Bath Tub Basics
It is worth the investment for quality in the planning of your bathroom. Far too
often a bath tub is quickly sketched on a blueprint and the end product is not
enjoyable and can be uncomfortable. It is important to discuss bath tub basics,
such as length, water capacity, and accessories, as soon as possible with a
contractor. Generally, the bath tub is installed in the first stage of
Comfort is particularly important when choosing a bath tub. Designers have
introduced every conceivable size, shape, and material into our homes. The best
way to decide is to experience them for your self. Go to store showrooms and
search for the right comfort level for you.
Bath Tub Basics
Whether you are a petit person wanting a shallow tub with armrests built-in, or
a tall person who may want an extra wide and totally submersible contour, the
size of your tub is important. You may want a tub that will fit two. Think about
ergonomics. A standard bath tub is 14 to 17 inches in depth. A European style is
18 inches deep and a Japanese (or Greek) style is 22 or more inches in depth.
There are numerous makes and models of bath tub styles including built-in,
freestanding, soaking, and whirlpool.
These tub styles have only frontal exposure. It is the most common American
design and is quite basic. Alcoves have limited finishes and the designs and
styles are shallow and usually combined with a shower. If you decide on this
style, be sure to think about the drainage, shower doors, and the surrounding
area around the alcove. Tip: Waterproof material is a good choice for
surrounding surfaces, such as ceramic tile or waterproof paint. You also need to
decide whether you would like a shower door or a curtain.
Tub and Shower
Generally in this design, the walls around the bath tub will be lined with
ceramic tile to enclose the area. This style also accomplishes two needs in one
space, saving room. Even so, it may be difficult to clean every day because of
the grout lines. If this may be a problem, a manufactured tub and shower
combination is an option. An example is a sectional acrylic over fiberglass
unit. Over time, color will fade with this material, but when installed properly
it should never leak.
Floor Mounted Sunken
This style can be very dangerous for some. Because of the high step it may be
difficult to step out of. For this reason, most floor-mounted bath tubs are
deck-mounted in a separate frame. This requires extra carpentry and will raise
the costs. Most are integrally manufactured with faucet ledges for easier
access. Although great for soaking and cleaning, this style is costly to repair
due to the hidden plumbing.
Corner bath tubs are designed as customized or standard drop-in and are fitted
into an angled deck corner. Whether set alone or placed into the room, they are
a good way to set off a room. Tip: Some models are not suitable for overhead
With its rich origin, this large, deep bath tub is used only for soaking. It has
no capabilities for a shower or whirlpool.
With no integrated showers or jets, this much deeper bath tub is similar to the
garden tub. The filler spout rises off the deck rather than through the walls of
Deep enough to immerse your body when sitting, these tubs are products of
polypropylene reinforced with fiberglass. Traditionally they were made of wood,
tile or metal.
In the past, roll-top and cast-iron tubs were the trend. Now this classic
remains in the same form- sloped back and straight front with ball and claw or
pedestal legs. Materials range from cast iron, porcelain and steel, and acrylic.
Available in 4 to 6 feet, the freestanding tub comes in a variety of colors. It
is important to remember that the pipes are exposed in this style.
Piping, electric pumps, and water jets circulate throughout for an even message.
This is referred to as a soaker tub. Designs vary in size, style, color and
shape. Usually they are comprised of fiberglass/acrylic or cast iron. They are
very durable. Again, it is good to use showrooms to test the comfort level of
these bath tubs. Whirlpools are offered in alcove and drop-in models.
Bath Tub Materials
As you know, tubs come in a variety of sizes, colors, and styles. Your decision
regarding a bath tub should be based on your needs, desires, and budget.
Porcelain on steel, acrylic, fiberglass/gel coat, composite, cast iron, cultured
marble, and wood are the materials with which bath tubs are manufactured.
Porcelain on Steel (POS)
This is possibly the most practical and affordable style. It consists of a thin
stamped steel shell, coated with heat-fused porcelain enamel. The pros of POS
are that it is resistant to acid, corrosion, and abrasion. It is flame proof and
colorfast. The con is that if the surface area is chipped or cracked, it will
Sheets of acrylic and reinforced fiberglass are vacuum molded to create this
material. Therefore, it is quite durable. It has a natural luster to it, is
economical, and lightweight. It may be easy to clean, but is easy to scratch and
susceptible to discolor over time. Some grades are durable enough to withstand a
This is generally the least expensive of the materials. Because it is
lightweight and easily installed, it can be molded into varying shapes. A
pigmented polyester resin spray that is applied to a mold forms the Gelcoat
surface. There are thick layers of fiberglass and foam insulation that line the
sleek style of the unit. Although it looks similar to acrylic, this material is
much thinner and much less durable. The finish will show wear after 10 to 15
years and will scratch and/or fade. On the plus side, it is easy to repair.
Because this enamel-coated material is considered the most durable, it is
therefore the most expensive. Casting is the method in which molten iron is
poured into a specific mold for shape. Due to its thick material, the surface is
resistant to chemicals, chipping, scratching, and denting. Generally, a lifetime
warranty will accompany also.
Marble is man-made from crushed limestone and polyester resin. It has a gel coat
for a surface finish. Because of the process in which it is made, the material
has a unique array of colors, patterns, and veining. Marble also has a tough,
durable, and transparent surface resistance.
Wood just isn't a long-term investment for a bath tub. Naturally water and wood
do not react well together leaving a short-term life. The bath tub's appearance
will be beautiful for several years, but will eventually warp, crack, and rot.
Also, many areas of the US do not permit wooden tubs in local building codes.
Completely customized, a tub will be lined with ceramic or mosaic tile.
Inexperienced installation could result in a hazardous and unsealed bath tub.
Therefore, be sure to find an experienced professional for this type of work.