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Choosing the Right Bathtub

Choosing the perfect bathtub requires a certain refined reflection regarding the shape, dimensions and material, as well as whether you prefer a built-in or free-standing one. Over time the bathtub has become an essential component of the bathroom, and the details you’ll need to consider reflect the bathtub’s current status. It is no longer seen as a simple bathroom element, instead it now combines modernity, design and comfort of use. The spa bath, for example, is equipped with jets to massage the different parts of the body, often accompanied by an essential oil diffuser and integrated LEDs to make the bath even more relaxing.

On the ArchiExpo website you can select your preferred options to generate a list of bathtubs that correspond to your search. Click on the “Installation” tab and select either free-standing or built-in, for example, to refine your selection.

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  • How to decide between a built-in or a free-standing bathtub?

    In this section, we’ll discuss the two main categories for bathtub styles, built-in and freestanding, and offer details to help you make a decision. The cost of bathtubs in both categories has become relatively similar. However, it’ll always depend on the design and materials used in the fabrication of the tub.

    Considered the most affordable, the built-in or standard bathtub is a solo tub or a tub/shower combination often placed in the corner. This category also includes the drop-in bathtub which is installed below floor level, an option to enhance the luxurious feel of your bathroom. It requires less cleaning compared to the freestanding tub, but the surround for a built-in tub can increase the cost of the fixture.

    Built-in bathtub by ROCA

    The freestanding bathtub stands on its own and doesn’t require any additional support. This fits larger bathrooms perfectly, acting as the centerpiece of the room. It creates the illusion of additional space. A high-ticket item in the past, the freestanding bathtub maintains its luxurious feel at a more affordable price. It requires no additional surround, unlike the built-in. You can even play with the tub-shower combo these days, like with the built-in. The freestanding bathtub does not require finishing. The draining of the water as well as the faucet require a special installation.

    freestanding bathtub by BETTE

  • What shape of bathtub should you choose?

    In order to choose the shape of your bathtub, you’ll need to study the different varieties and understand what each shape entails. The style of your bathtub will give character and harmony to the bathroom. Square, rectangular, corner or island, choose the shape of the bathtub according to your own taste and the configuration of the bathroom.

    It is also important to consider the dimensions. Determine the space available in the bathroom before deciding on the size and shape of the bathtub.

    • Rectangular: This is the most common and traditional type of bathtub. It’s surrounded by a finishing trim called a bathtub apron. It is installed against a wall or in an angle to optimize space. This configuration also allows you to use your bath as a shower if you equip it with a bath screen or a curtain. In a small bathroom, you can also opt for a space-saving model. The range of bathtubs is vast with lengths ranging from 150 to over 190 cm in length and from 70 to over 100 cm in width.
    Rectangular bathtub by DUSCHOLUX AG

    Rectangular bathtub by DUSCHOLUX AG

    • Oval: Similar to the rectangular bath in every way other than its shape, the oval bathtub remains a very classic and common choice. It offers a softer, more natural design compared to the rectangular tub. It fits perfectly into almost any bathroom and comes in a wide range of sizes, which allows you to make your choice without sacrificing space.
    Oval bathtub by HOESCH

    Oval bathtub by HOESCH

    • Corner: Placed at the corner of two walls, the corner bath is suitable for medium or large bathrooms. The corner bath is, in fact, wider than straight models. However, it is shorter than a straight tub and can slip into an angle sometimes difficult to develop. There are symmetrical and asymmetrical models where the angle is offset to the left or to the right. For a more aesthetic look, the corner bath requires an apron finish.
    Corner bathtub by GLASS 1989

    Corner bathtub by GLASS 1989

    • Round: While they’re not as popular as rectangular bathtubs, round bathtubs can really transform a bathroom into a spa. Circular and curvy shapes have often been associated with adjectives like gentle, quiet, sparkling, dreamy; it’s a natural psychological response that the round tub instantly creates a sense of relaxation. However, this type of tub will require a large space.
    Round bathtub by JACUZZI France

    Round bathtub by JACUZZI France

    • Square: A choice for couples, the square bath provides more room and can easily accommodate two bathers at once.
    Square bathtub by GLASS 1989

    Square bathtub by GLASS 1989

  • How to select the material for your bathtub?

    When choosing the material for your bathtub, remember that it determines the durability and ease of maintenance. You’ll also need to be mindful of how much weight your floor can handle. A wooden structure, for example, can’t support as much weight as a concrete one. The main materials used for bathtubs are plastic, composite, metal, stone, wood, porcelain and ceramic.

    Plastic: Reinforced acrylic is an inexpensive choice that maintains water temperature well but provides a soft surface that can be easily scratched. Clean this surface gently. It comes in three varieties: fiberglass, which is lightweight, durable and economical; toplax, an ABS-reinforced acrylic, which is shock-resistant, non-slip, very light and 100% recyclable; and technolax, a rigid and highly resistant composite material with reinforced thermal and acoustic insulation.

    [+] A non-porous material, will not absorb any excess water, (with the exception of fiberglass)
    [+] Retains water temperature
    [-] Can flex
    [-] Prone to light scratching

    Fiberglass: This variety of reinforced acrylic stands out because bathtubs made from this material are lightweight— easy to install—and inexpensive. It is a porous material, though, with a tendency to absorb water, which causes warping and cracking, but fiberglass repair kits exist to fix the deterioration issues.

    [+] Affordable
    [+] Lightweight, easy to install
    [+] Damages are easily repaired
    [-] Possibly the most brittle material on the market
    [-] Porous, absorbs water and tends to crack. Can warp and feel unstable
    [-] Color and finish deteriorate from cleaning with time

    Corian: Many brands use special composites, such as Corian®. Corian is one of the solid-surface materials newly used in the bathtub market. It is easy to clean and is nonporous so stains do not penetrate the surface. If properly cleaned, it can resist the growth of mold, mildew and bacteria. It is also resistant to scratching, stains, chips and cracks.

    [+] Durable and easily repaired
    [+] A non-porous material, easy to clean
    [+] Retains water temperature
    [-] Somewhat heavy and relatively expensive

    Resin: The term resin includes rotomoulded polymer and the polyester resin.
    Rotomolded polymer has a pleasant texture, while polyester resin is highly resistant thanks to a reinforced gelcoat. Resin composites can look like ceramic or stone but aren’t as heavy or expensive.

    [+] Durable, highly resistant to scratches and chipping
    [+] Easy to clean
    [+] Retains water temperatures
    [+] Not as heavy as stone or steel, but has the look of stone
    [-] Requires regular cleaning; sandpaper and a polishing compound is recommended.
    [-] On the pricey side

    Metal: Cast iron is the traditional material for bathtubs. Enamelled cast iron is very heavy but extremely resistant and keeps in the heat. Steel is very resistant and easy to maintain. Steel retains heat well and is much lighter than cast iron. However, steel gives off a “sound box” effect. It’s advisable to insulate the underside of the bathtub with soundproofing plates, for example.

    [+] Most durable, highly resistant to scratches and chipping
    [+] Easy to clean
    [+] Retains water temperatures
    [-] Perhaps the heaviest material
    [-] On the pricey side

    Stone: As a very strong and durable material, stone can last many years. Although the color of the stone might slightly change over time, it won’t crack. Stone retains heat for a long time so it is good if you like taking long warm baths. Its main disadvantages are that its expensive and extremely heavy.

    [+] Strong, long lasting
    [+] Retains heat
    [-] Expensive
    [-] Heavy

    Wood: There are many types of wood so this is a general description. Wooden bathtubs can be rather pricey, but the natural material creates a luxurious experience. Exposure to extreme moisture can eventually damage the material, warp or crack, but it’s recommended to use the wooden bath once a week to avoid it drying out. The smell and feel of the wood reconnects the bather to nature and, while expensive, wooden bathtubs are highly customizable and can be adapted to your needs.

    [+] Reconnects bather to nature
    [+] Can be customized
    [-] Expensive
    [-] Damages over time

    Ceramic: This material combines natural clay mixed with water and, sometimes, other organic materials. It’s shaped and decorated, often glazed and hardened by heat. Therefore, it is a broad category that includes pottery, earthenware, terracotta, stoneware, porcelain, etc. The bathtub can be made of solid ceramic, inside and out, or its exterior can simply be covered with ceramic tiles. However, most are made of solid ceramic. This material is scratch resistant, but hard impacts will cause chipping. It’s easy to clean by using mild detergent or baking soda. However, its smooth surface makes it rather slippery. It also does not retain heat well so long warm baths aren’t so easy—you’ll need to continue adding hot water to your bath if you plan on staying in longer. While the water cools quickly, the surface of the tub remains warm.

    [+] Scratch resistant
    [+] Easy to clean
    [-] Does not retain heat well
    [-] Hard impacts cause chipping

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