The choice of baths currently available is vast, which is both good and bad news if you’re entering the market for the first time and looking to refit your bathroom. Such a huge choice means that you will almost certainly find something to suit your needs, but it might take some time, patience and research to find it! With such an abundance of baths, there are just three limiting factors which can affect your choice: your bathroom style, the shape of your bathroom (and the space therein) and your budget.
Baths are manufactured from three primary materials: acrylic, steel and cast iron. Other materials such as ceramics and a range of metals can be found, but the above are by far the most common. Acrylic – Acrylic baths are vacuum moulded and reinforced with fibreglass and an encapsulated baseboard which gives it its strength and rigidity. These lightweight baths can also be repaired if needed. Acrylic tubs boast a high gloss finish and, because the colour goes all the way through, are resistant to fading. Acrylic is a good insulator, so water stays hotter longer. Tap holes can also be drilled on site in the desired position. Acrylic baths are now also available in super strong acrylic, which offers the strength of cast iron, but without the weight.
Steel – Steel baths are simple, clean and exceptionally strong. Quick to heat up by conducting the heat of the water, steel bath tubs are lighter than the cast iron alternatives, but heavier than acrylic. Tap holes are difficult to drill on location, but it’s best to know beforehand that the bath will fit your existing tap assembly.
Cast Iron – There are fewer and fewer cast iron baths on the market right now, largely because demand has fallen. However, this isn’t because of a lack of desirability! Thanks to the construction, cast iron tubs keep water hot for much longer than any other material, but they are simply too heavy to be practical in most homes.
Cast iron baths are virtually indestructible, and if you want a stand-alone bath then accept no substitute. You just have to be certain that your floors can comfortably cope with the extra weight. Cast iron baths are luxury items, ideal for anyone who wants to indulge themselves in the warmth offered by their bathroom. It’s pretty much impossible to drill tap holes on site, so be sure before you buy that it will fit your existing tap arrangements.
The choice of materials available represents the different design options. Steel baths are cool and modern, particularly in black and chrome surroundings. Acrylic baths put function over style, but suit most types of bathroom – particularly white bathrooms. Cast iron baths are luxurious and stylish, fitting in particularly well if the traditional styling is continued throughout the house. They also look great surrounded by old, wooden antiques and furniture.
Furthermore, all our baths can be fitted with whirlpool systems.
Bathroom Shape & Space
The commonest shape for a modern bath is of course rectangular. It’s a simple tried-and-tested shape with which you can’t go far wrong – as long as the dimensions of the bath fit the dimensions of the space it’s going in! Often a rectangular bath will be mounted to a wall, so you’ll need to look closely at bath panels on at least one side; though this depends entirely on the shape of your bathroom. There are alternatives to the traditional rectangular shaped bath. Corner baths are available to fit most bathrooms, and there are also offset corner baths for unusual or awkward spaces. A corner bath is often a great way to maximise limited space.
If space is a concern, then certainly consider a shower bath. Shower baths are a practical way to combine a shower and a bath in a room which would otherwise only have the space for one or the other. With a shower bath, both appliances are combined in the space of just one appliance.
For more modern bathrooms, there are circular baths too. Some of the bathtubs use different levels underneath, so you can choose to sit or lie in them. You can also find bathtubs designed for those with limited mobility, thus making entering and exiting the tub as easy as possible for everyone.
Budgeting for Your Bathroom
The bath will probably be the most substantial item in your bathroom, requiring the use of more space than anything else. Choosing the right one is essential, so a good bath should be at the top of your shopping list. This is particularly true if you’re buying all the bathroom components individually, rather than investing in a fitted bathroom package.
Generally speaking, steel is the least expensive material. Steel baths are usually enamelled and prone to chipping, and quite easy to produce en masse, but this is reflected in the price.
Only slightly more expensive is acrylic. The process for manufacturing acrylic is a little more complex than steel and is therefore priced accordingly. Cast iron is the most expensive material, but then it is virtually bombproof. Cast iron baths are luxurious and will last forever. If your budget stretches far enough and your floors are strong enough, then cast iron is a warm, relaxing and comfortable choice.
Another consideration is your choice of bath panels. When you’re choosing a bath, make sure you know how it will fit into your bathroom. If two sides of the bath are exposed, then remember to budget for the bath panels. There’s a huge selection available, and the majority are very stylish and relatively inexpensive. You’ll also need to know if your bathtub will arrive with side panels included; in which case you may not need to invest in separate panels at all.