Do you end your busy days with a refreshing shower or a soak in the tub? Even if a relaxing bubble bath is a rare luxury for most, it’s hard to imagine a master bathroom without a tub of some sort.
Bathtubs can be independent fixtures or part of an all-inclusive shower. They can also be made of a wide range of materials, from lightweight acrylic to heavy-duty cast iron. Either way, you probably have more options to choose from when shopping for a new bathtub than you realize!
So before settling on a standard alcove tub, take a moment to learn about the different types of bathtubs and how they could potentially take those much-needed bubble baths to the next level.
The Different Types of Bathtubs:
- Cast Iron
- En Suite
- Wet Room
An alcove bathtub is any tub installed into a bathroom recess. Most alcove tubs are nestled between three adjoining walls and feature a shower attachment.
Alcove tubs are perhaps the most common bathtub style seen in contemporary homes. Although this type of bathtub doesn’t offer much in terms of aesthetics, it’s extremely space-efficient and meets the needs of the average household.
An alcove tub can be finished with a shower curtain or glass partition — or, if there is no shower, left completely open. Different faucet and showerhead options can help further customize your new bathtub to suit your lifestyle.
Freestanding bathtubs are completely independent of the walls surrounding them. All sides of the tub are finished for an attractive fixture regardless of viewing angle.
A freestanding bathtub can be installed anywhere equipped with plumbing access. Freestanding bathtubs are normally installed in addition to a standalone shower but some bathrooms feature an all-in-one design.
These tubs can take on many different appearances. Some freestanding bathtubs sit directly on the floor. Others are elevated on short legs or another type of support.
A drop-in bathtub is literally dropped into an existing support structure called a surround. Only the interior of the tub (or what is visible after it has been dropped into place) is finished. The unfinished bottom is covered by the surround.
Once installed, a drop-in tub doesn’t look much different from any other type. These tubs are a popular style of alcove tub but can be installed in many creative ways.
Opting for a drop-in tub can save money and streamline the installation process. As long as your bathroom is set up for this type of tub, the only real downside is that it can be harder to access the plumbing hidden underneath.
If you’re thinking of updating your bathroom with a freestanding tub, consider investing in a stylish claw-foot bathtub. Claw-foot tubs offer a classic aesthetic that is perfect for any vintage-style home.
In terms of function, claw-foot tubs are no different than any other freestanding tub. A claw-foot bathtub may be easier to clean under and around than a tub mounted directly to the floor.
Claw-foot tubs tend to be higher off of the ground than their counterparts. This can make entering and exiting the water a bit difficult. Claw-foot tubs, like all freestanding designs, also aren’t optimized for use with a showerhead.
A skirted bathtub is a subcategory of drop-in and alcove tubs. Skirted tubs are constructed like regular drop-in tubs but with a single side — the one facing out toward the rest of the bathroom — finished.
Skirted tubs combine the convenience of a drop-in design with a more polished look. They work particularly well as alcove tubs because all three unfinished sides are covered by the surrounding walls.
It’s easy to take for granted the simple act of stepping into and out of a bathtub. Walk-in bathtubs allow those with limited mobility to safely perform this task without worrying about slipping and falling.
Most walk-in tubs feature a swinging door that allows the users to enter without lifting their legs up and over the edge. This door’s seal is watertight so the tub can still be used as a traditional bathtub or shower.
Walk-in tubs may include other accessibility features like handles, seats, and handheld showerheads. Outside of these extra features, walk-in bathtubs function just like any other.
For the ultimate in-home spa experience, you can’t go wrong with a jetted bathtub. This style of tub features powered water jets similar to the ones found in a recreational hot tub.
A jetted tub also called a whirlpool or jacuzzi tub can be used for relaxation, pain relief, and to alleviate muscle tension. Jetted tubs come in many shapes, sizes, and styles to accommodate any bathroom layout.
Some jetted tubs have additional heaters to keep the water at a consistently warm temperature. The vast majority of jetted tubs allow the user to adjust the strength of the jets or turn them off altogether.
Does the average household have any need for an outdoor bathtub? No. But this type of tub can be extremely handy in niche situations.
Outdoor bathtubs are most common in temperate climates where you can comfortably bathe outside throughout most of the year. A heated outdoor tub can be used in place of a hot tub for relaxation.
An outdoor tub can be a great addition to a backyard pool or beach house. Like an outdoor shower, this style of tub allows you to wash off without tracking sand or chemicals into the house.
A soaking tub is wide and deep enough for the average person to fully submerge their body. Most soaking tubs are round or oval.
While soaking tubs are becoming more common around the world, this type of bathtub has Japanese roots. Traditional Japanese soaking tubs are often made of wood and include a bench seat. Contemporary soaking tubs are made of standard acrylic.
This style of tub can be installed as an alcove or freestanding tub. If you’re replacing an existing alcove tub, you may need to make adjustments to account for the soaking tub’s greater depth.
Interior design is all about optimizing whatever space you have available. If a freestanding or three-sided alcove tub won’t fit in your bathroom, a corner tub might be the perfect solution.
Of course, any bathtub with at least one 90-degree angle can be installed in a corner. But the tubs that make the most of this setup are designed with a specific shape.
Specialty corner tubs often feature two straight sides connected by a rounded front. Corner bathtubs are available as drop-in or standalone fixtures depending on your needs.
Most residential bathtubs are made of acrylic and fiberglass. These materials are lightweight, easy to work with, and fit the budgets of most homeowners. But they can sometimes look “cheap.”
Stone tubs offer extreme durability and a high-end appearance. With — surprise, surprise – a price tag to match.
Stone resin is a more practical and affordable option than all-natural stone. This material is similar to concrete and can be easily cast into the shape of a bathtub. Finishes that mimic the look of natural stone are also available.
12. Cast Iron
Cast iron bathtubs were once the standard. But these fixtures have fallen out of favor in contemporary homes because of their extreme weight and high price point.
A cast iron bathtub might not be practical for many bathrooms but they do come with benefits. First, they can last for many, many years with proper care. Second, cast iron is great at retaining heat and keeping your bath water warm for extended periods.
Installing a cast iron tub in your own bathroom will definitely give it some vintage charm. Cast iron bathtubs can be bought new or used — the latter can save you a pretty penny if you’re willing to restore an antique piece.
A wooden bathtub isn’t something you’ll see in the average American home. But this traditional style is still popular in countless spas, bathhouses, and even some residential homes around the world.
Wooden tubs may boast a rustic or ultra-modern aesthetic. Because of the nature of wood, most of these tubs are highly angular. Is a wooden bathtub realistic for most households? No, probably not. Yet it’s interesting to know that these tubs do exist in some settings!
Round bathtubs can be more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing than rectangular ones. This style looks great alongside sleek, modern bathroom decor.
The downside to round bathtubs is that they’re not very space-efficient. While a round tub is spacious on the inside, it also takes up a ton of floor space (and can’t be tucked into a corner). This design also isn’t ideal for tall people!
Round drop-in tubs do exist. However, very few homes are built with this type of bathtub in mind. If you want to replace your traditional tub with a round one, you’ll probably either need to remodel the existing tub support or opt for a freestanding model.
15. En Suite
An en suite is any bathroom that is directly adjacent to a bedroom. En suite bathtubs can be located in the same room as the bed or separated by a simple partition.
An en suite tub can give your bedroom a romantic or relaxing atmosphere. Jetted bathtubs are a popular choice for en suites, especially in vacation homes and hotels.
The difficult part of designing an en suite bathroom is striking a balance between openness and privacy. This layout is ideal for single people and couples. Crowded households will probably find an en suite bathtub impractical.
16. Wet Room
A wet room is a style of bathroom designed to handle moisture throughout. Wet rooms often feature open-air showers, tiles across the entire floors and walls, and a drain in the center of the room.
Not all wet rooms have bathtubs. However, there’s nothing stopping you from including a tub in your wet room-style bathroom design.
There’s no need for a shower curtain or partition in a wet room (in fact, that’s the whole point!). Water spilling or splashing out of the tub won’t damage the surrounding surfaces. You can even install a rainfall shower head over your tub in place of a traditional faucet.
A slipper tub is a freestanding bathtub with one or both ends raised in a gentle slope. Models with only one raised end are called single-slipper tubs. Those with two raised ends are known as double-slipper tubs.
This style of bathtub first emerged in the Victorian era and is often outfitted with ornate claw feet. Slipper tubs are beloved for their elegant appearance and overall comfort.
The raised ends offer a supportive place to recline against. Large double-slipper tubs can accommodate two people with ease.