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Bathroom Tub Buying Guide

Choosing the right bathtub is important because it's a place to get clean and soak away physical aches and emotional stress. Plus, when you need to relocate, bathrooms are key selling points for potential buyers -- and the sheer size of a bathtub means it's a dominant element in the room's overall appeal. To help you choose wisely, here are some helpful tips.

Types of Bathroom Tubs

Types of Bathroom Tubs

Bathtubs are heavy and complex to install, so you'll want to be sure of your bathroom's measurements -- and your needs -- before purchasing. Tub types to consider include:

Alcove or Recessed Tubs

Recessed tubs are the most common type. Almost always rectangular, they have three unfinished sides that fit against walls and a finished side on the front that faces the room. Often used with an acrylic surround, recessed tubs can be easily equipped with a shower. They vary in depth, and units are referred to as "left" or "right" depending on which end of the tub the drain is located as you view it in its alcove.

Corner Tubs

Corner tubs are designed to fit in a corner alcove and so, too, have finished and unfinished sides -- some with a finished side and end, some with more finished sides when the tub is to be installed diagonally. Corner units can save space when located next to a run of cabinetry.

Platform, Deck-Mount, or Drop-In Tubs

The sides of this type of tub are all unfinished so it can be dropped into a deck structure on which the rim of the tub rests. The deck platform allows you to sit and swing your legs into the tub. Occasionally a drop-in tub is placed with the rim at floor level, making entry and exit more problematic, especially if the tub is deep.

Undermount Tubs

An undermount tub is much like a drop-in tub, but its rim abuts the deck surround rather than resting on it, and the floor supports the tub. While the installation looks seamlessly beautiful, if this tub requires replacing, the deck surface surrounding it will likely need to be dismantled -- a big job.

Freestanding Tubs

Freestanding tubs require no surround. In addition to handling cleaning and soaking duties, they serve as a distinct design element in a bathroom -- the many forms include vintage-style claw-foot tubs, curved-rim roll-top tubs, and high-back slipper tubs.

Deep Soaking Tubs

Either drop-in or freestanding, a soaking tub is extra deep and designed for full-body immersion and long soaks. These tubs hold a lot of water, so make sure your water heater and floor joists are up to the task before purchasing a soaking tub.

Purchase Considerations

Purchase Considerations

Once you've determined your preferred type of tub, consider a multitude of add-ons that make bathing a luxurious experience.


Tub material choices include acrylic, porcelain-coated cast iron, marble, solid-surfacing, and fiberglass. Materials vary in ease of maintenance and price, so know your needs before choosing.

Whirlpool Tubs

Jetted tubs can be therapeutic, offering heaters with programmable temperatures and water-pressure controls. This installation requires a deck in order to enclose the motor and housing.

Sound and Light

Deluxe tub models offer music that can be heard both above and below the water, as well as colorful chromatherapy lights that synchronize with the music.

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