If you want to add drama to your bathroom remodel, consider adding a freestanding tub. It can be placed anywhere in the room, which gives you design flexibility, and wherever it’s placed, it will be the focal point. Since these fixtures are not placed between walls, they can also make the bathroom feel larger. We’ve even seen these tubs in the master bedroom!
Freestanding tubs are nothing new—they’re basically a modern version of the claw foot tub. With a variety of products from modern to traditional, you can easily find one to fit your style. We asked our master plumber, Matt Malaska, to offer some insight into selecting a freestanding tub.
The 68-inch long Piedmont by Sunrise Specialty is made of cast iron. The tub is set in a steel skirt. It weighs 360 pounds and holds 57 gallons of water.
Size: The tub takes up more space than a built-in as it needs room all way around. Remember, you’re going to need to clean around it, so you don’t want it too close to a wall. For a 6-foot opening/area the best length is five-feet or a maximum of 5 ½-feet. If you select a five-foot tub, you’ll want something deep so you can soak in it. Matt has installed tubs that were 7½ to 8-feet long. With a tub this big and heavy, make sure your remodeler or plumber has considered how he will get it into your house and then into your bathroom. Once you select the size that you need, visit a plumbing showroom and sit in the tubs so you can find one that has a shape that is comfortable for all users.
Weight: Matt recommends heavier models made of cast iron or solid acrylics. He prefers to bolt the base through the floor. “You don’t want someone to sit on the edge of the tub and have it tip over,” he says. He says though many old claw foot tubs are not bolted to the floor, but they were longer and more shallow, thus less likely to tip.
Material: These tubs come in a variety of materials from natural stone and metal to acrylic to suit any bathroom project.
This solid acrylic tub weighs about 475 pounds and it took five men to carry it into the house.
Support Structure: The tub can weigh a few hundred pounds and then you fill it with water. A typical tub holds 60 to 100 gallons of water and water weighs 8 pounds per gallon. Then you add the weight of the occupant. That’s heavy! What does this mean? Well, you’ll need a strong floor support system. Though many older homes have good framing, the floor joists may have weakened over the years. Your remodeler should inspect the floor structure and shore it up as needed.
Plumbing Hardware: The faucet for this type of tub is usually installed on the floor next to the tub. The rough-in has to be placed exactly so both the faucet and tub sit in the right place. Matt prefers to have both the tub and faucet on site when he’s installing the rough-in plumbing. If the tub filler also has a handheld piece, capillary action will cause it to continue to drip after the faucet is shut off. You want to make sure it sits over the tub so the water doesn’t drip onto the floor.
The tile installer usually leaves the area for the tub drain untiled, but the plumber will still have to work closely with the tile installer for correct placement of all the fittings. You don’t want miscommunication that requires pulling up newly-installed tile. Wall-mounted tub fillers can also work for these tubs, but Matt says they stick out pretty far and can be in the way when you’re using the tub.
Storage: Without a ledge nearby to place bathing items, you’ll want to consider your storage options. Some tub manufacturers offer chrome trays that fit across the tub or other storage accessories. You can also opt to place a bench or piece of furniture nearby.Storage: Without a ledge nearby to place bathing items, you’ll want to consider your storage options. Some tub manufacturers offer chrome trays that fit across the tub or other storage accessories. You can also opt to place a bench or piece of furniture nearby.
For storage, the homeowner placed a table near the tub.
Below are a few other beautiful freestanding tubs.
Antique Claw foot Tubs: Many owners have a claw foot tub that is original to the house and want to keep it. You can hire a company to re-glaze the tub on site. However, Matt says you get a more durable if you send the tub out to have it chemically stripped and re-dipped.
What do you do with an old claw foot tub? How about this fun idea?
If you have questions, contact our Master Plumber Matt Malaska: email@example.com