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12 Things to Consider When Buying a New Bathtub

Dreaming of the perfect bathtub? A bathroom renovation can provide the results you want, but first you have some planning to do. Here's what to consider when choosing the right bathtub for your bathroom upgrade.

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Tub SizeJohn Wollwerth/Shutterstock

Tub Size

Bathtubs are not one-size-fits-all. Choose the right size based on the space you have and your goals for a new bathtub. And, if your old one was a little cramped, this is the time to up size, if you have the space. Standard tubs tend to be around 60 inches long and 32 inches wide. Plus: How to Buy a New Bathtub and Surround
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Tub ShapePlusONE/Shutterstock

Tub Shape

How comfortable is your current bathtub? Choose a shape and slope that match your needs (don't be afraid to hop in a display tub to see how it feels). This is also a chance to choose a different style for your new tub, if you can accommodate any necessary plumbing changes. Oval and round tubs are more modern, while rectangular tubs are more traditional. Plus: Bathroom Makeover on a Budget
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New Bathtub WeightFamily Handyman

New Bathtub Weight

If you want to upgrade your bathtub, remember to calculate the weight of the new bathtub, and if the floor can handle it without new structural supports. It's wise to have a professional inspection if you aren't sure about the numbers, like the standard tub height, too. Plus: One Weekend Bathroom Remodel
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Walls and CornersFamily Handyman

Walls and Corners

How many walls will surround your bathtub? This dictates the range of designs and styles you can choose from. If your tub is surrounded by three walls (common with shower/tub combos), you have fewer choices. And if the tub is against only one wall, you can expand more easily. Another option is a freestanding new bathtub like this claw-foot tub. Plus: How to Remodel a Small Bathroom
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Tub Height and DepthPlusONE/Shutterstock

Tub Height and Depth

First, consider the tub height relative to the floor. An inset tub can be installed into the floor, which makes it a little easier to step into and may save on space. On the other hand, more elaborate bathtubs surrounds may require an elevated tub. Always make sure you have enough structural support for your plans. Second, consider how deep the tub should be. For example, deeper tubs fit for soaking are typically 18 to 22 inches deep, depending on the style. Plus: Tile Installation: Backer Board Around a Bathtub
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Core MaterialsDavid Papazian/Shutterstock

Core Materials

What will the core and inner surface of your new bathtub be made of? Common tubs usually have an acrylic or fiberglass construction that keeps the interior as hollow as possible to reduce weight. And sturdier, heavier tubs may use metal and enamel. Luxurious modern tubs can even be made with natural stone or concrete, although this is a particularly heavy and expensive option. The sturdier the material, the more easily the tub will resist damage. Plus: Install an Acrylic Tub and Tub Surround
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Finishing MaterialsArtazum/Shutterstock

Finishing Materials

What will the outside of your new bathtub look like? You don't need to keep the same appearance as the inner surface. And you can tile around the front of your tub or build out a space with stone highlights. But just remember to use high-quality sealant in this moisture-prone area. Plus: Tile Layout for Tubs and Showers
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Faucets and Fixtures

Faucets and Fixtures

This is also your chance to upgrade new bathtub faucets, knobs, drains and other components. And take this opportunity to choose fixtures that complement your new styles. Brushed metal has become more popular as it hides water stains more easily. Plus: How to Install a Whirpool Tub Photo: Gerety Building and Restoration
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Shelves and StorageFamily Handyman

Shelves and Storage

How much shelf space do you need around your new bathtub for soap, oils, candles, speakers and other important tub accessories? Does your tub design include enough shelf space, or do you need to add tile shelves? Plus: How to Re-Caulk a Shower or Bathtub
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Drain and Pipe PlacementFamily Handyman

Drain and Pipe Placement

From a plumbing perspective, drain and pipe placement are particularly important when choosing or customizing a new bathtub. Moving a drain is a more expensive process and may be difficult, so it's smart to find a tub with a matching drain placement. If you have a tub/shower combination, showerhead placement is also important. Plus: Unclog a Bathtub Drain Without Chemicals
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Accessibility and SafetyFamily Handyman

Accessibility and Safety

Make sure that the new bathtub includes any important rails and grips. It's also a good idea to choose a non-slick bottom for the tub to help prevent slipping and other accidents. Plus: How to Install Bathroom Grab Bars
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With proper care, even an acrylic tub can last for many years. However, materials like acrylic and fiberglass are the most vulnerable to damage, and you may need to refinish the tub periodically. Enamel coatings can help improve longevity, but you may want to choose more durable core materials if the new bathtub will see a lot of use. Plus: A Small Bathroom that Feels Big