One of the most common decisions to make when it comes to remodeling your bathroom into a dreamy spa-like escape, is whether to go with a built-in bathtub or a freestanding tub. While freestanding tubs are all the rage in modern design and bathroom remodeling, built-in tubs have come a long way in their own respective designs, and can look and feel just as luxurious. Let’s explore the differences and some advantages/disadvantages of the two:

What’s The Difference?

A built-in bathtub is usually built into a corner or an alcove, with 2 or 3 walls bracketing the tub. The front panel, or “apron” of the tub can be designed to match other materials and aesthetics of the bathroom, or custom to your liking. Same goes with the surround or backsplash of the tub, with a variety of tiling, styles and colors to match the design of the bathroom. Common materials used for built-ins are acrylic, enameled cast iron and steel, stone, and solid surface. 

A freestanding tub is one that is not attached to any wall, and can be placed anywhere you want (plumbing allowed). They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, materials and colors. You can choose from stone, enameled cast iron, stainless steel, acrylic & fiberglass, and more. Materials can range from super light-weight to very heavy. Freestanding tubs can also be very customizable in shape and appearance. 

If the space allows for either of these options, then it really just comes down to aesthetic, taste, and functionality. As we said earlier, freestanding tubs are making a big splash (sorry) in bathroom remodeling. The charm of the old Victorian tub has made its way back to the future, where the current aesthetic is modern meets classic. Whether you go for a vintage feel of the classic claw-foot tub, or choose a minimalist and modern tub that sits directly on the floor, you’re sure to have a statement piece. Built-ins are true and trusted, as they can serve two needs – shower and bath, all in the same place. Although separate showers and built-in tubs are certainly still design options. Some modern designs can even have a freestanding tub placed within a large walk-in shower. 

Pros & Cons for Built-in Tubs

Bathroom remodel by AHI Builders

Pros:

Work better in smaller bathrooms – if you don’t have a ton of space but still want to have the option to soak

Easier to include a shower – the shower/bathtub combo is very common in smaller bathroom designs

Easier to clean – most built-in or alcove tubs will have handheld shower attachments that make it easier to clean the tub and surrounding walls 

Cons:

Restrictions on placement – will have to be attached to a wall or corner with adjoining walls

Installation will take longer – since these tubs will have to be built into surrounding areas and materials, it could take longer to install 

Higher installation costs – typically, installation costs for built-ins are a little higher due to logistics and materials used 

Pros & Cons for Freestanding Tubs

Bathroom remodel by AHI Builders

Pros:

Placement flexibility – essentially, you can choose to place a freestanding tub anywhere you want providing plumbing capabilities 

Less expensive installation – since installation is not as laborious, costs will be lower

Many styles and materials to choose from – there are more design options and aesthetics to choose from or customize with freestanding tubs

Cons:

Weight restrictions – some materials and tubs can be very heavy, which could require floor reinforcement before installation

Harder to clean – since a lot of freestanding tubs don’t have shower attachments, cleaning can be a bit more time consuming and labor-heavy

Less storage space – with no alcove and smaller surface lips, storing any bath products is hard to do without additional tub-accessories like a bath rack

Less options for showering – some models can not include a shower at all. If you are able to include a shower to a freestanding tub, you will need to install rods and curtains to contain water spillage 

No matter which style you prefer or choose, having a tub to soak in is a luxury that you deserve! Bathtime isn’t just for the kiddos, grown-ups are just as allowed to get a good soaking while washing the stresses of the day away. So grab your favorite bath bomb, tip your toes in and glide into a nice hot bath.