Tips on Choosing a new Bath Tub

What to Look for When Buying a Bathtub

By Mark J. Donovan

Choosing a new bathtub doesn’t have to be limited to the standard 5 foot long acrylic tub. Yes, acrylic tubs are less expensive, lighter, durable, and easy to clean. However, there are many other bathtub types available to you that offer various advantages over the acrylic tub. For example, there are cast iron, enamel pressed steel, and porcelain bathtubs available, that come in many different shapes and styles. Admittedly they are all more expensive than the acrylic bathtub, however they offer their own unique charm and look.

Cast iron bathtubs, for example, are the most classic of tubs and can come in beautiful antique shapes and looks with unique features such as claw feet.

On the opposite side of the bathtub technology spectrum are Jacuzzi tubs. Jacuzzi tubs are typically larger than standard bathtubs however they’re available in a variety of shapes and sizes, as well as offer various features such as water jets.

If you do have an old and rough looking cast iron tub that you want to keep, or incorporate into your new bathroom, keep in mind that there are companies out there that can re-enamel them to restore them to their original beauty. In many cases the companies will come to you to re-enamel the tub.

If you ultimately prefer an acrylic bathtub be aware that you can have custom shaped and colored acrylic (or plastic) tubs manufactured for your specific requirements, albeit you’ll pay the price for it.

Besides your standard rectangular bathtub you may also want to consider a corner bathtub or circular bathtub. Though in general a corner bathtub takes more square area than a standard rectangular tub, they normally take less wall space.

Conserving wall space may be helpful if you plan to include windows, towel racks and/or bathroom wall cabinets in your bathroom design plans. If on the other hand you have a large bathroom area, you may want to be extravagant and include a larger circular bathtub in the center of your new bathroom.

When choosing a new bathtub for either a bathroom remodel or in new home construction it’s imperative to do so during the planning phase. Due to the overall large size of bathtubs it’s important to incorporate the exact size and shape of the tub into the plans. In addition, particularly if you are doing a bathroom remodel, you may need to choose a new bathtub that can actually fit through the doors and hallways of the home and bathroom.

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Moreover, if you’re installing a new large soaking or Jacuzzi tub into a bathroom remodel you’ll also need to consider reinforcing the floor framing.

You may also need to include some additional framing to support the new tub. In addition, you may need to modify the plumbing to support the larger tub. Similarly, an electrical contractor may need to be brought in to run the electrical wiring for a Jacuzzi tub.

Maintenance should be another concern when choosing a bathtub. Acrylic, or plastic, bathtubs can scratch easily and thus you should never use bleach or an abrasive cleaning solution on them. These types of cleaning products can damage the bathtub surface by scratching and/or removing the natural finished shine.

For help on your bathroom remodeling project, see my Bathroom Remodeling Bid Sheet. The Bathroom Remodeling Bid Sheet provides a request for quote checklist section that you can provide to prospective bathroom remodeling contractors. It also includes a comprehensive bathroom remodeling cost breakdown table, in Microsoft Excel format, that allows the contractor to include his projected remodeling costs for every phase of the project.

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