Choosing a Tub

Soaking Tub in a Modern Bath
Soaking Tub in a Modern Bath
Your choice about a tub for the bath can be frustrating.  Tubs take up a lot of floor space so bath shops usually only have a few on display but your choices are in the thousands.  I only want to make a few points in this article:

  • Comfort is more important than style — the same tub can work with widely different styles.
  • Whirlpools are often rarely if ever used in the home after the first few weeks or months.
  • Air tubs offer a low maintenance alternative; consider soaking tubs if you think you’ll only occasionally use the jets.
Your primary concern should be conform In choosing a tub.  Go to your local bath shop — choose the one that has the greatest number of tubs on display — and sit in every one.  You might not buy any of them but you can answer the following questions about what’s important to you:

  • How long does the bottom sitting area need to be for you to stretch out.
  • How high does the overflow need to be so the water covers what’s important when you’re lounging in the tub
  • Do you prefer a sloped or straighter back
  • Do you prefer arm rests or not
  • Do you prefer a built-in pillow option
  • How wide does it need to be for you to comfortably sit — both the bottom and top.
  • Will one or two of you be bathing at once
  • Where do you need grab bars for ease and safety of getting into and out of the tub

With this information in mind you can sit with one of the sales folks and look at specs to identify tubs that will work for you.  Second, think about saving water and the capacity of your hot water tank.  Some tub designs require 100 gallons to overflow and some only 65.  It will be cheaper and faster to fill the tub that only requires 65 gallons.  And obviously, an 80 gallon tank won’t work for a tub that requires 100 gallons.  The difference in water capacity has to do with the shape of the tub.  I can always find tubs that fit my client’s comfort needs and also that save water.

Third, think about the frills.  Waterjet tubs — often called whirlpools — require weekly and monthly maintenance to avoid build-up of bacteria.  This is time that many of us don’t want to spend.  If you want to lounge for long periods with pulsing jets of water consider a hot tub that you keep hot constantly and that has all the chlorine and other chemicals to keep bacteria at bay.  An air jet will give you many the benefits of a waterjet with little maintenance.  The pulsing is lighter and more frothy instead of massaging.  I usually try to place the motor in a different room so the bath remains quiet.

A soaking tub is often what we’ll use most of the time — and if we give up the romance of the jets we end up with a tub that requires little maintenance, doesn’t have motors to breakdown, that’s less expensive to install, and that’s quiet and peaceful.

Same Model Tub w/ Airjets in Traditional Bath
Same Model Tub w/ Airjets in Traditional Bath
The two tubs in this article are the exact same model — Aquatic Serenity 14.  Notice how well it works in both a very modern bath (1st image) and in the much more tradition bath above.  The faucets, deck materials, and other design choices can allow you to fit a tub into almost any style.  This is why I put comfort and function first.  In the modern bath, I used the curve of the tub as an accent to the hard, straight modern lines of the rest of the bath.  Here, I complimented the curve with the curves found in the faucet, lighting, and the sink (not shown).
The first tub is a soaking tub with no frills except grab bars for ease of getting into and out of the tub.  The second tub is an airjet tub with the motor hidden in an adjoining closet.  The second tub also has a “chromotherapy” option with LED lights that give a soft colorful glow to your bathing experience — see below.

"Chromotherapy" options -- underwater LED lights
“Chromotherapy” options — underwater LED lights
First two images courtesy of Braitman Design/Build; third image courtesy of client.
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