The Different Types Of Bath | Everything You Need To Know
Is there a brand new bathroom planned for your next home improvement project? While you probably know the location and size of the bathroom, have you discovered all the different types of bath available?
The bath is truly the centrepiece of the space as it is the largest piece of sanitaryware and can make the biggest statement on the overall look of the bathroom. However, with so many different types of baths on the market, where do you begin?
In this post, I’ll go over the different types of bath, the materials they are made from as well as the other items you need to consider when buying a bath. So after reading you’ll know exactly what type of bath is perfect for you and your new bathroom.
Let’s get into it!
What are the Different Types of Bath?
The first decision to make is what type of bath you want and which one will actually fit into your home. Think about how you expect the use the bath, who may need easier access, and how much space is available for your tub.
If you visit an older home or flat with sanitaryware straight out of the last century, there is a good chance that you will encounter the inset or straight bathtub.
It can be ordered as single or double-ended–meaning the slope that encourages you to lean back and soak. The double-ended version may have the taps mounted on the long side against the wall. It is intended to be built into the room, slipping over a wooden structure built for support.
A small inset tub is generally about 1400mm long and a larger version averages 1700mm long. Both standard sizes are 700mm wide.
This style of tub is perfect for enjoying a long soak and washing the kids. It is also the most affordable with options starting as low as £120 when you opt for acrylic or fibreglass. If you desire a custom appearance, you can invest over £600 for one with a panelled exterior or moulded finish.
Freestanding, Roll-top, or Claw-Foot Bath
Have you ever drooled over a bathroom that featured a bath positioned in the middle of the floor? If you stay at an old B&B, you may take a shower in a vintage bath retro-fitted with a shower tap. The freestanding tub has recently seen a surge in popularity as modern design and style have blended the function of a Victorian bath with contemporary elegance.
Some of the freestanding tubs feature a square and flat lip good for placing your bars and bottles. A roll-top has a curved lip perfect for resting your arms while dozing in the bubbles. If you see a description of a claw-foot, it is likely an antique and made out of cast iron. Instead of its bottom fully resting on the floor, it is supported by a set of four lion’s feet moulded out of iron.
Freestanding tubs are not always positioned against a wall, so you will need to consider that when running the pipes.
Like standard baths, these come in a variety of sizes with an 800mm width being a popular dimension.
The price of a freestanding model is higher as it provides its own structural support and is crafted out of porcelain, steel, or iron. They are heavy and can present a real challenge if you are installing one yourself. Expect to pay anywhere from £1,000 to £3,000.
If your home was built in the last part of the 20th-century or later, you likely enjoy the convenience of a shower bath. One end of the tub is formed just like a standard inset bath and the other bumps out to give you a little extra room to stand under the shower. There are two popular designs: the L and the P. Both are similar in pricing, size, and function. The P can offer an extra 100mm in width, but that can eat into the floorplan of the room.
The L uses squared edges to create your shower end and the P is moulded into attractive curves. You will want to make your selection based on the style of the other sanitaryware used in the bathroom.
The best part of the shower bath designs is their affordability. You will spend about £250 and up, making it an achievable upgrade for most bathroom renovation projects.
So, you are finally getting the expansive master ensuite that you have always dreamed about. A corner bath can lend a twist to the design while inviting you to spend a little more time caring for yourself.
A corner tub can be small enough for one or larger when you want to allow room for your spouse to join you. It uses the same installation process as an inset bath and is available in all the most popular materials. The enclosure may be built out so that you can sit on the edge of the tub and test the temperature with a toe.
Corner tubs do not perform well as a tub and shower combination. You will want to install a separate walk-in shower for your quick morning wash.
How much will you spend? Remember to double your bath budget as you will need that separate shower. The bath itself will run from £300 to £1,000.
Jet, Spa or Whirlpool Bath
You don’t have to put a hot tub in your back garden to enjoy the massaging power of water. Whirlpool is actually a brand name for jetted tubs but is often used to refer to the same type of product.
Jetted tubs can be ordered in just about any size and can be combined with a shower fixture. They are available as an inset, corner, and even freestanding designs. The extra bulk of the jet pumps will add some millimetres to the overall size and it will weigh significantly more than a traditional installation.
A standard size inset jetted bath starts at the surprisingly affordable price point of around £500. Add extra room and jets for your stand-up shower and watch the price rise to £2,000 or more. Also, take into consideration that additional electrics must be run to support the new spa tub.
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What Are The Different Types Of Bath Material?
Why are the old claw-footed tubs often left behind when an old farmhouse is stripped of its vintage fixtures? Because they are heavy! A small antique can weigh as much as 110kg. However, modern building technologies have made today’s baths much more manageable and lightweight. What will you choose for your new bath?
Acrylic is the leading material used for making inset, corner, and even jetted baths. Reinforced with fibreglass, sheets of acrylic are pressed into the shape of the desired tub. Once the bath is cured, you have a light and durable surface for your new bath. It resists scratches and cracking and can be expected to last for decades.
Two people can easily carry a new bath form into the house. You really need the second person to handle its size, not the weight. It will slide into the spot created by wooden framing and is sealed to the wall using silicone caulking. Best of all, acrylic is affordable!
Porcelain and Steel
If you purchase a new porcelain bath as a freestanding piece, it is likely porcelain-coated steel. While heavier than acrylic, the steel structure does not require any additional support to retain its shape. The porcelain coating delivers a lustrous shine and can be ordered in any colour of your choosing. Steel is extremely durable and can be extruded into thin sheets compared to the older cast iron option. This allows bath designers to create supple and sexy shapes that more closely match our modern decor.
Porcelain and steel is a more expensive material but requires the least amount of labour to install when you have structurally sound floors.
If you source a vintage tub with clawed feet, it is likely porcelain-coated cast iron. It will be heavier than a modern freestanding tub since the iron needs to be thicker to maintain its shape. However, there is a reason that so many old tubs can still be found at vintage markets–they are just about indestructible. If a house is lost due to an extreme weather event, that iron tub will probably still be sitting in the same place.
Pricing can vary significantly as you are likely paying for the iron tub’s antique value as well as its function as a piece of sanitaryware. Your plumber may face some challenges matching the drains on an old tub with modern pipes.
So, you want to use an all-natural material that speaks of luxury and elegance. For a price, you can order a freestanding bath carved out of solid stone. Each of these baths will be a unique piece as you will get veining, striations, and textures that are specific to that block of stone. They are heavier than a steel tub and will require some routine maintenance to prevent discolouration. But as a centrepiece for your private suite, no other type of bath can compete.
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Taps, Panels, and Shower Screens
Once you decide on the type of bath you want to include in your home renovation, it is time to add the other parts needed to complete the job. Your bath will not arrive with taps and plumbing installed. If it does not drape over the wood structure but drop-in, you will require some panels to complete the look. What about a screen to prevent shower splashing from damaging the walls and floors? Let’s check out the available options:
Deck-Mounted Taps: The most traditional type of tap is mounted onto the horizontal edge of your tub. There are handles for hot and cold and a filler spout for the bath. Spend £40 and up to £150 on a set that matches the finishes throughout the room. Polished metal, chrome, brass, and brushed nickel are currently the most popular.
Shower Mixer: An extra lever is mounted between the hot and cold taps to switch the flow from the tub filler to your shower head. Some shower mixers use an all-in-one knob that is easy to set the temperature so that you can avoid getting scalded first thing in the morning. Opt for a showerhead that can do double-duty as a hand-held sprayer to accommodate family members of all heights.
Floor Standing: You will need this type of tap when you install a freestanding bath. The pipes rising out of the floor are finished to match your water knobs and tub filler for a professional appearance.
Wall-Mounted: If your inset bath is positioned in the corner with tiles climbing the wall, you may want to have the plumbing for the taps mounted behind the wall. The shower knob can be placed at waist height, instead of down in the tub. This is a popular choice for homeowners installing an L-shaped shower bath.
Standard Plastic: For just a few pounds you can complete the enclosure for your inset tub. Formed plastic is available in several panelling styles so that you can match the finishes in the rest of the house. These panels tend to crack, but replacing one is simple and affordable.
Tiled Panels: Once you have used gypsum board to surround the bath, you can complete the look by adding some tile panels picked up at your local DIY store. Use a mixed mosaic or simple subway tile to complement your decor. You will pay extra for the tiling materials and the labour needed to finish the project.
Raised Wood: Would you like to match the panelling found in your hall or dining area? A wood panel is crafted off-site according to your measurements and installed using screws or nails. It creates an upscale look, but if you ever need to access under the tub, you will sacrifice the craftsmanship.
Screens give your renovated bath a finishing touch. They are fairly easy to install using your household tools and will add about £100 to your overall budget.
Fixed: Add a textured or clear acrylic sheet mounted to the wall and top of the tub at the shower end. A quick wipe down erases the worst of the soap scum and it stops water spray without the need for constant adjustment.
Hinged: Using an extra piece of hardware, your acrylic screen easily swings open when you want to step into the tub. You may use a combination of fixed and hinged pieces to enclose the entire bath area.
Foldable: Take the hinge version to the next level while improving access to the tub. The foldable screen opens wide when you are bathing the dog or rinsing out some handwashing.
Sliding: Mounted to the rim of the bath and the wall, your sliding shower door uses fewer moving parts compared to hinged versions. You enjoy the easy-to-clean surface, but water can gather in the channel where mould and mildew can grow.
Shower Curtain: Skip the expense of a fixed shower screen, install a quick spring-loaded bar and hang a shower curtain. You get to change out the curtain as fashions change, wash it as often as you wish, and it can enclose your bath for less than £20.
There you have it! Everything you need to know about the different types of bath. Hopefully, you’ve discovered the perfect tub for you and your new bathroom.
Will you go for a fabulous freestanding bath? Or perhaps an indulgent jet tub? Whichever type of bath you choose, use this guide to take the time to check and understand your options, material and extras you need.
Happy bath hunting!
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Michael is a KBB designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom installations for over eight years now, and before that, he was an electrician and part of a KBB fitting team. He created The Bathroom Blueprint in early 2020.