With several tub materials on the market, knowing your options will make it easier to select the right one for your bath. One of the most popular tub materials is acrylic. Reinforced with fiberglass, wood, or metal, acrylic offers good heat retention, is lightweight, and comes in a variety of colors. However, acrylic tubs cost more than fiberglass options and scratch more easily than some materials.
Fiberglass tubs consist of fiber and polyester layers with wood or metal reinforcements. Fiberglass is a reasonably priced option, but it isn't as durable as acrylic and doesn't retain heat quite as well.
Cast-iron tubs are not only heavy and durable, but they also retain the most heat out of any tub material. Selecting a sturdy cast-iron tub might require reinforcing the flooring.
Cast-polymer tubs mimic the look of granite or marble. The material is thicker than acrylic, so it retains heat better. But cast polymer is not as durable as other options such as marble or acrylic.
Other materials, such as marble, glass, or wood, are available for custom looks. These custom options are typically more expensive than other material and can require special maintenance and care, but will give your bathroom space a unique look.
Enameled steel tubs have a molded steel base with an enamel coat sprayed over the top. The surfacing tends to chip more easily than alternative materials, and the material might need undercoating to muffle sound.
Relaxation is a key element for a tub, and today's specialty tub models promise to deliver just that. For example, air baths surround your body with a multitude of tiny, effervescent bubbles to create a calming bath experience. Another option, called a soaking tub, has a deep basin perfect for soothing sore muscles. Whirlpool tubs have powerful, directed massaging jets with variable speeds to create the ultimate relaxing bath-time experience.
Rectangular tubs are the most popular options on the market. Their basic shape allows easy combination with a shower and they come in a variety of materials ranging from acrylic to marble.
If space is a premium in your bathroom, consider selecting a square or triangular tub. These space-saving options can fit easily in an unused corner or an awkward alcove and will add value to your bathroom and your entire home.
Oval and round tubs can transform an ordinary bathroom into a grand escape. If oval and round aren't quite your style, consider selecting an unexpected shape such as trapezoidal or D-shape to make a dramatic statement with modern flair.
A major step in choosing the right tub requires you to look at available space as well as your bathroom's overall style. Freestanding tubs are finished on all sides, so they can stand anywhere in the room. They often create a striking bathroom focal point.
Built-in tubs are not finished on all sides and must be placed with care. Recessed tubs are often built into an alcove or against a wall, while deck-mounted tubs are designed to be built into a raised surround. Built-in tubs are often larger and more spacious than freestanding options.
Tub-and-shower combinations are the most common of all bathtub installations. Although the setup generally uses a built-in tub, freestanding tubs can also be paired with shower fixtures -- just make sure you invest in a sturdy shower curtain that will shield against splashes and is large enough to cover all parts of the tub where water may escape.
As with any bathroom fixture, when choosing a tub filler, check the manufacturer's recommendations. A filler that's too short splashes water against the side of the tub, while a filler that extends too far into the basin creates a safety hazard. Floor-mount fixtures have exposed plumbing, which create a vintage-inspired look when paired with a freestanding tub.
Deck-mount fixtures are installed on the surround of a built-in bathtub. Deck-mount fillers come in a variety of shapes, but often create a modern and contemporary feel.
Tub-mount fixtures are essentially the same as deck-mount fixtures but are installed directly on the tub instead of a surround. These types of fillers are perfect for freestanding tubs. As with floor-mount fixtures, tub-mount styles can create a vintage vibe.
Wall-mount fixtures are the most versatile of all fillers; they work with any tub style as long as it's close to a wall. Wall-mount fixtures, the most common choice for tub-and-shower combinations, come in a variety of shapes and sizes that will blend with any bathroom style.
Although it's easy to clean, forgo a standard fiberglass tub surround to boost the style quotient in your bath. Investing in a slightly more expensive ceramic tile surround or other material will add sophistication to your bathroom and value to your home.
If privacy isn't an issue or your bath overlooks a great view, consider positioning your tub under a window. Some window treatments or a frosted-glass pane will allow light in while maintaining privacy.