After a long day, wouldn't you love a relaxing soak in the tub? Or is your reality more along the lines of kids' bath time, aka wet playtime, and if you're lucky, a quick shower for yourself? No matter how you use the bathtub, conventionally and unconventionally (e.g., washing the dog, cleaning Lego, holding live fish), it should fit your needs and your bathroom. This humble household fixture is a large investment, and there are so many different kinds out there.
Bathtubs are constructed of various materials, like acrylic, porcelain on stainless steel or cast iron, solid surface resin, copper, stone (e.g., marble), and even wood. But what really sets models apart are their types, which include:
Other tubs with more bells and whistles include the walk-in tub, designed with a sealing door for elderly or physically disabled people unable to climb into a regular bathtub; the whirlpool, with therapeutic water jets for massage; the air tub, similar to a whirlpool but shoots air bubbles instead of water; and a combination whirlpool/air tub.
From my early years gutting bathrooms on a demolition crew, to eventually remodeling them as a residential contractor, I know bathtubs. After spending hours at different bathroom showrooms testing out models, and discussing the pros and cons with other plumbing specialists, I landed on these options as the best bathtubs you can buy.
What makes this bathtub so great — along with its price tag — is its all-around functionality. From the design to construction and durability, the American Standard Cambridge Integral Apron Bathtub has all the factors that make a great bathtub.
The American Standard Cambridge Integral Apron Bathtub sits flush against all three walls of your bathrooms alcove and features an integral apron on the exposed side facing the rest of the bathroom. This just means that the apron (also called a skirt) is part of the tub itself and not a separate piece that needs to be bolted on — which means less labor to install and a cleaner overall look.
It's constructed of Americast, an American Standard-patented material made by covering a steel base with a layer of porcelain enamel and adding a plastic composite backing underneath. This makes for a tub that is about half as heavy as cast iron but still has a nice, sturdy feel to it. I could definitely feel the difference between this tub and fiberglass models that had a bit more "flex" and a flimsier feel.
Another great thing about Americast is its durability. Porcelain enamel is really difficult to scratch, and if you ever chip the finish, it's easy to fix with a simple patch kit. American Standard even ships you the kit you need, which makes it easy to match the color of your specific tub.
The glossy finish is easy to clean, and as long as you stay away from any kind of abrasive cleaners or pads — warm soapy water and a soft cloth will suffice — it will keep its luster for a long time.
Comfort-wise, this tub checked all the boxes for me. With an interior length of 54 inches, there was plenty of room for me to stretch out, and the 26-degree angled back made for a nice reclining position. Obviously, you should test out the tub in person if you can, but I'm 5'9", and I still had some wiggle room at my feet. With a depth of 17 inches, the American Standard Cambridge Integral Apron Bathtub is nice and deep, and that sturdiness I mentioned before really adds to the comfort factor.
Something else I noticed when testing out this tub was the non-slip coating applied to the bottom. I always appreciate safety features, and this one is camouflaged pretty well into the rest of the tub.
The main thing to point out about this bathtub is its size. If you're looking for a deep bathtub with more legroom than standard options, you're not going to beat the American Standard Evolution Bathtub.
Its bathing pool allows for 18.5 inches of water, so you'll be able to easily submerge yourself if you prefer. Secondly, at 72 inches in length (6 feet), the American Standard Evolution Bathtub is a long bathtub, and a great choice for taller people who have trouble finding bathtubs that provide the legroom they want. This size, combined with its molded armrests and 25-degree slope for reclining all add up to an ultra-comfortable bathtub.
The American Standard Evolution Bathtub is made of acrylic and fiberglass, and at 73 pounds, makes for a lightweight bathtub. Acrylic also does a great job of retaining heat, keeping your water hotter for longer. The glossy finish gives the Evolution Bathtub an attractive appearance, and its smooth, sloping contours give it a pleasing, minimalist style.
Some people complain about acrylic and fiberglass tubs having a flimsy, hollow feel to them, but that's usually because they were not installed properly. If you set your bathtub on a bed of mortar when dropping it into your platform or structure, it will harden to create a nice firm base for the bathtub. This will reduce any flex or give you might get from a tub that is just suspended in the air.
The American Standard also has a slip-resistant floor for safety. One downside is that the width of the American Standard Evolution Bathtub is similar to regular sized tubs, so it might not be wide enough for you, depending on your body size.
Cons: Depth could be a problem for children or older people, may not be wide enough for larger bathers
If you're primarily interested in using your tub for long, relaxing soaks, then the Woodbridge 67-inch Freestanding Soaking Tub is a great choice.
Maybe it was because it was the end of a long day, but out of all the bathtubs I tested, this was the one that made me want to climb inside as soon as I saw it. Unlike a lot of other modern-style bathtubs that are only nice to look at, the soft curves and rounded edges of the sleek Woodbridge Soaking Tub create a cozy, inviting bathtub.
Maintaining a steady water temperature is essential for soaking tubs, and the double-walled acrylic design of the Woodbridge Tub provides excellent insulation. Reinforced by fiberglass, this dual-walled design does add some weight to the Woodbridge, but that is also the reason it feels sturdier than other acrylic tubs.
Often when freestanding acrylic tubs like this feel less sturdy than cast iron or Americast, it is because of improper installation. If installed correctly, and you really silicone this bathtub to the floor properly — I recommend GE Irongrip Silicone — it should feel rock solid, especially after filling with a couple hundred pounds of water.
At 67 inches across the top, and a bathing floor of 45 inches, the Woodbridge 67-inch Freestanding Soaking Tub should have plenty of room for most people to relax in without feeling cramped. Its 23-inch sides have a nice gentle slope, and when you slide down into the bathtub, they create a cozy barrier. That said, it's not one of those huge soaking tubs, so it might not be large enough for two people.
I'm a big fan of freestanding tubs with no feet like this one — though it does have small hidden feet for making leveling adjustments. Since you don't have to worry about cleaning underneath it, a quick wipedown of the glossy acrylic is all it takes to keep it looking great.
Keep in mind, a freestanding tub like this will require a separate filling faucet, so that will need to be purchased separately. Woodbridge does offer its own faucet as an additional add-on, but in my experience, they tend to be too small for filling up these big soaking tubs.
If you want something eye-catching and unconventional in a freestanding tub, go for the Sinkology Heisenberg Copper Bathtub. Visually, this gorgeous tub evokes a totally different feeling than a typical white bathtub. Its handcrafted design makes it less of an appliance and more of an example of artisanal craftsmanship.
I'll be honest, the first time I saw this tub, I wasn't impressed. But the more I touched and appreciated its craftsmanship, the more it grew on me. Traditional porcelain clawfoot tubs can have a sterile, medical, bedpan-y look to them, and the Sinkology Heisenberg Copper Bathtub has a totally different personality and warmth to it.
The Sinkology Heisenberg Copper Bathtub has a slipper design, meaning that one end is higher and more sloped than the other, providing extra back support for comfortable lounging. It's 62-inch long bowl floor makes it easier for taller people to stretch their legs out all the way.
The copper construction of the Sinkology Heisenberg Copper Bathtub isn't just eye-catching, it's also functional. Copper is a great conductor of heat, which means that when warm water heats the bottom of the bathtub, that heat will quickly spread to the rest of the tub. This effect also helps the water retain its temperature longer.
The Sinkology Heisenberg Copper Bathtub also really durable. With no porcelain or enamel to chip, it's practically impossible to damage this bathtub. Its extreme malleability means that it will also never crack like other, more brittle materials like fiberglass, and its irregular surface hides any dents or dings you might cause. Keeping the copper finish is simple too. Sinkology recommends cleaning with water, regular soap, and a cloth or sponge after usage. Avoid harsh chemicals or acidic products.
This bathtub weighs in at a hefty 300 pounds, so if it's going upstairs you'll be spending some money on the labor getting it up there. I would also recommend checking with plumbers in your area to make sure they'll do it. I know a couple that are just tired of manhandling copper and cast-iron tubs and just won't do it anymore.
If you're looking for a comfortable corner soaking tub that doesn't take up half your bathroom, the Kohler Proflex Corner Bathtub is a great solution. It's exocrylic construction traps and holds heat effectively, and also makes for a lightweight, modern-looking tub.
Visually, The Kohler Proflex Corner Bathtub has nice clean lines to it, and its molded armrests and lumbar support make it more ergonomic than a traditional bathtub. You probably won't be able to stretch out as much as you would in a regular bathtub, but the triangular shape creates more of a "hot tub" feel, allowing for more variety in how you position yourself. The Kohler Proflex Corner Bathtub is especially good for bathing little kids in since there are more areas to move around and play in.
Another great feature of the Kohler Proflex Corner Bathtub is its weight. At only 51 pounds, this bathtub is much easier to install than most others, particularly when it comes to maneuvering around smaller, cramped bathrooms. Unlike heavier materials that can weigh hundreds of pounds and cost hundreds of extra dollars just to carry from the curb to your bathroom, the Kohler can easily be carried up a flight of stairs by two adults. Of course, depending on your staircase, its shape can potentially cause other issues.
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