Four years of waiting (and saving) are finally over. My brand new bathtub was installed today. I'm overjoyed! At least, I will be when all the remaining work is done. I'm talking the tiling, painting, and those small yet oh-so crucial decorative touches.
Because my master bathroom is tiny and very narrow (58 in.), I expected my bathtub choices to be fairly limited. Wrong! There are tons of awesome, reasonably-priced tubs out there to choose from – including deep soaking tubs, which is what I'd had my heart set on.
Since my exhaustive search for the perfect tub is now behind me, I'd like to share what I've learned. Are you
renovating a tiny BR? Today I'm going to run through a few shopping tips to help you make your selection. Next week, I'll expand on the theme with a list of quality, yet modestly priced, tubs ideal for small rooms.
Tip 1: Go directly to manufacturers' websites to research individual bathtub models. Great starting points: American Standard
. You can find all the specs there plus photos.
Okay, the photos are frequently a disappointment, but you may find these sites more useful than a trip to your local big box hardware stores where a) very few tubs are out on display and b) they are placed so high up you may as well be looking at the poor website photos I just mentioned.
Tip 2: After you've created a short list of tubs you love, then use the Web to get a sense of actual prices, (as opposed to the manufacturers' list prices). Most tubs can be purchased online, but you will need to allow for the extra expense of shipping and taxes.
You may also choose to do your research online but end up buying local, which is very cool, too ... although you'll likely still have to deal with shipping and taxes. Just be prepared for that bottom line price!
Tip 3: Bathtub installation is for extremely experienced DIY'ers only. Professional installation by a qualified plumber is expensive, but totally worth it. Do you really want to accidentally flood your basement or the insides of your walls? Nope, didn't think so. Spend the money and you'll get peace of mind.
Tip 4: Speaking of money, the cost of your tub will vary depending on whether you buy a matching front panel, aka the integral apron. Custom tiling is also going to ratchet up the price of your renovation as well. Bottom line: quality bathroom renovations don't come cheap!
Tip 5: If your bathroom is very narrow (like mine) you will probably start out searching for the narrowest tub possible. Let me save you some trouble: a few tubs are as narrow as 30 in., however, they tend to be quite shallow. If you want a bathtub you can soak in, see if you can possibly squeeze a 32 in. wide tub into that space.
You will have many more options in terms of designs and depths for soaking when you expand your search to the 32 in. wide range. And you may find that two extra inches does not make all that much difference to the feel of your room.
Tip 6: Don't rush your decision. The best way to be sure is to mark out a couple of tub dimensions on your bathroom floor in pencil. See where a 30 in. wide tub would land compared with a 32 in. model.
And don't stop at just pencil lines. Place a laundry hamper and/or a coffee table inside the lines and leave them there for a few days. Can you really live with a 32 or 34 in. (or wider) tub in your small bathroom? Can you avoid banging your leg on the sides during nocturnal restroom visits?
Tip 7: If your bathroom is small but more square than narrow, you can consider designs beyond the basic rectangle. You could, for example, look into short, oval shaped tubs or smallish corner tubs.
Tip 8: Open up your bathroom: consider skipping the traditional three-wall alcove design. Most tubs are plopped into an existing three-wall alcove space. They are then finished off in front with a shower curtain or glass sliding doors. This design can make a narrow bathroom feel downright cramped.
An alternative is the design I've chosen for my own bathroom: Start with an open space. A no-alcove zone, if you will. Install a tub butted up against one short wall, with integral apron skirting the front. Have a two-foot high knee wall constructed to finish off the open end (the other short side).
Instead of bulky glass sliding doors, install a specialty shower rod designed for corner spaces
. (Make sure it comes with a supporting rod.) When the shower is not in use, the curtain can be pushed to one side, which really opens the room up to daylight.
And for a bit more advice on your bathroom makeover, watch this video: