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Choosing a Bathtub: Everything you Need to Know

When planning a bathroom renovation, choosing the right bathtub is an essential step. Bathtubs come in various styles, including alcove tubs, platform tubs, freestanding tubs, as well as the ever-popular clawfoot tub. In this guide we present the main types of bathtubs and important factors to consider when choosing one.

Bathtub parts

Bathtubs have changed considerably over the decades but the basic features remain the same. Let's take a look at the main ones.

Faucet location

The location of the faucets varies depending on the type of bathtub. The tub may have one, two or three holes on its rim for installing the faucet, or it may be a type of tub that requires a wall-mount or floor-mount faucet installation.


The overflow is a small hole located near the top of the tub, connected to the drain system. It prevents the tub from overflowing if the water is left running.


The drain is a hole located in the bottom of the tub for the water to be evacuated towards the drain pipe. You need to make sure that the location of the drain is compatible with the existing plumbing (in the case of a renovation) or that you have enough space to install new plumbing lines (for a new construction). Accessible bathtubs (with a side door) may have two drains to remove the water faster.

Materials, shapes and colours

Some manufacturers offer complete bathroom ranges, allowing you to match the tub with the toilet, the shower and the sink. The most common colours are white, cream, beige, grey and black.

Though the sizes of bathtubs vary from one manufacturer to another, certain dimensions are standard: 60" long x 30" or 32" wide, x 19" deep (exterior dimensions).

Some tubs are 72" long by 48" wide, allowing two people to bathe facing each other, and there are even models measuring 60" x 60" for two people to sit side by side. Corner baths can measure up to 60" x 60" and 21" deep.

Bathtubs are usually offered in four different materials. Let's take a look at their different features to help you make the right choice.

Bathtub types

Bathrooms have undergone a transformation over the decades, from a purely utilitarian space to a room dedicated to relaxation and well-being.

Bathtubs, used primarily for relaxation, are available in many different shapes and designs to suit all kinds of bathroom layouts. Whirlpool and therapeutic tubs are equipped with jets. The sleek, elegant lines of contemporary bathtubs make them the centrepiece of modern bathrooms.

Installation : how it's done

The first step in any bathroom remodeling project is to establish the scope of the work required. Ask yourself if you are prepared to move drains, plumbing lines, cabinets or knock down walls. If you prefer to use the existing plumbing connections, you must choose your bathtub accordingly, taking into account the location of the drain and faucets.

If you do not intend to alter the position of walls, your new tub will obviously need to fit perfectly into the existing alcove and you must also make sure that it will fit through the staircase and doorways.

Regardless of the type and shape of bathtub you choose, the unit must have at least 5' of accessible sides and 3' of clearance space around it.

Fitting a new tub is fairly straightforward if you are simply replacing an old fixture without moving existing plumbing or drainage lines.

The basic tools you will need are:

For more details, consult our other projects: Build a platform with a drop-in bathtub, Install a bathtub and shower, and Install a shower bathtub faucet.

Need any help? Let us take care of the installation for you!

As for whirlpool and therapeutic tubs, the installation is more complex and must be done by professionals.

Pro Tip

When installing or replacing a bathroom faucet for your new bathtub, consider models with a handheld sprayer as it will be useful for washing hair or rinsing the tub!

Whirlpool and therapeutic tubs

Whirlpool tubs are smaller than hot tubs and need to be filled everytime they are used. Also, there is no need to treat the water or install a special dehumidifying system.

Whirlpool tubs do produce very strong jets, which may not be suitable or recommended for everyone. Under such circumstances, it may be best to choose a therapeutic bath. Some bathtubs combine the benefits of both whirlpool and therapeutic models.

Finally, another option is chromatherapy – coloured lights on the inside of the tub whose colours can be alternated for an energizing or soothing effect.

When choosing between a whirlpool or a therapeutic tub, some technical aspects need to be considered:
  • The pump on a whirlpool bath must be installed in close proximity to the tub, which requires an access panel in the apron
  • The air compressor for a therapeutic tub can be installed in a cabinet, storage closet or even another room
  • Therapeutic bathtubs require significantly less maintenance than whirlpool tubs
  • A whirlpool bathtub must be cleaned at least twice a month, in order to remove bacteria that can build up in the pipes and spread into the water which can cause infections.

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