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Bathtub Buying Guide

What you Need to Know When Buying Bathtubs


There are so many types of bathtubs to choose from in the market place today, the internet being one of the best places to buy a bathtub. When buying a bathtub, there are many factors that come into play. For instance, you need to consider the size, style, weight and the installation constraints associated with the various bathtubs.

Features to consider


xai1220_1Different bathtubs offer different experiences, depending on their varying features. Generally, bathtubs may be classified into four main categories, including whirlpool bathtubs, soaking bathtubs, combination bathtubs and air bathtubs. All the four types of bathtubs differ from one another significantly. For instance, the air baths and the whirlpools are very similar featuring a pump, jets and water lines. The soaking bathtubs on the other hand, are just designed to be filled with water. The difference between a whirlpool and an air bath ids that the air boats move air through their plumbing while whirlpool move water through the plumbing. Throughout this article, the various bathtub types will be discussed.


Soaking tub bathtubs


This is the kind of bathtubs that many people think of when they imagine having a bathtub in their homes. They are just simply vessels that are filled with water. In spite of being simple, these bathtubs provide all the relaxing and a calming experienced associated with bathtubs. This type of bathtubs is very secure as it has a slip resistant floor, hence preventing accidental falls while in the tub. To enhance the comfort and relaxing effect of this tub, it comes with built-in armrests. Other models of the soaking tub bathtubs also come with neck support and pillows. They are also available in an array of colors and sizes, including bathtubs for the children.


Whirlpool bathtubs


This type of bathtubs is designed to offer deliberate and vigorous massage to your body, particularly the neck and back parts. The loud noise that emanates from this bathtub, while in use, can be attributed to the system that draws water into a water pump and out through the water jets that line the sides of the bathtub. The following are some of the features that make this bathtub stand out:


Adjustable Jets


With this bathtub, it is possible to vary the intensity of the water jets in a bid to enhance the 120924-hydrotherapy-top-734hydro-massage experience of the bathtub. Some manufacturers also twist the escutcheon to vary the flow rate within the water jets. As such, you should first ensure that the jets are adjustable before buying a whirlpool bathtub.


Chromatherapy and Aromatherapy


These bathtubs are also equipped with underwater lighting complements. Depending on the model of whirlpool bathtub you have, the color varies, including white or any other coloring. Some of these bathtubs also allow you, the user, to add a variety of aromas into the tub. However, all the manufacturer's instructions must be adhered to while adding oils and salts as some of them may damage the bathtub.


Cleaning System


Regardless of the type or model, all bathtubs must be cleaned regularly. The majority of the bathtubs are  equipped with antibacterial or super-smooth plumbing and air channels, in addition to the "purge cycles" as much water as possible from the tub prior to cleaning. The best way to clean a bathtub, according to most manufacturers, is to run the entire system with a considerable amount of water in addition to a small amount of emulsifying dishwashing liquid.


Air bathtubs


zzb1036_1As compared to whirlpool bathtubs, air bathtubs offer a gentler massage. In its operation, air is blown through channels, situated under the base into the tub. The following are some of the features of this bathtub:


Adjustable Air Flow


Almost  all the air bathtubs on the market today allow the user to regulate the air intensity of the air streams that get into the tub. The majority of the manufacturers equips these bathtubs with the digital air control system.


Heated Blower


To enhance the relaxation effect of these tubs, the majority of them come with a heated blower. Rather than heating the water, these heated blowers introduce warm air bubbles in the bathtub. The warm air that is blown into the tub is heated by the heater, which is built into the tub.




To compliment the bubbling water, this water tub is fitted with appropriate underwater lighting. Depending on the model you have, this lighting may be colored or white.


Cleaning system


Generally, moisture and dark conditions may promote the growth of mildew and mold in these bathtubs. Although the system blows air instead of water, water may enter the system making it wet. To clean this system, many manufacturers have equipped these bathtubs with a purge cycle. This cycle is meant to blow air through jets top remove moisture or water from the system.


Combination bathtubs


This type of bathtubs combines the features of a whirlpool bathtub and those of air bathtub in one single unit. This allows the user to vary the bathing experience in accordance with his or her preferences. Some of the admirable features of this bathtub include:


Adjustable water and air flow


The majority of the manufacturers of these systems makes the water and air flow in the zzb1038_1bathtub variable. This enables the user to adjust the intensity of the user to vary the flows to either gentle air bubble massage or an invigorating massage, depending on their preferences.


Heated blower


Additionally, these combo bathtubs come with a heated blower to enhance your bathing experience. The heater blower in these bathtubs does not heat the water. Instead, it heats the air, which is then pushed through the air jets in the bathtub. This provides the user with a warm, relaxing effect.


Chromatherapy and Aromatherapy


These bathtubs are also fitted with underwater lighting to complement the bubbling water. The lights may be white or colored, depending on the combination bathtub you have. Additionally, features a factory fitted aromatherapy feature. This allows you to introduce an array of aromas into the bath. However, all the manufacturer’s instructions must be adhered to while adding aromas into the bath-tub.


Cleaning system


Just as the air bathtubs and the water, bathtubs, the combination bathtubs must be cleaned regularly for hygienic purposes. Various manufactures have fitted antibacterial and super-smooth air channels and plumbing, in addition to the "purge cycles" for effective cleaning. According to various manufacturers, the system should be cleaned with a considerable amount of water coupled with emulsifying dishwashing liquid. Additionally, some of the jets may also be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher.


Bathtub Styles


The style and design of bathtub you decide to have will mainly depend on your budget as well as your own preferences. The following are some of the main bathtub styles you may choose from.


The recessed style


This type of bathtub mainly features 3 open sides and a finished apron. These bathtubs are primarily meant for use in an alcove.


The drop-in bathtubs


This type of bathtubs does not have aprons. It may be installed in a sunken level below the floor or on a raised platform. With regards to their finishing, these bathtubs may a décor finish to match that of the bathroom. Alternatively, these bathtubs may also be tiled.


Corner bathtubs


This bathtub style mainly comprises of a crescent-shaped or a finished corner apron on the front. Additionally, it also has two open sides against the walls.


Freestanding bathtub style


This style of bathtubs has all the sides fully finished. As such, this type of bathtubs may be installed away from the wall of the bathroom. Additionally, they also have the legs for them to stand on. To have this type of bathtub installed in your house, you should have sufficient water supply as well as drainage piping at the point of installation.


Walk-in bathtub style


These are bathtubs that feature  a door for the user to enter and exit the bathtub safely. Additionally, this bathtub style has a built-in seat. The growing popularity of this tub may be attributed to the increasing population of the aging baby Boomer.


Materials used to build bathtubs




This is one of the materials that is commonly used in the manufacture of bathtubs. In the manufacturing process, Acrylic sheets are molded and then reinforced using fiberglass. In most cases, this material is use din making air baths, combo massage as well as whirlpool bathtubs. The following acrylic properties make it popular as a bathtub building material.


  • Durable – it offers an excellent finish for a very long period
  • Warm to touch – the material is a poor heat conductor. As such, it remains warm making it comfortable to touch and lean on while bathing
  • Easy to clean – the surface  of the material is smooth, hence easy to clean with a mild household cleaner.
  • Easy to repair – while scratches are hard to remove on some materials, a scratched Acrylic surface requires simple sanding and buffing to acquire its initial glow
  • Does not fade -  acrylic materials are resistant to UV radiation. As such, their color does not fade away easily.



This material is broadly recognized as the affordable alternative to acrylic,  gel coat cost is about 25 percent less that of acrylic. In the manufacturing process of the bathtub, the gelcoat finish is applied to the mold by sparing and later on reinforced with fiberglass. The following are some of the admirable aspects of this material:


    • Easy to clean – though not as clean as acrylic, gelcoat is considerably easy to clean by wiping with mild household cleaners.
    • Comparatively easy to repair – while it is possible to repair a gelcoat surface, the coating may wear away with time, since it is very thin.


Cast Iron


The popularity of cast iron as  a bathtub building material started in mid 1800s. In the manufacturing process, a mold is used to cast molten iron. After this a layer of enamel is applied to the cast. The following aspects make cast iron perfect for use in the making of bathtubs:


  • Durability – since this material is resistant to scratches and dents, cast iron can last for decades and beautiful for many years.
  • Design -  cast iron allows the manufacturers to make an array of designs, hence different price options
  • Relaxing experience – this material muffles vibration and noise, thus creating a very relaxing experience for the user


The only drawback with cast iron bathtubs is the weight. Bathtubs made out of cast iron are very heavy which makes their installation expensive.


Enameled Steel


To make a bathtub out of this material, an enamel-grade steel sheet is pressed into a mold to shape it. After that, the steel bathtub is then coated with porcelain enamel. The following attributes make this material ideal for making bathtubs.


  • - They are easy to clean using mild detergents
  • - As compared to other materials, bath tubs built using this material are less expensive.
  • - As compared to gelcoat and acrylic bathtubs, bathtubs made using enameled steel are very rigid hence more durable.


The downside of this material is that it is heavy and offers limited, with regards to  the designs.




This material is only applied to selected Standard branded products. The material is just like the enameled steel; the tub is molded from enameling grade steel that is joint with enamel. The Americast tubs, however, are reinforced with a molded composite.

    • As compared to cast iron, Americast tubs are lighter in terms of weight. Generally, the weight of Americast tubs is about 50 percent less than that of a cast-iron tub.
    • The material is also very durable and is resistant to scratches and dents.

Other Benefits include:

  • - It is very relaxing as it muffles up the vibration. Additionally, they are less noisy as compared to cast-iron tubs.
  • - They are easy to repair as the scratches and chips that may develop in the material are easy to repair.
  • - The backing of this material is a very good insulator, its heat retention capability is better as compared to that of enameled steel or cast iron.


However, bathtubs made from this material are limited in terms of brand and designs.


Where to have a bathtub in your home


The location of the bathtub is the other thing that you must consider carefully. In some cases, the location of a bathtub may dictate the size and shape of the tub you are supposed to buy. For instance, the space may be limited by the presence of a wash basin or a toilet. As such, the location where you need to have the bathtub. Some of the available shapes of bathtubs in the market today include circular, corner and rectangular.


The other consideration you need to make, regarding a bathtub installation location, is the weight of the bathtub. The bigger the bathtub, the more that water it will hold. This makes the bathtub heavy. Therefore, the floor should also be able to support the weight of the bathtub you would like to have in your bathroom. You may need to consult a structural engineer on this issue.


Considerations in bathtub location


The weight


Before buying a bathtub, you need to consider the weight of the tub when empty and when filled with water. You should also ensure that the floor can support such weight. If the floor cannot support the weight, you may need to add support or bracing to support the weight.


The plumbing


When positioning a bathtub in your house, you also need to consider the plumbing. Basically,  a plumber should be able to fit in the space so that he or she may hook up the pool. Additionally, the pump and motor also need to be very accessible so that it will be easy to repair them in case they break down.


The  wiring


Some of the bathtub types in the market today need electricity for them to run. These include air tubs and whirlpools. Before installing such bathtubs, you should consult with an electrician. This professional should approve of the voltage outlet and the wiring to be used for the tub.


Size of the bathtub


With regards to the size of the tub you need to have in your house, you need to consider the users. This will allow you to choose between the single person and the two-person bathtub. Additionally, you have also to realize that the cost of operating a large bathtub I is greater than the cost of running a smaller bathtub.


Depth of the bathtub


The soaking depth of a bathtub is measured from the overflow of the bathtub to its bottom. Basically, tubs with a  less apron height, about 13 inches or less, are easier to enter or exit as compared to those with a higher apron height of 17 inches and above. However, the deeper the soaking depth of a bathtub, the more relaxing, the tub is.


Drain Location


The location of the bathtub in the house will also be affected by the location of its drain. Basically bathtubs have a left, right or center drain. For instance, a bathtub that has  a left drain should be positioned on the right side of the bathroom. It is also possible to change the location of the drain in many bathtub models, but this may turn out to be very expensive.


Maneuvering around hallways, corners and doorways


Basically, the bathtub is delivered in one piece, hence hard to break into pieces, as such, you must ensure that the tub you acquire can fit through the hallways doorways and around corners in your home as it is brought into the bathroom. If you are refurbishing the bathroom and need a bigger bathtub, you should bring it in before the doorway and the walls are finished.

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