All Types of Bathtub Faucets Explained: Deck Mount, Wall Mount, Freestanding, and Tub Spouts

If you’re like most homeowners, the wide range of bathtub faucets available today can be downright confusing. With so many types on the market, how do you know which one is right for your tub and needs?

The fact is, the type of bathtub filler you choose depends largely on the specific bathtub it will be installed on. Each of the following types of bathtub faucets are designed to be used in a specific use cases even though some have multiple uses.

  • Tub Spouts
  • Deck Mount Tub Faucets
  • Freestanding Tub Fillers
  • Wall Mount Bathtub Faucets

With so many options, it’s no wonder most homeowners find choosing a new bathtub faucet overwhelming. But don’t worry! In this article, we’ll walk through the key types of tub fillers, explaining the pros, cons and compatible tub types for each. By the end, you’ll understand exactly which faucet is right for your bathtub setup.

Tub spouts: designed mainly for tub and shower setups

Tub spouts are by far the most popular type of bathtub filler. Unlike other faucets, tub spouts are not standalone units. Rather, they are typically a “part” of a tub and shower faucet system.

Although they can be sold separately, they are most often purchased with the tub and shower trim alongside the shower valve trim and the showerhead.

Standard Diverter Tub Spout
Standard Diverter Tub Spout
Non Diverter Tub Spout
Non Diverter Tub Spout

Tub spouts are most commonly installed in an alcove tub situated inside a shower stall, also known as a “tub and shower combination.” The spout is turned on and off by the shower valve handle which also control the showerhead.

In order for the user to choose between the two, there is usually a diverter mechanism that redirects the water either to the showerhead or the tub spout. This diverter can be part of the tub spout itself, but can also be built into the shower handle. This explains why there are two common types of tub spouts

  • Diverter Tub Spout
  • Non Diverter Tub Spout

Diverter tub spout

Diverter tub spouts are the spouts most commonly found in more affordable shower/tub combinations. With this type of setup, the diverter mechanism is built right into the tub spout itself.

With this spout, the shower handle turns on the tub spout by default, so the user has to pull the diverter knob up to redirect it to the showerhead.

It’s a simple mechanism but the downside is that diverter tub spouts offer very little control over water volume. It is basically just an on/off switch that cuts off the water flow to the tub spout in order to send it to the showerhead.

This setup is serviceable for most users and it’s probably the most popular option due to its price. However, if you want more control, you’d have to opt for a non diverter tub spout.

Non diverter tub spout

Unlike diverter spouts, non-diverter tub spouts do not have the diverting mechanism built-in. Instead, they are used in shower systems where the diverter is part of the shower handle and trim.

With this type of setup, the tub spout itself is a simpler, cleaner-looking product. All it does is dispense water. The shower handles and valves control the diverter function separately.

Non-diverter spouts are more desirable for a few reasons:

  • Sleeker, minimalist look since the spout itself is straightforward.
  • Allow more precise control over water flow and volume. The best shower valves have a dial or sliding diverter that lets you finely adjust the water coming out of the tub spout.
  • Work well with high-end shower trims since it allows the manufacturer to design a tub spout with the right design language to match the collection without having to worry about incorporating a diverter knob that looks out of place.

Deck Mount Tub Faucets: mainly used for drop-in and undermount tubs

A Deck mount bathtub faucet, also known as a Deck Mount Tub Filler, is a type of tub faucet designed to be installed on the rim of the bath tub or on the surrounding deck area.

Deck Mount Tub Filler on Undermount Bath Tub
Two Handle Deck Mounted Tub Filler, installed on an undermount tub
Two Handle Deck Mounted Tub Filler with handshower, installed on Tub rim

This style of tub faucet is most commonly compatible with drop-in bathtubs that have a rim that sit on to pof the deck or with undermount tubs that sit below underneath the deck.

With that being said, it can also be installed with a freestanding tub as long as it has it has a deck that can accommodate the installation of a tub filler, or if it’s installed on a custom made deck.

Deck mount fillers tend to have a classic two-handle configuration, styled like an oversized version of a standard sink faucet. Many are designed to match other fixtures from the same collection or product line.

Shopping for a deck mounted bathtub faucet

When shopping for a deck mount tub faucet, you are sure to come across two types, a deck mount tub filler with handheld and a versions without a handheld showerhead.

A handheld showerhead is almost always recommended for a soaking tub as it allows to have more control when washing up after a bath. However, that comes with a significant price bump on the price tag.

Deck Mount Tub Filler installed on separate deck for freestanding bathtub
Deck Mount Tub Filler installed a make shift deck to accommodate a Freestanding Bathtub
Single Handle Deck Mount Tub filler with handheld showerhead
Single Handle Deck Mount tub filler with diverter handle and handheld shower

Another important aspect of the shopping process is to know which brand sells the deck mount faucets as one unit, and which one requires that you purchase a separate valve. Below is a handy table that should help with that.

Rough Valve included?Rough Valve Model Rough Valve for Handheld
KohlerNoK-300-K-NAK-9530 (add-on diverter to K300)
American StandardYesn/an/a

Deck mount tub fillers are typically the most affordable option for both drop in and freestanding bahttub, however once you need to add a handheld showerhead, the price starts getting close to entry level freestanding tub faucets.

It’s important to note that single handle deck mounted tub faucets are also available but they are a lot more rare and tend to only come with a handheld shower built in.

Freestanding Tub Fillers: used with freestanding bathtubs

As the name implies, freestanding tub fillers are designed specifically for freestanding bathtubs. They are floor mounted and can be located on both the long and short side of the freestanding bahtub.

Freestanding fillers always have at least one flexible metal leg that extends and converts into a faucet spout. This extended length allows it to clear soaker tubs that often sit at least 20″ high above the floor.

There are two main styles:

  • Two legged freestanding fillers that are more traditional, with two handles controlling hot and cold water. They work well with antique-style freestanding tubs like clawfoots.
  • Single-legged fillers are more modern looking, with one handle for simpler control. This minimalist style suits contemporary freestanding tubs.

Of course this not always the case but more of a rule of thumb.

Most freestanding fillers come with a rough valve that gets installed underneath the floor during plumbing. This ensures proper installation and allows the plumber to cover his basis during the rough phase of the plumbing.

It’s crucial to plan ahead and ensure that there is enough spacing for not only the freestanding bathtub but the faucet as well as it will need breathing room.

Shopping for a freestanding tub filler

Freestanding tub fillers are by far the most expensive type of bathtub faucets, so it’s important to know what you’re shopping for before making a decision.

Like deck mount tub fillers, some freestanding tub fillers require that you purchase a rough in valve separately. It’s important that you do your due diligence when comparing pricing and make sure that you’re comparing like for like.

Wall mount tub fillers: rare but used with all types of tubs

As the name suggests, wall mount tub fillers are faucets that mount to the wall above the bathtub rather than on the tub deck or floor. They can accommodate various tub types including drop-in, undermount, and freestanding tubs.

Wall mounted fillers are relatively rare, but can come in handy when space is limited. Since they don’t occupy the tub rim or floor area, they help optimize tight layouts.

Installing a wall mount filler requires some planning, as the valve typically needs to be roughed into the wall during plumbing. You’ll also need to have sufficient framing or backing to securely attach the faucet.

Choice is limited, as most major faucet brands offer only one or two wall mount models across their whole product line. But in a pinch, you can use a basic shower trim kit with a tub spout for a makeshift wall mount filler. Just know this takes up more visible wall space.

While not the most common type, wall mounted tub fillers are great problem-solvers when space is at a premium. With smart planning and design, they can offer a solution other simply can’t.

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