Choosing the Right Bathtub for Your Bathroom

Have you ever sunk into a warm, relaxing bath at the end of a long day and thought, “I need this in my life every day!”? If you’re looking to upgrade your current bathtub or install a new one in your bathroom remodel, choosing the right tub is key to creating your dream oasis. With so many types, sizes, materials and features to consider, picking the perfect bathtub can be tricky. This guide covers everything you need to know to find your ideal soaking tub. Let’s dive in!

Why the Right Bathtub Matters

Your bathtub is arguably the centerpiece of your bathroom – it’s one of the first things guests will notice and a major factor in your everyday comfort and relaxation. Choosing a tub that complements your bathroom’s decor and fits your lifestyle is crucial. The right tub can transform your bathroom into a spa-like retreat and provide a better bathing experience for years to come. Here are some key reasons why installing the perfect bathtub matters:

Enhance your bathing experience – The right tub offers the ideal height, depth and reclining angle for your body, allowing you to completely relax in comfort. Features like molded armrests and lumbar support take your bath to the next level.

Reflect your style – Make a statement by selecting a bathtub in a striking color or unique design that reflects your personal taste and complements your bathroom decor. The tub can become a focal point.

Upgrade functionality – Look for tubs with features like whirlpool water jets, air bubble massage or chromotherapy lighting built-in to take your bath from basic to luxurious.

Save water – Many modern tubs are designed for water efficiency, with low-capacity options to help conserve water.

Increase home value – A beautiful, high-end bathtub can increase the value of your home should you ever want to sell.

Improve accessibility – For homeowners with mobility limitations, walk-in tubs make bathing safer and more comfortable.

Now that you know why it pays to pick the perfect tub, let’s explore the main types of bathtubs available today.

Types of Bathtubs

With many different bathtub styles and configurations to choose from, selecting a type that works best for your space and needs is key.

Freestanding Bathtubs

Freestanding tubs have gained major popularity in recent years for their elegance and versatility. As the name suggests, these bathtubs sit independently in the bathroom, with exposed sides not covered by walls or surrounds. They come in a range of shapely, eye-catching silhouettes like oval, round and rectangular. Other features:

  • Placement – Position anywhere, even away from walls. Allow access on all sides.
  • Materials – Typically made of acrylic, stone resin, porcelain-enameled cast iron or copper.
  • Pros – Stylish focal point, versatile placement, easy maintenance.
  • Cons – No support from walls, expensive, needs adequate floor support.

Alcove Bathtubs

As a common built-in style, alcove tubs are enclosed on three sides by walls in a bathroom alcove, with the front side open for entry. Rectangular in shape, they maximize bathing space while fitting into tight areas. Features include:

  • Placement – Fitted into an alcove or cubby hole in the bathroom.
  • Materials – Typically acrylic, enamel-coated steel or porcelain.
  • Pros – Space-saving, affordable, easy to clean, protected by walls.
  • Cons – Limited style options, less legroom, installation challenges in alcove.

Drop-In Bathtubs

As their name describes, drop-in tubs are lowered into a platform in the floor, surrounded by tile, solid surface or other finished material. The top edges overlap the platform for support. Their features include:

  • Placement – Lowered into a custom-built tub platform or deck in the bathroom floor.
  • Materials – Made of enameled cast iron, acrylic, natural stone or solid surface.
  • Pros – Consistent floor surface, easy cleaning around tub, seamless look.
  • Cons – Irreversible installation, high cost, limits flooring options.

Corner Bathtubs

Corner tubs are installed into the corner of a bathroom, typically using two adjoining walls for support. They naturally fit and utilize awkward, angled spaces. Features include:

  • Placement – Fits snugly into the corner of a bathroom.
  • Materials – Most often enameled cast iron, but also acrylic or fiberglass.
  • Pros – Great use of corner space, surrounds on multiple sides.
  • Cons – Limited leg room, difficult access through one opening.

Walk-In Bathtubs

Walk-in tubs are designed with an outward-swinging door and low step-over threshold, allowing safe and easy entry for those with mobility challenges. Features include:

  • Placement – Set into a alcove or against a wall, like a standard tub.
  • Materials – Made from fiberglass, acrylic, porcelain or enameled steel.
  • Pros – Safe independent bathing, comfort features, retains heat well.
  • Cons – Expensive, uses more floor space, limited style options.

Whirlpool Bathtubs

Whirlpool tubs feature jets that shoot streams of water to massage and relax the user’s body for a spa-like soak. Other features include:

  • Placement – Anywhere a standard tub can be installed.
  • Materials – Typically made of acrylic or thermoplastic.
  • Pros – Invigorating hydro massage, heat features, customized jets.
  • Cons – Very expensive, motor maintenance required, may leak.

Soaking Bathtubs

Simple soaking tubs provide a peaceful, relaxing bathing experience and are often minimalist in style. Features include:

  • Placement – Any typical bathtub location.
  • Materials – Porcelain, enameled cast iron, natural stone, copper, acrylic.
  • Pros – Classic style, budget-friendly, easy maintenance.
  • Cons – Few special features, basic appearance.

Clawfoot Bathtubs

Iconic clawfoot tubs sit on four exposed decorative legs, popularized in the early 1900s. Typical features:

  • Placement – Freestanding, away from walls.
  • Materials – Cast iron, porcelain, acrylic, stone resin.
  • Pros – Unique vintage style, affordable acrylic models available.
  • Cons – Old school, not as comfortable, needs floor draining.

Material Options

Bathtubs today are typically made from these main materials, each with their own properties:

  • Porcelain enameled steel – Durable and affordable but can chip over time.
  • Acrylic – Affordable, lightweight nonporous surfaces, limited colors.
  • Cast iron – Extremely durable but very heavy. Porcelain enameled coating.
  • Stone resin – Made from crushed stone and resin for natural stone look at lower cost. Durable.
  • Solid surface – Nonporous, seamless, stylish material but expensive and easily damaged.
  • Copper – Expensive natural metal option that develops patina over time. Antimicrobial.
  • Fiberglass – Affordable, lightweight and durable but prone to discoloration.

The material you choose affects cost, durability, weight, feel and appearance.

Now that you know about the many bathtub types and materials available, let’s go over the key factors to weigh when choosing your dream tub.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Bathtub

Selecting the right bathtub involves assessing your needs in relation to size, style, features, installation requirements and more.

Size and Shape

Consider both the interior capacity and overall footprint of a tub:

  • User height/length – When reclining, your body should fit without bending knees.
  • Tub capacity – Look at gallon capacity to estimate water needed to fill. Standard is 50-60 gallons.
  • Tub dimensions – Measure your bathroom space carefully to ensure the tub will fit.
  • Sizes – Typical sizes range from 60 to 72 inches long and 30 to 42 inches wide. Extra deep/wide tubs are available.
  • Shape – Rectangular, oval, round and corner tubs optimize space differently.

You want ample room to move around and stretch out comfortably.


Factors about bathtub materials include:

  • Surface feel – Materials like acrylic, enameled steel and solid surface have smooth, nonporous finishes that are easy to clean. Natural stone and copper feel ultra-luxurious.
  • Noise – Acrylic makes less noise when filling with water vs. porcelain enameled metal.
  • Heat retention – Materials like cast iron retain heat well for longer soaks, while acrylic cools faster.
  • Cleaning needs – Nonporous surfaces typically need minimal regular cleaning. Avoid abrasive cleaners.
  • Durability – Cast iron and stone resin last longest. Acrylic and fiberglass are prone to scratching.
  • Cost – Materials like solid copper, exotic stone and solid surface are premium. Acrylic is highly affordable.

Choose a material aligned with your priorities like feel, noise, heat retention and budget.

Style and Design

Style considerations for your bathtub:

  • Freestanding, alcove or built-in – Freestanding tubs make bold statements while alcove and built-in types fit snugly into defined spaces.
  • Contemporary or traditional – Sleek, simple designs offer a contemporary vibe while ornamental clawfoot or slipper tubs exude tradition.
  • Color/finish – White and neutral tones work everywhere. Bright colors and metallics make dramatic accents. Natural stone and wood finishes bring warmth.
  • Special features – Look for unique details like uneven edges, sloped backs, decorative clawfeet or echoing curves.

Your bathtub should complements your bathroom’s overall aesthetic.

Comfort and Ergonomics

Your comfort in the tub depends on:

  • Reclined position – The ideal backrest angle is between 10-25 degrees. Lumbar curves provide extra support.
  • Depth – A deeper tub (20+ inches) allows full body immersion. Standard is 14-17 inches deep.
  • Interior surface – Antimicrobial treatments and textured bottoms help you grip. A soaking bath pillow offers neck support.
  • Accessories – Look for built-in armrests, grab bars and slip-resistant tub floors for safety and comfort.

Test out showroom tubs to discover what works best for your body.

Water Usage and Efficiency

For water-saving:

  • Size – Opt for standard tubs around 50 gallons rather than extra-large spa tubs.
  • Capacity – Low-capacity tubs use a fraction of the water of typical models.
  • Accessories – Add a flow-restricting tub filler to reduce water volume.
  • Air baths – Air baths bubble water for hydrotherapy without filling the whole tub.

Even small tubs allow a relaxing soak if designed ergonomically.

Installation Requirements

Consider the complexity of installing each tub type:

  • Freestanding – Requires no alcove but needs floor drainage.
  • Drop-in – Needs special framing and floor deck installation.
  • Alcove – Fits into existing alcove space but may need wall framing.
  • Corner – Installs in corner area but generally requires additional framing.
  • Walk-in – More complicated door mechanism and internal seat construction.

Consult a contractor if substantial construction is needed to accomodate your tub.

Maintenance and Cleaning

Simpler cleaning means easier maintenance:

  • Nonporous materials – Smooth acrylic, solid surface, glass and enameled steel are easiest to wipe down. Avoid abrasive cleaners.
  • Accessible surfaces – Freestanding and drop-in tubs allow all-around cleaning.
  • Mold resistance – Copper and silver-infused materials deter mold naturally.
  • Jets and equipment – Whirlpool and air tubs require draining, cleaning and replacing jet parts.

Choose durable, water-resistant materials that allow easy cleaning access.

By evaluating your priorities across these factors, you can narrow down the perfect style of bathtub for your needs. Next let’s look at some top brands and specific tub models to consider.

Reputable bathtub manufacturers include:


  • Overview – Founded in 1873, Kohler is a leader in kitchen and bathroom fixtures. They offer a huge range of tub models.
  • Pros – Excellent brand recognition, wide availability, solid warranties. Many 4+ star models on Home Depot.
  • Example tub – Kohler Archer 5-foot Bath with Left Drain has clean lines and integral lumbar support. $730 at Home Depot.

American Standard

  • Overview – Leading bath fixture brand since 1875, now part of LIXIL. High-quality tubs across styles.
  • Pros – Wide selection, reliable performance, easy to clean.
  • Example tub – American Standard 2461.012M202 Cadet Curved acrylic tub with lumbar support and pre-leveled bottom. $519 on Home Depot.


  • Overview – Manufactures its own freestanding tubs and whirlpools. Mid-range prices.
  • Pros – Contemporary style, good variety of materials like acrylic, stone and porcelain.
  • Example tub – Woodbridge 67″ Acrylic Freestanding Bathtub has double-walled construction. $699 on Wayfair.


  • Overview – North America’s leading bath manufacturer, making mass-market tubs since 1982.
  • Pros – Affordable prices, range of stylish alcove and corner tubs.
  • Example tub – MAAX Someria White 60-in Left Drain Alcove Bathtub for just $379 on Lowes.

Bathtub Installation and Maintenance

Proper installation and care ensures your bathtub functions safely and looks beautiful.


Key steps to install a bathtub include:

  • Inspect and prepare the site – Examine the bathroom carefully, clear obstructions, install framing for alcove tubs.
  • Install the drain and plumbing – Add drain, P-trap and shutoff valves according to tub specifications.
  • Lower and level the tub – Use professional equipment to safely lift and position the tub. Level and shim as needed.
  • Secure the tub – Screw tub feet or integral flanges into the floor studs for stability. Seal with adhesive.
  • Attach plumbing connections – Connect supply and drain lines. Test for leaks!
  • Build surrounds – Erect protective backerboard and waterproof walls around the tub.
  • Finish surfaces – Apply plaster, tile or other decorative finishes around the installed tub.

Hire professional plumbers and contractors for best results and safety.


To keep your bathtub like new:

  • Clean regularly – Wipe surfaces with gentle, non-abrasive cleaner to prevent buildup and stains, especially after soaks.
  • Inspect fittings – Check faucets, drains, caulking for leaks and retighten or replace as needed.
  • Descale metal surfaces – Use a tub, tile and metal cleaner product to remove hard water deposits and mineral scale buildup.
  • Sanitize – Disinfect the tub monthly using bleach solution or other sanitizing cleaner to prevent mold.
  • Recaulk – Refresh caulking around the tub yearly to prevent moisture damage.

With regular easy care, your bathtub can stay in top shape for decades.

Common Bathtub Problems and Solutions

Some common bathtub issues and troubleshooting tips:

Slow draining – Remove drain cover and use a zip-it tool to clear hair clogs. Try chemical drain cleaners.

Leaking – Check for leaks at supply lines and faucet spouts first. Recaulk around the tub base. Replace failed seals or pipes.

Chipped enamel – For minor chips, use enamel touch-up paint. Segment retubing can repair extensive damage.

Mildew and mold – Wipe down surfaces frequently and control bathroom humidity. Remove mold with bleach solutions.

Loose faucets – Retighten faucet connections or reset loose wall-mounted spouts. Replace washers or gaskets.

Creaking and popping – This is common with enamel cast iron tubs as they expand. Adjusting supports may help.

Address problems quickly before major damage occurs!


I hope this overview gives you confidence to choose the perfect bathtub to upgrade your bathroom.

The key is picking a comfortable, durable tub with the right size, features and style for your space and needs. Carefully measure your bathroom, evaluate all the types and installation factors, and choose a quality brand that fits within your budget.

With a beautiful new bathtub as the centerpiece, you can transform your ordinary bathroom into a relaxing, spa-like retreat for daily renewal and rejuvenation. Happy bathing!

Roger Angulo
Roger Angulo
Roger Angulo, the owner of, curates a blog dedicated to sharing informative articles on home improvement. With a focus on practical insights, Roger's platform is a valuable resource for those seeking tips and guidance to enhance their living spaces.