What to Consider When Buying a Bathtub

  • Jan 24, 2022
  • 1861 views

Not everyone has the time or the energy to spend hours in a bathtub. But it’s a nice treat to have once in a while, and if you are considering investing in one for your home, this buying guide will help you make a more informed choice.

Size and type of bathtubs

First things first—assess the space that you have. Because that will determine the size and what sort of bathtub you get to go for. We've seen bathtubs that are as small as 800mm, while the larger ones can stretch for more than 1700mm.

These are the most common types of bathtubs in Singapore:

Alcove:

These tubs are usually mounted with cement against the confines of three walls and they don’t typically require any extra finishing, since it has a finished side that faces the front. Installation is quick and simple, and the bathtub is also easily replaceable. However, they do require a relatively perfect fit, so make sure you get your measurements right.

Design: Absolook Interior Design

Drop-in/Built-in:

Unlike alcoves, these drop-in ones don’t come with finished sides. They are dropped into a precast concrete frame that your contractor will have to build, allowing you to tile the sides of the frame to either blend in with the bathroom or have your tub stand out. The main downside to drop-ins is having to dismantle your entire frame if you are looking to change out your tub one day.

Design: DB Studio

Freestanding:

Freestanding bathtubs can stand alone without the support of walls, but they will still need to be located near all the plumbing works. Installation for these are fuss-free, since they don’t typically require extra hacking or drilling. A popular type of freestanding bathtub is the vintage style clawfoot.

Design: The Alchemists Design

Corner:

Corner tubs are typically installed in the corner of a bathroom. They are a great option for small spaces since they take up minimal space, but it does mean you can’t fully stretch out your legs in them.

Design: Rezt and Relax

Ofuro:

These Japanese style bathtubs are typically much deeper than the standard bathtub, designed to allow you to submerge your entire body up to the neck or shoulders when you are in a sitting position. This means that they don’t take up a lot of space either. They are typically made of Hinoki wood, which features a distinct woodsy, lemony scent that can really add to the bath experience.

Design: Earth Interior Design

Jacuzzi:

Also known as whirlpools, jacuzzi style bathtubs offer a luxurious spa-like experience right in the comfort of your home. Typically, they come with either water or air jets that provide massaging functions or to create bubble baths. These are also designed to offer ample support for better relaxing. For a complete sensory experience, consider upgrading for LED lights and heating features. When installing jacuzzi bathtubs, make sure you account for where the switches and pumps will go.

Design: Fineline Design

HDB regulations

Getting a bathtub for your HDB bathroom? Keep in mind this set of regulations:

Design: Icon Interior Design

  • Your bathtub shouldn’t exceed 150 kg in weight. The total weight of the tub when it’s filled along with the accessories should not exceed 400 kg.

  • While it’s possible to extend the bathroom only after 3 years from the completion of your block for BTO homeowners, you aren’t allowed to extend it to accommodate the length of a long bathtub.

  • The extended part can only be used as a “dry” area e.g. installation of sink or storage. So your long bathtub will still need to fit within the confines of the original bathroom layout.

  • Any bathroom extension will require a permit from HDB.

  • If you are getting a bathtub with jacuzzi jets, make sure you are getting ready-made ones in the market. You are not permitted to construct one using bricks or hollow bricks.

  • The void beneath your bathtub cannot be filled with cement mortar or other materials.

  • Make sure the floor slab of the bathroom is not tempered with. Keep this in mind if you are thinking of concealing any water pipes.

  • When installing a tub, make sure weep holes—an open space (no caulk, silicone or grout) to allow moisture that gets behind a tile to dissipate—are installed. If your tub comes with it, make sure the weep holes are not covered.

  • For future maintenance, provide an inspection opening when you are installing bathtubs that need an additional frame e.g. drop-in tubs.

Materials

Design: Arche Interior Design

Acrylic:

Lightweight and cheap, acrylic bathtubs offer a wide range of shapes and sizes because of their malleability. They are pretty durable, with some designed with a fibreglass surface for extra reinforcement. Acrylic tubs are prone to scratches though, which can dull the look of your bathtub over time so do make sure you are not using an abrasive scrubs when cleaning your acrylic bathtub.

Enamelled Cast-Iron:

They typically feature a glazed porcelain finish and are known for their durability, strength and heat retention. However, the porcelain surface can be prone to chipping, so you’ll want to take extra care when using a cast-iron bathtub. However they are really heavy, so do take all that weight into consideration if you are thinking having one in an HDB bathroom.

Enamelled Steel/Pressed Steel:

Similar to cast-iron bathtubs, steel bathtubs also come with an enamel or porcelain finishing and are pressed into shaped, which is why they are also called pressed steel tubs. They are not as heavy as cast iron, but feature a similar durability and can retain heat well.

Solid Surface:

Relatively new to the market, solid surface bathtubs offer a seamless, one-piece appearance and are smooth to touch, making them comfortable to sit on as well as easy to clean. They retain heat well and are durable, although like cast-iron types can be somewhat heavy.

Accessories

Besides the bathtub itself, think about the accessories you would like to include with your bathtub. Some are good for safety, while others are set to elevate your tub experience to next level luxury.

Pillow:

Who knew beds aren’t the only place that need pillows. Having a headrest makes things more comfortable if you are planning for a long soak.

Bathtub Tray:

It’s basically a long tray that stretches over your tub. Use it as a hold-all for your spa essentials or your wine and cheese platter.

Design: Builders Plus

Grab Bars:

Makes it easier to step out of the bath with. These are usually place near the edge of the bathtub.

Anti-slip mat:

If you have young children or the elderly using the bathtub, an anti-slip mat will keep things extra safe.

Faucet:

There are a ton of faucet types available for bathtubs. Choose between wall-mounted, deck-mounted (attached to the rim of the tub body) or floor-mounted. If you are going with a shower/bathtub combination for your bathroom, it typically comes with a tub spout as well as a shower head.

Other Considerations

There are a couple of other things you may have neglected to consider before getting a bathtub.

Design: Mr Shopper Studio

Saving water:

In terms of water consumption, bathtubs will invariably consume more water than quick showers. So you will have to weigh the pros and cons when deciding between getting just a shower or going with a bathtub. A bathtub will only make more sense for your utility bills if you have the habit of taking very long showers.

Will it fit?:

It’s not enough to just measure the space you have in the bathroom. If you live in an HDB flat or a condominium, consider whether the bathtub will be able to fit through the lifts, along the walkways to your apartment, through your main door and bathroom door. Give space allowance for manoeuvring. You don’t want to end up having to hack away doors just to move in your bathtub.

Drainage:

When measuring out the space in your bathroom, take into account where the drain is. This is so that you can get a bathtub with a drainage hole that aligns with the drain. While you can always make adjustments with piping, it can be costly to do so.

Water heater:

A storage heater is typically chosen for a bathtub, because of the more superior water flow. Choose a storage heater with an adequate capacity by taking into account the number of people in the household using the bathroom at similar times, the size of your bathtub, and the rate at which it can produce hot water. Assuming you fill up your bathtub to 70% capacity, two-thirds of that should be filled with hot water.

Cleaning and maintenance:

In terms of upkeep, a bathtub will likely be more tedious than a shower. But it’s important to keep to a regular cleaning schedule to not only maintain the tub’s shine, but to also keep bacteria-causing grime buildup at bay. Avoid using abrasive scrubs, especially on bathtubs with acrylic or fibreglass finishes. You can always let the cleaning solution sit on your tub for a good 20 mins to make it easier to scrub down with a soft sponge.

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