Selecting your bathtub is a key decision when renovating your bathroom. The bathtub you select often sets the scene of your overall bathroom design.


If you are undecided whether or not to incorporate a bathtub in your bathroom design then the following article by the Style Plus team looks at different bathtub options:

• Bathtub Choice & Design Factors.
• Types of Bathtubs.
• Bathtub Shapes.
• Bathtub Type Summary.
• Additional Bathtub Features & Options.


When it comes to renovating your bathroom, selecting your bathtub is an important factor for the design. There are a number of aspects of your bathroom renovation design that will determine what type of bathtub you select and to a larger extent the bathtub you choose will set the design in your bathroom.

Consider factors like bathroom size and how much space you have available to define what sort of bathtub you install. The size and dimensions of your bathroom will directly limit your choices.

For smaller bathrooms, a combination of a tub and a shower may help you make the best use of the space you have available. Even if your bathroom is not that small, doing so may allow you a little extra space to install a larger tub. Larger bathrooms will afford far more freedom of choice.

There are is a myriad of bathtubs available, so it’s worth taking the time to really see what’s available before settling on one.


Cast Iron: If you are considering a material that will last, this would be the solution. Cast iron tubs are made by pouring molten iron into a mould of the desired shape, then smoothing it and coating it with a thick layer of enamel.

Porcelain On Steel: Also known as enamelled steel. This type of bath tub is stamped from a thin sheet of steel, and then finished with a layer of porcelain enamel.

Fiberglass: Also known as FRP, or fiberglass-reinforced plastic. This bathtub is typically going to be the least expensive bathtub material. A fiberglass bathtub is made by forming layers of fiberglass into the desired shape, then coating it with a Gelcoat resin.

Stone Baths: These can be manufactured from a piece of solid stone. The bath is carved out of a large stone and then shaped and smoothed on the inside. Other stone baths are made from composite stone which is typically a mixture of stone and resin. Solid stone baths are unique and can be made from granite, marble and other natural stone.

Acrylic: These types of bath tubs use fiberglass sheets for reinforcement underneath vacuum-formed sheets of coloured acrylic.


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When selecting that ideal bathtub for your renovation it can at times be an off-the-cuff decision based on the size and how you will look in it at the end of the day. It is essential to know about the different types of bathtubs so the right choice can be made based on the size of your bathroom and design requirements.

Free standing bathtubs offer the most versatility when it comes to placement within your bathroom. As installation goes, it is pretty straight forward – no special faucet drilling is required and the single drain makes plumbing connection simple. These types of bathtubs are available in a variety of styles from modern to traditional clawfoot. The free standing tub offers a classical look that will fit into most traditionally styled bathrooms.

Recessed or alcove bathtubs are usually installed against a wall on two or three sides. It is the most common variety of bathtub and is found in the vast majority of New Zealand homes. Over the years the design of this type of bathtub has not changed a great deal. However, the materials it is constructed of have changed from enamel coated steel or cast iron to acrylic or fibreglass. These bathtubs are also found with showers over them.

Corner bathtubs are triangular in shape and are designed to fit into a corner like a wedge. These types of bathtubs may be a good solution when space is limited and a regularly shaped bathtub is not practical. Corner tubs are often enhanced with air jets, turning them into whirlpool baths.

Drop-in bathtubs are designed to either drop into a cavity in the floor or a raised platform for a flush finish. They can be aesthetically appealing but depending on how they are designed they can also be tricky to get out of. Another type of drop-in bathtub is the ‘Overflow Bathtub’ which is similar to an infinity pool in that it is designed to be completely filled to the brim. This type of tub is designed to overflow into a guttering system, which then circulates water back into the tub to create a striking visual effect.

Shower Over Bathtub Combination: A bathtub and shower combo is great if you are looking to maximize the size of your renovated bathroom. It is important to use a bathtub specified compatible for a shower. These bathtubs have a raised lip along the wall edges of the bath and allows for tiling.

Bathtub Type Summary

  • The most durable bathtub available. The finish is resistant to chipping, scratching and denting, as well as most types of chemicals. There are a number of different colours available. The heavy material also tends to retain the water’s heat.
  • Disadvantages are that these bathtubs are extremely heavy and require extra labour — often extra floor reinforcement is required. They are also typically amongst the most expensive.
  • These tubs are durable and easy to clean. The finish is resistant to most common chemicals, and retains its gloss for a long time. They’re also especially useful when replacing fiberglass or acrylic bathtub/shower units.
  • Disadvantages are that they are heavier than fiberglass or acrylic. The surface can rust and chip under impact and you are very limited in the number of shapes and sizes available.
  • The advantages are low cost, light weight, ease of installation and a finish that can be repaired.
  • Disadvantages are that the fiberglass bathtubs are thin. They flex and do not have a stable feel. They are not very durable and the finish is prone to fading, scratching and cracking.
  • Stone bathtubs will last for years if you undertake routine care. It is extremely strong and durable. For example it will not crack like a cheap acrylic bath might and should only suffer easily repairable minor damage even if you do accidentally damage it.
  • Disadvantages are that they are extremely heavy! The colour of the stone may slightly change over time but this can be slowed if you take routine care of your bath. These are some of the most expensive bathtubs on the market.
  • Acrylic is a good all-around choice, although it may lack a certain high-end appeal for some people. The advantages are pretty much the same as for fiberglass, although acrylic tubs are more expensive.
  • Disadvantages are that the finish can scratch or discolour over time, although the better grades of tub finishes have now reduced that problem to a minimum.


Combined Bath & Shower: When designing your bathroom consider who will be using your new bathtub and in which way. Showers are seen as a bathroom essential and in general take precedence over installing a bathtub. However, if space is tight, you may need to combine showering and bathing in one functional space. If this is the case then consider a shower over bathtub set up.

Hydrotherapy Spa Bathtub: With a Hydrotherapy spa, there are jets that adjust for intensity and rotate for precise positioning. The bather will feel a targeted massage exactly where they want it. This provides a soothing massage and releases the tension around the muscles.

The relaxing effects of a hydrotherapy system can be significantly undermined if the pump, pipes and jets are noisy and distracting when in operation. Check that the system will operate quietly and without undue vibration or water noise in the pipes.

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