Choosing a bathtub for your bathroom is an important decision that requires careful consideration. With so many different types of bathtubs available, it can be overwhelming to figure out which is right for your needs. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk through the four main types of bathtubs, their key features, pros and cons, and what to look for when selecting one.

Alcove Bathtubs

Alcove bathtubs are designed to be installed in an alcove or nook in the bathroom. They are surrounded by three walls, with the front being open for entry and exit.

Key Features

  • Rectangular shape
  • Made of acrylic, fiberglass, enameled steel, or cast iron
  • Typically 60-72 inches long
  • Available in a variety of depths
  • Many include an apron or integral skirt that covers the front unfinished side of the tub


  • Space saving design fits well in small bathrooms
  • Creates a built-in look when installed into surrounding tile or finished walls
  • Wide variety of sizes to choose from
  • Durable and affordable option


  • Limited access on 3 sides makes cleaning difficult
  • Not suitable for larger bathrooms with space for a freestanding tub
  • Requires careful planning and precise measurements for installation

What to Look For

When selecting an alcove tub, consider the available space and your needs:

  • Size – Measure carefully to ensure the tub will fit the alcove. Allow for body and shower door clearance.
  • Material – Acrylic and fiberglass are lightweight. Cast iron and steel are durable but heavy.
  • Depth – Deeper tubs hold more water. Look for 14-17 inches if soaking is important.
  • Special features – Models with armrests or contoured designs allow for more comfortable soaking.

Overall, alcove tubs maximize small bathroom spaces beautifully while providing a functional soaking experience.

Freestanding Bathtubs

As the name implies, freestanding bathtubs do not require any attachment to surrounding walls. They stand alone on the bathroom floor as a striking focal point.

Key Features

  • Oval, rectangular, or curved shape
  • Made of acrylic, stone, copper, porcelain, or enameled cast iron
  • Typically 60-70 inches long
  • Floor-mounted, often on ornate claw feet
  • Many models have an apron or skirt around the bottom exterior


  • Aesthetically pleasing focal point in any bathroom
  • Allow for easier cleaning access on all sides
  • Statement-making in a larger bathroom
  • Modern and vintage styles available
  • Durable materials like cast iron and porcelain


  • More expensive than alcove tubs
  • Not ideal for small bathrooms due to large footprint
  • Freestanding design may not suit bathrooms with an alcove or corner space
  • Limited size options compared to built-in tubs

What to Look For

When choosing a freestanding tub, look for:

  • Material – Consider durability, weight, heat retention, and look
  • Size – Measure bathroom space and account for walking area around the tub
  • Style – Choose from contemporary, traditional, or vintage designs
  • Special features – Models with air bath jets available for a spa experience

Freestanding tubs bring elegance and sophistication to bathrooms. Ensure it fits the space and complements your design vision.

Corner Bathtubs

Corner tubs are designed to tuck into a corner area, typically into an L-shaped alcove or nook. This allows for efficient use of space.

Key Features

  • Triangular or rounded shape
  • Made of acrylic, enameled steel, or cultured marble
  • Range from 60-70 inches across
  • Recessed or extended sidewalls
  • Some have an apron or skirt panel


  • Great space-saving option for small bathrooms
  • Unique look compared to standard tubs
  • Models with extended sidewalls increase soaking space
  • Allows for windows or storage in unused corner space


  • Limited sizes and shapes available
  • Typically higher priced than standard alcove tubs
  • Recessed walls reduce leg room and space
  • Requires specifically sized corner area for installation

What to Look For

When shopping for a corner tub, look at:

  • Dimensions – Measure corner space carefully to ensure good fit
  • Sidewalls – Extended sidewalls create more interior room
  • Material – Acrylic retains heat well and is affordable option
  • Access – Doors must be able to open without obstructing

A corner bathtub optimizes tight bathrooms beautifully. Just be sure to measure precisely during selection.

Walk-in Bathtubs

Walk-in tubs have a door that allows you to step directly into the bathtub versus having to climb over the side. They are ideal for mobility-challenged individuals.

Key Features

  • Outward opening watertight door
  • Low step-in threshold
  • Built-in seat and grab bars
  • Slip-resistant flooring
  • Quick drainage system


  • Easy access for those with mobility limitations
  • Safe entry and exit with low doorway
  • Comfort features like seats and grab bars
  • Faster drainage makes bathing quicker
  • Can fit in standard alcove spaces


  • Very expensive, often thousands of dollars
  • Limited styles and sizes available
  • Door requires clearance space when opened
  • Ongoing maintenance required on door seals

What to Look For

When selecting a walk-in tub, look for:

  • Door Type – Outward opening doors provide lowest thresholds
  • Size – Measure alcove space and account for opened door clearance
  • Special Features – Seats, anti-slip floors, and grab bars add comfort and accessibility
  • Certifications – Look for brands certified by organizations like Arthritis Foundation

Ultimately, the easy access and safety features of walk-in tubs provide independence and improved quality of life for users.

How to Choose the Right Bathtub

Choosing the ideal bathtub requires careful consideration of your needs, bathroom space, and budget. Keep the following tips in mind:

  • Measure carefully – Get accurate bathroom dimensions and layouts before selecting a tub. Account for walking space and door clearances.
  • Consider usage – Do you prefer long soaks? Is easy entry/exit vital? This impacts what type and size works best.
  • Choose material wisely – Look at durability, weight, heat retention, and cost. Acrylic and enameled steel provide great value.
  • Check special features – Think about need for seats, grab bars, slip-resistant floors, or jetted options.
  • Visualize style – Freestanding tubs make bold statements. Alcoves offer classic built-in style.
  • Set a budget – Walk-in and freestanding tubs run higher. Know costs before falling in love with options.
  • Involve a contractor – Seek professional guidance on precise installation requirements, especially for alcoves.

Take the time to evaluate both form and function when selecting a bathtub. With many types to choose from, you can find the perfect tub to enhance your bathing experience!

Frequently Asked Questions About Bathtubs

Q: What is the standard bathtub size?

Most bathtubs range from 60-72 inches long and 30-42 inches wide. Alcove and freestanding tubs are typically 60-66 inches long. Corner tubs can extend up to 72 inches across.

Q: How deep should a bathtub be?

For a comfortable immersive bathing experience, look for tubs with a depth of 14-17 inches. Deeper tubs allow your body to be more submerged.

Q: What material is best for bathtubs?

The most common and affordable options are acrylic and enameled steel. Acrylic retains heat well and comes in many styles. Enameled steel is durable and easy to clean.

Q: How much does a new bathtub cost?

On average, expect to pay $200-$800 for a standard alcove or corner tub. Freestanding tubs range from $700-$4,000. Walk-in tubs with special features can cost $3,000-$10,000.

Q: How can I make an old bathtub look new?

Refinishing is an affordable option to make old tubs look fresh and new. The process involves cleaning, sanding, applying primer, spraying on a new finish, and adding a clear coat sealant.

Q: How do I choose the right bathtub for my space?

Carefully measure your bathroom layout and alcove or corner dimensions if relevant. Also consider usage needs, material, and your budget. This will help narrow down the right size, type, and options.


Selecting a bathtub requires understanding the different types available and factoring in your space, needs, and budget. Alcove tubs maximize small areas beautifully with their efficient use of space. For large bathrooms, freestanding tubs serve as striking focal points. Corner tubs optimize tight corners, while walk-in tubs provide accessibility. Taking the time to evaluate all the options will ensure you find the perfect bathtub to enhance your bathroom.