Best Guide Buying Bathtub

How to buy a new bath

Which bath is right for your rest and relaxation?

Taking a bath is the ultimate in relaxation, however choosing the right bathtub means picking your way through a load of shapes, sizes, and materials available today.

Alex has years of experience working in the trade both commercially and domestically

When you are planning and designing your bathroom, the first consideration you probably make for your bath is the look. Being the largest piece of the bathroom suite, the bath can become the focus of the bathroom space, it must fit the style and mood you want to create.

Different bath shapes offer different bathing experiences, so this guide is here to help you choose the shape that is right for you. The only way to know for sure is to try them out for yourself, get in and stretch out, do you fit? Is it comfortable?

Whether you’re doing a complete bathroom refit or just replacing your old bath, you’ll need precise measurements of your space to make sure the new one fits.

Getting a direct replacement may mean that you must get one the same size, but that doesn’t mean that you must have the same bathing experience. Explore replacing your bath with a new set of taps as well as moving the position of them, or you could choose a new style of bath with some innovative features.

 If you are starting from scratch, if you’ve got the space, don’t feel as though your bath has to be in a corner, consider having one further out in the room for a different look that’s more luxurious.

What to ask before buying a bathtub?

How do you plan to use your tub?

A standard soaking bathtub simply gets filled with water, while a whirlpool or air bath has jets or channels that provide massaging air. Do you need arm- or headrests, grab bars, and slip-resistant flooring?

Whirlpool, air-bath, or combination tubs have many more options, including adjustable jets, ambient underwater lighting, aromatherapy features, heated blowers, and automated cleaning systems. The more elaborate your tub, the more expensive it will be.

You’ll also need to think about whether you’ll be using the bath as a shower area, and if you need a bath and shower mixer, or whether these will be separate

Are there special installation considerations?

If you’re considering a jetted bathtub, you’ll need to plan for the pump, air switch, and electric timer. Many pumps fit within the bathtub unit, but some manufacturers have remote-location pumps that can be placed up to 5 feet from the bathtub and hidden in a closet or vanity cabinet. The air switch, which is nonelectric, may be located on the bathtub unit. Plan on installing the electric timer a safe distance—at least 5 feet—away from the tub to satisfy code requirements.

Does weight pose a problem?

Plastic bathtubs can weigh as little as 60 pounds empty, while a cast-iron bathtub can top 1,000 pounds. If you’re considering a heavier material, can your floors handle the weight?

When you add up bathtub weight, plus the weight of water and people, it may be necessary to reinforce the floor beneath the tub with supports or bracing.

Also, a too-heavy bathtub may be impossible or too expensive to get into a second-floor bathroom.

Bath Shapes

Classic Roll Top Bath

If you long for a relaxing lie down in the bath, choose a classic roll-top bath for a soothing, full-length immersion.

Single Ended Bath

A single-ended bath has one sloping end and one square end designed for taps. The deeply sloping end is perfect for bathers who like to lie back and relax.

Slipper Bath

The slipper bath is like the boat bath, but with one side more pronounced so the bath slopes like a shoe. The shape is ideal for sitting tucked up in for a compact yet comfortable bathing experience. The lower end is perfect for placing in front of or alongside a window, it is not as high-sided as the boat bath, so it is a great bath for taking in a view!

Bateau Baths

The ‘boat’ bath, so named because of its symmetrical sloping sides, was made popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. It’s steep, high sides make this is the perfect shape of bath for sitting up comfortably in, with a good book, a glass of wine or whatever you fancy. If you are smaller in stature (Under approx. 5’5” or 165cm) you will still be able to reach your legs out.

Bathtub Materials


Made of either fibreglass or acrylic, plastic bathtubs offer the greatest design flexibility because they can be moulded into many shapes. It’s warm to the touch and insulates well, so water doesn’t cool as fast as in enamelled-steel bathtubs or cast-iron tubs. Plastic is also the lightest tub, weighing in at 60-70 pounds. Although it doesn’t chip easily, abrasive cleaners will damage the surface.

Enamelled steel

Formed steel bathtubs with a porcelain-enamel coating are the least expensive tubs. But the material has drawbacks: Steel conducts heat, meaning tub water cools quickly; the surface is prone to chipping, and it weighs about twice as much as plastic.


Cast-iron tubs, like steel, are coated with enamel. However, they don’t chip as easily as steel because the enamel coating is thicker than on steel tubs, and cast iron is more durable and resistant to impacts. At first, a cast-iron tub will pull heat from the water, but once it heats up, it will keep water warm for a long time. Cast iron’s main drawback is its weight, 350-500 pounds, which may complicate second-floor tub installations.


Cast-polymer tubs traditionally replicate the look of marble, granite, or onyx, and they’re available in a range of solid colours. Cast polymer costs a little more than acrylic; however, its surface doesn’t stand up as well. With time, the gel-coat finish on cast-polymer tubs can become brittle and expose the material underneath, leading to cracks.

Proprietary Composites

Relatively new entrants to the bathtub marketplace, proprietary composites include heavy-gauge steel, porcelain enamel, and resins. These bathtub materials combine to create a tub that offers all the benefits of cast iron with half the weight.

Comparing Acrylic V’s Steel Bathtubs

What are the benefits of an acrylic bath?

Here are some of the main reasons people like acrylic baths:

  • They are cheaper to buy because they are easier (and therefore cheaper) to produce. Acrylic baths can be mass-produced much more effectively than steel ones.
  • They are non-porous, meaning that cleaning is easy.
  • They are warmer to the touch, meaning no cold steel against your skin when you get in. This may not be an issue for all bathers, but it can be quite unpleasant touching a cold bath in winter, even if the water is hot.
  • Newer baths are reinforced and come with a wooden baseboard to strengthen them and prevent warping. This means the received wisdom that steel is stronger than acrylic may no longer be the case.
  • They can be reinforced more, too. Some acrylic baths have layers of resin that make them comparable in strength to steel.
  • They are durable, and especially suited to bathrooms that will see a lot of use from users who may not be especially careful (kids, for example).
  • They come in a wide range of colours and designs, and because of sophisticated modern manufacturing methods, they can look just as refined as a non-plastic tub.
  • The material is flexible, meaning it lends itself better to moulding. More designs can be achieved, and when you’re choosing a bath, this means you’re more likely to find the perfect design.

What are the drawbacks of an acrylic bath?

It’s not all good, though. Here are some reasons people dislike acrylic baths:

  • They are prone to damage; Any impact that would not damage a steel bath may crack or even split acrylic.
  • They will always flex slightly, even if correctly installed, because of the nature of the material. As we touched on previously, this is less of a concern with newer models thanks to developments in the manufacturing process, but some people are put off nonetheless.
  • The fact that they flex leads to an increased risk of cracks and damage that just isn’t present in a steel bath. It should be noted that the likelihood of damage increases with weight (you + the water) and that an acrylic bath won’t just break for no reason.
  • The material can become discoloured over the years because of exposure to UV light, as well as to some of the chemicals found in cleaning products.
  • The material is made with processes requiring the use of fossil fuels, and acrylic baths are not 100% recyclable. This means that, from an environmental perspective, they aren’t ideal.

What are the benefits of a steel bath?

Steel baths are always popular and for good reason. Here are some of the main things people like:

  • The material has a real presence, and steel baths often look very solid and elegant. Strong lines can be achieved in their design, and they can complement modern or traditional design aesthetics effectively.
  • They lend themselves better to a designer bathroom and careful ownership than acrylic.
  • They are more durable and will last you a long time. Even with the increased strength of modern acrylic baths, a steel bath will likely last longer.
  • They are coated with enamel which can withstand large amounts of impact, and even if damage occurs, the entire bath surface can be sanded down and re-enamelled. This means that chipping or cracking a steel bath is incredibly difficult (even if the showerhead falls off, for example).
  • They can be painted, opening a huge new range of design options. The paint will not discolour with age, either, in the way that acrylic’s colour will.
  • The colour will stay purer for longer when exposed to cleaning products, thanks to the coating.
  • Germs can’t survive on the surface of the bath, meaning that steel baths are more hygienic than acrylic baths. This is boosted by the absence of scratches to hold the dirt.
  • They are more environmentally friendly, because of less intensive manufacturing processes. Steel baths can also be completely recycled.
  • They retain water temperature well, although perhaps not as well as acrylic.

What are the drawbacks of a steel bath?

  • It’s a chilly material, which can be quite shocking when you get in during winter months. This is true even when getting into warm water, as it takes a while for the water to warm up the metal!
  • The same material properties that make steel baths sturdier also make them heavier: trying to manoeuvre your steel bath up a staircase for installation in an upstairs bathroom is hard work.
  • Depending on your home, a steel bath may need to be earthed to prevent the risk from electricity in fault conditions.
  • Your floorboards may need to be reinforced if the bath is particularly heavy.
  • They have a higher price point for various reasons. Some people find that a steel bath is just too expensive for their bathroom redesign budget.

Are You Interested in a New Bath

If you are looking for a new bath or fancy a whole new bathroom, give us a call for a no-obligation Free quotation


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *