It’s official – America has fallen in love again with the bathtub! As coronavirus lockdowns eliminate many of our leisurely pursuits, the idea of lying comfortably in a serene warm tub as the minutes pass by has been rediscovered by a large segment of the population (especially Millennials in need of a cheap activity). Add to the mix some bath bombs or Epsom salts and not only have you created a tranquil environment free from the stresses of the outside world but you’re also soothing those aching and inflamed muscles, improving your overall health.
However, if you’re ready to make the jump from being strictly a shower person to someone who incorporates both baths and showers, below are three important things to go over with your contractor (more important than Jacuzzi or no Jacuzzi) before you invest in a tub that adds an exclamation mark to the bathroom of your dreams!
- Stand alone or shower/bathtub combo?
Unfortunately, the bathroom’s square footage will be the ultimate decider as to whether you can add a luxurious freestanding tub. Given that they are usually the smallest room in the house, never try to cram one in and always make sure you plan for proper clearance around the area. Many recommend a minimum of 21 inches between the tub/shower and a wall so one can easily walk past the fixture. If this cannot be accomplished, you’ll need a shower/bathtub combination.
While most of us would love a Victorian style, claw foot tub made from beautiful cast-iron, the reality is your house may not be able to support the weight; usually these tubs are in the neighborhood of 350 pounds. Also, if your heart is set on acquiring one of these retro designs, you need to know if your contactor and his team can clear it up two or even three flights of stairs safely. Then there’s the issue of whether a cast iron tub will damage your bathroom tiles? Again, make sure your contractor gives you definitive answers to all of these questions. If not, you’ll need to choose a less expensive plastic tub.
Fun fact: When President William Howard Taft occupied the White House, he had a tub installed that could fit four regular sized people inside it (Taft weighed 354 pounds). The added weight nearly caused the upstairs floor to come crashing down before 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue went through an extensive renovation process during the Truman administration.
- Accessibility, Safety & Budget
Ask yourself who will be using this tub? Any children or elderly persons with special needs? If the answer is yes, then a sunken tub or one with steps leading to an elevated platform is not a safe choice. Alternatively, a lower platform allows the person to sit on the edge and swing their legs into the tub with relative ease. For seniors, you’ll also want to invest in a security pole or a grab bar so they can maintain their balance. Keeping with this safety issue, be aware that any faucets should always be within reach from outside the tub so the user isn’t always having to climb in and out to turn the water on and off.
Finally, it is important that you do your homework and research the costs involved with installing a bathtub – both materials and labor. If space or safety aren’t preventing you from acquiring a sought-after Victorian style tub, the cost may be a deal breaker so research all the options that are available.