Bathtub Buying Guide
The bathroom, being a necessary component and one of the most the functional rooms in our home, deserves our thoughtful design attention when comes time for a remodel. Not only can a bathroom redesign have a major benefit on your day-to-day life (think sanctuary or personal spa), it can also translate into long term home value.
Thus, when it comes times to consider the major features in your bathroom – materials, layout, vanities, flooring, shower space and Bathtub… it’s inevitable that bathroom remodeling process becomes chock full of many smaller challenging decisions.
Here at Malibu Home we’d like to help you consider the myriad decisions that make up a new bathtub purchase and relieve some stress at the same time (just like your new bathtub should). If we can help guide you and educate you in the bathtub purchase process, we know this major appliance will not only fit aesthetically and functionally, but will also become a beloved space in the home.
Bathtub Basics – understanding the basic bathtub category/installation type/lingo is the first place to start, whether you are remodeling or building a new home.
- Freestanding Bathtubs – A freestanding tub is finished on all sides and is designed to stand alone. These tubs function just like any other bathtub but because of their finishing on all sides they are often a main focal point aesthetically.
- Drop-In Bathtubs– A drop-in tub sits inside a frame/deck you have built. Thus, a drop-in bathtub has sides which are not finished because the tub itself will sit inside a finished frame/deck. An Undermount is also designed to fit inside a frame/deck but has a rim that is covered by a surrounding deck made of stone or tile.
- Skirted or Alcove Bathtubs – An alcove tub refers to the type of installation. Typically, an alcove tub is placed against 3 walls of the bathroom, thus the tub is unfinished on the 3 wall sides and the 4th side is finished with a what is known as a tub apron (or skirt). These tubs often come with a left or right orientation indicating the drain and faucet will be on that side.
- Soaking Bathtubs – Soaking tubs often refer to a tub feature of an extra-deep dimensions that enables more bathing submersion. However, a soaking tub can also refer in the general sense to any freestanding “soaking” tub – without whirlpool or air jets.
- Corner Bathtubs – A corner tub is exactly how it sounds and is similar in regard to an alcove tub – in that the sides facing the wall will be unfinished, and the sides facing the bathroom will be finished.
When you are confident of your bathtub installation type you can move to the finer points of tub materials, function, sizing, and aesthetics.
Most importantly, you must understand where your drain is located or where your drain is going to be located. In a remodel, you most likely will NOT be moving the drain location and thus will want your new tub to have a drain in a very similar location. If you are considering a freestanding tub, it is essential you consider where the existing or new drain location is going to be placed as the tub will sit over the top of the drain location. Also, some tubs don't allow for the installation of a shower, so check before buying if a bathtub-shower combo is a must-have feature for your family.
Bathtub Materials – Bathtubs are made of many different materials affecting cost, weight, and heat retention. Malibu Home bathtubs are made in the following materials.
- Acrylic – The most common bathtub material is lightweight, easy to maintain, repairable and comes in the largest variety of shapes, sizes and colors.
- Composite – This durable polymer composite is a sprayed on manufacturing process giving the flexibly of having different looks and styles of freestanding bathtubs.
- Solid Surface – We combine organic compounds and specialized resins – which are then poured into a mold created by our artisans. The resulting form is a natural stone solid surface bathtub with improved structural integrity and enhanced heat retention. Finishes come in matte or glossy white.
- Copper exterior – These hand crafted, hand hammered and/or polished premium copper surrounds are produced to the highest quality standards that you’ve come to expect from a Malibu Home product.
Bathtub Systems – Many of our Drop in bathtubs can be built with an added system to enhance the bathing experience. These systems are built into and attached to your new bathtub purchase and there are no additional parts necessary. An electronic touch control is included and mounted to the tub wall giving you easy access to turn on/off your system. If you’re considering a jetted bathtub, you’ll need to plan for an access panel to the components and nearby GFCI electrical outlets. Be sure to consult with your plumber regarding local electrical and plumbing codes.
- Whirlpool System – Whirlpool Jets built into the lower sides of the bathtub effectively creating a soothing massage like experience by gently whirling the bath water. Malibu Home jets are low profile, and the eyeball can be rotated 360 degrees to adjust the water direction.
- Air System – Small Jets built into the lower perimeter of the bathtub produce champagne like bubbles to rejuvenate the senses. With full control over the Air System and the Pulse Wave feature you can enjoy a truly restorative warm air massage.
- Whirlpool & Air System Combination – The ultimate bathing experience can be enjoyed by combining our deep tissue massaging whirlpool jets with our gently invigorating warm air bubble system. The effect is both wonderfully sensuous and therapeutic, and with the controls at your fingertips, how you enjoy your combination system is up to you.
- Soaking Bathtub – essentially any bathtub without a whirlpool or air system is called a soaking bathtub.
The next step in a bathtub purchase is determining the size of the new bathtub. This is a critical step, and we recommend downloading our specification sheets listed by model (which give detailed measurements) and sharing the sheet with your architect/installer/designer/plumber. In a remodel, it is quite likely you will purchasing a new bathtub the same size as the original (but not always if you are expanding your bathroom space).
- Specification Sheets - Abaka thru Driftwood
- Specification Sheets - Driftwood thru Naples
- Specification Sheets - Naples thru Zanzibar
Measuring Your Space - If your bathtub will be enclosed in an alcove, measure from wall to wall (side to side) to find the length of available space. If your space isn’t constrained by walls, your bathroom floor plan and existing plumbing should determine where your bathtub will go – and how big it can be. Special Note – Make sure you measure the height and width of all doorways and hallways. Extra Special Note – protect your bathtub purchase while it waits to be installed. Store it safely so it avoids being inadvertently damaged by workers and sub-contractors. Once installed - it also important to put a piece of plywood/blankets or similar across the top of the bathtub so that it doesn’t get damaged while the rest of the bathroom undergoes remodel.
Bathtubs are purchased by Length, Width, and Height measurements. Here at Malibu Home, we have one the most extensive size selections on the market, as most manufactures only focus on the common sizes. The most common size being 60” length by 30” or 32” width. We have over 30 different lengths, 17 different widths, and 14 different bathtub heights. But do not worry, you can easily use our product filters in our store to narrow your bathtub selection quickly and simply to exactly the parameters you are looking for.
Important sizing considerations – How tall is the person using the bathtub? Do you want extra width? Most common width being 30” or 32”. Is more than one person using the bathtub at the same time? (Yes, we have two person bathtubs). Do you want a shallower tub? (We have ADA compliant tubs that are 18” high to make it easier to step over and into). Do you want a deeper tub with more water volume? (We have many depths, including a Japanese Soaking Tub at 33” deep).
Consider tub capacity, which is essentially the volume of water it will take to fill. To find out capacity for each model and size Malibu Home uses a specification on every tub listing entitled – Gallons to Overflow. This measurement tells you the maximum amount of water the tub can hold. To determine if your water heater is large enough for a bathtub, the general rule is that the water heater tank should be about 2/3 of the size of the bathtub. The most common bathtub capacity is 70-80 gallons
Lastly, we come to aesthetics and functionality. Malibu Home bathtubs come in a variety of shapes (rectangle, oval, triangle, round, square) and most commonly – White or Biscuit color choice. The exception being our Solid Surface bathtubs which come in Glossy White or Matte White. Aesthetically we have bathtubs built in many different styles – Contemporary, Modern, Midcentury, Traditional, and Asian. These styles vary on a spectrum from clean linear lines and stronger angles to more graceful and softer sweeping curves. Functionality choices are designed right into some of our models – which could include having arm rests, lumbar support, or even internal seats.
Ultimately and most important, every Malibu Home bathtub is designed to be comfortable and provide a blissful and relaxing bathing experience. Happy remodeling and Happy Bathing!