The bathtub is such an important feature of any bathroom, and it is often the central focus of the room. It’s not only a place to wash and cleanse but a place to relax and unwind after a long day.
But there are lots of types of bathtubs, and choosing the right one for your bathroom can be a big decision. Here’s a guide to the most popular styles along with some info on the latest bathtub trends.
Popular Bathtub Styles
With so many bathroom styles to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start. Here are some of the most popular styles to give you some inspiration for your own bathroom.
The alcove bathtub is the standard bathtub that you will find in homes across Australia and the world. Also called the three-wall-alcove tub, these tubs typically measure about five feet by 30 inches. The standard size means old tubs can be removed and replaced with very little effort.
With these bathtubs, three sides are hidden by the three walls, and just one side is exposed to the bathroom. These are the standard, generic baths that are practical for the whole family and primarily designed for cleaning rather than enjoying a deep soak.
- Easy to replace
- Easy to care for and clean
- Can only go in one specific location (in an alcove)
- Generic style is not very exciting
- Not great for soaking
Things start to get a bit more exciting with freestanding bathtubs. In general, these are bathtubs that are separate units and can be positioned almost anywhere you want, such as next to a wall or in the very centre of the room. They can even be positioned in an alcove.
They come in various styles, so you will have a lot of models to choose from. One of the most popular of these is the claw-foot tub, which is characterised by its four feet in the style of claws, though sometimes these are styled as balls instead. These are beautiful tubs and they provide a stunning vintage look.
Alternatively, there are more contemporary freestanding baths that are characterised by sleek, smooth sides. They are often white, but can also be made from stainless steel or granite too.
French bateau tubs are another variation on the freestanding tub, which look like toy boats with both ends raised and fixtures in the middle, making them a practical option. They come in lots of finishes including porcelain and cast iron.
Whatever style you choose, they will usually have deep sides and sloping curves. Plumbing can be built into the tub or attached to a wall, and the tubs often have a lot of space around them, which makes cleaning them easier.
- Distinctive and striking style
- Versatile in that they can be positioned anywhere
- Can add vintage appeal to your bathroom
- Create more space
- Easy installation
- Deep walls for a better soak
- Not as practical, no storage areas
- More difficult to clean
- More expensive than standard tubs
- Less practical for some users like children
Fancy a really good soak? Then this is the bathtub for you! Soaking bathtubs like the Japanese ofuro take a relaxing soak to a whole new level. These are tall tubs with seats built into them. You get inside, sit down and fill it up with water right up to your neck – then relax.
Using a soaking tub is just like going to a spa. These freestanding tubs are not designed for cleaning, but rather the idea is that you have a shower first to get clean, and then get into the tub to relax.
They are made in a wide range of materials, from stone and acrylic to wood, and they are sometimes decorated with a Japanese style, but not always.
- Beautiful and striking design
- Great way to relax and unwind
- Takes up less space
- Easy to access
- Can be expensive
- Not practical for general cleaning
- No areas for storage for shampoo and soap
As suggested by the name, the corner bathtub is a tub that is fitted into a corner of the room so it is out of the way. It is a popular choice in smaller bathrooms, and it often looks like the standard alcove bathtub, but it can be more decorative.
These tubs come in a wide range of styles. For example, they can include a shower, or they could be designed as soaking tubs in the corner of the room.
- Available in many varieties
- Not as exciting as some styles
- Less of a feature of the room
Platform / Undermount Bathtubs
The main feature of this type of bath is that they do not have finished sides. Instead, they are placed in frames, which are designed to match the style of the bathroom, making it easy to customise the exterior of the tub. Inset bathtubs can also be positioned anywhere and do not need to be in an alcove.
They are sometimes called drop-in tubs or deck-mounted tubs, and they are available in various styles including a standard tub or corner tub.
- Luxurious feel
- High-end design
- Relaxing, deep soak
- High-end design
- Strong and durable
- Easy to clean
- Can be impractical, difficult to get in and out
A popular type of tub, whirlpool bathtubs include jets that shoot out water. A similar tub is the air bathtub, which shoots out jets of air. Both create swirling water that massages the skin and muscles, providing a superb way to relax.
- Fantastic relaxation
- Stylish appearance
- Spa-like feel
- Often expensive
- More work to install
Walk-in tubs are designed for people with mobility issues, and they are often popular with elderly people or people with disabilities. Sometimes getting into a standard tub can be a challenge, but these tubs make it easier.
They have doors that open so you can walk right in, solving the problem of stepping into the tub. They usually come with built-in seats and rails too.
- Provide greater independence to people with mobility issues
- Can be expensive
- Not particularly stylish because the focus is on practicality
Finally, enjoy the luxurious experience of the hot tub. While not exactly a bath and more a way to relax and unwind than to clean, they are still popular in bathrooms.
Hot tubs have massage jets built into them to provide the real spa treatment. They are quite large, so you will need a large bathroom, and they are ideal when placed next to a large window with a view.
- Relaxing and luxurious
- Add glamour to the bathroom
- Spa-like experience
- Great for relaxing and massaging muscles
- Can be expensive
- Large and impractical for small bathrooms
These are the main styles of bathtubs to choose from, but it’s also worth mentioning some of the most common materials that are used for tubs. Some are standard and affordable, while others are less common and much more expensive. These include:
- Fibreglass – Strong, durable and maintains its colour for many years.
- Acrylic – More easily damaged, but also easy to repair, and with a smooth glossy finish.
- Cast iron – Strong and virtually indestructible, often coated with porcelain enamel.
- Steel – Strong but lighter than cast iron.
- Wood – more of a speciality material, and more expensive. Western Cedar is a popular wood for its beauty and durability.
Now that we’ve had a look at the most popular styles of bathtubs and the options for materials, you may have a better idea about what you want for your next bath. But before you choose your next bathtub, it’s worth considering the latest bathtub trends. If you’re keen to keep up with the trends when you redesign your bathroom, here are some of the tub trends to be aware of.
The biggest bathtub trend right now is the statement tub or signature tub. This is, quite simply, where you use your bathtub to make a real statement in your bathroom and the first thing that people notice. A statement tub is not just a tub to clean yourself – it really gives your bathroom the wow factor.
So how do you get a statement tub? However you want! There are no set rules, but these splendid tubs are usually freestanding and are characterised by being very large – even large enough for two. They also typically have deep walls that are perfect for deep, long soaks.
While there are many styles of statement tubs, they often have very distinctive and bold colours. The claw-foot style is popular too, and these are bathtubs with strong visual appeal.
This style of tub was mentioned in the popular styles, but it’s also a big trend right now. A Japanese-style soaking tub provides any bathroom with something different and surprising in place of the standard tub. It’s a talking point that will make your bathroom really stand out – and you’ll love showing it off to guests.
But it also turns your bathroom into a truly relaxing environment where you go to unwind and de-stress after work. Soothe those aching muscles and joints with a truly indulgent experience with an ofuro tub, which is one of the best ways to create your own personal home spa.
Black bathtubs are becoming increasingly common, and they are a popular trend right now. Bold, beautiful and unexpected, they look absolutely stunning and can add elegance to your bathroom. They work particularly well with brass fixtures or in a bathroom with lots of timber on display.
While all bathtubs are essentially private, this refers to the trend of hiding the bathtub away somewhere in the bathroom to give you the feel of more privacy. Rather than putting your bathtub on display in the centre of the room – which can often be impractical when it comes to the plumbing – it’s popular to tuck it away in a private nook or corner of the bathroom.
This way, you have your own little private niche where you can relax and unwind in complete privacy while feeling that you are completely hidden from the world.
Exposed plumbing is popular in bathrooms in general, and it is often found in showers. But it is also a popular trend in bathtubs. Exposed plumbing is a simple and effective way to create an industrial style in your bathroom, and it can make even an average bathtub more interesting and stand out.
Choose Your Tub
There is nothing like a good soak in the tub. But these days, many people want to go beyond the standard bathtub – a great bathtub is not just a place to get clean but a place to enjoy some serious relaxation.
There are so many styles to choose from, as well as different materials and lots of bathtub trends, so use this guide to help you when it comes to choosing your next bathtub.