A soaking tub is just as delightful as it sounds. It’s a tub that is deeper and often longer than the average bathtub. Just how big? This type of tub is usually big enough to accommodate two bathers, or big enough for one person to submerge themselves over their shoulders. To give you a good idea of the difference, an average bathtub holds between 25 and 45 gallons of water. A soaking tub can hold a whopping 250 gallons.
Is a soaking tub the right bathtub for you? These tubs are best suited for those who want a luxurious, spa-like bathroom with all the bells and whistles. However, they might also be very well-suited for those who simply want to enjoy the benefits of bathing in a tub full of warm water.
Let’s take a look at soaking tubs. We’ll discuss the pros, cons, and costs, to help determine if one of these bathing beauties is right for you.
The Basics of Soaking Tubs
Soaking tubs are designed to submerge your body in, so they come in larger dimensions than the average bathtub. Still, these tubs come in their own wide range of sizes. Some of them might be longer, and some might be even shorter than a typical bathtub, but deeper.
They are often created with ergonomic contours for comfortable long soaks. Some have built-in heaters that keep the water warm for an extended period of time, or gentle whirlpool jets that move the water around. They might even have a variety of lights and aromatherapy options to turn the soaking tub into a true spa-like experience.
When choosing a soaking tub, it’s important to keep these factors in mind.
- Size. If you have a larger bathroom space, a longer tub for two might be a great option. For a smaller bathroom, consider a shorter Japanese soaking tub.
- Price. What’s your bottom line for the tub and installation? How much can you afford? Run the numbers for your bathtub remodel before you make the final decision.
- Bathroom layout. Do you have space for a separate shower? If not, you may want to consider a shower/tub combo rather than a soaking tub.
- Material. These bathtubs come in a variety of materials. For instance, cast iron is great for holding heat but tends to be more expensive. Acrylic is cheaper but doesn’t hold heat as efficiently.
- Style. Some soaking tubs can be dropped into a surround, used as an alcove tub, or be freestanding units. They run the gamut from classic to ultra-modern.
- Installation. The cost of the soaking tub alone is not the total cost of the installation. Consider what it will cost to remove the old tub or shower, install the new tub, add fixtures and faucets, and whether you might need new plumbing.
- Water heater. The water heater that was adequate for your old, standard bathtub might not work well for a soaking tub. Check with your bathroom contractor on whether you need to upgrade that water heater to support your new tub.
- Additional features. These tubs offer a wide range of features, including hydrotherapy, aromatherapy, and more.
Benefits of Soaking Tubs
Soaking tubs are excellent for a long, deep soak – one that allows you to submerge your body all the way up to the shoulders. This full-body experience can help relieve aching muscles, ease away tensions of the day, and even provide further benefits if the tub is filled with jets for hydrotherapy.
These tubs often have ample room for two if you want to take a dip with a partner or have rambunctious children to bathe. They also add instant class to a bathroom space, and might increase your home value if you choose to sell the property.
There are very few downsides to investing in this type of bathtub. The most common might be the need for additional bracing and reinforcement in the floor underneath the tub. This may be required if that tub is on an upper floor. These adjustments can add to the cost of installation. However, once the reinforcement is in place and the tub is installed, the only other downside might be that it’s a bit more bathtub real estate to clean.
How Much Do Soaking Tubs Cost?
Soaking tubs can cost between $600 and $3,500 for the tub itself. The price depends upon the type of tub you choose – from a simple drop-in tub to an exotic, impressive outdoor model.
In addition, the costs of a soaking tub will vary depending upon the brand and even the time of year. For example, the price can sometimes drop during fall and winter. This is the time when new models of tubs are often coming onto the market, so you might get an “older” model at a discount.
Keep in mind that installation and labor adds to the overall cost.
- For a basic soaking tub that uses your existing plumbing and doesn’t need additional bracing underneath it, you can expect to pay anywhere between $300 and $400 for installation.
- For a soaking tub that requires a newly built surround or foundation or unique plumbing solutions, expect to pay $1,000 and up for installation and materials.
Another possible cost to keep in mind is the question of your water heater. Is it big enough to handle the new needs of a deeper tub? If you need a new water heater to accommodate the tub, be sure to add this cost into the final price.
Types of Soaking Tubs
There are several types of soaking tubs. Some of them you might be familiar with, such as the Japanese soaking tub, while others might be a surprise. Here are the most popular options for these types of bathtubs.
Japanese Soaking Tub
A Japanese soaking tub is on the smaller side, and thus can fit into tighter spaces. But they make up for that smaller length and width with a deeper depth, one that is often enough to submerge comfortably right up to your chin.
Japanese Soaking Tub
Smallest footprint of all soaking tub options
Fits in smaller bathrooms
Depth of 24 inches or more
Modern look and feel
Traditional Japanese soaking tubs are actually made of cypress wood. More modern tubs can come in a variety of materials, including acrylic, porcelain, or even cast iron. Expect this tub to cost an average of $1,200 to $3,200.
Soaking Tub Shower Combo
Combining the convenience of a shower with the relaxation of a soaking tub can provide the ultimate bathroom experience.
Soaking Tub/Shower Combo
Combine a shower with the tub for functionality and luxury at the same time
Shower stall or detachable showerhead options
Tub dimensions of your choice
Affordable installation price(Video) ✅ Best Inflatable Hot Tub Amazon In 2022 ✨ Top 5 Tested & Buying Guide
The soaking tub and shower combo can be created in a few ways. The first is a solid unit that includes a shower stall around the tub. This looks very much like a typical alcove tub, just with larger and/or deeper dimensions.
The second option is a stand-alone tub, such as a clawfoot style, with a separate showerhead unit attached. This usually works with a wrap-around shower curtain. The soaking tub shower combo allows for better use of space in a smaller bathroom, and of course provides the easy option of choosing a bath or a shower. A freestanding tub option can be any sort of material, but a solid unit that includes both is usually made of fiberglass or acrylic. These can be affordable at an average of $800 to $1,500.
Drop-In Soaking Tub
A drop in tub is the shell of a tub, which is then fitted over a pre-constructed frame. A drop in soaking tub is similar to a typical drop in tub, just with deeper, wider, and/or longer dimensions.
Drop-in Soaking Tub
Fitted inside a framed enclosure and raised slightly off the floor
Ability to showcase the tub
Various material options
Plumbing and flooring support may be required
This tub works well for areas where you want to really showcase the tub, such as in the center of a larger bathroom. Picture a frame that includes steps that lead up to a luxurious tub. However, keep in mind that the plumbing for this kind of tub would have to come up through the middle of the floor, which can add significantly to installation costs. The drop in tub itself usually averages $600 to $2,200.
Soaking Tub with Jets
A soaking tub with jets can be likened to a whirlpool. You get the advantages of a deeper tub along with the hydrotherapy and relaxation provided by jets of water or air throughout the tub.
Jetted Soaking Tub
Enjoy the perks of the depth of a soaking tub combined with the relaxation of a whirlpool tub
24 inches deep or more
Though these tubs can be purchased with standard jets, you can also choose to customize them with jets that focus on particular areas, such as more jets in the back for those who suffer from back pain, or more jets in the bottom for the legs.
The cost of the soaking tub with jets will be more than the standard tub, of course, given the additions. Expect to pay an average of $1,500 to $3,000 and up.
Outdoor Soaking Tub
The outdoor soaking tub can be the pinnacle of luxury. Imagine a deep tub you can submerge in completely while looking out across the vast natural world.
Outdoor Soaking Tub
Luxurious addition to any backyard landscape
Deeper than a hot tub
Fits 2 or more people
Several exterior material options
An outdoor tub is much like a hot tub, only deeper. It might be large enough for two. An outdoor soaking tub is made of a very sturdy material that can stand up to the elements, such as a cast stone option, and often has a protective surround. Some might be made of wood.
These tubs can be more expensive than other tubs, given the need to survive the elements and the unique plumbing involved. Expect to pay around $2,000 for an outdoor soaking tub.
The dimensions of a soaking tub start out as a standard number, but can change with the different varieties.
A soaking tub averages 24 inches in depth from the base of the tub to the overflow valve. Compare that to the 15-16 inches found in most typical bathtubs. If you’re going with a Japanese soaking tub, the depth could be even greater.
Some types of tubs are quite small in length. This can be great for someone who wants to sit upright, but not so good for someone who wants to lie down. Tubs that are too small in length can also be uncomfortable for those who are above average height, who would need a longer tub to soak comfortably.
Larger soaking tubs are 90 inches in length and 76 inches in width, which is more than enough to hold a larger person or even two smaller individuals.
Make sure that your chosen tub will fit into your bathroom space. This is where an experienced contractor comes in. A contractor can look at your space and take very accurate measurements, taking into account a frame and other factors that you might not have considered.
Other Bathtub Options to Consider
If you decide a soaking tub isn’t for you, there are still numerous options for new bathtubs for your bathroom, all of which offer unique benefits and drawbacks. Popular bathtub options include:
- Freestanding tub. Imagine a clawfoot tub that isn’t attached to the wall or other structure at all – that’s a freestanding tub. Though the clawfoot tub is likely the most popular, there are numerous styles.
- Massage bathtub. A massage bathtub uses jets of either air or water to soothe aching, tired muscles. This is often much like a typical bathtub, just with jets.
- Alcove bathtub. This common tub fits into a recessed area of the bathroom. It is usually finished on one side, and the other three sides are hidden by the walls around it.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Soaking Tubs
Do soaking tubs fit in small bathrooms?
Yes, they do. This is especially true of the Japanese soaking tub, which often has a much shorter profile than other tubs, but offers greater depth for soaking. Always be sure to talk to a professional contractor about the size of your bathroom to ensure your tub of choice will fit in the desired area.
How deep are soaking tubs?
Soaking tubs have a typical standard depth of 24 inches, and some can be even deeper. This is about 8 to 9 inches deeper than the standard bathtub. For the best experience, look for a soaking tub that offers a depth of 24 inches or more.
Do soaking tubs require special plumbing?
Soaking tubs might require changes in the existing plumbing, depending upon where the faucets are located on the tub. You might also need a larger water heater. Speak to your contractor about the changes your bathroom will need to support the tub and what those changes will cost.
So how deep should a soaking tub be? Keeping in mind the water depth measurement, aim for a minimum of 14 to 15 inches of water depth. This level should be deep enough to cover most of a person's frame. Some tubs, like Japanese soaking tubs, offer water depths of more than 22 inches deep.
- Size, shape and layout;
- Durability of materials;
- Installation/pipe placement;
- Energy efficiency/water heater capacity;
Soaking tubs are designed for long, comfortable soaks, so they're deeper than the typical tub. Standard tub depths allow for approximately 12” of water; soaking tubs should offer at least 14” or more so that the water covers the majority of the bather's body.
Aside from the overall aesthetic appeal, soaking tubs offer a therapeutic experience and a unique opportunity to unwind in total luxury. “Soaking tubs can be a great benefit to a bathroom if the homeowner enjoys a bath,” says Willetts. “Relaxing in water is a great way to relieve stress.”
An oval-shaped bathtub, as opposed to a straight bath or corner tub, has inherent lumbar angles that allow your body to rest perfectly when you soak. This provides any needed support and comfort for your back, without bath taps getting in the way.
Because these tubs are deeper, they are not as long as traditional bathtubs. This makes Japanese soaking tubs ideal for smaller spaces. They also will use less water than a conventionally shaped tub of the same dimensions.
Cast iron tubs are made by pouring molten iron into a mold of the desired shape, then smoothing it and coating it with a thick layer of enamel. It's probably the most durable tub available, and the finish is resistant to chipping, scratching and denting, as well as most types of chemicals.
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Acrylic is generally a much more durable material when compared to porcelain. Although porcelain tubs have a much harder surface and are more resistant to scratches when compared to acrylic, the harder surface is much more susceptible to cracks and chipping from heavy impacts.
This style was chosen by 53% of renovators this year, up from 50% in 2019. Deck-mounted tubs are even less popular in 2020 than in 2019. Deeper soaking tubs are the most popular choice (69%).”
- Length: 55 to 72 inches (about 4 1/2 to 6 feet)
- Width: 27 to 32 inches.
- Height: 15 to 20 inches.
Any tub requires the same basic plumbing: a water source (faucets can be mounted on the wall or on a deck beside a built-in tub), a drain, and, in most tubs, an overflow to prevent flooding if you leave the water running. But a freestanding tub might need plumbing lines coming up through the floor.
Does adding a bathtub to your home increase your resale value? The short answer is yes, with many US homeowners recouping around 60% of their investment from having a bathtub installed in their home.
The Benefits of a Japanese Soaking Tub
Keeps water warmer longer – A deeper tub means less surface area, so the water cools down more slowly and lets you relax for a longer period of time without adding more hot water.
They are very relaxing, comfortable and attractive. They allow for a full body soak while maintaining a small footprint in the bathroom. These are available in a variety of materials including traditional wood. Claw foot tubs continue to be popular in more traditional bathrooms.
The freestanding bathtub is a current bathroom remodeling trend that may soon be going out of style. Like vessel sinks, freestanding bathtubs create more areas in your bathroom to clean because of the water and dirt that can get stuck between the floor and the bottom of the tub.
Some of the most popular options include: Porcelain-enameled steel bathtubs (steel sheets coated with porcelain enamel) Acrylic bathtubs (acrylic sheets reinforced with fiberglass) Fiberglass bathtubs (polyester resin reinforced with fiberglass)
Bottom line is that acrylic is a stronger material than fiberglass. Acrylic tubs effectively resist wear and tear for years on end, while fiberglass is prone to scratching and cracking. Fiberglass also fades more quickly, especially if exposed to sunlight coming in through a window.
Rather than lying down, you sit upright, on the built-in bench seat. Your feet are below your waist, your back is straight, your head and shoulders are naturally supported by your spine. It's so comfortable – with none of the pressure on your shoulders and neck you may feel when you're lying in a traditional bath.
The price of a Japanese soaking tub is determined by the size and tub material. For example: A freestanding hydro system soaker tub with an acrylic finish can cost $2251.76 for a standard tub. A copper soaking tub designed to fit 2 people will cost around $5,732.00.
As well, authentic Japanese soaking tubs don't have a Western-style overflow, and are actually allowed to spill over the top. This is largely because the Japanese bathroom is much, much smaller than an American one – more like a luxury shower stall than a full sized bathroom.
While standard tubs hold up to 30cm/12" of water, a good soaking bathtub will hold at least 35cm/14". For most adults, the ideal water depth will be between 43cm/17" and 50cm/20". The tub itself should be around 50cm/20" to 60cm/24" deep.
Unlike a standard bath, most Japanese soaking tubs are up to 70cm deep, much deeper than your average tub. Which means, seated, you should be submerged over your shoulders. That's every muscle getting a good old soak in hot water.
A deep soaking tub is a compact, steep sided bath in which the bather adopts a seated position. As the name suggests, the bather is able to sit, well supported, whilst submerged to the upper chest in water.
To measure the soaking depth, measure from the lowest point in your tub (likely the drain) up the basin wall to the bottom of the overflow drain on the side.
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