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  • November 22 , 2018

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Freestanding Tub Buying Guide – Best Style, Size, and Material for You

 

 
Freestanding Tub Buying Guide
 
Exploring the wide variety of freestanding bathtub styles, sizes, and materials can be overwhelming. Being familiar with the options available as well as knowing your needs will not only make your tub hunt easier, but will ensure that you are selecting the perfect style for your new spa-like sanctuary. Here are the most important steps to take when shopping for a new bathtub:
 
Step 1: Understand What Size Tub You Need
Knowing how much space you have to work with is important, and will prevent major headaches after the tub is already on-site. Measure the area where the bathtub is going to be placed. In addition, you will need space to install your plumbing and have easy access to the plumbing for any future maintenance. As a general guideline, you should plan to have at least 4" of space between your tub and the bathroom wall on all sides.

You will need to measure all doorways, hallways, stairwells, or any other opening that the tub must pass through. Having to remove doors, widen doorways, or open drywall could result in added labor costs, affecting the budget allocated for other aspects of your project.

If the tub is being installed on any floor above the first level, a heavy tub may be too difficult to carry up your stairway. Likewise, the weight of a heavier bathtub may require additional reinforcement to be added under your finished floor if it was not initially built to support a cast iron or resin tub.

 
 
Step 2: Choose Your Freestanding Tub Style
 
Think about what purpose the tub will serve. Will it frequently be used for long, luxurious soaks? If so, tub depth will be a high priority. If you are planning for your tub to be more of a statement piece, you may want to go with something unique such as copper or stone. Every tub style has its benefits, depending on the design:
 
  Single Ended
This timeless, classic design is the most common tub style found in traditional homes. This style features one rounded end which is sloped for lounging, with the opposite end reserved for your drain and faucet. You can typically find these tubs anywhere from size 48"-70".
Shop Single-Ended Tubs
 
     
  Single Slipper
Like the single-ended style, single-slipper tubs feature one end meant for lounging with the opposite end reserved for plumbing. Single-slipper tubs have one elevated end to form the shape of a slipper. This type of bathtub will provide heightened back support, resulting in more comfort. It is common to find single slipper tubs sized in the range of 43"-73".

Shop Single-Slipper tubs or learn more about Slipper tubs
 
     
  Double Ended
Double ended tubs have two rounded ends to provide the option of bathing on either side, however the ends are not raised. Both walls are gently sloped for comfort, and can fit two bathers depending on its size. This style of tub will feature a center drain and faucet location, and are offered in a variety of sizes usually between 55"-72".
Shop Double-Ended tubs
 
     
  Double Slipper
Double slipper tubs are raised on both ends for comfortable reclining at either side. Depending on the length of the tub, this style can accommodate two bathers in a couple's suite. The drain and faucet location on this style of tub will be in the center, at the tub's low point. Size options in this style typically range from 59"-78".
Shop Double-Slipper tubs
 
     
  Clawfoot
Clawfoot tubs have been available since the 1800s and remain a popular style of tub today. These are perfect for replacing your old clawfoot tub with something new, while maintaining the traditional look in your bathroom. Clawfoot tubs are commonly available with single-ended, single-slipper, double-ended, and double-slipper designs in a variety of sizes typically between 48"-72".
Shop all Clawfoot tubs
 
     
  Pedestal/Skirted
Pedestal, also known as skirted, tubs, supplement a traditional art deco design by resting on a plinth rather than claw feet. Pedestal tubs, like clawfoot, can be found in single ended, single slipper, double ended, and double slipper designs. These can be found sized anywhere from 52"-78".
Shop all Pedestal and Skirted tubs
 
     
  Japanese Soaking
If you are fitting your freestanding tub into a tight space, you may want to consider a Japanese soaking tub. Typically, this style of tub will be the smallest in length, which is made up for in height. Because of their taller stature, these tubs typically contain an integrated seat. The depth of these tubs allows the average adult bather to submerge in water up to their shoulders, which creates a relaxing feel for extended soaks. Larger versions of Japanese soaking tubs may require an additional seat for a second bather. This style of tub will contain a center drain location, and your faucet will typically mount on the opposite end of the seat. The smallest Japanese soakers can be found as little as 40" in length, and all the way up to a more standard 60" size.
Shop Japanese Soaking tubs or learn more about Japanese Soaking tubs
 
     
 
 
Step 3: Select a Bathtub Material
 
Freestanding tubs are available a variety of materials, and their differences lie beyond aesthetics. Knowing what is offered and what to expect from each kind is great information to have during your buying process.
 
  Acrylic
Acrylic tubs are the most popular choice for freestanding tubs today, with a large variety of both modern and traditional designs available. They are relatively lightweight, which makes them easier to maneuver and carry up stairwells and to install. They also won't require reinforcing your floor if installing on an upper level, unlike heavier materials like cast iron and resin.
Shop all Acrylic tubs
 
     
  Cast Iron
Cast iron freestanding tubs are extremely durable and heavy. They are made the same way today as they were decades ago, which have lasted generations and you may still find in century-old homes today. Due to their classic appeal, cast iron tubs are the choice for traditional renovations in historical homes. These tubs are made of iron with a coating of porcelain enamel that is tough to scratch and easy to clean. Cast iron tubs tend to retain heat very well, which make them ideal for longer soaking.
Shop all Cast Iron tubs or read more about Acrylic vs. Cast Iron
 
     
  Solid Surface
Solid surface tubs are typically made of a resin material. These tubs generally have a more contemporary design, and are made of a high-quality composite material that has a hard surface. These tubs feature an integral drain and overflow system built into its walls, which makes installation a breeze and eliminates any exposed drain piping. Solid surface tubs are available in a gloss or matte finish, and require very little maintenance.
Shop all Solid Surface tubs or learn more about integral overflow systems
 
     
  Copper
These gorgeous hand-crafted tubs are available in a variety of unique shapes, styles, and textures. Copper's ability to conduct heat allows the water to maintain a steady temperature, like cast iron. Copper also has its health benefits, since it is naturally resistant to mold and bacteria.
Shop all Copper tubs
 
     
  Stainless Steel
Tubs made of stainless steel typically have a more modern look, and are a fantastic focal point for a contemporary design. They are available in a polished or brushed finish, which go great with chrome and brushed nickel plumbing fixtures. This material also requires very little maintenance, as it is easy to clean and preserve its finish.
Shop all Stainless Steel tubs
 
     
  Stone
Stone tubs are at the top of the "wow factor" pyramid due to their incredible detail and unique designs. Stone tubs are hand carved from natural marble, travertine, granite, and other stones to create a natural, bold look. A stone tub is a great way to make a statement, but remains a fine option for everyday use due to its durability and natural heat-retention qualities.
Shop all Stone tubs
 
     
 
 
Step 4: Consider Your Tub Faucet
 
Tub fillers are available in freestanding, deck mount, tub inner-wall mount and bathroom wall- mount configurations. The style and material of the freestanding tub you choose will determine which type of tub filler options you have. For example, a solid surface tub will not allow the installation of a deck mounted faucet because you cannot drill faucet holes into them.

Some acrylic and cast iron tubs are available with multiple options for faucet drillings, so you will need to be familiar with each type. We will go over each faucet drilling option, and the type of faucet that each rim top will require.
 
  Rolled Rim
Bathtubs with a rolled rim, or rolled top, will contain no faucet drillings. The tub will feature a continuous rolled rim all the way around. This type of tub will only be compatible with a freestanding tub faucet or a bathroom wall mounted tub faucet that would be installed on a surrounding wall.
 
     
  Tap Deck with 7" Rim Holes
If you have chosen a deck-mount tub faucet, or a faucet that mounts to the rim of the tub, then you will need a tub featuring a tap deck. A tap deck is a flat portion of the tub rim that is meant for mounting a tub faucet. The measurement of 7" refers to the distance from the center of the first mounting hole to the center of the second mounting hole. This pre-drilled option will only be compatible with deck-mount tub faucets that have standard 7" centers.
 
     
  Tap Deck without Drillings
Some deck-mount tub faucets will not have standard 7" centers, so the pre-drilled tap deck will not be compatible. Some acrylic and cast iron bathtubs will have the option to purchase with a tap deck, but with no drillings. In this case, your plumber would need to drill the faucet holes into the tap deck to accommodate the tub faucet that you have chosen. Please note that only two-hole tub faucets will be compatible. Roman tub faucets, or faucets that require three or more mounting holes, cannot be used due to drainpipe interference.
 
     
  Inner-Wall Tub Drillings
Although not as common today as they were in the past, some cast iron tubs will be available with inner-wall tub faucet drillings. These types of tubs will feature a continuously rolled rim, identical to the rolled rim tubs, and will have holes on the inside wall of the tub for mounting a tub-wall-faucet. These bathtubs will come pre-drilled with a center measurement of 3-3/8" from hole to hole, which is the standard measurement for this type of faucet.
 
     
 
 
Step 5: Personalize and Customize
 
There are a variety of freestanding tub accessories that are available, whether the intention is to add character or convenience. Popular additions are tub caddies, some featuring a reading rack or wine glass holder to assist with relaxation. For convenience, there also over-the-rim caddy options available which contain soap baskets or loofah holders. Foot coasters are a great add-on for clawfoot tubs, as they help to protect your bathroom floor.

There are many different shower conversion kits available for tubs that contain faucet drillings on the rim or inner tub wall, which will convert your handheld shower into a traditional overhead shower unit. These kits are very convenient for adding a conventional shower to your bathtub.

Adding an air massage system to your acrylic or resin tub creates a luxurious, spa-like atmosphere and provides many hydrotherapeutic health benefits. Small air jets, also referred to as bubblers, are installed into the base of your tub. The air system's blower motor will contain a heating element to keep your water up to room temperature. A water-resistant remote control is provided to control the motor's speed and functionality from within the tub for maximum relaxation.

Signature Hardware also offers custom painting to the outside of acrylic and cast iron tubs that feature a rolled rim. This is a great option if you're thinking about color-matching with existing decor. For durability, tubs should be painted with a minimum of two coats of an exterior acrylic latex paint in a satin or semi-gloss finish.