We spent 13 hours analyzing bathtubs manufactured by 12 different brands that are available on the market and ranked them based on their price, features, comfort, and overall value for the money. We believe that the Empava A1518W is the best bathtub for consumers who are looking for a simple medium-priced freestanding bathtub with premium and attractive design.
The runner up is the medium-priced American Standard 7236V002.020 Evolution, an ergonomically designed drop-in bathtub with acrylic construction, a backrest, two molded-in armrests and reversible drain outlet.
The top 5 best bathtubs of 2019
Our review process
Advantages of having a great bathtub
Bathing is one of the things that make us human. While humans have been bathing for thousands of years, we have to thank to the Romans and Greeks who made bathing widespread. They built large and expensive bathhouses that were able to accommodate as many as 6,000 bathers at one time. Those were the places people used to socialize, conduct business, and even have meals with their families.
While the first baths were expensive and available only for the most privileged members of society, the technology has evolved and industrialization made bathtubs available for almost everyone. Manufacturing a bathtub is not a rocket science any more and having a bathtub where we can relieve stress and relax after a long day of work is something some of us can’t imagine life without.
Bathing also has numerous proven health benefits that are impossible to overlook.
- Bathing relieves skin conditions
- Helps ease muscle pain
- Produces better sleep
- Reduces cold symptoms and arthritic pains
Types of bathtubs
One of the most common questions consumers face when buying a new bathtub is what type to choose. There are several different types of bathtubs on the market and choosing the right one can be challenging and time consuming. Each of them has its own set of advantages and disadvantages and it’s almost impossible to learn everything about them without making a proper research.
General purpose bathtubs
A generic bathtub is usually installed in a house for the purpose of providing a bath experience for family members, including kids and sometimes pets. It’s usually white in color and there’s usually a shower head attached above it. Although “generic bathtub” is probably not an actual technical classification, it’s used to describe the type bathtub most of us grew up and are familiar with.
Soaking bathtub is usually deeper than most other types and it’s able to hold more water. It allows you to immerse your entire body into the water and it can come in various sizes, shapes and styles. Most soaking bathtubs are freestanding because they are larger and it’s challenging to build a frame around them.
A walk-in tub has a door somewhere at the side that allows you to walk into the tub instead of having to climb over the edge. They are helpful for elderly people and those with limited mobility. Some walk-in tubes also come with other accessories such as an in-built seat that allows users to sit in a comfortable position.
Whirlpool & Air Tubs
Whirlpool and air tubs are the ones that offer a warm sensation of pulsating water jets that are caressing and massaging every part of the body. They are usually quite large and have the same depth as soaking bathtubs. This kind of tub is more complex than other types because it includes filters and pumps which are necessary to circulate and energize the water. The downside of whirlpool and air tubs is that they are more expensive and harder to install than other types of bathtubs.
Another thing that makes a huge difference in the final price and the quality of a bathtub is the material the bathtub is made of. Some materials are more durable, expensive, and heavier than others.
Cast iron is a very durable material and bathtubs made from it are almost indestructible. It’s arguable that they are among the most durable fixtures in a home and can easily last for decades.
To create a smooth surface, cast iron tubs are coated with a veneer porcelain enamel. Although the enamel porcelain is durable, it’s the most sensitive material of a cast iron tub. It gets worn and it gets worn down through time and reveals the cast iron underneath which can rust.
Enamel on steel
Enamel on steel” tubs are very similar to cast iron tubs. The most notable difference is that they are much lighter which comes handy when you have to remodel the entire bathroom and move around the bathtub. They are also as easy to clean as cast iron tubs and are prone to rusting if enamel chips away or gets worn out.
Acrylic is a form of plastic that’s using one or more derivatives of acrylic acid. Acrylic bathtubs have high gloss similar to the look of cast iron and steel tubs, but they are much lighter in weight. The surface isn’t as sturdy as with iron and steel baths, but when it gets scratched, it doesn’t start to rust and can be repaired more easily.
Fiberglass Gelcoat (FRP)
Some bathtubs are made of FRP with stands for fiberglass-reinforced plastic and covered with gelcoat. They are very similar to acrylic bathtubs, but are less durable and can be scratched or cracked. The FRP is mostly used by whirlpool bathtubs because it’s easier to shape FRP than acrylic, cast iron or steel.
Composite tubs are made of several materials such as combination of plastic, carbon fibre and resin which are combined to create a unique material. They have enameled surface and they have several benefits of cast iron such as heat retention and durable finish while they usually weigh 50 to 70% less.
Installing a bathtub is harder than replacing a shower head or a faucet. There are quite a few things you need to keep an eye on and basic DIY skills are often not enough. If you decide to hire a plumber to help you install your bathtub, the first thing you’ll be asked is “what type of bathtub do you have”. Before you answer the question, keep in mind that the plumber wants to know the type of the bathtub according to the installation configuration.
- A freestanding tub sits by itself on the floor of the bathroom and requires no walls around it. It’s arguably the simplest bathtub type to install and the only thing that it needs is enough space and leveled floor.
- An alcove tub is typically rectangular and is installed adjacent to three walls, leaving one side of the tub fully accessible. The plumber needs to build a frame around the three sides of it which results in a higher installation price.
- A corner bathtub is designed to be installed into the corner adjacent to two walls. Typically it’s triangular in shape and is easier to install than an alcove tub, but harder than a freestanding tub.
- Pleasant and ergonomic design
- Made in the US
- Reinforced with fiberglass
- CUPU Certified
- 3-year warranty
- Tub filler is not included
If you are remodelling your bathroom and you are looking for a medium-priced freestanding bathtub that doesn’t cost several thousands dollars, the Empawa A1518W might be exactly what you’re looking for. There are plenty of high-priced freestanding and soaking bathtubs on the market, but we decided to go with the Empava because it’s a lot cheaper than the high-end tubs and we believe it’s appropriate for average consumers who don’t want to break the bank.
It’s made of 100% glossy white acrylic and reinforced with fiberglass which means two things; it’s a lot lighter than cast iron bathtubs and it’s durable enough that it should last for a long time. It looks contemporary and we believe that it can complement any modern bathroom décor. The all-white design makes it appropriate to be paired paired with any tub filler, no matter the design of the bathroom.
The Empava bathtub measures 66.92″ in length, 31.49″ in width and 26.77″ in depth. It isn’t the largest freestanding soaking bathtub on the market, but it’s able to hold 58.11 gallons of water which is more than enough for relaxing soaking experience.
Made in the USA
This tub is manufactured in the United States and comes with 3-year U.S. based manufacture warranty.
If there’s a downside of the Empava it’s the fact that it’s just a bathtub. There’s no tub filler or any other other fancy accessories included in the package.
American Standard 2764014M202.011 Cadet
- Comes with a tub filler and hand shower
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Acrylic construction
- Above average price tag
If you have been remodelling your bathroom and kitchen or just replaced a few plumbing fixtures at least once in your lifetime, there’s little doubt that you have heard about the Kohler already. It’s an American company with over 140 years of tradition and it’s safe to say that it’s one of the world’s most known brands when it comes to plumbing products such as toilets, faucets, and bathtubs.
Although the Kohler Cadet looks quite modern, it can also look great in traditional bathrooms. It has much less curves than the Empava which suits traditionally designed bathrooms, but makes it less appropriate for bathrooms with contemporary design. It’s made of high-gloss acrylic-capped ABS and reinforced with fiberglass which ensures durability and reduced weight. The whole unit weighs just a little bit over 120 pounds.
With 66″ in length, 42″ in width and 23″ in depth the Cadet has almost identical dimensions as our top pick and also holds similar amount of water (50-60 gallons). It’s a little bit wider than Empava, but also shallower which can compromise soaking experience a little bit.
Tub filler and hand shower
Unlike the Empava, the American Standard Cadet comes with a freestanding tub filler that has a hand shower attached onto it. It’s made of solid bras and finished with Chrome.
American Standard 2422V002.011 Evolution
- Acrylic construction
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Armrests and a backrest
- Doesn’t come with a tub filler
The American Standard Evolution is one of those bathtubs that seem quite basic at first sight. But once you start looking deeper into it, you realize that it’s much more than a basic bathtub with a fancy name. It was designed to provide high levels of comfort and we believe that it’s one of the most interesting drop-in bathtubs we have come across.
The Evolution is made of acrylic and reinforced with fiberglass which provides extra strength and resistance against damages and wear.There are two armrests molded onto the each side, a backrest it at the end of the tub and the bottom is pre-leveled. This adds comfort and makes the tub look more aesthetically pleasing.
Dimensions and installation
The American Standard Evolution measures 72 inches in length, 21.5 inches in depth and 36 inches in width. It’s not the largest soaking bathtub on the market, but it’s large enough to provide comfortable position for an average adult. It accommodates drop-in or undermount installation and weighs 115 pounds.
Lack of tub filler
Like many similar bathtubs, the Evolution is just a bathtub at the end of the day. There’s no fancy tub filler included in the package and if you want a shower head to come along with it, you will have to purchase it separately.
KOHLER K-1490-X-0 Greek
- Appropriate for smaller bathrooms
- Several colors to choose from
- Acrylic construction
- Hefty price tag
Not all consumers have the luxury of having huge bathroom with unlimited possibilities. Sometimes the bathroom is just too small for an average-sized bathtub and that’s where tubs such as the KOHLER K-1490-X-0 Greek come into play. It’s the smallest bathtub we have managed to review, but it makes it up with extra depth.
The Kohler Greek comes in several different colors to choose from, including standard white, almond, and biscuit just to name a few. It’s made of high quality acrylic which means that it’s durable and lighter than old cast iron tubs.
It measures 48 inches in length and it’s designed especially for smaller bathrooms where there’s no space for standard-sized bathtub. It measures 48″ x 32″ x 23″ and it’s able to hold over 60 gallons of water which is more than most of the bathtubs on our list, despite the fact that it only measures 48 inches in length.
Woodbridge B-0030 / BTS1606
- Body massage jets
- Whirlpool bubble bath jets
- Underwater mood lamp
- Could be a little bit deeper
- Comes without a tub filler
Woodbridge is not as big of a company as Kohler or American Standard, but they have been producing some very interesting reasonably priced plumbing products which include bathtubs and toilets. The B-0030 is a very interesting modern freestanding whirlpool bathtub that provides the highest levels of comfort and hydro massage experience.
Speaking about the design, we believe that the Woodbridge B-0030 looks very aesthetically pleasing and it doesn’t look much different than bathtubs in high-end design stores. It’s made of acrylic and reinforced with fiberglass which gives it strength and durability The tub measures 67 inches in length, 32 inches in width and 23 inches in height. It has the capacity to hold 60 gallons of water with maximum water depth to overflow at 13,5 inches which is enough for a comfortable soaking experience.
The B-0030 features two separate motors; a hydromassage pump and an air blower. There are 10 fully adjustable body massage jets and 10 whirlpool bubble bath jets that deliver a mixture of water and air for a comfortable, but powerful hydro massage.
This tub comes with manufacturer’s warranty which covers the tub shell for five years and the whirlpool jets systems for two years.
What type of bathtub is the easiest to install?
That would be a freestanding bathtub since it doesn’t require framing.
Is acrylic bathtub harder to clean than cast iron bathtub?
Not at all. The only thing you need to be careful is not to use an abrasive cleaner because you might damage the surface.
Bathtubs are usually the largest fixtures in the bathroom. They can lift our bathing experience and help us maintain a better personal hygiene. Choosing the right one can enhance your bathroom’s design, functionality and diversity. Today’s bathtubs are built from higher quality materials than they used to and most of them can last decades. The last thing you want is to spend 20 years asking yourself why you didn’t purchase a bathtub that would allow you to extend your legs in a comfortable position.
What’s your favorite type of bathtub and why? Drop your comment in the comments section at the bottom of this page and let us know.
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