Written by Hugh Metcalf

Buying guide: how to pick the perfect bath tub

When buying a new bath, there’s plenty to consider both in terms of style and functionality. Get it right with our definitive guide. 

bathroom with nickel bath tub - goodhomesmagazine.com

Image: The Albion Bath Company

A luxurious soak in the tub isn’t always the preserve of the everyday, but get your choice of bath wrong and your bathroom will turn from a relaxing space to unwind into an uncomfortable nightmare.

From the practical considerations for each kind of bath to how it will affect your space in the style stakes, we break down everything you need to know about picking the perfect tub.

Freestanding baths

pink freestanding bath in bathroom - goodhomesmagazine.com

Image: Colin Poole

A freestanding bath is a design luxury that many a homeowner desires for their bathroom. A freestanding design allows you to bring a better sense of shape into the room with your choice of tub, and can also help the space look bigger by freeing up the sightlines on the bathroom floor. There’s also more flexibility in placement with a freestanding bath – meaning you can located it away from a wall and even diagonally in a space.

There are a variety of designs available for every interior style – from super modern to a traditional clawfoot tub, freestanding baths are available at a range of price points, meaning you can find one for every budget.

However, freestanding baths are perhaps not as practical as built-in tubs. You will often need to clean behind and underneath, and bath time can be  a bit more tricky, especially with children, as splashes will go over the side and down the back of the bath. Likewise you won’t be able to use the side of the bath for storage, especially with a roll-top bath, whether that’s for shampoo and soap, or the kids’ toys. Freestanding baths can also be more difficult to use with overhead showers and aren’t as amenable for those with accessibility issues.

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Built-in baths

panelled bathroom with built-in bath - goodhomesmagazine.com

Image: David Giles

A more practical choice, built-in baths were the preferred choice for many years for their functionality and streamlined looks. However, while plastic panelled baths may have fallen out of favour, there’s still plenty of ways to make a built-in bath uber stylish – using a custom bath panel in your favourite tiles or panelling, for example.

A built-in bath will offer better options for wider and longer baths, and will be required for accessible bathing, if you’re looking for something to accommodate certain needs.

You can also find back-to-wall bathtubs, which combine the forward facing looks of a freestanding bath, but with a join to the wall, which can help with the practical concerns of this type of bath.

Read more: 6 bathroom splashback designs that are bang on trend for 2021 

Corner baths 

big bathroom shop corner bath - goodhomesmagazine.com

Image: Milano Newby bath, Big Bathroom Shop

Corner baths may have been bigger in the early 2000s than they are now, but a new breed of baths in less traditional shapes are growing in popularity. Circular and square tubs offer a slightly different take on bathing, sitting more upright than lying down, but can provide a useful, stylish solution for an unusually shaped or square bathrooms.

Shower baths

built in shower bath with freestanding look - bathroom - goodhomesmagazine.com

Image: Waters Baths of Ashbourne

If you have a separate shower, you may not require a bath that you can shower in too, but many homes require both. A built-in bath will fair much better practically, however, will require a screen or curtain to keep water from encroaching into your bathroom. You can choose a freestanding bath, however, you will need a curtain that completely encloses the tub, or have it located in a wet room.

Tap placement

stylish black double ended bath in bathroom - goodhomesmagazine.com

Image: V&A Vetralla bath, UK Bathrooms

A single-end bath is one with the taps, overflow and plug at the end of the bath, while a double-end bath has them in the middle. Modern styles tend to lean towards the symmetry double-end baths, however, if your taps are connected to an overhead shower, you’ll like need to opt for a single-end for practicality.

What else to consider?

Jo Weatherill, Marketing Manager at UK Bathrooms, has this advice for coniderations before making your purchase:

  • Weight – is your floor strong enough?
  • Position – choose carefully for maximum impact.
  • Storage – do you have space for built in shelves or a simple stool or side table?
  • Colour and style – from gorgeous Copper, Tin and Nickel finish to cast iron baths ready to be painted or on-trend black baths. Choose from a huge range of traditional or contemporary styles to suit any interior décor.


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