Your Guide to Bathtub Basics

Your Guide to Bathtub Basics

Most homes today have at least one bathtub. Unfortunately, many tubs are casually added to blueprints without much consideration to the homeowner’s needs. Tubs are great for bathing children, relaxing, washing pets, or cleaning large objects. They’re durable (some last 50+ years) and beautiful and they generally aren’t subject to many of the passing trends other fixtures in the home face. So if you’re building or remodeling, spend some extra time planning for your bathtub.


The most important factor when selecting a bathtub for personal use is comfort. A 6’4” person will likely feel comfortable in a different tub than a 5’3” person. For example, a standard tub is 14” to 17” deep while a European style is 18” and a Japanese or Greek tub may be 22” or more. There are tubs with ergonomic design and built-in arm rests and some with additional accessories like seats or trays. Tubs are designed in hundreds of sizes, shapes, and materials.


It’s important to “try out” tubs in a showroom environment to make sure they’re right for you. Often, large items like bathtubs cannot be returned if you don’t like them.


As we mentioned earlier, tubs come in a variety of sizes, styles, and materials. Bathtubs are typically made from porcelain on steel, acrylic, fiberglass or cast iron. The material you choose depends on taste, budget, lifestyle, and architectural limitations.

Porcelain on steel – $

These are the bathtubs many of us recognize from the homes of our parents and grandparents. They consist of one-piece thin stamped steel shells coated with a heat-fused porcelain enamel. The finishing process forms a smooth finish resistant to corrosion and abrasion. This means that they are durable, sanitary, and maintain their glossy finish better than some synthetic material. POS tubs can be loud, depending on the gauge of steel used, and the surface of the tub can chip.

Acrylic – $$

Thermal-formed acrylic is another popular bathtub material. It is vacuum-molded from sheets of acrylic and reinforced with fiberglass. These tubs are lightweight and keep water warmer longer because acrylic is an effective insulator. Another benefit of acrylic is its flexibility of design. Because it is so easy to manufacturer, there are many more style and shape options. Cleaning acrylic tubs is very easy, but harsh cleaners containing acetate should never be used because the composition of the acrylic will break down.

Fiberglass – $

Similar in appearance to acrylic, gel-coated fiberglass (FRP) tubs are formed by spraying a pigmented polyester resin onto a mold. The finish lacks the depth and resilience of acrylic, but it is equally easy to maintain. Most shower/tub combination units are made of fiberglass.

Cast Iron – $$$

Enamel-coated cast iron is the most durable bathtub material. These tubs are made by pouring molten iron into a mold. The finished product is thick and extremely resistant to chips, scratches, and dents. It also displays the most highly polished finish. If properly cared for, a cast iron tub will last an entire lifetime. This is the best material to use to create a vintage look.

Other – $ to $$$

There are many other kinds of material for bathtubs, we’ve just touched on the most popular. Some other materials include:

  • Copper
  • Cultured marble
  • Natural marble
  • Solid surface
  • Wood
  • Mosaic/Ceramic tile

For more information on tub material, contact our showroom experts 513-351-1600.



This style of tub is the most common, with millions of wall-to-wall units sold each year.


These bathtubs are dropped into a frame called a surround. They also tend to be more expensive than built-in models.


Freestanding bathtubs are finished on all sides and have been increasing in popularity. They also act as a focal point of a bathroom.


A whirlpool tub is a soaking tub fitted with piping, a pump, and jets. The pump circulates the water through the pipes using an underwater suction fitting and several water jets. Combined with the weight of the water and the person bathing, these bathtubs can weigh more than 1500 lbs—so additional floor supports are a necessity.

Bath oils and salts should never be used in a whirlpool bathtub. In fact, using these products could void your warranty!

Air tub/Bubble tub

Whirlpool tubs differ from an Air Bubble Tub. Air bubble tubs force warm air through tiny holes, creating an effect similar to champagne bubbles.

Soaking tub

Soaking tubs are deeper and typically wider than standard bathtubs. They do not have jets or bubbles. The water is always at rest—perfect for soaking.


If you’re building a dream bathroom and want a dream bathtub, these are some additional features you may want to incorporate:

ADA Compliance

Individuals who find standard a bathtub difficult to maneuver in might consider purchasing an ADA compliant tub, like the one shown above. If you’re planning to stay in your home past retirement, you may anticipate future needs by installing an ADA compliant bath.


Offered by Kohler, chromatherapy is “a lighting system that uses the soothing qualities of color to let your mind and body drift and dream as you relax into a warm bath.” More info on Kohler’s site.


Another special Kohler feature, VibrAcoustic Hydrotherapy blends music with water. Plug in your audio device and a VibrAcoustic tub sends corresponding vibrations through the tub.

Heated surface

Heat is the ultimate stress reliever. For added heat during your bath, select a tub with a heated surface.

For more information on baths, schedule your appointment or stop by our showroom!