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Choosing Bathtubs & Showers

by Don Vandervort, © HomeTips

Bathtubs and showers are fundamentally very simple appliances designed to contain water and a person or two and to drain spent water into the sewer system. Of course, from those basics, a world of possibilities has been developed. Bathtubs and showers are made in many different types, sizes, shapes, colors, and configurations.

shower shapesBathtubs may be either built-in to a three-wall alcove or freestanding. The conventional length of a bathtub is 5 feet, but they’re made up to 7 feet long. A wide range of widths and depths is available.

Built-in tubs range from familiar tub/shower combinations to ultra-modern, computerized whirlpool tubs that automatically deliver and maintain a given water temperature. Freestanding tubs come in many styles too, from classic claw-footed tubs to elegantly sleek, jetted models.

The best bathtubs are made from enameled cast iron. Though they’re incredibly heavy, particularly in larger sizes, cast-iron tubs have deep, durable finishes. Tubs made from acrylic that’s reinforced with fiberglass are also good, and, because they’re lighter and more easily molded, acrylic tubs tend to come in larger, more intricate styles than cast iron. Some tubs are also made of fiberglass, but this tends to fade in direct sunlight and scratches easily.

Showers may be built-in or prefabricated. Built-in showers are essentially small rooms with walls of tile, stone, or some other waterproof material and a glass door that either slides or swings open. The floor may be a one-piece unit made of plastic, some type of solid-surfacing material, or tile. The shower pan is flashed and hot-mopped using methods similar to those used on a flat roof. It’s critical that the shower pan be installed correctly because if it leaks this will rot the floor.

Prefabricated showers, like bathtubs, are made from fiberglass or fiberglass- reinforced acrylic. Some are made as single, one-piece units that are installed during construction and others are made as modular units consisting of a base and three walls.

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