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Whether it's a morning ritual or an escape at the end of a long day, taking a bath can help us relax, refuel or rejuvenate. Functionality aside, a range of tub options also allows your bathroom to make an exciting design statement.
But keep in mind that selecting the perfect bathtub is a two-step process based on your needs and desires.
1. Choose a style
A corner tub is a great option for smaller spaces, or for homeowners who have floor-to-ceiling windows and want to take advantage of a view. Some designs can accommodate two people, and are outfitted with moulded arm rests and elbow supports.
Freestanding tubs create major impact, and they can be placed anywhere in a bathroom. Many new versions have a sculptural purity, whether it's a rigorous trough design or a sensual bowl shape, allowing them to become the fashionable focal point of the space.
Clawfoot tubs are popular for their stylized Victorian look, and add instant period charm and romance. Modern reproductions feature different finishes on the feet, so if going this route, choose one that coordinates with your other fixtures and hardware.
Platform tubs are placed into a raised surround for a luxurious, spa-like feel. The surround can be customized as well to coordinate with counters, or tiled to match a backsplash.
Two-person tubs are a sybaritic choice, and they usually include whirlpool features. But get that tape measure out early as these oversized tubs can be tricky to maneuver through bathroom doors, and you don't want to be forced into opening a wall in order to move that luxurious number into place.
2. Select your material
Fibreglass tubs are created by spraying a polyester resin or gelcoat into moulds. They are a super-affordable option but can scratch and fade, and aren't as durable as acrylic.
Acrylic tubs are formed by heating and moulding sheets of acrylic reinforced with fibreglass. The non-porous finish is five times thicker than other traditional surface coatings, so it's unlikely to chip but it can get scratched. It's a lightweight material which can be formed into large tub and whirlpool styles, styles would be prohibitively heavy if designed in cast iron. Acrylic also has a natural luster that can be maintained easily with mild cleaners.
Enamelled cast iron is extremely durable, but may chip, requiring spot repairs. An iron tub can weigh over 270 kg when full so make sure the floor is well braced to support the load. An iron tub also holds its heat, so makes for a luxurious soak, plus the metal delivers a feeling of solidity and security for the bather. And take note: If maintained properly, a cast iron tub should last a lifetime.
Brass and copper tubs are costly, but truly dramatic, style-wise. They also retain heat well so suit hedonists who love long, lingering baths; plus the thicker gauges resist dents from impacts.
On a final note, remember that a tub needs to feel right, and tubs that have the same outside measurements may not have the same shape and space on the inside. The solution: Be prepared to climb in and test-drive before you buy.