Your tub is the unsung hero of your bathroom. It is the place you sit down to relax in hot water and foamy bubbles. Your kids use it for bathing and playing. The dog even gets to visit on a rare occasion. Now it’s time to replace your old tub or add a new one to your bath. Which one is the best bathtub for you?
How to Choose the Best Bathtub
Never order a tub without taking careful measurements of the space available. A standard tub can measure 60″ long and 30″ wide. However, freestanding tubs and corner models will have different dimensions.
While measuring the space, consider how you will get the bathtub into the space. If you are doing a whole bathroom remodel, it may not be a big issue. However, if you are changing out the bathtub in a pre-existing space, getting in needs to be a consideration.
The weight of your tub does make a difference. Fiberglass and acrylic are the lighter weight options, with cast iron being the heaviest.
Besides the material, the weight of the water is important to consider. A single gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds. A tub with a 50-gallon capacity could theoretically hold 417 extra pounds of water. And that doesn’t include the weight of its occupant.
Before ordering a tub, talk with an experienced contractor about your floor structure. You may have to budget for extra bracing or structural changes to accommodate the weight.
Where do you want to put the tub? You may have an existing location where you want to do a simple replacement. You may be doing a major remodel and want to relocate the tub altogether. In either case, location is very important. It determines the floor space available for the tub and the placement of other fixtures within the room.
Your plumbing makes a difference in the tub you order. If you are retrofitting a tub into an existing space, the plumbing position is important when ordering a tub. The pipes may be on the left side or right side. The drain could be on the same end or in the middle.
Replacing a tub can get very expensive if you have to move the pipes or the drain. It costs less to keep the same plumbing position. However, if you are doing a major bathroom remodel, it is a good time to make changes to the bathroom’s layout.
A bathtub can be completely utilitarian in design or become the centerpiece of the bathroom’s design. If style is important to you, you can find a number of designs on the market in contemporary, transitional, and traditional designs.
Always consider who is using the tub and how it’s being used. If you want to soak regularly, you need a tub with a deeper depth. Adding whirlpool jets is also a good choice.
For older people or those with mobility issues, a walk-in tub is something to consider. It is much easier to get in and out of. Plus it comes with a built-in seat.
Families with small children can opt for a shallower tub that’s easy for a parent to reach into. It also helps encourage the independence of children who are learning to bathe on their own.
The price of tubs varies quite a bit based on the style, material, and manufacturer. The simpler tubs cost a few hundred with luxury tubs going well into the thousands. It’s important to be clear on the features you want and the budget you have to spend. Then, find a tub that accommodates both.
Who Will Be Using the Tub?
You have a number of options when it comes to the material that the bathtub is made from. Each material has its pros and cons. Here’s a brief summary of the four most popular:
- Fiberglass tubs are lightweight and inexpensive. They are easy to install and to repair. On the downside, they are thin and too flexible. They often scratch and fade making them look old fast.
- Porcelain on steel tubs is inexpensive. It’s a thin steel finished in a thin layer of enamel. They are easy to clean and durable. They stay shiny for many years. The downside is they are heavier than fiberglass, plus they can rust and chip upon impact.
- Acrylic tubs are lightweight and easy to install. Colored acrylic gets formed over fiberglass backing. Acrylic tubs are more expensive than fiberglass models. They can also scratch or fade with time.
- Cast iron tubs are extremely durable with a finish that resists chipping, scratching, or denting. They are also very heavy, often requiring extra floor reinforcement. They are going to be the most expensive tub on the market.
Other less common material options include ceramic tile, stone, wood, and solid surface materials.
The Many Types of Tubs
One thing you will quickly notice when you go shopping for a tub is the fact that there are many types available. Here’s a list of options and what they mean:
- Alcove tubs are extremely common. They are installed in a recessed area with three walls. It’s affordable, space efficient, and good for bathing kids.
- Drop in tubs are those that sit within a framework structure. The framing is often made from wood and covered with drywall or tile. The tub sits inside this framework. It can be done in an alcove, along a single wall, or in a corner.
- Freestanding tubs are those that have no attachment to a wall or a frame. They can be located anywhere in the bathroom. The tubs can sit directly on the floor, on a platform, or on classic claw feet. They are often heavy and take up a lot of space.
- Corner tubs are simply tubs that fit into corners. They have two walls along the back, usually where the plumbing lies as well. They can be freestanding or drop in style. These tubs make the most of the room available, though they can seem outdated.
- Whirlpool tubs offer water jets built into the sides of the tub. These jets are part of the tub’s plumbing and require experienced installers. The tubs use high pressured air to jet the water. These tubs are more expensive.
- Shower/tub combos are good for smaller baths. They offer different options in a single space.
Let’s look at five different tubs and decide which one is the best.
The WOODBRIDGE Modern Bathroom Glossy Acrylic Free Standing Bathtub offers a contemporary shape and high quality construction. It holds up to 60 gallons of water and measures 67″ long x 31 1/2″ wide x 28 3/8″ deep. The maximum depth to overflow is 15 7/8″.
If you are looking for a designer look, this bathtub delivers with a sculptural shape that hugs the human form. It’s made from high gloss white Lucite acrylic reinforced with resin and fiberglass. The manufacturer added an easy to clean, stain-resistant surface for easy cleaning and maintenance.
This tub has a bearing capacity of up to 1000 pounds. Double wall insulation keeps the water warm. There’s enough room for two people. It includes the drain and overflow. The manufacturer offers a five-year limited warranty on the tub surface and structure.
- Sculptural contemporary design
- EnduraClean surface finish for easy cleaning
- Lucite acrylic reinforced with resin and fiberglass
- Five-year limited warranty
- Hidden adjustable legs makes it easy to level
- Pre-installed plumbing may leak
The American Standard 2460.002.011 Cambridge Soaking Bathtub has Americast construction for long-lasting durability. The glossy porcelain finish is durable, while the tub bottom has a full slip-resistant StanSure surface.
The Americast construction starts with a steel base for maximum support. A thick insulating layer helps keep water warm inside the tub. The glossy porcelain finish offers a beautiful rugged surface for years of use. This tub has a beveled headrest, a contoured slope for comfort, and a slip-resistant floor for safety.
It measures 60″ long x 32″ wide x 17.5″ deep. It’s designed to fit into a three-wall alcove. The 14″ depth is good for soaking. The manufacturer offers a limited lifetime warranty with all their bathtubs.
- Durable Americast construction that’s durable and lightweight
- 14″ soaking depth
- Insulated walls for heat retention
- Slip-resistant floor
- Contoured design for comfortable bathing and soaking
- Some tubs have bubbling in finish
The American Standard 7236V002.020 Evolution Deep Soaking Tub offers a deep soaking depth and a contoured seat for maximum comfort. It’s designed to act as a drop-in or can be undermounted.
This tub offers a generous 18 1/2″ depth from floor to overflow. The extra depth is due to the special Deep-Soak Max Drain which is a top-mount. It is sold separately.
The body of the tub is made from glossy acrylic. The interior of the tub is contoured to provide lumbar support and built-in armrests. It has a slip-resistant floor for safety. Well-constructed, this tub can handle 60 gallons of water or more.
The tub is 21.5″ deep x 36″ wide x 72″ long. Its interior is large enough to comfortably fit two people. The manufacturer offers a limited lifetime warranty.
- 18 1/2″ soaking depth that fits taller peopl
- Enough room for two people comfortably
- Contoured interior for relaxing
- Slip-resistant floor for safety
- Can be used as drop-in or undermount
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Generous water capacity
- Deep-Soak Max Drain sold separately
The Ove Decors Freestanding Bathtub is a contemporary soaking tub that offers ergonomic contours for maximum comfort. It comes with an extra smooth finish for easy cleaning and stain-resistance.
The body of the tub measures 70″ long x 30″ high x 34 1/4″ deep. The soaking depth is 15.4″, with a water capacity of 60.8 gallons. It can be used with faucets that are deck mounted, wall mounted, or floor mounted. Made from high gloss acrylic, it is fade-resistant and easy to maintain.
Its freestanding design makes it a focal point for your bathroom. It has level legs to ensure it is both functional and beautiful. The manufacturer offers a 10 year warranty on the tub. It comes with a chrome drain and overflow already installed.
- Striking contemporary design
- Made from fade-resistant high gloss acrylic
- Manufacturer offers 10 limited warranty
- Comes with drain and overflow already installed
- Hidden leveling legs make it easy to install
- Extra smooth surface for easy cleaning
- Needs to be secured to the floor
The KINGSTON Brass VTDE603122L Contemporary Alcove Acrylic Bathtub offers a contemporary take on a traditional alcove tub. Made for soaking, it’s also versatile enough to work in the family bath.
This tub is made from acrylic reinforced with fiberglass and resin. It measures 59 7/16″ long, 30 11/16″ wide, and 22 1/16″ high. The overflow is 15 9/16″ from the tub floor for a good soaking depth. It has a 3 to 5 millimeter layer of acrylic material on all surfaces. The attached apron is minimal, hiding all the inner workings of the tub.
Contemporary design and minimalist apron makes it an attractive addition to any bathroom. It does not come with the drain kit included. The manufacturer offers a one-year limited warranty.
- Contemporary design in an alcove tun
- Soaking depth of almost 16″ inches
- Solid layer of acrylic on all surfaces
- Comes with feet installed for a firm fit
- Tub floor sits three inches above the bottom of the apron
And the Winner Is…
The American Standard 7236V002.020 Evolution Deep Soaking Tub is the winner for best bathtub in our comparison. It’s deep depth and generous dimensions make it a comfortable tub to soak in after a long day. The 18.5″ soaking depth is at least two inches deeper than the other tubs in our comparison.
It can comfortably seat people of different heights, and there’s enough room for two if you are so inclined. The back offers comfortable lumbar support while the sides include built-in arm rests. The floor has a slip-resistant surface for maximum safety, unlike the Ove Decors Freestanding Bathtub with an extra smooth surface.
Made from acrylic, this tub will look good for years to come. The manufacturer offers a limited lifetime warranty to minimize problems for the consumer. While this tub is a full 36 inches wide, it’s a perfect upgrade for those who have the space it needs. It can be installed as a drop-in or undermount.