Wikipedia defines a plumbing fixture as "a device which is part of a system to deliver and drain away water, but which is also configured to enable a particular use." This broad definition includes sinks, lavatories, toilets, showers, tubs, faucets and water heaters. With today's technology, these fixtures come in a myriad of styles, colors and materials to enhance the interior design your home. Let's look at what is available in bath tubs today. Your bathtub serves many purposes in your life. In addition, to its functional element of allowing you to be clean, it is a place to rest and relax, soaking away the aches and pains after a long day. Today's bathtubs come in a variety of styles with one to match any need you have in your home.
Soaking tubs are deeper than a traditional tub to allow you to soak up to your chin. As a rule, they don't have any shower or jet attachments. There are two types of soaking tubs.
Roman tubs generally have the filler spout of the faucet rising from the deck of the tub, not its side, and are mounted on the floor.
Greek tubs are shorter in length than regular tubs but still allow you to sit in water up to your chin.
Built-in tubs are very popular due to their space efficiency, affordability, and availability. They are available in both the alcove and drop in styles.
Alcove tubs, or recessed tubs as they are sometimes called, are built into an alcove in your bathroom with only the front of the tub having a decorative finish. They are enclosed on three sides by walls, using a shower curtain or door to enclose the open side. With less finished surfaces, these styles of tubs are less expensive than some others you might find, and are easy to maintain. Typically, an alcove tub is made from enameled steel which is lightweight and inexpensive. However, it is prone to chipping. Enameled cast iron is a better choice but it is more expensive and heavier, sometimes requiring the bathroom floor to have additional reinforcement.
Drop-in tubs are placed either on a platform, between walls, or into the floor. Because there are no sides showing, only the inside of the tub is finished. These tubs have the faucets on the deck which enables the overflow tubes to be mounted higher, allowing a deeper water level in your tub.
Freestanding tubs are not enclosed in any way and rest on four legs, such as the clawfoot tub, or rest on an oval base like the less common pedestal tub. Freestanding tubs are easier to install since no carpentry and masonry is involved, and they are easier for repairs and maintenance because the pipes are exposed.
Clawfoot tubs became popular in the mid-1800's and were made of iron with a white porcelain finish. Today you have your choice of materials. The original cast iron is still available and is always a good choice. One factor to take into consideration with a cast iron tub is its weight. You may need to check the weight bearing capability of your bathroom floor. These tubs are also available in acrylic. While the acrylic has the same look at a cast iron tub, it is only about 60% of the weight. The acrylic clawfoot tubs have the additional advantage of not rusting, which the cast iron tubs may do.
Pedestal tubs are a form of clawfoot tub, but rest on an oval base. This base can be made from wood which allows it to be painted and complement your bathroom's interior design. The pedestal tub is oval in shape, with a straight back and flat front, and is available in either cast iron or steel with a porcelain coating, or acrylic. There are no drilled holes in a pedestal tub so the faucets are installed on the floor or wall.
With the exception of the clawfoot style tubs, any of the other styles can also be whirlpool tubs which have jets for added pleasure and comfort. These tubs may require special framing, an additional dedicated water heater or a dedicated electrical circuit. The dealer can tell you what is needed for the specific whirlpool tub you are considering. Bathtubs are most commonly made of steel and cast iron covered with a porcelain enamel, or acrylic. However, there are some other materials used in bathtubs which are not as common.
Fiberglass, also known as Gelcoat or FRP, is the least expensive material used for bathtubs. It is molded into the desired shape and sprayed with a pigmented polyester resin. While they are lightweight and inexpensive, they often become dull over time. Fiberglass bathtubs are protected by a gel coat, but once that coating wears off the tub will become dull in appearance. They can also show scratches over time, which are not easily repaired.
Cultured marble is a blend of fiberglass resin and crushed limestone with a clear gel coat applied to produce a shiny, strong and non-porous surface, allowing you to customize the color of your tub. This material has a more luxurious feel and has long lasting durability.
Stainless steel tubs provide a very unique look for you bathroom. These tubs last for ages with the proper care and are very easy to clean. They are also more expensive than conventional tubs and are not as available in all sizes and styles. If you decide on a stainless steel tub, you may have to have it custom made.
Copper tubs are a very high end option for your home. These are free standing tubs are cast in antique molds and weigh about ½ a ton. While the copper tubs have a strong rustic character, copper is a soft metal and will scratch easily. As copper tubs do not support bacterial, viral or fungal growth, they are the most sterile of all tubs.
With all the styles, materials and colors available in bathtubs today, the one to show your unique style and taste is just waiting for you and your dream home.