With the right bathtub, you can turn any bathroom into a luxurious spa. Though showers have been more popular in recent years, new research from the National Kitchen and Bath Association shows that homeowners are now reinvesting in luxurious bathtubs, particularly for their master bathroom. The key to this trend is finding a bathtub that fits your specific needs and design aesthetic.

Determine Your Bathtub Needs

Despite popular belief, bathtubs are not “one size fits all.” There are bathtubs that are great for a simple, hot bath, while others are equipped with jets for a more therapeutic experience. Some homeowners prefer bathtubs with ledges for candles or soap. Taller individuals may need to look for a longer tub. A bathtub for one is standard for most homes; however, some homeowners are considering bathtubs that comfortably sit two for their master bathrooms. A walk-in tub works best for individuals with mobility difficulty or who have trouble standing for long periods of time. There are tubs that make bath time with the kids a little easier. And there are tubs that are resistant to pet scratches. So, before you begin your hunt for the perfect bathtub, you’ll need to consider the needs of your household.

Find Your Style

When picking a bathtub, consider the design aesthetic of your bathroom as well as your floor plan. Bathtubs come in a large variety, including alcove, corner, drop-in, freestanding, under-mount, and walk-in.

Wall-adjoined bathtubs: Most homeowners have alcove bathtubs—a tub enclosed between three walls. It’s an ideal option if you plan to use your bathtub for showers as well. Corner bathtubs are usually tucked between two walls, which can maximize space in smaller bathrooms. These are the two main bathtubs that are installed adjacent to walls.

Free-range bathtubs: These bathtubs offer you more freedom in your floor plan, as they can be installed practically anywhere. Drop-in tubs can be put on a platform or surrounded by a custom deck or shell, giving homeowners even more design options. Similar to drop-ins, under-mount bathtubs are surrounded by a custom deck. However, with under-mounts, the tub is seamless with the floor and is usually surrounded by waterproof flooring. Under-mounts definitely make a statement for any bathroom. Freestanding bathtubs can be placed anywhere in a room and are usually not surrounded by a shell like drop-ins. And walk-in tubs have a door that makes it easier and safer for people to bathe. These tubs come with a built-in seat and generally have therapeutic features like jets.

Remember: Materials Matter

Materials can make quite a difference when selecting a tub. Fiberglass-reinforced plastic is one of the most popular and least expensive options. However, since it’s a lightweight material, it is easier to damage. Acrylic is also popular. It’s slightly thicker than fiberglass, so it’s more resilient to damage. Cast-iron tubs are pretty luxurious. They can be budget friendly, they retain heat well, and they’re scratch resistant, which is ideal for washing pets. Copper bathtubs come in a range of interior and exterior finishes, giving homeowners a variety of options. Enameled steel is lightweight and easy to clean, but the water tends to cool faster when bathing, and unlike copper, it can rust. And that’s not all: other luxurious materials to consider for your bathtub include stone, wood, marble, and porcelain.

Focus on the Features

The details of a bathtub are important. For instance, though most bathtubs are oval or rectangular, shapes that are square, circle, triangle, or irregular may fit the style of your bathroom better. Consider the faucet features as well. Hand-showers for a bathtub make it easier to bathe young kids and family pets. An air tub is one example of hydrotherapy—it massages your body by sending air through the jets of the tub. A whirlpool bathtub relaxes you with water jets. And then there are deep soaking bathtubs that let the water come up to your chin for a more relaxing experience. A new trend to consider is bathtubs that let you plug in your music device, allowing you to listen to music while you bathe. The music also causes vibrations in the tub, creating a relaxing, pulsating effect in the water.

Consult Your Wallet

The price of bathtubs can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, so don’t forget to consider your budget. And remember: bad things can happen to good bathtubs, like faults in the materials or with the installation. Be sure that you have a warranty from the manufacturer and installer, if possible. The variety of bathtub warranties ranges from one year to lifetime, and some warranties cover things such as defective parts and damaged finishes/surfaces. The best way to ensure a quality installation is to call a Best Pick bathroom remodeler. If you’ve got the time and money, step out of the shower and into a new bathtub perfectly customized to fit your needs.

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Sources: American Standard; Better Homes and Gardens; HGTV; HGTVRemodels; KOHLER; National Kitchen and Bath Association; This Old House.

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