For many people, being able to unwind with a book in a warm bath, especially when the colder weather hits, is an experience you have a hard time matching anywhere else. Bathtubs work to soothe while providing you with comfort to relax and unwind after trying days. However, not all types of bathtubs could work for every bathroom or user.
For example, if you have a cottage-style home, you may want to get a period-style clawfoot type of bathtub over something more modern to fall in line with the design style. If you have enough space in your bathroom, you may want a bigger corner type of bathtub with a whirlpool function. For those with tight spaces, an alcove bathtub may work better for you. No matter your type of bathroom, we’re going to outline 16 different types of bathtubs that you can consider when you do your next remodel project.
There are dozens of options when you start looking at different types of bathtubs, and it can take time to find the one that is going to fit your space and needs. Bathtub by jclor / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The alcove type of bathtub is a special one, but it’s very familiar to many homeowners because it fits perfectly inside a three-sided enclosure that gets built just for the tub. When your bathroom walls get fitted with panels or tiled, you can use this space for a showre and bathtub combination. This is also one of the most budget-friendly choices available, and it’s one of the least time-consuming and inexpensive choices to install into your existing bathroom.
This type of bathtub is all about helping you maximize the space you have in your current bathroom. This tub has one of the smallest footprints that allows it to fit tightly into the space you allot for it. The standard length for this tub is roughly 60 inches, but it can range anywhere from 53 inches to 72 inches, depending on your space.
Traditionally, this bathtub will come as part of a package that includes a three-sided wall that surrounds the tub. You may be able to permanently attach the wall surround to the tub. This makes it very easy to clean this type of bathtub, but it’s hard to get through the door during installation. This is usually a tub you get when you’re building a new space. If you get one with a detached surround, it’ll come in three pieces, including a bigger back wall with two smaller sides.
This type of bathtub is perfect for anyone who has younger kids because the material makes it extremely strong. It can easily withstand play and shower time that can come about when you have kids. Cast iron bathtubs are nearly impossible to damage. They feature an iron that is coated with a veneer porcelain enamel that gives them a smooth and shiny surface. You can clean this tub by simply wiping it out with a soft cloth and rinsing it out. This tub does require a very solid foundation before you install it because they can be extremely heavy, especially when you fill them.
3. Claw Foot
As the name suggests, this type of bathtub has clawed feet on it that are very practical and beautiful. They come with very deep and high walls, and many people see them as romantic. It’s better to place this type of bathtub in the middle of the room to make it easily accessible to clean. They generally stretch between 20 to 50 inches wide and 70 to 80 inches long. One of the biggest benefits of this bathtub type is that it adds a very vintage feel and look to the space.
The high walls on this tub allow you to soak and relax when you take a bath, and it’s easy to install. However, one drawback of this tub type is that they’re on the smaller size, and you usually have fewer shapes and sizes to choose from when you buy one. They also only match certain decor types, and you won’t get any storage room around them for your toiletries.
A claw foot tub has historically been a favorite, and it’s making a big comeback due to to the elegant charm it lends to a room. Bathtub by Peter Miller / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
4. Composite Tub
A composite is what you get when you mix two or more components together to create a better product. When companies make this type of bathtub, they mix several different materials to form in, including carbon fiber, plastic, and resin. The materials are all lightweight, so that means that this tub is also lightweight.
In fact, this type of bathtub will weigh half of a forged iron tub’s weight. You’ll find this type in more luxurious high-rise apartment settings. When this tub gets finished, the company covers it in enamel to give them a beautiful and glossy look. You will need to perform regular maintenance to help the tub keep the glossy finish and ensure that cracks or chips don’t appear in the tub.
5. Contemporary Freestanding
The nice thing about this type of bathtub is their flexibility. They look welcoming and sleek in virtually any type of interior design. The plumbing and faucets come in a huge range of options, and you can install them to match a range of design needs. Many of these tubs come in a white acrylic, but you can purchase designer versions in stainless steel, or you can go more high-end and get chiseled stone, black granite, or marble. You can also find them in virtually any shape you can imagine, including oval, cylindrical, rectangular, square, or a free-flowing organic.
You’ve traditionally seen these tubs tucked into bathrooms that don’t have a lot of floor space. They can be every bit as streamlined as a standard alcove-style tub would be, or you can get them with a range of amenities. There are several combinations available, like soaking corner tubs or whirlpool corner tubs. Some even work well as part of a bathtub and shower corner setup. The pricing for this type of bathtub will depend on who you buy it from. However, you get a range of plumbing options, including freestanding ones that make it easy to slide this tub into virtually any space.
7. Cultured Solid-Surface Tub
This type of bathtub is always luxurious and stylish, and they can leave one wondering what the companies make this tub out of. They feature real pieces and chunks of stone that a crushing machine breaks down before mixing them into liquid polyester resin to make it durable and sturdy. The tubs have a lot in common with quartz, and this is another durable material that you can find in certain rocks, and it’s popular in stone veneer.
Usually, a gelcoat gets added to give you a smooth surface inside your bathtub. The tubs are very high-end, and they lend a luxurious look to your bathroom. They won’t require a lot of maintenance like you’d have to do on other types of bathtubs because the surface can’t absorb water or stain. It’s also easy to hide any scratches on this tub, but cracks are harder to disguise.
One big benefit of this type of bathtub is that it offers a mildew and mold-proof surface, and mold and mildew can be hazardous. The best way to keep the surface solidis to clean it using a soft sponge. Avoid using abrasive materials on it or cleaning products that have heavy chemicals in them.
A drop-in bathtub comes as a shell that you slip over a prepared deck. The inner layer of the bathtub comes finished, but the outside isn’t since the deck covers it up. This unique design requires you to have someone build a peninsula or deck that juts out into the room, and you install the tub right on this structure.
Each of this type of tub comes with their own rims, and you can install them in an alcove. However, they usually get installed in a much more open space. They usually need more floor space than other tubs, and they cost more to buy and install. However, they lend your bathroom a more permanent, finished look. The tiled sides on this tub give you extra space for candles, shampoo bottles, soap, or whatever you’d like to place here.
Enamel types of bathtubs are actually tubs that are made out of steel with an enamel coating. They’re a lot lighter than tubs that have forged iron for the main material, and they’re much easier to install. You will want to dry and clean the tub each time you use it to ensure that the enamel’s luster keeps shining for as long as you have it. A downside of this type of bathtub is that it can crack or chip after a few years. When this happens, you’ll see the tub start to rust, and this isn’t a nice sight.
Enamel bathtubs continue to be popular because they’re lightweight and cost-effective without sacrificing looks or durability, and they come in a huge range of sizes. Second Bathtub by NatalieMaynor / CC BY 2.0
Most freestanding tubs give you a stunning aesthetic quality, and they lend the bathroom a very striking appearance. You can install them in the center of your room or close to the wall, unlike alcove tubs that have to be tight to your wall. It has a very versatile appearance to it, and they can work to increase your home’s resale value, just like boosting your curb appeal can. They work very well in modern-style bathrooms, and you can install them anywhere in the room you like.
However, you won’t get any storage space for your toiletries, so anyone who uses this tub will have to install a toilet caddy, stool, or something to set your items on so you don’t have to get in and back out. They’re also difficult to clean when you situate them close to the wall because there isn’t enough room to move around to clean each area comfortably.
They also take up a decent amount of space when you put them in the middle of your bathroom. They’re not a good choice for people who have limited mobility or smaller kids, and they’re very heavy with a higher price tag. You have to ensure that your foundation can safely support the tub. There are a few styles you can choose from, including:
Angled Free-Standing Bathtub Style
- When it comes to back support and comfort, this type of bathtub is one of the best options you have. Just like you’d get from the name, this tub has an angled upper portion on a slope. This smooth angle allows you to relax better, and it gives you good neck and back support. You could even use it comfortably without having to get a bath pillow to make it more comfortable to use. It’s also compatible with a range of bath accessories to improve how functional it is.
Oval Soaking Tub
- If you’re not into the sharp appearance of a rectangular bathtub, the oval soaking tub could be a welcome change. This is another contemporary-style bathtub that will fit nicely with a range of bathroom designs, and it does very well with modern decor ideas.
Rectangular Free-Standing Bathtub Style
- This is a nice choice for anyone who is looking to get a more contemporary design in their bathroom. It has sharp, straight, and rigid lines that are this type of bathtub’s most distinguishing feature. However, it’s starting to lose popularity because it doesn’t have a sloped back, and this makes it less comfortable to soak in.
11. French Bateau
This type of bathtub gets the name from the shape, and the shape comes designed to mimic toy boats floating on the water. Both ends are raised in this design, and this makes them left and right headed. The fixtures on this bath get put right in the middle of the tub, and this allows you to reach them on either end. There are several finishes to choose from, including white porcelain, cast iron, and Robin’s Egg Blue. You can get this bathtub sitting on ball or claw feet, copper patina exteriors, or pedestal bottoms. This gives you a nice combination of style and function.
Soaking types of bathtubs have seen a huge increase in popularity. You can get them in materials ranging from budget-friendly acrylic to a very expensive handmade wooden version that gets modeled using ancient Japanese traditions. The acrylic versions are around $3,000 to purchase, but the handmade ones can easily top $35,000 and up.
The biggest benefit of this type style is that you can add water to cover up to your neck while you sit in built-in seating. This is a deep water bath that allows you to relax while they soothe your muscles. You also get the option of adding traditional Japanese Hinoki cypress chips or more fragrant herbs like lavender to the water to enhance your relaxing experience.
13. Specialty Wood & Glass Tubs
The Japanese have the belief that wooden tubs purify your body and clean your soul after you take a bath, so wooden types of bathtubs are very popular in parts of the world. You’ll also get several advantages that you may not get with other options. For starters, they retain warm water much longer, and they can come in round, oval, or oblong shapes. They usually feature beautiful and sturdy types of wood too.
14. Undermount of Platform
This type of bathtub doesn’t come with finished sides. Instead, you either set them on top of frames that you design to match your room’s decor or drop them into these frames, much like an above-ground pool with a deck around it. They give you the chance to totally customize the exterior look of your bathtub and how it’ll fit into your bathroom. Tubs that need a platform for an undermount installation allows you to situate your bathtub so it is away from alcove walls, or you can put it by windows to allow yourself the chance to enjoy panoramic views.
A walk-in type of bathtub is usually designed for seniors who find it hard to enter and exit a traditional tub or people with limited motor function. The tubs come with doors that you can open and close very close to the floor so you don’t have to worry about bending or lifting your legs to get in and out. They have seats and usually come with interior rails that ensures that you don’t have to sit all of the way down on the floor like you would a standard tub while providing you something to hold onto for more stability. They can easily cost upwards of $6,000 or more to purchase and install, but they offer you safety and comfort when you take a bath.
Walk-in tubs are popular with people who are afraid of falling when they get in or out of the bathtub, and they’re also popular with people who have limited mobility or mobility and balance issues. Walk-in tub by gemteck1 / CC BY 2.0
16. Whirlpool or Air
Whirlpool types of bathtubs and air tubs have jets that shoot air or water out of them, and they’re strategically placed. The whirling water in the tub allows you to relax while getting a massage, and they’re great for people who have joint or muscle pain. They can easily cost between $700 and $2,000 to buy and install, but the final price will depend on who you buy it from. However, the relaxation factor on these tubs can make it well worth the additional cost to some people.
How to Choose the Correct Bathtub Size
What type of bathtub you pick out will usually depend on the layout, size, and style of your current bathroom. Whether you’re picking out a bathroom for a new build or DIYing a remodel project, we’ve picked out four considerations to keep in mind to help ensure that you get the correct sized bathtub for your space.
- Budget – Some types of bathtubs may need additional installation or labor costs to build them correctly. If you don’t have the budget available to install a larger tub straight away, you may have to scale back to fit your budget to ensure you have enough money for everything.
- Needs – If you have restricted mobility, an injury, or you have someone in the house who does, the size of your bathtub will depend on what you need to have to fit any restrictions. If you have a large space and you’re able to take a regular bath, you have less limited options due to space, and you can focus on your comfort more.
- Space – It’s important to know if you have enough space for the type of bathtub you want. Some dimensions don’t generally work well in small spaces, and other tubs can be too small to work proportionately in a bigger bathroom. An alcove-style tub usually works best in small spaces, and bigger bathrooms do well with freestanding or corner types of bathtubs.
- Weight – Some materials like cast iron or copper can be too heavy for your floor, especially when you factor in the weight of the filled tub. If you can’t reinforce your flooring for a heavier bathtub, pick out a lighter, smaller type that won’t put strain on the floor.
Four Popular Bathtub Materials
There are several materials you can choose from when it comes to looking at different types of bathtubs, and each one offers benefits and drawbacks. We’ve picked out the four most popular bathtub materials and outlined them for you below.
- Acrylic – This is a type of plastic that offers a very high-gloss finish with great durability. A solid acrylic tub will fall into the mid-price range while being more durable than fiberglass. Also, scratches are much less noticeable because you get a solid color all of the way through.
- Enamel-Coated Cast Iron – This is a very classic material for bathtubs that will last for decades. However, it does have a very heavy weight, especially when you fill it with water. This is why you should only put larger soaking tubs on ground floors unless you can reinforce the flooring.
- Fiberglass – Fiberglass is a molded, lightweight material. This is also the least expensive type of bathtub you can buy, but it’s prone to scratching. It will only last around 10 to 12 years, unless you get an acrylic finish to help it last longer.
- Porcelain-Enameled Steel – You’ll get a steel-based material with a coating of porcelain on it. In turn, it gives you a glossy, durable, and smooth finish that is very easy to keep clean at a lower price point.
Since it’s very easy to mold into different shapes, acrylic is the most popular material for uniquely-shaped whirlpool types of bathtubs with molded armrests or other detailing. It’s also very lightweight, and this is important when it comes to larger tubs because it puts less stress on the structural elements of your home.
Types of Bathtubs – Frequently Asked Questions
Giant Bathtub by Erica Nicol / CC BY-SA 2.0 It’s common to have questions when it comes to picking out different types of bathtubs, especially if you’ve never bought one before. This is why we’re going to go over some popular questions for you below.
1. What are the standard sizes or dimensions of most bathtubs?
First, there are several types of bathtubs available on the current market. A few include freestanding, standard, walk-in, and soaking. A standard bathtub is usually available in two sizes, including 60 inches long by 30 inches wide or 60 inches long by 32 inches wide. The depth of your standard bathtub is anywhere from 15 to 18 inches.
Soaking and long-style bathtubs can get up to 72 inches long, and it’s common to get ones that are 20 to 24 inches deep. Freestanding bathtubs are usually this deep as well, including claw footed ones. Walk-in tubs are usually a similar size, with the exception of the depth. They usually range from 30 to 36 inches deep with a seat built right into one end of the tub to accommodate an elderly person or someone with special needs.
2. Can you paint your bathtub?
It’s possible for you to refresh the finish on a ceramic, acrylic, or porcelain tub by buying and using a speciality kit for tiles and tubs. Standard paint for the interior will peel and crack when you expose it to the moisture and heat of standard bathtubs. The tub and tile painting kit will also include an epoxy-based system that will give you excellent durability and adhesion once it cures, and a one-quart sized kit should be enough to finish the bathtub. If you follow the instructions, this kit can help keep your tub looking nice for three to five years.
3. Can you resurface your bathtub?
It’s possible to resurface your bathtub to restore how it looked when it was new without having to replace the whole thing. You can resurface the bathtub if it’s fiberglass, marble, or porcelain relatively easily. You will have to strip away the remainder of the finish on your bathtub and add a fresh coat of whatever material it is to reseal it. It allows you to update the look of your current bathtub, and it makes it much easier to clean and maintain.
4. How long do bathtubs last?
There are several potential answers to this question. It depends on how well your bathtub was made and the material. You can find original tubs in historic buildings that are well over 100 years old and in pristine condition. These are usually porcelain or enameled cast iron. Modern acrylic and fiberglass types of bathtubs don’t have this staying power. It’s common for the plumbing components to fail before the tub itself does. This includes the diverter, drain, and stopper. If it’s a whirlpool bath, it includes the jets.
We outlined 16 types of bathtubs you could install to help upgrade the look and feel of your bathroom. You can decide which one will suit best based on your wants, needs, and decor style. Some will work better in larger spaces while others slide into smaller bathrooms without a problem. If you get it right, you’ll have a wonderful place to sit and relax after a long day.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.