant on base paneling or a shower combination, a freestanding tub is a versatile option that looks great in a window nook or as the bathroom’s centerpiece. Choose from footed, skirted or decked versions.
Classic in appearance and feminine in shape, a clawfoot tub never goes out of style. Named so because of the ornate feet that the tub sits upon, clawfoot soakers are typically made of cast iron and priced on the higher end of the scale.
The dream tub for those who love to spend hours unwinding in a bubble bath, deep-soakers are wider, deeper and longer than conventional tubs for maximum comfort.
Want to create a spa-like retreat in your bathroom? A whirlpool tub uses jets to soothe muscles and massage the body with thousands of tiny bubbles. Keep in mind that because of the mechanics involved, these tubs may require more maintenance than other styles.
In addition to coming in all shapes and sizes, bathtubs are also available in a number of materials, ranging from heavy-duty cast iron to more affordable acrylic or steel. The material you choose will likely be determined by the frequency with which you’ll be using the tub, as well as your budget.
Fiberglass tubs are generally the most economical option and best if you’re on a budget. They’re not great at retaining heat, however, so are best used as a shower/tub combo.
Acrylic tubs are popular due to their wide availability as well as their mid-range price tag. Though more expensive than fiberglass, they’re still affordable and are popular because of their light weight. Scratches are less noticeable on acrylic tubs as the colour goes all the way through (as opposed to enameled or coated tubs).
3 Enameled cast iron
This sturdy and durable tub is an all-around winner. Not only is it soundproof and retains heat well, but it’s widely available in a number of shapes, sizes and colours. The downside? It’s quite heavy (especially when filled with water), making it a better choice for ground floor bathrooms.
4 Enameled steel
Less expensive than cast iron, an enameled steel tub will give you the same look for a significantly lower price. Keep in mind that although its glossy finish makes it easy to clean, it tends to chip more easily than other materials and may get quite noisy when you’re running water.
5 Cast polymer
Made to resemble onyx, granite or marble, cast polymer tubs will give your bathroom the luxe look of real stone. They’re often finished with a gel coat, which can wear over time and get scratched, but is much easier to repair than the damage to cast iron.
You’ll also find tubs at specialty retailers that are made of stone, copper, brass, etc.– these luxury materials will run high in cost, but if it’s a high-end tub you’re after, look to places like Aquatica Bath and Cheviot for artisanal options.
Now that you’ve decided on the perfect tub, there’s one question left to ask – how the heck are you getting it installed? If you’re purchasing a lightweight tub in fiberglass or acrylic, then it’s possible that you and your partner or a friend can handle the installation. However, if you’ve chosen a stone option or weighty cast iron, that tub will be pretty hefty and require professional assistance.
Many big box hardware stores will deliver your tub at an extra cost, but you’ll likely need to look into hiring a contractor to do the fit, plumbing, insulation and caulking. Unless you’re confident in your own skills, it’s better to have a professional involved to avoid future problems relating to burst pipes and water damage.