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Bathtub Buying Guide

Before you can make a mohawk out of bubbles, before you can relax with a good book, and before the whirlpool starts to hum, you've got to deal with picking the right tub. Whether you're looking for convenience, economy, or luxury, there's a bathtub here ready for you. Installing or replacing is a more manageable task than many think, and there are more options than ever. We'll help you scrub out the options you don't need and come out squeaky clean.

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Types of Bathtubs

A freestanding tub is simple: it's a tub that sits in your bathroom. These are definitely the easiest to install, but will require careful consideration in hardware style and placement.


A drop-in is designed to fit into a pre-cut opening. It may be sunk into the floor or dropped into a raised platform. You'll get a clean, edged look that fits into many decor styles.


The clawfoot tub is freestanding, but a popular and distinctive style. These timeless tubs are usually white cast iron with heavy, ornate feet. There's no substitute, but they weigh a ton.


The walk-in design is perfect for those with limited mobility, offering a safe and easy way to get in and out of the tub. A door on the side opens and then seals tightly shut.


Not all bathrooms are shaped similarly – what if you could put a bathtub in a corner? These triangular tubs take up two walls and offer a large, luxurious sitting area.

Bathtub & Shower Modules

The all-in-one is a popular and common design, also sometimes called a recessed or alcove tub. It's got three walls and openings for both a tub filler and a showerhead.

Free Standing Bathtub
Free Standing Bathtub
Bathtub Features
Soaking Tubs

Most bathtubs are soaking tubs. There might be a few comfort- or safety-oriented features, but these tubs are really just here for a relaxing, hot bath.

Whirlpool Tubs

A whirlpool tub is basically a hot tub in your bathroom. It's outfitted with a series of built-in water jets that provide massaging pressure and inviting bubbles. You'll find a variety of whirlpool tub features, including:

  • Massage systems and adjustable water jets
  • High-powered water pump systems
  • Soothing lights and aromatherapy systems
  • Cleaning cycles and more
Freestanding Bathtub
Freestanding Bathtub
Double Ended Cast Iron Clawfoot Tub
Double Ended Cast Iron Clawfoot Tub
Freestanding Soaking Bathtub
Freestanding Soaking Bathtub

Airpool Tubs

An airpool offers something else - a new super-relaxing bathtub massage experience. Pushing bubbles of air through its jets rather than water, it's a frothy, enlightening feeling. Look for heated blowers (for warmer bubbles), adjustable airflow programs, and built-in cleaning cycles.

Bathtub Materials
  • The most common bathtub material
  • Smooth, attractive, many color options
  • Easy to clean and repair
  • Lightweight and easy to install
  • The most economical choice
  • Color, finish, and shape options
  • Not as durable or damage-resistant
Cast Iron
  • Enameled heavy metal; usually white
  • Most often used for clawfoot tubs
  • Incredibly durable
  • Incredibly heavy
  • Eye-catching, unique look
  • Hand-hammered designs
  • Very durable metal, ages well
  • Harder to find, often expensive
Enameled Steel
  • Lighter-weight alternative to cast iron
  • Limited color options
  • More easily chipped & damaged
Acrylic Bathtubs
Acrylic Bathtubs
Copper Bath Tubs
Copper Bathtubs

Installing a Bathtub

Whether you're installing an exact replacement (no design changes), remodeling a bathroom (some changes), or starting from scratch, there are some things you'll need to consider before choosing a bathtub.

Measuring Dimensions

Of course, you'll need to know the length, width, and height of the space available for your tub. Bathtubs sizes are typically displayed as outer dimensions. If you have specific requirements for actual tub dimensions, make sure you find those, too.

    Standard Sizes
  • Length: 60 - 72 inches
  • Width: 30 - 42 inches
  • Height: 20 - 26 inches

Depending on the style and size of the tub you choose, it may or may not be particularly heavy. But you know what's heavy? Water. If there's never been a bathtub in your space before, make sure the building is structurally prepared to handle it.

  • 1 gallon of water = 8.3 lbs.
  • Standard bathtubs = 30 - 42 gallons
  • Weight of water = up to 350 lbs.
  • Add the weight of your tub
Plumbing, Wiring, and Drainage

Depending on your choice of tub, installation may be simple or tricky.

Where is your drainage? Wherever the water flows out of your bathroom should be the basis for your tub placement. Altering that plumbing is crazy expensive, and most bathtubs come in enough configurations that you'll find something that fits.

If you're installing a freestanding tub, you need only to make sure there's physical room to install it over the drain and place it underneath the faucet you're installing. See more on floor-standing tub fillers in our Bathroom Faucet Buying Guide.

Plumbing, Wiring, and Drainage

Built-in tubs, and especially whirlpool tubs, need to be installed near a plumber's access point. Your hidden plumbing, pumps, and motors need to be close by and accessible. This may also require rewiring.

Bringing It In

The thing about a bathtub is that it comes in one piece. Be sure to measure all the doorways, corners, rooms, and hallways in between your door or garage and the bathroom. Nobody wants a bathtub in the dining room.

From classic clawfoot to state-of-the-art airpool tubs, you'll find just the tub to meet your taste.