If you follow the trend watchers, the traditional bath tub is dying a slow painful death as remodelers rip them out or builders omit them from their houses. But it’s more complicated than that.
The demand for tubs is still strong, but the type of tub depends largely on income, remodeling or new construction, and the age of the home buyers. In some middle-income homes, owners or builders are splitting the difference, installing a large shower in the master bath, but making sure the guest bathroom has a tub. The prevailing idea (in theory, anyway) is that the typical homeowner takes a shower more often than a bath so it makes sense to rip out a tub in favor of a large shower with more amenities.
For a number of years, the National Kitchen and Bath Association has reported in its Design Trend surveys that larger and larger showers are gaining in popularity, while at the same time freestanding tubs were an all-out favorite, trending high with 87 percent of the pros in the survey.
The latest addition to the brand’s Boutique Collection of freestanding tubs, the Mallory double slipper tub offers soft curves, gently rolled rim, and minimalist lines. It measures 65.5 inches long and is generously sized to accommodate one or two bathers. The tub is made from SculptureStone, a material that is 75 percent organic natural stone combined with high-performance resins.
As far back as 2013, NKBA reported this growth. “Fully 64 percent of NKBA designers specified a soaking tub in a master bath, with 42 percent expecting that trend to accelerate in 2014,” the association said. “Preferences lean towards freestanding non-jetted tubs.”
But soaking tubs might be more common in high-end custom homes or remodeling, where baths are usually bigger to accommodate a large shower as well as a soaking tub. These showers are likely to feature multiple shower heads, possibly a built-in seat, a linear drain, and a glass partition instead of a shower door. Steam showers are also very popular in this price range, NKBA says. Additionally, the National Association of Home Builders says the spa-style master bath is one of the must-have design options that move-up buyers are expecting. “They are characterized by light, open airy spaces,” the association says. “Many builders are getting rid of tubs in favor of huge, luxurious showers.”
The demise of the traditional tub and the rise of the freestanding soaking tub begs a question: Isn’t the soaking tub just going to be whirlpool tubs of tomorrow?
[ Read More: 7 Quick Remodeling Tips for Tub/Shower Combos ]
The Mood soaking tub features an elliptical design and a side rim storage shelf that blends into the tub’s design. It was conceived in response to growing consumer demand for Zen-like relaxation, the company says. Mood is made from Wetmar BiO, a non-slip composite material with natural heat-insulating properties.
For many years, the whirlpool tub was a staple in new construction and remodeling. But for whatever reason--perhaps owners were too harried and busy to use the tub or hated the maintenance--they were seen less and less. In a 2015 NAHB survey, the whirlpool tub in the master bathroom made the list of one of the 10 features builders are unlikely to include in their homes at the time. The popularity among builders has been declining for years.
But the demand for the whirlpool tub depends on the generation of the buyer. In NAHB’s 2019 What Home Buyers Really Want survey, 76 percent of millennial home buyers surveyed say that their most wanted bathroom feature is both a shower stall and tub in the master bath.
“The survey indicates that millennials want larger bathrooms to accommodate certain amenities,” the report says. “For example, the second most popular bathroom feature among this key demographic is a double vanity (75 percent), followed by a linen closet in the master bath (73 percent), a whirlpool tub (70 percent) and a private toilet compartment in the master bath (68 percent).” For this group a shower kitted out with multiple shower heads and a body spray massage jets are high on their list of wants.
The Flotation Tub with Zero Dimension simulates zero gravity by offering bathers a weightless experience that eliminates load on their joints, the brand says. Measuring 86 ⅝ inches long, the unit offers Hydrohands massaging water jets, adjustable headrest with cascading water shoulder warmer, and LEDs, among other features. It is constructed from solid surface Galalato, resists stain and retains heat, the company says.
But for other age groups, the trends are much different. Millennials have a much stronger desire for certain bathroom features relative to older generations. Last year, NAHB compiled survey data between 2007 and 2018 and found that “the share of home buyers who want whirlpool tubs declines as the older generations age, but stays relatively constant for millennials,” the association says. “As of 2018, 70 percent of millennials expressed a strong preference for whirlpool tubs, compared to 62 percent for Generation X, 47 percent for baby boomers and 44 percent for seniors."
Whether homeowners want a freestanding tub or a whirlpool tub or a traditional, experts say a house needs to have at least one, the National Association of Realtors says. Owners should think of their tubs as a commodity in the house, the association says in its magazine. The person whose house has the most commodities wins.
[ Read More: This Seattle Woodworking Shop Produces Finely Crafted Tubs ]
The Orleans tub combines classic French curves with clean, contemporary American style, the brand says. A solution for a space that needs a slightly smaller tub, it measures 16 inches deep crafted from Mineral Cast Solid Surface, and comes in Glossy or Matte White.
Bain De Ville is a new line of therapeutic tubs designed expressly for urban environments. Offering a deeper well than many traditional tubs, it comes in two sizes: 60 inches long and 66 inches long.
Avalon 72 inch deep soaking tub made from NativeStone concrete. It has thick walls to provide insulation and is available in Ash, Slate, Pearl, and Earth finishes.
The Unwind bath is a sleek, one-piece acrylic tub that looks like a freestanding unit. It has a built-in integral overflow, toe-tap drain, and an open-back design is perfect for small spaces.
Monceau is an oval-shaped freestanding tub that offers timeless simplicity and contemporary lines. A mono bloc headrest and integral overflow provide comfort. It comes in eight colors, including matte white.
Taking its design inspiration from the traditional freestanding slipper bathtub sans fee, the Amalfi freestanding tub offers smooth gentle curves and a modern material, ENGLISHCAST, made from finely ground Volcanic Limestone mixed with resin.The material stays warmer longer and is highly scratch resistant. Amalfi measures 64¼ inches long.