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How to choose a bathtub

Our bathtub is in! Yay! It is a great feeling when a renovation turns from the demolition process to the “rebuilding” stage – this is when things start to take shape. This post is on the entire process of choosing a bathtub. So if you’re going to do a bathroom renovation and have limited space like we do – then the rest of the post may be of interest to you.

When choosing a bathtub for our washroom we had three options. There could have been the option for A freestanding tub – such as a clawfoot. Or, a bathtub that has a built in “skirt” that is the same material as the inside of the tub or lastly – a bathtub that is called a drop in – similar to number two, but doesn’t have a skirt – which allows you to tile or add tile to the front of the tub.

We didn’t even consider a freestanding tub as it didn’t fit the style of this room and the ones I did like were going to be too large and too expensive. Freestanding tubs open you up to a world of possibilities and had we a larger bathroom then I perhaps would have drooled over options. However, it wasn’t right for this house.

As well as knowing we didn’t want free standing we also knew a few other things of what we didn’t want. We didn’t want to spend a lot on a tub, didn’t want jets or tubs that had strange peanut shapes to them as blogged about here and, we also had very specific size limitations as the room is small. Knowing what you *don’t* want helps you certainly find the one you do.

We went to Lowes and stared up at the tubs waaaay up high. If we had a lot more room to work with and had more flexibility with space and, budget – I would have headed over to TAPS and sat in tubs and dreamed a little. But because of budget and size limitations we stuck with shopping at a big box store. Lucky for us we happened to find one right away – a Jacuzzi brand. This particular bathtub was the right size and the right price at a few hundred dollars. It also came in two options – Either with the built in skirt or as a drop in and you can build your own surround.

I’m fairly certain that most people go with the tubs that come with the skirts because it’s easier and at the end of the day less expensive. When we did the research – side by size a tub, whether it was drop in or with a standard skirt was exactly the same price. However,  you have to consider that a drop in tub will cost slightly more because of the labour of building the surround and with building materials.

This particular tub has a built in skirt – and looks rather nice. Image via

From a design perspective the tubs with the built in skirts can go either way on the offensive scale. I’ve seen some ugly tub skirts that have weird moldings (like our old tub) but some like the one in the picture above, don’t look that bad at all.

It’s a design element that I think you potentially don’t notice over time. I couldn’t have told you what the skirt on our old tub looked like, which goes to show that I just think it ends up blending in after awhile. So I’m not knocking anyone who goes with the ready-made skirted choice. However for us, the fact that the Aubrey was the one doing the labour (free!), the small addition of cost for materials made it a no brainer for us to go with the drop in. I really loved the design flexibility that a drop in would give us, as it allowed for a little more of a custom look.

Photo via The Marion House Book

The above is an example of a drop in – you can see that you have some more design flexibility when you can tile, or, ad molding to the front of a tub. If you have the patience, time and extra funds I think it’s a great design element.

Behind our tub is a little step. I actually liked the step as it allowed me to have my shampoos at the back of the shower. Don’t mind the messy shot – at a certain point as we got closer to the reno I stopped caring how it looked…

We always assumed the the step was there because the previous owners just decided to have a shorter tub and over the years Aubrey always mentioned that when we renovated we’d just get a longer tub and loose that step. However – as it turns out we couldn’t do a longer tub. To get a longer tub – to go from wall to wall, a tub also gets wider. And although we could handle the tub getting longer – we couldn’t have the tub get wider as it would hit the toilet.

The fact that we have to go with a shorter tub isn’t a negative – I found the bathtub length totally fine, and I actually enjoyed the area behind the tub to place our shampoos. So all of this to explain why there is a little space behind the bathtub. Instead of raising it up (like a step) previously, we lowered it so it was a little more modern.

New bathtub – the step is still there but we dropped it so it was lower – more modern.

BUT – although the tub is the same length and the same width, it is deeper – which as a bather – is awesome. 🙂

The other thing you have to consider when buying a tub for an older home is considering the door frame size to the bathroom to get it in.

There you go! A super long post on bathtubs for small houses, and, small budgets. 🙂

The bathtub we chose was from Lowes Canada and was the Jaccuzi Soaker 60″ x 32″ drop in. It cost $348

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