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Bathtub Styles

In most homes a bathtub is used many times a day, we stand in it, we sit in it, and we lie in it! It provides comfort, and relaxation. It is a place for contemplating the problems of the world (Figure 1) and many of us use it as the area to express our thoughts through song. We use it to wash the kids, the dog, and delicate drapes. Yet, with all its uses and its importance in our lives, it is probably the least thought about fixture in most homes.

whirlpool bathtub with fireplace
Figure 1 - Whirlpool bathtub with fireplace

In new construction we will usually find at least one standard 30″ wide, 60″ long and 14″ deep, baked enamel or acrylic bathtub. If the new home is more up-market, it may include a whirlpool tub of one sort or another. Where whirlpool tubs used to be a true luxury item, new manufacturers have driven the prices down substantially and where the a whirlpool tub was always much wider, longer and deeper, the new models are made to fit into the same basic space requirements as a standard bathtub.

However, a standard bathtub or even a new low cost acrylic whirlpool tub do not represent even a small fraction of the bathtubs that are available to meet the needs and desires of all families. While some may be priced out of reach of many, the vast majority of bathtubs, if one considers their value, are well within most family budgets.

In most cases the cost of a new bathtub, is not the bathtub itself, but the installation. The installation of a new bathtub can easily be ten times the cost of the bathtub itself. Most of the standard bathtubs come in a left and right drain configuration, because the bathtub is manufactured with a drip edge that is designed to go under the wall material, such as concrete board, drywall or green board. Seldom are these materials left painted, at least around the bathtub, so in order to replace the bathtub it requires the removal and then replacement of the ceramic or porcelain tile.

Take a long hard look at the work involved to replace your current bathtub. A bathtub replacement can easily turn into a total bathroom remodeling project!

In new construction, the bathtubs are usually the first fixtures to be installed after framing. This allows for easy access to drain pipes, incoming water supply, and electrical if it is a whirlpool type bathtub. Because it was one of the first items installed it can be difficult to remove it from the bathroom and then the home in general without damaging walls, stairs and doorways.

Selecting a Bathtub:

Bathtubs are manufactured in a vast array of shapes, sizes and depths; are made out of numerous materials and come with a host of options, such as whirlpool jets, hydrotherapy systems and heaters to maintain a comfortable water temperature. Bathtubs are manufactured with many different angles to the back and water depths. To find a bathtub that will provide you with the comfort and relaxation that you are looking for it is a wise idea to visit your local bathtub showroom and test-drive the different models, by actually sitting in them.

Another important consideration in the size of the tub is personal usage. How many bathers will use the tub at any one time? Many couples enjoy the pastime of relaxing together in a bathtub of hot water. If having company in your bathtub suits your lifestyle then a two-person bathtub model, as shown in Figure 2, should be considered.

two person bathtub
Figure 2 - Two person whirlpool bathtub


Are you small and petite or very tall and husky? These are important questions when choosing a bathtub. If you like to be totally immersed in the water and you are a big or tall individual you will need a different style tub than the person who is small or petite. Do you require a specific back angle in order to feel totally relaxed and comfortable? Whatever your requirements you should be able to find a model that suits you perfectly.

In North America a standard bathtub is 14-inches to 16-inches deep. In Europe a standard bathtub is 18-inches deep and in Japan and Greece the average tub is 22-inches deep, with many much deeper models available.

Therapeutic Value:

It has long been known that water in itself has therapeutic qualities. Just the sound of a babbling stream, waterfall or ocean waves can relieve stress. Soaking in a hot bath is proven to lower blood pressure, relaxes muscles, relieve muscle pain and discomfort, and provide a reduction in mental stress.

If you are looking for a therapeutic bath that will work on legs, thighs and hips, a standard tub may prove suitable. However, if you are looking for a therapeutic bath that will work on your back and shoulders you may require a bathtub that is deeper than a standard model.


Unless you are designing a home from the bathtub out, you will have constraints on the size and shape of the bathtub you are able to purchase. However, because there are many manufacturers and many materials you should be able to find a bathtub in the size, style, and color that suits all of your requirements and needs. A visit to a local bath showroom will provide you with an almost endless assortment and variations.


The most common bathtub manufactured is a wall to wall, open one side only, 30-inches wide, 60-inches long, and 14-inches deep. It is made of steel or acrylic and is sold in white or almond. Hundreds of thousands of these bathtubs are sold and installed each and every year. They are so common that the big box home improvement centers all stock a number of them at anytime. The only variation is whether the drain is on the left or the right!

The antique (copper bathtubs, Figure 3) or vintage look is making a come back with an increased popularity of claw-foot bathtubs, as shown in Figure 4, which, in general provide a deeper tub.

copper bathtub
Figure 3 - Copper bathtub
clawfoot bathtub
Figure 4 - Clawfoot bathtub

Other models and features include, built-in, freestanding, soaking, whirlpool, heated, hydrotherapeutic and specialty.

walk in bathtub
Figure 5 - Walk in bathtub


Bathtubs come in a variety of materials. Each material has unique properties that affect the advantages and disadvantages of choosing it as your material of choice.

Additional information on bathtub materials


Specialty bathtubs are also available with added features for the elderly and handicapped. Most bathtubs require that you climb in this can be difficult for many people. Bathtubs have now been engineered to have a watertight door, which allow the bather to walk into the bathtub rather than climbing over and into the unit, as shown in Figure 5.