Bathtub manufacturers today offer many options for bathroom additions or remodeling. There are a number of things to consider when narrowing the field to the best tub choices for small bathroom remodeling. You need to think about the material you want, the way you want the tub installed in your bathroom, and a number of other factors and features.
Your choice of the perfect tub for your small bathroom is a significant factor in planning and designing your remodel or addition. The first decision you will need to make is whether you will have a tub and shower combination (the most popular choice), or separate shower and tub (which can be difficult in a small bathroom), or a tub or shower.
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Your small bathroom can be simple, economical and functional. On the other end of the spectrum, it can be amazing both in beauty and in the function and features available. It can also be somewhere between the two extremes. The tub can be simple, durable and purely functional or it can be elaborate, luxurious and even be the focal point of the design of your small bathroom.
To help you sort through the best tub choices for small bathroom remodeling, let’s consider some of the basic choices and decisions you will need to make.
First, what material will you choose?
The traditional tub is generally made of porcelain or enamel over either cast iron or over steel. These tubs are available in a wide range of colors and sizes. The weight of cast iron can be a problem in some homes that were not built for a heavy tub. Steel is lighter, but it can chip and rust.
The most popular materials today are fiberglass or high-quality acrylics. Both of these materials can be molded into almost any shape and made for any size space. Fiberglass is light and inexpensive. The down side of fiberglass is that it can scratch and show wear. Acrylics are also lightweight and they can be made to look like stone, tile or other materials. Acrylic is more durable than fiberglass. If you choose acrylic, choose the thickest option. If you have the option, choose the material with the anti-microbial treatment to prevent mold and mildew.
Some other materials are also popular, but more expensive. If your tub is to be the focus of your bathroom design, you might want to choose stainless steel, copper, concrete, stone (marble) or even teak. These materials can be beautiful, but they can also be very heavy, very expensive or very high maintenance.

The Second decision will be about the style of the tub and how it is installed in the bathroom. Installation that “drops” the tub into a platform or a surround will probably require more space than you will have available in a small bathroom. If you choose a freestanding tub style, such as a tub on a pedestal or with legs/feet, the tub will simply be set in place and attached to pipes. The remaining option, most commonly chosen in small bathrooms is to install the tub in one end of the bathroom and attach it to three walls. This type of installation can still be made unique and the focal point of the room by choosing the material, the color and the treatment of the surrounding walls for maximum effect. This “alcove” installation can also be modified to use a little less space by choosing a corner tub.
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Size and weight are important considerations when deciding on your tub. The size of the room will limit the size of the tub. Many small bathrooms are less than six feet wide. Weight is a critical consideration and is often overlooked early in planning. When choosing your tub, you need to know how you will get the tub into the house and what, if any, size restrictions you must work with. Weight can be a consideration in moving the tub into the bathroom. More important, however, is the way the weight of the tub, especially when full of water, will be supported by the floor and by the structure of the house. If for example, you are replacing a fiberglass tub and shower combination with a freestanding extra-deep porcelain over cast iron soaking tub, you need to know if the floor and the structure of the house will tolerate the combined weight of the tub and the water that will fill the tub. You might need to add some support for the floor and the structure of the house.
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The cost of the tub also needs to be considered. A plain white tub/shower combination can cost as little as $300. As other features are added, the cost rises. Colors cost more; larger size costs more; spa features cost more. Choose colors carefully. Trends in colors change every two to five years. You might not want to replace a tub that often.
It is important to try out a tub before you make a decision. First, is it comfortable? This can be very important in a soaking tub or a whirlpool tub. Second, is it safe and easy to get in and out of the tub? This issue of ease of access and safety is very important in a small bathroom because it would be very difficult to fall without hitting your head on something. Think about the ages and any physical limitations of the people who will use the tub.
Is your tub environmentally friendly? You might want to think about water use and about use of electricity or whatever powers your water heater. If you are installing a large tub with massage jets or whirlpool features, you might also need to think about a larger water heater or a separate water heater. If you live in an area where water usage is regulated, there are several things to consider. First, if you need additional hot water, consider a separate solar-powered water heater for the bathroom. Second, consider a rainwater collection system. Not only will you conserve water, you will have softer water for your bath, which is better for your skin.
Third, look at tub models that include or to which you can attach re-heating and re-circulation systems. This saves both power and water.
Finally, whether you choose a traditional tub, an antique model, an extra-deep soaking tub, an “overflowing” style or even a walk-in model, think about other features you might want included. For example, add chromotherapy to soothe you with light to color the water. Plan for positioning a CD player or even a TV where you can access them from the tub. You might add radiant floor heating so you don’t step from your soothing bath onto a cold floor. Add a heated towel rack for added comfort after your bath.
With careful planning and creative design, you can have everything you want in your small bathroom. Limit your serious consideration to the best tub choices for small bathroom remodeling with these tips and insights. Then make your small bathroom exactly what you want, whether it is plain and simple or extravagant and spectacular.