Your dream bath. Picture it. Whether it’s a neat and nifty built-in bath or a glamorous freestanding model… or a completely and utterly indulgent jetted bath, it’s your happy place, where bliss lives. So you need to choose the model that matches your dream, fits your bathroom, your fashion sense and your pocket.
A really good bath is quite an investment, so let’s chat about what’s best for you. There are pros and cons to weigh up, either way and some very practical considerations, not the least of which are the cost implications.
Any tub made of cast iron, steel, or natural stone will be heavier than a tub made of acrylic or fibreglass. You may need to reinforce your floor. Very large freestanding stone tubs require a floor that can hold up to two tons when the tub is filled. This may mean installing a new, reinforced subfloor, particularly in older homes. An acrylic freestanding tub, however, will not require any new flooring, while a new cast iron alcove tub may need some reinforcement.
To determine if your floor requires adjustment, you need to have a structural engineer examine it, taking into account both the weight of the unfilled tub and the weight of the same tub filled with water.
Romancing the bath.
Tubs for two. What could be more romantic? If you love to bath à deux, ensure that the model you choose has all its twiddly bits in the centre, rather than at one end, so that you can both recline comfortably, and gaze into each other’s eyes, without the indignity of something unpleasant digging into your nether regions!
The built-in bath, aka the alcove tub.
These are baths that are built into your bathroom – generally bracketed with two walls, but if you have a smaller bathroom, your tub can cosy up to three walls. In a bigger bathroom, a built-in bath can sit elegantly in a corner, with a blacksplash and surround that call out for some gorgeous tiling.
If you have a smaller bathroom, a built-in bath is a space-saver. However, it will limit how you lay out the rest of your bathroom. So think about layout carefully. Costs need to be considered, too. Installation takes time and can cost more than the tub itself: it must be installed by a professional.
When a bath is built-in, it will have a ‘water wall’: this is a wall with plumbing concealed inside. The area is plumbed first, then the tub is set and caulked in place; the drain is installed; the surround is finished; all this takes several hours. There are other variables to consider: for example, you may find the floor needs reinforcement to handle the weight of the model you’ve chosen; or, the tub needs levelling.
Your built-in tub has less surface area to maintain and clean… but the surround needs upkeep and attention.
Built-in baths have the added benefit of offering space for divine floating shelves, niches, shower baskets and other storage ideas on surrounding walls. Freestanding bath-lovers who poo-poo the built-in bath… beware! You’re missing out on the hygge of a cosy bath surround: with walls festooned with hanging plants, nests of towels, clusters of candles and adorable knick-knacks.
Italtile’s exclusive Betta range of built-in beauties are locally crafted, and offer real ‘Live Beautifully’ value. They’re designed and made to strict green principles by our very own Ceramic Industries Group, so the Betta bath you choose is truly eco-chic. The Aquarius Melissa, Aquarius Athena and Aquarius Heronall offer a lightweight, single-piece acrylic body with a 5-year warranty. Use a non-abrasive cleaner to maintain the high gloss finish which won’t chip, fade or corrode over time.
If you want to spend a bit more but still require green credentials, consider the Swiss-made Palladium from Laufen, the world leaders in superb sanware. White enamelled steel and 100% elegant, European simplicity, available in longer and shorter options. Careful maintenance and no abrasive cleaners will ensure a lifetime of luxury soaking.
The freestanding bath.
OK. We admit it. A freestanding bath has unbeatable built-in romance and 5-star hotel glamour. Somehow, a soak in a freestanding tub is a next-level relaxation experience. But let’s be practical: a freestanding bath needs SPACE. This is an option for bigger bathrooms only. But because they can be placed anywhere in the bathroom and do not need the presence of a ‘water wall’, you have loads of flexibility to design your bathroom layout.
Your freestander needs much less attention when it comes to installation, beyond very good plumbing. BUT. The tub filler is the biggest expense because it must be brought up from the floor or installed in the ceiling. For floor fillers, you will also need to invest in some professional floor work – because you’ll need to finish the floor around the extending pipes immaculately. Professional installation needed. Don’t even think of attempting this job yourself.
With a freestanding bath, everything – and we mean everything – is on show. It’s like an art installation, and there is absolutely no room for sloppy workmanship or careless maintenance. There are more surfaces to keep gleaming and gorgeous, so 360-degree cleaning is essential.
Italtile’s freestanding ranges are glamour and elegance personified. There just isn’t enough space here to wax lyrical about them. And which range? We’ll keep it brief and mention Victoria and Albert and Dado brands here, but you can view the eye-openingly extensive tub collection online.
Manufactured in SA, with a UK heritage, these uber-luxe baths are loved and adored all over the world. No matter which V&A bath you fall in lust with, it is created from an extraordinary, state of the art solid surface material called QUARRYCAST®, rich in Volcanic LimestoneTM for an incomparably silky finish that is warm to the touch.
Structurally, V&A freestanding baths are all single mould with no joins. This makes for a unit that is extremely strong – no creaking or bending. The unique surface allows for easy polishing out of small scratches.
What’s our favourite? We can’t decide. Maybe the double-sided and deliciously deep Terrassa? Or the right royal Warndon? Or the edgy, modern Pembroke? No, wait, it’s the breathtakingly beautiful Angelica. These are all top-notch products, so it should come as no surprise that they come standard with a 25-year warranty against manufacturer defects. Oh, and ask us about matching basins to complete your deluxe bathroom renovation!
Dado. The other word for elegance. This is a drop-dead gorgeous range of upper-tub luxury. DadoQuartz combines polymer resin with crushed quartz stone to produce a pure white, silky surface with no imperfections or visible joins. These lovelies are as hard as granite, but soft to the touch, and each bath is personally finished by hand in order to guarantee the perfect finish.
They feature a matt finish, which is quite often considered a modern aspect in a bathroom, but take it from us: but this does not stop the Dado range from being equally at home in a more traditional bathroom space. Like V&A, Dado baths come with a 25-year warranty on manufacturer faults, and all Dado baths fly our #livegreen flag.
Honestly, this freestanding range is as dazzling in design as it is in selection, and it’ll take more than one of our signature blend @craftcoffeesa cuppas to sustain you while you browse instore. There’s the perfect-in-every-way Dado Jane, the equally lovely Dado Claire, the compact Dado Rosella, and the correctly named Dado Elegance Slipper. (Ask our design-certified sales advisers about matching basins to finish your luxe look.)
Meet the two-seater Maharaja, a voluminous tub (well, more water playground than bath!) offers a full-house spa conversion option for jetsetter couples. Our supplier specialises in the conversion of spa baths with jetted systems and is an industry expert in the field. The Wode Full House Spa Conversion offers a 1-year warranty on parts and a 2-year warranty on the motor of the system that includes local service support.
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