Choosing a Bathtub: Everything you Need to Know
Materials, shapes and colours
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.
Enamelled steel bathtub
- Coated with a layer of porcelain
- Non-porous, does not stain, fade or rust
- Does not lose its shine
- Easy to clean
- The enamel can chip easily if knocked, and repairs are costly as they must be done by a professional
- The tub is slippery, noisy, and loses heat quickly unless it is foam insulated
- Limited choice of shapes and sizes
- Thermoformed, fibreglass-reinforced acrylic sheets
- Wide variety of models, sizes, depths and other options
- Easy to clean
- Holds heat well
- Can be colour-matched with an acrylic washbasin
- Acrylic is less rigid than other materials, so the structure supporting the tub must be perfectly level and very sturdy
- Not very resistant to scratches and corrosion from solvents
Gel coat fibreglass bathtub
- Less expensive than acrylic
- Lightweight and easy to install
- Several grades of finish, some thicker than others
- Gel coat is thin and less wear-resistant than acrylic
Cast iron bathtub
- The most durable, shiny and expensive of all bathtub materials; typically used for clawfoot tubs
- Holds heat well
- Resistant to flaking under normal conditions
- Exceptionally long-lasting
- Can be damaged if knocked by a metal object
- Repairs must be done by a professional
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.
Made of enamelled steel , or acrylic, which is slightly more expensive. If an enamelled tub becomes worn, it can be resurfaced or even covered with a new acrylic "tub" moulded to fit on top.
Install an alcove bathtub with an apron between three walls.
Drop-in tubs come in various shapes and styles.
Platform installation offers flexibility in terms of the volume of the tub you choose and the location of the faucets. The piping of whirlpool and therapeutic tubs is also easier to accommodate with this type of installation.
The tub is built into a casing which is constructed directly on the floor.
All the outer sides of the tub are covered by an apron made of the same material as the tub itself.
The tub is installed directly on the floor, which must be level and solid. The water supply and drainage systems must be carefully planned in order to incorporate these elements aesthetically.
Due to its depth, this type of tub must be partially or completely embedded in the floor.
An opening is cut in the floor to accommodate a platform on which the tub rests. It is crucial for this structure to be solid and sturdy, given the considerable weight of the tub when filled with water.
Depth and durability are additional reasons to choose this style of tub. Some models are sloped at one end to provide a backrest, for greater comfort.
The plumbing is exposed.
Clawfoot tubs are installed directly on the floor.
The bathtub shower combo is assembled in the room. Its components are relatively light, which makes them easy to carry and install.
A bathtub shower can be installed in an alcove (between three walls), a partial alcove (between two walls) or even in a corner.
The tub has a sealed watertight door and contains an easily accessible seat and grab bars.
The tub is installed on the floor just like a freestanding tub. It may come with two drains to evacuate the water more quickly.
Installation : how it's done
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:
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As for whirlpool and therapeutic tubs, the installation is more complex and must be done by professionals.
Whirlpool and therapeutic tubs
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.