The ultimate guide to buying a bath

Choosing a new tub should feel as zen as having a deep bubbly soak, so take the stress out of buying a bath with our complete guide…

With the hustle and bustle of modern life, bathing feels more like an ancient ritual, offering rare moments of solitude to wash away the stresses of the day. Baths come in an array of shapes and sizes, from corner and inset to back-to-wall and freestanding models – not to mention the diverse sub-categories such as compact, clawfoot, roll-top, slipper, bateau, or asymmetrical… And that’s not even starting with the kaleidoscope of colours now available. The abundance of choice is frankly mind-boggling.

Green tub in front of tropical wallpaper
Hollywood bath, price on application, Devon & Devon.

Choosing the right bath can take time, with your two key deciding factors being the style of the bathroom you are designing and the available space. To help you choose, Jorge Hernandez, product and design manager at Crosswater, has some advice: “A single-ended bath, positioned in the corner, works well in a smaller space, while freestanding baths are synonymous with luxurious bathing. For customers who love the idea of a freestanding bath but do not have the space, a back-to-wall bath is a perfect solution as it is designed to sit against a wall.”

The best way to get a proper feel for the bath is to try before you buy. You might feel silly sitting in a showroom bath, fully clothed, but you will feel even sillier if you buy the wrong-sized or shaped bath. Most importantly, you want it to be long enough that you don’t feel cramped.   

Freestanding tub with gold floor mounted basins
Clearwater Florenza freestanding bath, £2,058, from Sanctuary Bathrooms.

Bespoke baths

Arguably, a bath is one of the most personal pieces of sanitaryware in the bathroom. There are so many options; the only limit is your imagination. How about a bespoke coloured model? Brands like Victoria + Albert Baths, BC Designs and Imperial Bathrooms, to name a few, offer bespoke painting services, but lead times will be longer than standard colours, so make sure to work that into your plan.

You can also add personality through your choice of brassware. “These finishing touches make all the difference,” says Shahnee Taylor Brown, specification executive at VitrA. “Our most popular shades are matt black, brushed nickel, copper, chrome and gold. Additionally, you can play with height by using floor-standing taps.”

Copper bath with blue wall panelling
The white enamel interior lends contrast to the copper exterior of this brass bateau bath. Priced from £6,500, Catchpole & Rye.

Designing around a bath can pose challenges, but by embracing its show-stopping nature and using it as the focal point of your scheme you’re heading in the right direction. “Choose a unique shape, material, or colour to make it stand out in the space,” says Juan Luna, Acquabella’s design manager. “Another tip is to pay attention to the decoration and details around the bathtub. For example, create an accent wall with a bold paint colour, wallpaper, or a textured finish.” 

Have fun with your choices as the bath is a place to express your style and, crucially, aid relaxation. Immerse yourself in all the possibilities to create a spa-like experience in your home.

Green bathroom in a Victorian home
Essex bath, from £4,750, BC Designs.

Which material is best for me?

  • Acrylic reigns supreme and it’s easy to see why. It’s durable, lightweight and has a non-porous surface that is easy to clean.
  • Cast iron baths have existed since the 1800s. The upfront cost may be steep – it is a one-time investment – but the material is resistant to anything you can throw at it.
  • Porcelain enamelled steel is made from layers of steel and enamel, creating a highly durable and lightweight option.
  • Composite blends are made with multiple materials – usually a mix of stone, fibreglass or acrylic and resin – to create a luxurious, unique material. Often, the blend retains heat, giving you an extra-long soak.
  • Marble is one of the most expensive choices but definitely the most opulent option.
  • Copper changes over time as it oxidises, like a beautiful, organic piece of art. Take care when cleaning because harsh cleaners or scrubs can damage the surface.
  • Wood baths are an unusual choice but have excellent biophilic benefits. Make sure that the wood is well-sealed for durability.
Translucent blue bath
Designed by ZeTae Studio, the Luna bath is made with a Lumenit translucent resin. Price on application.

Enjoyed this post? Click here for our lowdown on back-to-wall baths

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