Choosing A Bathtub by Type, Style and Materials | A Remodel Guide

Free standing bathtub home remodel AL

With all of the choices available, choosing a bathtub for a master suite remodel requires consideration.

If you're remodeling your master suite, a wonderful, luxurious addition that is on many homeowners wish list is a large soaking tub. A stylish tub can anchor the space and establish the décor and aesthetic of the room. Consider your space before shopping for a new bathtub. If you're doing a “gut-to-the-studs” renovation you can pretty much choose any tub you love. If you're simply replacing an existing tub, the situation will usually dictate the type of tub that will work in the space.

Bathtubs come in a number of options, come in a wide variety of styles and many different materials. Let's explore some tips to help you choose the perfect tub to fit your needs.

First, define your bathtub needs

There are several key features to consider before you start shopping for a new tub. These include the size of your space, your lifestyle needs, drain and plumbing, water heater capacity and the existing bathtub setup.

A budget will also play a big part in the process. Tubs are available in a wide variety of styles and materials. Your choices will be led by the answers to the above factors. For example, if you are dealing with space restrictions, you most likely will not be able to install a stand alone tub. If you are not able to move existing plumbing, you may be dealing with replacing your existing tub and that may mean researching alcove style tubs. Take a look at the physical space. Determine the exact dimensions of the space where the tub will be located and then consider the types of installations that will fit into that area.

Understanding bathtub installation methods

Your tub installation will depend on whether you are doing a complete renovation or simply replacing an old bathtub in its existing space. If you're replacing your tub, consider materials, how your old tub is installed and the shape you need to fit your space.

Here are your options for bathtub installation styles:

Drop-in tubs

Drop-ins are placed into a deck frame or custom surrounds with a raised edge. They offer a finished look and are easy to install.

Alcove Tubs

Installed into a tiled alcove or shower space this style works in many different bathroom configurations and is the most budget-friendly option.

Freestanding Tubs

A stand alone tub with an exterior faucet can be a stunning focal point in your bathroom. This style is easy to install if you are renovating.


Like freestanding tubs, pedestal tubs can make a beautiful statement. Think of the old vintage claw foot tubs, this is an example of a pedestal tub. Today, they are available in more modern shapes and oversized options.


Either installed into an existing deck, or the deck is constructed around the tub, an under-mount tub is a clean chic look, but it requires the most installation work.


Triangular tubs are available in many designs to match any décor. Corner tubs are typically wider and larger than standard tubs.

Bathtub Types

There are essentially five different bathtub types. They are:

Soaking tubs – The most common type of tub. They do not offer many features aside from the space and depth necessary for a good soak. They can be freestanding, drop-in and alcove style.

Whirlpool bathtubs – These tubs provide the ultimate spa experience. Whirlpool tubs are available with a variety of options from hydro-massage jets to thermostatic faucets or built-in music systems.

Air tubs

Air tubs are similar to whirlpools tubs, except that they use heated air from the jets instead of water.

Air/whirlpool tubs

These bathtubs are usually installed as either drop-in or alcove style and combine the features found in both whirlpool and air tubs.

Walk-in tubs

Perfect if you're planning to age-in-place, walk-in tubs feature a door for a safer bathing experience. They also include additional safety features like slip-resistant floors and grab bars.

Bathtub Materials

Today the choices have never been greater. Here are a few of the top materials.


Acrylic tubs come in a variety of styles and when insulated, acrylic tubs retain heat well. Acrylic tubs are more expensive than fiberglass or composite.

Cast iron

One of the heavier materials, enameled cast iron is extremely durable and solid. Retains heat well and comes in a variety of colors.


Enameled steel is a light-weight option to cast iron. Steel may chip and is less soundproof than cast iron.


Economical and comes in a variety of styles, fiberglass doesn't retain heat well.


Porcelain is used as a finishing material. Usually made with cast iron or enameled steel underneath. Porcelain tubs are affordable, look great and retain their shine.


Generally, copper tubs are made in the slipper tub style. They are beautiful, artistic, and expensive. Each piece is handmade, timeless, and will acquire a beautiful patina over time.


Natural stone tubs are available in a variety of colors and natural patterns and offer a unique look. Solid granite or marble is more expensive than other materials.

Choosing a bathtub is a very personal experience. While you may have some physical restrictions depending on your remodel, you have a variety of options and materials to choose from. Work with your design-build firm to narrow your focus. They can help you to better understand what will work for your particular situation. Whenever possible, try it before you buy it! Go to a bathroom supply store and sit in some tubs. Make sure you're comfortable and the tub fits your needs. Do your research, sit in a few tubs and you'll find the perfect solution to your bathing needs!

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