Almost every homeowner today wants to own a freestanding bathtub in the bathroom. And they are right. You can’t compare a freestanding bathtub with the 3-wall alcove bathtubs we all grew up with in our homes.
Freestanding bathtubs are beautiful, stylish and elegant. They come in different shapes and sizes, meaning you can style your bathroom to your liking, and are more comfortable than alcove bathtubs.
A freestanding bathtub is a bathtub that is installed independent of the bathroom walls, mostly in the in the middle of the room. Although you can still install one next to a wall, they are best installed away from walls where they can be accessed from all sides, something that makes them really stand out.
Whether you are leaning towards a modern, vintage or even multicultural bathroom design, you will find a freestanding bathroom to complement it. Their independence from wall enclosures makes them very easy to work with.
Due to their popularity, there are so many freestanding bathtubs in the market today, some great and some not as much. And that is why I have written this post. To help you navigate the murky water of advertisement gimmicks and buy the best freestanding tubs
In this article, I will write about everything you need to know about freestanding bathtubs so that you are able to make a more informed decision. It would really sad to buy an expensive item like a tub that you will end up not liking.
Pros and Cons of a Freestanding Bathtub
Is a freestanding bathtub for you? You may want to have one but will one work out well for you or you are better of exploring other options? Let us start by looking at the advantages and disadvantages of owning a freestanding bathtub, starting with the advantages.
There are so many good things to say about freestanding bathtubs. The following are the main ones though:
1. They make a statement
When a guest walks into your bathroom and sees this magnificent piece of tub glowing in the middle of the room, they see you different. The tub speaks about your taste as a person as well as how good you take care of yourself.
Although you may not install a freestanding bathtub just because you want to impress family and friends, I believe it is important for people to perceive you the way you want to be perceived and not as they want. People tend to respect you more if you accord yourself the same respect.
2. They are stylish
There is something about a freestanding bathtub that makes them really stand out. I think it is the fact that they are generally bigger than most tubs and are clearly visible (including all the major and minor details) unlike inbuilt tubs that are usually concealed by walls and an apron on the side.
Another thing to remember is that there are so many types of freestanding bathtubs. They therefore give you the chance to style your bathroom as you would want without being held back with one style as is the case with built-in tubs.
3. Available in different shapes and sizes
What is the one thing that is common to all alcove or built-in tubs? They are all rectangular. To replace an alcove bathtub, you must order another one of the same shape and size. Quite boring, is it not? Well, that is not the case with freestanding tabs.
You can get a freestanding bathtub in practically any shape you may want and in small as well as big sizes. In short, there is something for everyone. You can also get a freestanding tub in a wide range of materials most of which would never be installed in an alcove.
Although freestanding bathtubs are designed for bathing more than showering, you can still buy a combination of a freestanding bathtub and shower. This works out great for folks who want freestanding bathtub but do not have enough space to have a separate shower cubicle.
To have a freestanding bathtub-shower-combo, you would have to install the tub closer to the wall. You can also just have a shower head included with the side-mounted faucets and have your tub off the wall if you so wish.
5. Easy installation
Contrary to what you might think or have heard, installing a freestanding bathtub is quite easy. You just need to mount it to the drainpipe and connect the faucets to the water supply.
A freestanding bathtub will either have concealed or exposed plumbing. Choose the style you want. In instances where the plumbing are exposed, it is because they are made of high-quality material like oil rubbed bronze or polished nickel.
Another thing to like about this tubs is that you can install them anywhere. Unlike built-in tubs which must be installed a certain way and in a certain spot, you can install your freestanding bathtub anywhere you want in your bathroom.
6. Increase house resale value
If a prospective house buyer sees a nicely finished freestanding bathtub standing majestically in your bathroom, they will without a doubt pay more than they would if they saw a built-in alcove tub. It instantly tells them that they are buying a home and not just a house.
While some people install cheap bathtubs when they are about to flip their houses, house buyers are not stupid. Everyone can tell a quality product from a distance. This is however not to say that built-in tubs are of inferior quality.
7. Perfect for bathers
If you prefer soaking in the tub for a long time instead of quick showers, a freestanding bathtub is the tub you want to buy. Their backs are designed slanting, to support your back and head for the extended bathing session.
Freestanding bathtubs are also so romantic especially if you are a buying a 2-person bathtub. You can have your bottle of wine on one side and your soap, towel, conditioner, shampoo etc. on the other.
From the above points we can see that freestanding tubs are perfect in almost every way. What then could be the disadvantages of these tubs? There are several actually:
1. They need a big bathroom
Freestanding bathtubs take way too much bathroom space than any other type of tub. These is because you need to access them from all or at least 3 sides. Even if you decide to put your freestanding tub against a wall, you will notice than you just can’t have all manner of clutter around it. Freestanding tubs demand breathing space.
Another thing to know is that freestanding tubs don’t work well when combined with a shower. It therefore means that you will still need extra space to build a shower cubicle. A freestanding tub-shower-combo means more splashing and therefore more cleaning needed.
2. Water splashing
No matter how careful you are while using a freestanding tub, some water will still splash on the floor. This can however be worse if you have kids in the house. Kids love to splash water.
If you look next to an alcove bathtub, you will notice that the surrounding walls are usually tiled. Tiled tiles are easier to maintain and clean than non-tiled walls. When freestanding tubs are installed adjacent to a wall, these walls are usually not tiled.
Apart from the walls, the floor is another place of concern. Do you have wooden a wooden floor? Water is probably wood’s worst enemy. Whenever wood comes into frequent supply of water rotting is imminent.
To enjoy a freestanding bathtub in your house, make sure that the floor is tiled and watertight. If you have wooden floors, restrict the use of freestanding tubs by kids and clean them as soon as you notice any water.
3. They are expensive
Freestanding bathtubs are more expensive than alcove bathtubs. It is however important to remember that cost in as far as bathtubs are concerned is a factor of the material used, size, brand, finishing as well as what the tubs comes with or without, especially faucets.
Generally speaking, a freestanding tub of the same material and size as an alcove tub will cost more. Fiberglass and acrylic are the most affordable bathtub materials while copper, wood and cultured stones tubs are way expensive.
Types of Freestanding Bathtubs
After deciding that you indeed need a freestanding bathtub, the next course of action is to determine the type of bathtub that you want. Just like most things in life, all freestanding tubs are not build the same.
The following are the different types of freestanding bathtubs:
1. Contemporary Freestanding Bathtubs
This are the modern types of freestanding bathtubs. They are usually installed flush with the bathroom floor. While most are oval in shape and white in color, you can still get other shapes and colors.
Contemporary freestanding bathtubs are usually installed in modern bathrooms, where they beautifully complement other bathroom fixtures. They are the most popular types of freestanding tubs.
2. Clawfoot Freestanding Bathtubs
Clawfoot bathtubs are a type of freestanding tubs that are supported by four feet. The tubs body is therefore always above the floor by a few inches. These are some of the oldest types of freestanding tubs.
Victorian-style clawfoot tubs used to have a ball-and-claw design for feet, however in recent years just any tub with feet is called a clawfoot tub. Clawfoot bathtubs are gaining in popularity and are giving contemporary freestanding tubs a run for their money.
The thing about a clawfoot tubs is that it can give your bathroom a traditional/vintage look and a modern look at the same time. Unlike when they were only made of cast-iron and copper, modern clawfoot tubs are made of more affordable materials like acrylic hence more people can now afford them.
3. Soaking/Japanese-Style Freestanding Bathtubs
Soaking tubs which are originally a Japanese style are a type of freestanding tubs that are very tall, covering the bather with water all the way to the neck level. Soaking tubs come with a built-in seat and as such are not usually very long.
These types of tubs are not designed for showering but purely soaking. What you do is that you take a bathe in the shower and use the tub to soak. Due to the fact that the water covers almost every part of your body, they are very relaxing, and users often tend to add some medicinal herbs to the hot water.
4. Pedestal Freestanding Bathtubs
Pedestal bathtubs are a type of freestanding bathtubs that look very much like clawfoot tubs but instead of feet they use a plinth or pedestal to raise them off the ground.
You can opt to go with a traditionally design or a more modern-looking pedestal tub. Pedestal tubs can be installed in an alcove or in the middle of the room if you want it stand out.
5. 1-person Freestanding Bathtub
How do you know if a bathtub is designed for one or 2 people? If a tub has one rounded side that is sloping while the other end is either square/round but with a flat/straight top, that is a single-slipper freestanding tub designed to be used by one person at a time.
Another way to identify it is that the drain is normally located at the bottom, away from the back slant. If you have a small bathroom this would be a nice one to buy as a 2-person tub is usually longer in size.
6. 2-Person Freestanding Bathtub
A 2-person freestanding bathtub is also known as a double-slipper freestanding tub. It has 2 back slants to allow 2 users to rest their backs, neck and head. They are also long enough to accommodate 2 users at a time.
You will also know a 2-person bathtub based on where the drain is located. In this case, it is usually located at the center of the tub.
Freestanding Bathtub Materials
Just like all the other types of tubs, freestanding bathtubs are made of a variety of materials, some affordable and others quite pricey. We will now look at all the materials used to make bathtubs so that you can choose the best for your freestanding tub.
The materials commonly used to make bathtubs are:
Fiberglass is the most inexpensive bathtub material. A fiberglass tub is made by modeling fiberglass into the desired bathtub shape and size and then coating it with a gelcoat resin.
The major disadvantage of fiberglass tubs is that they do not last long as they flex after years of usage. They are also porous, meaning they absorb water and if not properly cleaned mold/mildew will start to grow.
These tubs also have a poor heat retention hence are not good for taking long baths. They also crack, scratch and fade more than other tubs. Unless you are really squeezed for cash, I would advise against buying a fiberglass tub.
Acrylic is a very tough plastic that exhibit glass-like properties – clarity, brilliance and transparency. To make an acrylic bathtub, a sheet of acrylic is bend and molded into the desired tub size and shape and then reinforced with fiberglass.
Acrylic bathtubs are therefore strong but at the same time lightweight. They are non-porous and therefore easier to clean. Their heat retention is also superb. Acrylic tubs will however scratch and might also flex, although not as much as fiberglass.
If you are looking for a freestanding tub of modest quality, that is neither a cheap nor too pricey, acrylic is the way to go.
Cast-iron is quite a heavy metals. Bathtubs made of cast-iron are quite solid and durable. Cast-iron bathtubs are made by pouring molten iron into a bathtub mold of the shape and size required and after cooling off it is smoothened and coated with a layer of enamel.
Freestanding bathtubs can last long but can chip off upon exposure to brutal force. Refinishing them is however cheap and easy. While the interior of these tubs is finished, you might have to paint the outside yourself.
To install a cast-iron tub in the upstairs bathroom, make sure that the floor is strong enough. Otherwise have it reinforced prior. A cast-iron tub can weigh up to 500 pounds.
Freestanding tubs made of stone are quite heavy and expensive as well. To make these kind of tubs, chunks of the desired stones are crushed by a crushing machine and a liquid polymer resin added to strengthen the product.
These types of tubs are low maintenance as they are non-porous and are also easy to refinish in case of cracks. Just like other heavy tubs, make sure that your floor is strong enough to support one.
Wooden tubs are a thing. They can be as cheap as $5000 or as expensive as $40000. These tubs which are usually handmade by some of the best woodworkers in the country are so beautifully crafted and hence their price tag.
The most preferred type of wood is one with grain beauty like the Western cedar. Wooden tubs need special care to prevent the wood from shrinking and even rotting.
Copper bathtubs are beautiful, vintage and so elegant. They are made of solid thick copper sheets hammered together. As you would expect they are quite heavy and just as expensive.
Copper bathtubs are however really easy to clean and maintain and last for decades if not centuries. You can opt to have one with an overflow or one without one if you like having more water in the tub.
Freestanding Bathtub Dimensions
It is important to make sure that before you buy a bathtub you take time to know its exact measurements. Why is this important? There are 3 reasons:
- To make sure it will fit in your space
- So that you are comfortable using it
- To make sure it will fit through the door and/or hallway
As we have seen, freestanding bathtubs require more space than other types of bathtubs. You therefore need to know upfront if the bathtub you wish to buy will fit in the space you have, and that it will also fit through the bathroom door and hallway.
Another reason bathtub dimensions are important is to make sure that you as the user will be comfortable while using it. As we know, comfort can mean different things to different people.
Bathtub users tend to either sit against the back slope or slouch. If you are more of a lounger then the bathtub length is very important for you. If you slouch then the water depth needs to be sufficient.
There are 4 critical bathtub dimensions that you need to know. These are:
- Inside and outside length
- Inside and outside width
- Overall height
- Water depth
The outside dimensions of a bathtub will help you determine if the tub will fit in the space you have. Since tubs tend to be wider and longer at the top than at the bottom, that is where you need to take the measurements from.
The inside dimensions are for you as the user to determine if the tub will be comfortable to use. For the same reasons as above, you will need to take the length and dimensions of the tub at the very bottom since that is where you will be sitting.
The water depth refers to the level of water from the bottom of the tub to the overflow. If you slouch or just prefer more water in your tub shop for a tub with high water depth
To determine the size of freestanding tub you need, sit against a wall with your legs spread out straight. Measure the distance from the wall to the tip of your toes. That is the size of tub you need. Note that those will be the tub’s inside dimensions and not outside dimensions.
The overall height of the tub is also important in determining if it will be easy for you to climb in and out of the tub. This is especially important for short people, children and the elderly.
To be certain that a certain tub will be a perfect fit for you, go to the manufacturer’s website and download its specification sheet. In there you will find all the measurements you need.
Another reason to determine the size (and in extension the capacity) of a tub if to see if your water heater will sufficiently supply it with water. A small water heater and a big bathtub will surely not work together. You can as well install an instant/tankless water heater if you need a big bathtub.
There are 3 sizes of freestanding bathtubs. These are:
- Regular size – This is the most common size of freestanding tubs. They measure 5 feet/60 inches in length, 2.5 feet/30 inches in depth and a water depth of 19 inches.
- Small freestanding bathtubs – These are best for people with small bathrooms. They measure 4.58 feet/55 inches in length, 2.25feet/27 inches in depth and a water depth of 15 inches.
- Large freestanding bathtubs – If space is not a problem you need to buy one of these. They measure from 6 feet/72 inches in depth, 2.67 feet/32 inches in depth and a water depth of 20 inches.
Good Freestanding Bathtubs
If you are looking to buy a freestanding bathtub, the following are some of my favorite models and brands. While there might be cheaper options out there. I would advise you not to under budget especially if you are looking for a quality and durable tub.
These are the 7 best freestanding bathtubs:
1. Woodbridge B-006/BTA – Best Small Freestanding Bathtub
If you are looking for small freestanding bathtub then this Woodbridge tub is among the best to buy. It is 54 inches long and therefore perfect for people with small bathrooms.
The tub is made of acrylic and reinforced with high quality fiberglass and resin. You will therefore notice that its price is a little higher than other similar tubs since most manufacturers like to keep production costs low.
This tub is compliant with the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) requirements as a non-slip tub and is therefore safe to use. At the same time, its glossy white finish makes cleaning it so easy and will not fade easily.
The dimensions of this tub are 54 inches in length, 29 inches in depth and a height of 29 inches. Its water depth is 13.75 inches. This being a tub with a back slant, it’s longer at the top than at the bottom. The internal length of the tub at the bottom is 34.625 inches.
The double walling on this tub minimizes heat loss making it great for long baths. At the bottom of the bathtub is a stainless steel bracket, improving its bearing weight to over 1000 pounds.
Apart from the tub, you will also receive solid brushed nickel drain and a stainless steel brushed nickel overflow. You will however need to buy faucets separately.
2. FerdY Bali 59″ Acrylic Freestanding Bathtub
This is an affordable, quality and comfortable freestanding bathtub. Although this specific model is 59 inches long, you can also choose to buy other sizes (large or small) in accordance with your preference and space available.
Made of acrylic reinforced with fiberglass, this bathtub is ergonomically designed to support your back. Its lightweight (73 pounds), with high-gloss finish that is both long lasting and easy to maintain/clean.
The dimensions of this tub are 59 inches length, 28 inches depth and a height of 23 inches. Its water depth is 15.2 inches. The dimensions at the bottom of the tub are 36.25 inches length and a depth of 17 inches.
It comes with a preinstalled brushed nickel drain and an integrated slotted overflow which allows for deep soaking. If you have an uneven floor, adjustable leveling feet are also provided to make sure it sits solid on the floor.
Faucets are not provided. You will need to buy separately.
3. Woodbridge Jetted/Whirlpool Freestanding Bathtub
If you are looking for more than just a bathtub, The Woodbridge water jetted and air bubbled tub could be just what you are looking for. It is made of high quality acrylic but other metallic components are made of stainless steel.
This tub combines adjustable water body massage jets and 10 whirlpool bubble bath jets to deliver maximum relaxation to the bather. The jets are located all around the bathtub to hit different body parts for a perfect hydro massage.
I like the fact that this tub is available in a big size, and is hence perfect for a single or 2 users. It is a double sleeper tub with a center drain and nice designed to support your back, neck and head as enjoy your bath.
It measures 71 inches in length, 31 inches depth and a height of 28 inches. You can also get a 67 inches long tub if you so desired. Its water depth is 14.5 inches. The dimensions at the bottom of the tub are 41.75 inches in length and a depth of 19.625 inches.
It has a 60-gallons capacity and a weight of 121 pounds. Faucets are sold separately.
4. Aquatica True Ofuro Freestanding Japanese Soaking Bathtub
If you want to soak up the way the Japanese do, this is the bathtub you need to buy. It is quite pricey but given its quality construction and functionality, you can be sure you are getting value for your money.
This is quite a deep tub designed for a full body immersion. It has a built-in seat and an ergonomically sculpted headrest, a design whose patent is pending in the United States and European Union.
Aquatica True Ofuro bathtub is made of Aquatex material, which is exceptional in heat retention, and also has a silky and velvety surface. There is a large tub model and a mini model for those with smaller spaces.
The dimensions of this tub are 51.5 inches in length, 36.25 inches depth and a height of 33.75 inches. Its water depth is 24.25 inches, and has a weight of 287 pounds. It comes with a 25-year limited warranty.
If you find this tub too high to climb in and out, a wooden stool is available to help you in the same.
5. Signature Hardware 917203-59 Lena 59″ Freestanding Clawfoot Tub
Clawfoot bathtubs are so elegant and stylish. They look fantastic with modern as well as with vintage. I find the Signature Hardware Lena clawfoot bathtub to be really well made and beautiful as well.
It is made of cast-iron with a thick porcelain enamel, which is very durable, but a little pricier than one which would be made of acrylic. The monarch imperial feet which are made of brushed nickel blend in very well with the white glossy finish.
Its overall dimensions are 58.5 inches length, 31 inches width and a height of 26.5 inches. The bottom tub measurements are 37 inches in length and 16 inches in width. Although its overall height is 26.5 inches, the center of the tub is a bit lower at 23.25 inches and is where you climb the tub from. Its water depth is 13 inches.
If you would like a similar but longer tub, you can get the Signature Hardware Lena 72” Cast Iron Clawfoot Tub.
This being a double sleeper clawfoot tub, it has a center drain which makes it ideal for 2 bathers. The drain hole comes already predrilled.
The tub is 328 pounds in weight and comes with a lifetime warranty.
6. Kingston Brass Aqua Eden Pedestal Freestanding Bathtub
If you are looking for a very well made but not too pricey pedestal freestanding bathtub then the Kingston Brass Aqua Eden would be ideal. It is made of acrylic so if you would like one made of cast-iron check out this model of the same tub.
You can get this tub in 3 sizes. There is a 67, 69 and a 71-inch long tub. For the 69-inch model, the width is 28.38 inches and a height of 27.5 inches. It has a water depth of 13.5 inches. The dimensions at the bottom of the tub are 43.7 inches length and 16.5 inches width.
Kingston Brass does not compromise on quality. If you love a double ended or a double sleeper pedestal bathtub then you will definitely love this.
7. Sinkology Solid Copper Freestanding Bathtub
The Sinkology TBT-7132HA Euclid handmade pure solid copper freestanding double slipper bathtub is an antique piece that most people would want in their homes. Weighing 300 pounds, this tub is quite solid and will last a lifetime.
It is 71.5 inches long, 33.5 inches wide and x 33 inches high. Its inside dimensions are 66 inches in length and 28.5 inches in width. There are 2 models of this tub. One comes with a predrilled overflow while the other doesn’t.
Its drain size is 2 inches which is already drilled. It does not come with the other accessories and you will therefore need to buy them separately, though made by the same manufacturer.
This tub comes with a lifetime warranty.