Choosing the right bath for your home can be a daunting process. The material, shape, size, colour and design will all need consideration. And it will need to match your budget.
The Bathroom Marquee will help guide you through the various options when looking at baths for sale.
The choice can seem overwhelming therefore you need to have a clear idea of your own priorities.
It could be that the size of the bath is the limiting factor. Or maybe quality is you main goal. We will look at all of the various options and point out the pros and cons as we go along.
If you are buying a bathroom suite the bath might be a set item. This is usually the cheapest way to buy a new bathroom. But you may be given some options especially if you want to upgrade the bath.
So let’s look at the different options open to you in a bit more detail.
There are many different types of bath. But they all fall into these general categories:
- straight bath
- corner bath
- shower bath
- free-standing bath
No one design is inherently better than any other. Each one has its pros and cons which we will look into in more detail.
There are some other bath shapes available such as circular sunken baths but these are not what we would call standard. So we will concentrate on baths that are readily available from merchants and online.
Straight baths are by far the most common design. The standard size for this style of bath in the UK is 1700 x 700mm and many bathrooms are built with this measurement in mind.
Some straight baths have sculpted shapes in the bathing area. This can cut down on bathing room although they can help with the overall aesthetic.
Hand grips are built into many straight baths which will aid getting in and out. Make sure the bath has a dimpled standing area if there is to be an over-bath shower fitted.
Also note that built-in soap dishes and recesses might look nice but there are some downsides. They can trap water and allow it to puddle. This can enable mould to develop in the silicone sealant. Raised features will also impede the movement of bath shower screens.
Corner baths look very stylish. They have a bathing area that is at an angle to the bathroom wall. The problem with this design is that the length of the bathing area is reduced.
All but the very largest corner bath will less mean you will struggle to stretch out as far as in a straight bath. This is very noticeable if you are tall. They are generally wider than a straight bath so there is plenty of width available.
There are offset corner bath available that are a compromise between the two designs. Be careful when ordering these as they are handed. And what one manufacturer might refer to as left hand another might label right hand.
Very large corner baths can take a lot of filling so make sure your heating system is up to the task. Many stored hot water systems are only designed to fill a standard bath.
As with straight baths, keep and eye out for raised areas like soap dishes or moulded head-rests.
Make sure that the bath panel is sturdy. They are notorious for cracking and not easy to replace as different baths use different radiuses.
Many houses do not have enough room for a bath and a separate shower in the bathroom. So manufacturers came up with a compromise design: the shower bath.
This is a P shaped bath where the shower end of the bath bulges outward. This offers a greatly expanded showering area so you have plenty of elbow room.
There is usually a curved glass shower screen used to shield the room from water splashes. These are sometimes hinged enabling you to gain access to the shower controls from outside the bath. Check if there are spare seals for the screen available because these can split with repeated use. If they are, we would recommend buying the spares at the same time as the bath. This will ensure they are the right make and size.
Freestanding baths used to be very old fashioned. The classic roll-top design with claw feet were only ever seen in period designs.
But in recent years, more modern designs have become available opening up their use in contemporary settings.
As well as more modern designs these baths are now available in more modern materials. Previously they were made from cast iron but now can be made from acrylic and other composites.
These baths need a bit of room around them to do them justice. This means that the pipe work to and from the bath will need to be concealed under the floor. Take this into account when coming up with a bathroom design.
Some free-standing baths are very deep so keep your heating system in mind as mentioned previously. Combination boilers will produce a continuous stream of hot water but stored hot water systems have a limit on water volume.
So What Is The Best Bath Shape?
The best bath shape that you choose will depend on a few factors:
- your height
- room size
- heating system
- your budget
Baths For Tall People
If you are taller than average then you might want to avoid corner baths. They have less “lying down room” . Very tall people will even struggle in a straight bath so. Longer baths are available but these are not standard. If possible, see if you can find one on display where they will let you try it for size!
Choose A Bath That Suits Your Room Size
The room size will be a major limiting factor with regard to what you can and cannot fit.
Straight baths are available longer than the standard 1700mm but many bathrooms are designed to be exactly no bigger than this. You might be able to change the direction that the bath is run but this is again down to the shape of the room and available space.
Corner baths will stick out into the room more than a straight bath. This is fine in larger rooms but can eat up precious floor space in a smaller setting.
Free standing baths look best with some room around them but they can be installed in smaller rooms if required.
Check That Your Heating System Is Up To The Task
Check that the volume of your bath does not exceed your heating’s capacity to fill it. Deep baths and large corner baths take a lot of filling. It is worth having a word with a professional if you are unsure.
If you have an airing cupboard with a copper cylinder in it you have stored hot water. This will have a limit to the size of bath it can fill. A combination boiler will produce as much hot water as you want. But beware that large volume baths can take a long time to fill.
The cheapest way to buy a bath is as part of a bathroom suite. This way you get a package deal on all of the components.
Straight baths are the cheapest as they are made in the largest quantities. Plainer designs tend to be cheaper but also offer a cleaner edge to the overall look of the room – great if you are looking at a minimalist design.
Shower baths have really come down in price. What was once seen as a luxury model is now much more affordable. And it is a similar story with free-standing baths. But they are still more expensive than a straight bath.
The material that the bath is made from will also have an affect on the price. We will look at the options in more detail.
What Is The Best Material For Baths?
There is no right answer to this question as each different material has advantages and disadvantages.
So lets look at the most common materials used for the manufacture of baths. They are:
- Cast Iron
- Stone Resin
We will look at each in turn and highlight their properties and how they perform.
These are by far the most common type of bath sold in the UK. They are made by taking a sheet of acrylic and then moulding it into a bath shape. The sheet is then reinforced with fibreglass and a chipboard base is attached.
The resulting bath is relatively stiff but very light to handle. The acrylic bath surface is tough and keeps its shine very well. The surface can get scratched but small scratches can get polished out,
The quality of the bath will depend upon the thickness of the acrylic sheet and the amount of reinforcing applied. The bath will flex too much if these are of poor quality and will cause problems such as failed sealant. There are some installation methods that reduce flexing which can help – see this article for more information.
The design can include complex curves and feature details such as soap dishes or head-rests. This is because it is a moulded manufacturing process. But we would say that the simpler the design the better. It will give clean, smooth lines and be less problematic in the long run.
There are some great advantages to steel baths.
Firstly, they are very stiff. This means that when installed correctly there will be no movement of the bath. Movement will cause seals to fail and could lead to leaks.
Secondly the enamel surface is very hard wearing and does not scratch easily. It is, however, prone to chipping if something heavy is dropped in the bath.
Steel Baths are relatively light to handle. They are heavier than acrylic but considerably lighter than the next two materials listed here. Designs tend to be quite plain because they cannot create details that are feasible with acrylic. A leading manufacturer of steel baths is Bette who make some high quality items.
Cast Iron Baths
Cast iron used to be the main material from which baths were made.
The baths are incredibly strong and stiff. The surface is again made from enamel. So it is very hard wearing and will not scratch easily. The main problem with the enamel surface is chipping but this is not a common occurrence.
Cast iron baths in old properties sometimes look very dull. This is through of years of cleaning with abrasive scouring powder which gradually wears the surface away. Modern bathroom cleaning solutions tend to be free of abrasives so the surface shine should last for years.
These baths are very heavy and need at least two people to handle them. This is their main downside . They are also more expensive than other materials.
Stone Resin Baths
Baths made from stone resin are less common than the others listed here. Stone resin is frequently used to make shower trays. Its solid construction and stiff properties make it ideal because it doesn’t flex.
With baths, its use tends to be limited to free-standing units. In this respect it performs similarly to cast iron. Very stiff, very solid and very heavy.
The surface is slightly softer than the other materials listed here so can lose its shine over time. Some manufacturers have found a way around this shortcoming by capping the stone resin with an acrylic layer.
The best material is probably cast iron. But these baths are expensive and difficult to install due to their weight.
Overall we would say acrylic offers the best value for money. A well made acrylic bath will last for years, is easy to install and is the cheapest option available.
Other Bath Materials
We have listed the most common bath materials but there are others.
Different plastics have been used in the past but most have come up short when compared with acrylic.
The luxury market has seen baths made from a huge number of materials. Copper, concrete, glass, wood and bamboo have all been used to create some unique pieces.