Freestanding Bathtubs can be extremely comfortable as long as you make the right choices when purchasing the tub in the first place. The key is focusing on the four factors that most affect the overall comfortability of the tub: its overall size, slope of the , the inclusion of a lumbar support & the bathtub material.
The Overall Size of the bathtub
One of the major factors of whether or not you’ll find a bathtub comfortable is how well do you fit inside of it. While people come in different sizes, freestanding bathtubs should be available in sizes that will feel comfortable for most people.
Thankfully, freestanding bathtubs come in a variety of sizes that will accommodate most people. The overall length range from 48″ to 72″, while the width can go from 30″ wide & up.
Typical Width for Freestanding
30″ wide is plenty of space for everyone to fit in, however in order to be comfortable, most people opt for the tubs that are 32″ or wider.
While wider tubs are nice and can fit more people, bathroom size is often limited and going too wide might sacrifice a lot of useful space in most bathrooms. With that said, it’s no surprise that 32″ seems to be sweet spot for the majority of freestanding bathtubs
Typical Length for a Freestanding tub
60″ & 66″ are the most popular length size for freestanding bathtub. There is probably an equal amount of both sizes out in the market. However, the 60″ length tubs are popular because most people are trying to maximize the space in their bathroom and a 5 ft tub is more beneficial from that standpoint.
At Fixtures Academy, we believe that a 66″ freestanding bathtub is ideal for most household, since it accommodates people who are well above 6 ft. tall. If you have plenty of space in your bathroom, it’s probably safest to go with a 5.5 ft tub.
Not all sizes are created equal
It’s important to note that widths and lengths are measured on the outside of the bathtub. Therefore, the overall design and material might have a substantial effect on the overall comfortability of the bathtub.
For example, Victoria + Albert tubs use a thinner material than standard acrylic tubs, therefore, their 60″ tubs are roomier than a typical plastic tub found at the retail stores.
The Slope of the Freestanding Bathtub
The slope of the back end of the freestanding bathtub is a major factor in how comfortable you’ll feel while sitting in it. This slope influences the overall comfort of the tub in two major ways.
If the incline is steep, the bathtub will have more room and be able to fit a tall person who would otherwise not fit in. However the trade off is that it will force whoever uses the tub to sit up a little more straight than they would have to.
This ends up being a significant dilemma for tub manufacturers: should they focus on making 80% of their potential customers as comfortable as they possibly can or should they make sure that 99% of customers will fit in their tub.
As a consumer shopping for a freestanding tub, you should ask yourself whether or not the tallest person in your household enjoys taking a bath in a sitting position or does he/she prefer a more relaxing lounging position.
Does your tub have a lumbar support?
Just like office chairs have evolved by providing support for the lower back over the years, so have bathtubs. The lumbar support is an important attribute to look for when shopping for a freestanding bathtubs.
This feature is essential for bathtubs with a steeper slope. Since they are designed for the bather to be in a sitting position, providing lumbar support is key to determine their overall comfortability.
It’s important to note that lumbar support are only available in acrylic bathtubs. There is simply not enough room to add that feature in stone and metal tubs. Even then, it’s not common to find that option with entry level brands. This is a feature that is mostly available in premium brands like Kohler, MTI, and Hydrosystem.
The Materials of the Freestanding Bathtub
The materials of a freestanding bathtub can affect the overall comfort level in two ways. The first is the aforementioned inner size of the tub can be drastically improved by having thinner walls. Therefore, thinner materials like engineered stone will have a larger bathing well with the same overall footprint. The second factor is the overall bathing experience. After all, the materials that tend to hold the water warm the longest, will provide a longer lasting bathing experience.
Acrylic freestanding tubs are often made of 2 pieces of plastic, an inner layer and an outer shell. As a result acrylic bathtubs have thicker walls which result in a smaller bathing well. This is also true with the one piece acrylic walls. Although they can be thinner than the 2 piece in some areas, they are still thicker than solid surface tubs.
If you’re willing to ignore this downside, acrylic tubs have a lot going for it. They are affordable, heat resistant, and can be outfitted with a variety of options. If you’re looking for a bathtub with the most bells & whistles, chances are it has to be an acrylic tub.
Here are some options available to acrylic tubs that may enhance your bathing experience.
- Lumbar Support
- Air Jets
- Whirlpool Jets
- Inline Heater to keep the water warm
- Surface Heater to keep the tub warm
- Arm Rest for Custom tubs
Not all these options are necessary but comfort is personal, and having options will help you achieve that. Besides affordability, the variety of options is the reason why acrylic tubs is the most popular type of tub on the market.
Solid Surface Freestanding Bathtub
Solid Surfaces bathtubs are tubs typically made out of a stone composite material. It’s a much more dense and thinner material. The advantage of that is you get more room for the same footprint.
The downside is that most solid surface tubs are just soaking tubs. They do not offer additional options. There is no room inside the material to install components that will add these functions. There are exceptions but these options are much more limited than acrylic bathtubs.
Some manufacturers have the ability to add Air Jets to their solid surface tubs but not whirlpool jets since the latter requires a motor. This is the drawback of the thinner walls. Whirlpool jets require a housing for the motor and there is no compartment to house the motor in a solid surface tub.
Cast Iron Tubs
Cast Iron bathtubs are not as popular as they once were. They have fallen out of favor because they are extremely heavy and are a pain to install. Today, this type of material is mostly reserved for traditional clawfoot tubs.
Cast iron bathtubs tend to be more costly when the overall cost is taken into consideration. For example someone deciding between a cast iron tub & a stone resin tub that cost $500 more will more likely pay less if he/she decides to go with the cast iron because of the additional labor cost.
They have a reputation of being the most durable materials for bathtubs but offer no distinct advantage when it comes to the bathing experience.
Although they have built a reputation of being the best tubs for retaining heat, that has been debated amongst industry experts. Cast Iron is very conductive. If the bathtub is cold, it will suck the heat faster than its acrylic counterparts. However once the surface has been heated, it will retain heat longer than any other material out there.
Picking A Comfortable Freestanding Bathtub
Choosing the ideal freestanding bathtub for your household comes down to understanding the categories above and how your family fits into that puzzle.
For size, it’s important to keep the needs of the tallest person of your household in mind and figuring out whether the tub in question will accommodate him or her. You should also consider the fact that kids grow and they grow pretty quick. Young athletes could benefit greatly from taking the occasional soaking bath for recovery.
Choosing the perfect slope can be overwhelming. We would suggest not to overanalyze that point. Think in terms of who will be using the tub the most, and whether or not they prefer the lounging or sitting position.
As far as materials go, Solid Surface tubs are the best if you’re just looking for a soaking tub. However, if you want more bells & whistles or if you are on a tight budget, it’s best to go with acrylic.
Speaking of acrylic tubs, they are the only ones who offer lumbar support as an option. If you have the means to purchase the higher end acrylic tubs, it’s a no brainer to add that as an option.
Now that we’ve laid out the blueprint of what makes an ideal comfortable freestanding toilet, it’s up to you to take that information and make a decision on what best suits your needs.