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Bathtubs are many things: a place to wash up, a spot to relax, and the location of the nightly kid-cleaning ritual. Everyone uses it differently, and thankfully there are a variety of tubs to fit all unique needs. If you’re tub shopping, consider aesthetic as well as usage when making your decision. But before that, survey your bathroom to decide the best location: it will likely determine the final bathtub you decide on.

How Big Should Your Bathtub be?[]

This all depends on who will be using it and what for. Will you generally be soaking alone or should you consider room for two? Do you simply want to get clean, or would you prefer a spa-like experience? Will you be bathing kids? If so, you don’t want to break your back leaning over large models

Where Should You Install the Tub?[]

 If you’re replacing an old tub, you’ll save in plumbing costs if you install the new one down in the same spot, however, you may be limited in unit choices. If you’re completely overhauling the bathroom, you have the freedom to choose any unit and likely where you’d like it. Once you find the desired spot, measure both the space and potential tubs carefully to be sure everything is compatible.

What Type of Tub Should You Purchase?[]

 The location and available space will likely dictate the type of tub that is going to work best in your bathroom. In general, they’re available in the following four styles:

Recessed/Alcove tubs: The most commonly installed tub, recessed tubs have walls on three sides with only the fourth side finished. These are easily doubled as showers with the addition of a surround or wall kit, and are generally more affordable.

Corner tubs: These triangular-shaped tubs are designed to save space by being installed in a corner area. These are available in several design options, but not all are able to accommodate a shower.

Freestanding tub: Freestanding tubs provide placement versatility, are easy to install and don’t require special faucet drilling. There are several different designs, and they often come with a sloped back for extra comfort.

Platform/Drop-in Tubs: These tubs are dropped into a platform or sunk into the ground, and therefore do not have any finished panels. They’re easy to clean and can be placed almost anywhere, yet are pricey and can be more difficult to install.

What Type of Material Should You Consider?[]

There is a wide range of materials to choose from, and the right one for you depends largely on how often you plan to use it and your style. If you’re going more for look rather than comfort and use, consider cultured marble, which is sleek and stylish yet may be brittle and scratch easily. If you plan to soak for hours, enameled cast iron might be your fit; it’s heavy, but durable, solid and retains heat well. The key here is doing your homework before making the decision that’s right for you.

What Other Consideration Might You Want to Think About?[]

Make sure it’s comfortable by lying down in the tub before you buy it. In addition, check your water heater to ensure it can generate enough hot water to fill the size of your selected tub. Is there someone in the household who is elderly or handicapped? Be sure your tub is ADA compliant so they can use it with ease.