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It’s a good idea to have a specific budget for a bath; cast iron roll top versions are usually between £2,000 to £5000, but if you’re looking to spend less on a bath, there are lots of acrylic versions which are in the £200+ price range. A good half-way point would be a steel bath, which can have a much more refined and elegant look, enabled by modern production processes. Of course, your bath can be treated as the focal point of the bathroom, especially if it’s positioned centrally.
Types of Bath
A standard rectangular bath with straight sides is generally an easy and obvious choice. You could even consider a sunken bath, for a real ‘wow’ scheme. A slightly different approach could be to have the short tap end of a rectangular bath in the middle of a wall, with the long edges projecting into the room.
Double-ended baths can be convenient for two to share … no-one is assigned the tap end! They are a lovely choice from a design point of view, adding symmetry to the room layout.
A shower bath is a brilliant solution if you’re short of space; popular designs are P-shaped, providing a slightly more spacious square area at the tap/shower control end. A shower bath will, of course, need to be installed with the appropriate screen or shower curtain .
A freestanding bath is a very popular choice and can encompass all styles – from traditional roll-top to angular contemporary looks, and even rustic styles. Look at contemporary oval designs in double-skinned acrylic, curvy designs in solid surface materials or skirted styles where the feet are hidden from view.
Corner baths aren’t as widely seen as they used to be, but are worthy of consideration if there’s plenty of floor space. Corner baths are often fitted with spa or whirlpool systems, and the corner position can provide a built-in surface space for towels and toiletries.
Styles of Bath
In a nutshell, the choice is between traditional style or contemporary style. Traditional roll-top baths are incredibly popular, opening a host of decorating possibilities, from a colourful exterior paint finish to elaborate stand-pipes and taps. Traditional roll-top styles were first manufactured in cast iron, but today are also available in lighter materials, including acrylic, steel and composites. Traditional slipper baths are more compact, with one end higher, for reclining purposes. Traditional baths can have ornate ball and claw style feet, or may have a plinth or skirt design, where the base of the bath appears to sit on the floor. Contemporary and modern baths are often very simple with clean, uncluttered lines. They may be designed to be used with panels – timbers and laminates are popular, introducing an element of colour and texture into the bathroom scheme. Or, for something that combines both modern and traditional, look at circular Japanese-style tubs.
Materials Used for Baths
Budget-conscious buyers should look at acrylic baths, they are usually very good value for money. Another advantage is that they are thermally efficient – meaning that hot water stays hotter for longer. Enamelled steel baths can also be good value – a basic rectangular model is very affordable, larger-scale designer models can be pricey but beautifully styled and available in a vast array of shapes and proportions. Steel baths feel cold to the touch when you first step into the tub, but once in, the water does tend to hold heat longer. New composite materials (such as a mixture of acrylic and quartz) create a smooth, stone-like surface, but without the extreme weight. Cast iron baths are very heavy – to the point the stability and load-bearing capacity of the bathroom floor in an old house should be checked before installation goes ahead. The same goes for stone baths (limestone, marble, granite) … these baths are extremely heavy indeed and may be best situated in a ground floor bathroom, and you will definitely need to consult an experienced builder or your architect to see if the floor will require strengthening.
More Bath Considerations
A standard size of a rectangular bath is about 800mm wide by 1750mm long. However, there are endless variations available, both larger and smaller. If you are limited to a very specific size, perhaps because of the position of existing alcoves, soil pipe or furniture, it’s likely that a longer, narrower, higher or lower version is available. Always look at brochure or online measurements of any bath you’re interested in; consider the internal depth as well, shallow designs may be better for someone who has mobility difficulties. Have a discussion with your bathroom fitter before finalising the choice of bath, especially if it’s going to be in a different position to the existing bath. Soil and waste pipes, plus tap and shower positions all need to be considered at the same time. Remember to look at ceiling height too, if an over-bath shower is specified, you’ll need to decide if a shower screen can be correctly positioned. Remember that a screen is preferable to an over-bath shower curtain, especially when a pumped or power shower is being used.