Whether your bathtub’s primary purpose is for cleaning, splashing or simply stress relief, choosing a new bathtub is undoubtedly an important decision. The right bathtub can reinvigorate your bathroom’s look, improve on its appeal and functionality, and if well maintained, will last an entire lifetime. Here’s our expert guide on how to choose a bathtub.
Consider your current needs and those of your family both now and into the future
When choosing a new bathtub, the first thing you should decide is whether you’re just going to replace your current bathtub or completely renovate your whole bathroom. If you’re undergoing a complete bathroom renovation you’ll probably have the greatest number of options, but even with limited space, with a bit of planning you can still end up with a practical, beautiful bathtub that will last forever.
You should also think about your bathtub’s functionality, both now and into the future. A large family with younger children will have different needs to that of a retiree who may need to consider mobility ssues. Some bathtubs are multi-functional (used to clean yourself, the kids and the dog!), while others focus on indulgence. Your bathtub’s primary use should dictate your selection, which will ultimately determine what works best for your household.
Think about your living arrangements and the space you’ve got to work with
How much bathroom space you have to work with is an obvious thing to consider when choosing the right bathtub because the size and dimensions of your bathroom may limit your choices, particularly if you live in an apartment or a smaller dwelling. Those with smaller bathrooms might want to consider a shower/bathtub combination, which can help you make the best use of the space you have available.
Larger bathrooms can afford far more freedom and accommodate larger bathtubs, and may allow you to consider things like a recessed bath, jacuzzi or a freestanding bathtub. You’ll also have more choice in terms of where to position your bathtub. Bathtubs in smaller bathrooms are normally positioned in a corner, whereas with a bigger bathroom, you can pretty much choose where it’s installed – even in the middle of the room if you choose!
Your budget is a key factor in choosing the right bathtub for your needs
A quality bathtub that is properly installed is a worthy investment that will continue to give you and your family hours of splashable fun and blissful relaxation time for many years. Your budget will no doubt determine the size and type of the bathtub that you can afford, however it’s worth spending a little more money if you can, as you probably won’t be replacing it in a hurry!
If you’re buying a new bathtub and you’ve settled on the size and style you like but you’re still not sure about its comfort factor, don’t be afraid to take a ‘dry run’ in-store – testing out bathtubs this way is not only fun, it can also introduce you to bathtub styles and configurations that you may not have considered before. Don’t forget budgeting for a new bathtub also includes not just the tub but the cost of plumbing, fittings and installation as well. All in all, it’s not a cheap exercise, however if it’s constructed well and properly installed, it’s definitely a worthy investment.
The shapes, sizes and configurations of bathtubs are virtually endless!
An important factor to consider when you’re thinking about how to choose a bathtub is its aesthetic appeal. Your new bathtub should not only suit your style preferences and the format and size of your bathroom, its visual appeal will also go a long way to enhancing the design aspects of your entire home. The styles and features of bathtubs can vary enormously, but some of the most common are:
- Built-in or standard bathtub – probably the most affordable, these are often found in an alcove, tiled installation as a solo tub or a tub/shower combo.
- Drop in bathtub – this type of tub is installed below floor level allowing it to be much lower than a standard built-in, and is a luxurious addition to any bathroom or en-suite.
- Freestanding bathtub – this style of tub stands on its own without any additional support, and is a stunning option for a larger bathroom where you’d like your bath to be the centre of attention.
- Island bathtub – this type of tub sits on a tiled ‘island’ and offers extra room around your bath, perfect for a sitting ledge, candles or even the kids’ toys.
And of course, there are a range of additional features available on some of these tubs as well, offering everything from extra-deep dimensions that allow for easier ‘soaking’, to spa or jacuzzi-style features that offer on-demand therapeutic massages!
Bathtubs come in many shapes and sizes … but also materials
From budget-conscious fibreglass to top-of- the range copper, bathtubs can be manufactured with a range of materials to suit all tastes and budgets, however some of the more common types are:
- Fibreglass – probably the most economical option, fibreglass bathtubs are extremely lightweight, however not as durable as other alternatives. Those with gel coatings afford a glossy, easy-to- clean surface however are often very slippery as well.
- Acrylic – a popular alternative to fibreglass, acrylic bathtubs are more expensive however are more durable and retain heat better.
- Enamelled cast iron – a great choice for those after a classic look, cast iron bathtubs retain heat better than any other material and although not the cheapest option, they are extremely durable.
- Cast polymer (often called composite) – this engineered material coated in enamel offers the heat retention of a cast-iron tub at a third of the weight.
- Enamelled steel – these look and feel much like cast iron tubs and have the advantage of being much lighter in weight, however they don't retain heat as well as cast iron and tend to be noisier.
- Stone – if you’re looking to really amp up your bathroom renovation (and your budget!), it’s worth considering a stone bathtub. Stonecast resin and stone composite bathtubs are made from engineered materials that mimic the look and beautiful appeal of natural materials like limestone, marble and granite.
- Copper – probably the ultimate in tub-soaking luxury, copper bathtubs faultlessly conduct and retain heat, and if you’re after a truly unique bathroom piece, can be handcrafted into any shape you desire!