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Choosing Between Freestanding and Built-In Bathtubs: Factors to Consider

The emergence of oversized, walk-in-style steam showers prompted homeowners to reassess their bathroom layouts. For many, the challenge became finding space for both a shower and a soaking tub, leading to the removal of tubs in favor of more elaborate shower designs. If you’re contemplating the inclusion of a bathtub in your bathroom design, the choice between a freestanding or built-in tub deserves careful consideration. Addressing the following questions will aid in your decision-making process:

Alignment with Optimal Workflow

Similar to kitchen design, bathroom layouts should prioritize workflow:

1. How is the bathroom utilized throughout the day?

2. How many individuals gather around the countertop or bath/shower during mornings or evenings?

3. Could a rearranged layout enhance flow?

Collaborating with your design/build team will help determine the most logical placement for your shower and bath, ultimately influencing your “freestanding vs. drop-in tub” choice.

Available Bathroom Space

For space efficiency, drop-in tubs are the preferred option in all but the largest bathrooms. Freestanding tubs necessitate ample surrounding space for cleaning and potential maintenance.

Bathing Habits

Frequent bath enthusiasts benefit most from freestanding tubs, justifying the additional space and investment. However, if baths are infrequent, the occupied square footage and maintenance responsibilities may outweigh the benefits.

Budget Considerations

While the price of freestanding tubs has somewhat decreased, they remain generally pricier than drop-in tubs—especially when factoring in designer plumbing features and supplementary accessories like shelves and towel holders.

Future-Proof Planning

For those aiming to create an accessible bathroom space or anticipating aging in place, built-in tubs offer advantages. This adaptable space can be more easily transformed into a walk-in tub area when the time comes. Depending on age and mobility, some may opt for an immediate installation of a walk-in tub as a forward-looking preparation.

In conclusion, the decision between freestanding and built-in tubs encompasses multifaceted considerations. By thoroughly assessing your bathroom’s workflow, available space, bathing habits, budget, and long-term plans, you’ll arrive at a choice that harmonizes functionality, aesthetics, and practicality.

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