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April 18, 2010 2:47 AM   Subscribe

Master bath a disaster zone, in need of a top-to-bottom gutting and expansion. As a preface to the designing process, my architect has tasked me with a project: finding a bathtub. How do I do this?

Since bathtubs come in all shapes and sizes, it's the unknown variable that will determine how the space will be configured around it. That means getting my act in gear and finding one that I like--soon. I've never done this before so I need your help.

I'm thinking that a deep, somewhat narrow two-person tub will fit the bill. I've seen these referred to as "soaking tubs" or "Japanese soaking tubs" or even "Japanese furos." I'm not into frills, like air jets. And if a soaking tub can't be located, I'd be willing to settle for a standard tub that's fairly deep and not too large. (My plan is to surround the tub with tile or granite when it's installed.)

-What are the pluses and minuses of the various types of tubs on the market that fit my size parameters?
-Where can I go to look at tubs, either online or off? What types of brick-and-mortar stores carry tubs that I can look at?
-What are considered the best materials for tubs these days? Plastic, ceramic, metal? Pros and cons of each?
-Any name brands that I should look for?
And, the kicker . . .
-What are your tub success or horror stories? What facts do I need to wrap my mind around before starting this search?
posted by Gordion Knott to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
FWIW we used to have a metal tub I now have a plastic one. I believe the water cooled more quickly in the metal one. Having said that the plastic one ends up with very, very small scratches which are barely visible but which detract from the look of it. This may be the way we clean it.

Regarding online viewing it's quite difficult to really appreciate the various curves and angles inside a bath until you start to look at physical examples (or at least that's my experience).

Our new bath has no overflow. I would much prefer it had an overflow as one day I'm going to need it. It also has a traditional type plug but no way of attaching that plug to bath - our older bath had a chain - my preference was for the chain ... less time spent looking for plug.

What types of brick-and-mortar stores carry tubs that I can look at
Tell us which country you live in and that will help to provide an answer to this question
posted by southof40 at 4:25 AM on April 18, 2010

you can start looking online here and here. some of those are ridiculously ... opulent ... but will at least give you an idea of what's out there.

no words of wisdom myself. i'd LOVE to just get rid of my tub & put in a shower, but people keep telling me i'm shooting myself in the resale value foot.

good luck. remodeling decisions can be a pain in the butt.
posted by msconduct at 4:25 AM on April 18, 2010

oh, yeah ... don't forget that you also have to pick out faucets. that's another thing i never knew came in so many shapes, sizes, and flavors.
posted by msconduct at 4:44 AM on April 18, 2010

I'd agree that metal (steel) bathtubs cool more quickly. I chose an enamelled steel bathtub the first time I bought one. The enamel is easy to chip, but less prone to scratches. Plastic tubs will scratch more easily, but since the colour goes all the way through, it's not so obvious when it happens.

When we chose a bathtub for our new house, we went for acrylic because there seems to be a lot more choice. I had reservations about it feeling cheap, but actually it's great. The only thing I'd advise is to make sure you provide support around the rim - keeps things feeling nice and sturdy.

Definitely go into actualy stores and try out the tubs. Get in, lie down, and try to ignore any funny looks. A lot of tubs look wonderful at the expense of being positively painful to lie down in.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 5:09 AM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

House Beautiful has at least one bathroom per issue that I would love to have. You might look there for some design ideas and examples of how different tubs look in place. My suggestion is to get a large soaking tub for one person. How often will two of you be in the tub together? When you want to take a bath by yourself, will you be comfortable (both with the amount of water and the lack of coziness) in a two person tub? Kolher has always been great for me. Here are some I like: drop in reminiscent of a claw foot. two person rectangle, one person rectangle.
posted by sulaine at 6:44 AM on April 18, 2010

The old fashioned bathtubs (thinking of some claw footers I've used/seen) that have a lot of slope in the backrest use less water and are more comfortable for taking a bath, but the slope makes it harder to stand up for a shower.
posted by SandiBeech at 6:50 AM on April 18, 2010

I was looking at soaking tubs for my house for a while and ultimately decided against it. You can see a bunch of different tubs for sale at overstock.com just to give you an idea on prices and what's being sold nowadays. What they describe as soaking tubs I think of as normal old clawfoot tubs, not the japanese style soakers like this one (which will cost you $2800 and up) or this sort of thing which would be what I would get if I were made of money. These guys have a pretty great tub browser set up. I think your decision points need to be

- free standing or enclosed?
- jets or no jets? [people say it raises the resale value of a house. I just generally don't like them]
- big or normal sized [if you're looking at a two person soaker, you may really need a larger hot water heater which means more renovation possibly and a lot of hot water expense]
- floor reinforcements? [these things hold 100+ gallons which is significantly more than a regular tub]

There's communities where peopel discuss bathroom stuff specifically that it might also be good to read through. Via little Googling, I found these people talking about a very similar question to yours.
posted by jessamyn at 6:51 AM on April 18, 2010

I went to a plumbing display place. Lots of beautiful stuff; you have to work with a "designer" and the prices were far out of reach. Very time-consuming, although I saw some neat stuff. My plumber said he would give me his pricing, which would have made it a bit better. Went to Lowe's Depot, etc. Then I went to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and got a porcelain over steel tub. Deeper than standard, a bit wider, 1/3 the price of the designer place. It has a small ding that the molding covers. They even delivered.

I had the builder insulate it with scraps of leftover insulation, and he even added some foam carpet padding, so it stays warmer, longer. It does need warmer water to get the tub itself up to temp, as it's on the concrete floor. Porcelain is east to recycle, steel even easier. I have no stats on manufacturing, but I believe it's not very toxic to produce, although it was, of course, shipped from China. My rehab isn't truly green, but I've tried to assess my impact.

I have been very pleased with my Ikea porcelain sink, so they're worth a try. Many of their products are well-designed, esp. ones designed to last. You could also check Freecycle and builidng banks, as people get rid of tubs that are in fine shape, due to color, size, and general just-replace-it building practices.

The drain setup came w/ the faucet, and I don't love it. It's a popup deal. I kind of miss the old rubber stopper in the tub at my old house.
posted by theora55 at 8:10 AM on April 18, 2010

Are you married to the idea of replacing the tub completely? Structurally, is it still in good shape? The reason I ask is because you can save yourself a lot of headaches and money by just having the existing tub refinished. If replacing the tub outright, you have to pay for not only the new tub but the disposal of the old one and any subsequent structural damage/reconfiguration. It is a complete PITA in my opinion. Refinishing a tub will run you between $250 to $500 and they look spectacular.
posted by Kskomsvold at 10:04 AM on April 18, 2010

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