Best Bathtub Reviews – Buying Guide 2017
After a long stressful day at work there’s nothing like tuning out the world and relaxing in a tub of hot water.
Choosing the best bathtub these days can be tricky. There are endless options to pick from and factors to consider. From style and finish to budget and features, picking the right tub can be a daunting task. But I’m here to help. Below you’ll find reviews of the best bathtubs and a helpful buying guide to assist you in the process. It’s an expensive decision after all.
Best Bathtubs: Top 3
There are several distinct styles of bathtubs and I’ll get to those. But if you want a quick overview I’ve made a top three list of the best tubs available today. As you can see I’m partial to freestanding tubs but don’t worry I’ve covered each style and type in detail below.
Rachel 70-Inch Freestanding Tub
Finish: Glossy white
Size: L 70″ x W 30″ x D 34″
Capacity: 60 Gallons
Warranty: 10 year
Gibson Claw-Foot Slipper Tub 67″
Size: L 67″ x W 30″ x D 31″
Capacity: 44 Gallons
Warranty: 1 year
American Standard 60-Inch Alcove Tub
Material: Enameled Steel
Size: L 60″ x W 32″ x D 18″
Capacity: 50-60 Gallons
Warranty: Limited Lifetime
Best Bathtub Buying Guide: What to Consider
While regular is a pretty vague term, it refers to the kind of bathtub you probably grew up with as a kid. It’s the most common style of tub with no fancy features. Three walls surround the tub for support – one of which typically has a shower head – so only one side of the tub is finished. It’s also often called an alcove tub. This kind of bathtub is nothing special but it does exactly what it’s supposed to do – hold water so you can bathe.
These bathtubs used to be a luxury reserved for the rich. They conjure up an image of old Victorian elegance with their decorative feet and classic body. Traditionally these tubs were quite expensive with a cast iron body and a porcelain enamel coating the inner and outer shell. Today they are much cheaper and made from a range of materials including acrylic, cast iron and fiberglass. Furthermore there are several styles of clawfoot tubs:
Classic: The height of the tub is the same all around with one round end and the other being flat. The flat end usually has the drain and tap while you relax on the rounded side.
Double ended: Both ends are rounded with the height being even all the way around for your choice of soaking position. This type usually has a center drain and side mounted faucet configuration.
Slipper: One end is raised up higher so you can rest your head for a much more enjoyable bathing experience.
Double slipper: Both ends are raised up for a greater variety of soaking options. The drain and faucet are located in the middle.
Freestanding tubs are a luxury item that will serve as an impressive focal point of your bathroom and a mecca of relaxation. They come in a variety of styles to suit almost any bathroom design. They tend to need more space than a regular bathtub but are able to be installed anywhere, typically in the middle, away from any wall. A freestanding tub is deeper than a regular tub, allowing you to immerse yourself from head to toe. If you have the space and the cash a freestanding tub is the way to go.
Corner tubs are a great way to maximize your bathroom area. It sits snug in the corner to free up space that would otherwise be used. Often these tubs are designed for two (you can let your imagination run wild with that one.) They can have either air or water jets and comfy seating for the ultimate in relaxation or they can be very basic with no extra features. These tubs also come in a variety of shapes and sizes: from a small triangle tub to a massive five sided behemoth to a regular looking rectangle and even round.
Soaking tubs are great for – you guessed it – soaking. Similar to freestanding tubs they are much deeper than normal so you can submerge your whole body under a warm blanket of water. Unlike freestanding tubs however, they can be installed in an alcove or a corner or even a drop-in type platform. They add a touch of luxury to any bathroom and acts as a stunning centerpiece.
Whirlpool/ Air Tubs
Imagine having a hot tub in your bathroom but without all the fuss that comes with it. Whirlpool and air tubs offer a bathing experience like you’ve never had before. The difference between the two is that whirlpool tubs blast you with jets of water while air tubs use (can you guess?) air to create thousands of tiny bubbles for a wonderful sensation. Both however serve the same purpose: to relax and sooth your tired muscles. The best part is that they are made in a variety of sizes so even if you have a smaller bathroom, as long as you can fit a standard sized tub (5 – 6 feet) you can install one of these tubs. But be warned, these types of tubs are much more expensive and are quite complicated to install but they are totally worth it in the end.
An ideal tub for seniors and those with mobility issues, walk-in tubs have a door that allows you to simply walk in instead of risking a fall when climbing over top. There is often a seat to comfortably relax, a grab bar for added security and usually have either air or water jets that provide a soothing massage. While they are taller to accommodate sitting, they can be as small as a regular tub so it can fit in an alcove or the corner. They can be quite expensive but if you love taking baths and safety is a top priority then it might be worth considering a walk-in tub.
The most common place to put a tub is in an alcove. Surrounded by three walls the tub is nestled cozily inside. If the walls are tiled or fitted with panels then a shower can be installed to make the most of your space. The types of bathtubs most suited for an alcove are: regular, soaking, whirlpool/ air or walk-in tubs. Technically you could put a freestanding tub in an alcove but I don’t recommend it.
If you want the ultimate in luxury a tub installed in the corner will do the trick. There are two options for a corner installation. The first is the whole tub unit butted up into a corner with two finished sides. The other is a drop-in type where it is dropped into a platform that fully encases the tub. The latter is the more fancy option of the two as the platform tends to match the rest of the bathroom decor.
A freestanding configuration offers the most freedom. It can be installed anywhere and doesn’t rely on walls or platforms.
A drop-in installation is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a tub shell dropped into a raised platform or occasionally right into the floor. This type provides a slew of placement options but requires more upfront work and investment. A platform needs to be built and finished which will probably require a carpenter but the end result is always incredible.
Acrylic is by far the most common and versatile material for bathtubs. It’s a type of plastic that can be easily molded into any style of tub making it much cheaper than any other material. Acrylic is very glossy and mimics the look of a high-end enameled tub. It wont chip if you accidentally drop something on it but it is more prone to scratches. Unless insulated well, acrylic tubs tend to lose heat quicker than other materials.
Cast polymer is also a type of plastic. But it tends to be thicker, retain heat better and look much nicer than acrylic. It’s designed to look like stone – marble, onyx or granite are the most common – and is available in a wide range of colors. It’s finished with a polyester gel coat which isn’t as durable as acrylic.
Copper is an underused material for bathtubs because it can be very expensive but it has added benefits other materials don’t. For starters copper tubs look incredible and only become more beautiful as it ages. You’ll want have people over just to show it off. Cleaning is almost nonexistent because copper is naturally antibacterial. It kills more than 99% of bacteria within two hours so you never have to worry about it. Copper is a soft metal which means it tends to scratch easily but because it’s a soft metal, scratches can be buffed out just as easily with a cloth and lemon juice. Furthermore, when it comes to copper bathtubs the thicker the better. Look for a gauge of 12 – 14.
Enameled Cast Iron
Enameled cast iron tubs are extremely durable and will likely last an entire lifetime. They are usually enameled with a porcelain finish and is available in a wide range of colors. These tubs tend to be thicker than most which is why it’s phenomenal for retaining heat. The downside to this is the weight. They are heavy and with the addition of water, may require extra structural support. Prices of cast iron bathtubs vary depending on thickness and quality.
Similar to cast iron, enameled steel bathtubs are durable and easy to maintain. Porcelain is the enamel of choice so they can look nearly identical. However, steel is much lighter so it may be easier to install and wont require additional support. It is also less expensive, so if you like the look of cast iron but cant justify the cost enameled steel is the best alternative.
Wood bathtubs are the most stunning of all when it comes to aesthetics and has the price tag to match. These tubs need to be meticulously cared for and any little scratch could compromise the whole thing. But they sure are gorgeous