A whirlpool tub is a great way to add a spa-like ambiance to your bathroom, but don’t run out to the store quite yet. You’ll have to go into a lot of planning and professional consultation before your place is ready for and end-of-the-day soak.
Who wouldn’t like to ease into warm water at the end of a long day and get a relaxing massage with pulsing jets? You don’t need to splurge on a spa treatment or stay in a high-end boutique hotel to fulfill this dream. Get a whirlpool tub and enjoy this luxury in your very own master bathroom, but remember it takes a good deal of practical legwork before your vision can come true.
A whirlpool tub is a great addition to a home– it increases the value of your property, gives your bathroom a more polished look, and provides a fabulous mode way of relaxation. No wonder your first impulse is to envision candlelight, rose petals and yourself with a glass of bubbly in a perfect hot tub. That’s definitely the fun part about choosing a whirlpool, but it should be one of the very last steps in the whole process.
You may start browsing catalogs with tub designs and inspirations to get an idea of what options there are, but before you commit yourself to buying anything, you need to do some less inspiring work in order to avoid costly mistakes.
For the project to be smooth and cost-efficient, you must come up with a specific idea of how the tub might fit into your space, and an outline of all the changes you might need to make. Otherwise, you’ll be facing the risk of expensive, unplanned remodeling.
Before you do anything else, measure your bathroom! This seems like an obvious thing to do, but it has some traps you should be aware of. Whirlpool tubs range in size from a standard 30 x 60 inches to as much as 80 x 60 inches, but it is not enough to consider the tub size only — most tubs (unless you’re considering a freestanding model) are designed to be dropped into a surround, which takes additional space. You will need to add at least about an inch to the potential tub measurements on all sides.
How much you add basically depends on how much space you want to have for bathroom accessories. If you want to display candles, shampoos, body scrubs and essentials oils, you will need to sacrifice tub room for more deck space. If you don’t mind major remodeling, consider how much space you could gain by taking down partition walls or removing the shower, and include it in your measurements.
Last but not least, take the measurements of your door to make sure the tub will fit through it. Don’t take it for granted that most doorways allow a very similar, standard access. If you want a particularly big tub or one with a whimsical shape, make sure there is enough clearance to turn it around and fit in place with the desired orientation.
The point of getting a perfect tub is to make it work with you lifestyle. Two basic questions you need to ask yourself are how and how often you are going to use the whirlpool feature. If the aim of the project is to make your bathroom a more romantic space for you and your partner, then you might want to find room for a bigger, two-seater tub or a corner unit. Cuddling is romantic, that’s for sure, but if you don’t care for a relaxing, comfortable soaking experience, why consider a whirlpool at all?
How often you are planning to use the tub’s features will matter as far as the choice of jets is concerned. The two basic types are air jets and water jets, the former being recommended to people who are not going to soak frequently. The difference is that an air-jet tub is self-drying so the jets can be used to get rid of excess water that remains in pipes and grown pathogens.
You will learn more about the two types of jets when we’ll be discussing tub features in greater detail. Neither is really a superior choice and the decision which one you install in your bathroom is simply a matter of taste.
By consulting a licensed contractor you are making sure that the tub you are interested in will work fine in a specific place in your bathroom. First of all, hot tubs run on mechanics, so they cannot be situated just about anywhere in the room. If your tub needs repair, you will need easy access to the pump and motor, which are typically hidden behind the so-called “apron”. You need to make sure that the access doors to the motor box are not blocked by the wall and the mechanics can be accessed freely.
Also, the electrical needs of hot tubs may differ (can be greater than those of standard home appliances), so it is wise to ensure that proper voltage can be supplied (check the tub specs). If not, you might need an electrician to do the necessary rewiring. And of course, the plumber has to hook up the tub to the drain, so if you don’t want to put the whirlpool in place of an old tub, it’s vital to ask if other options are possible.
If you really want to improve the value and comfort of your house, don’t take shortcuts and just put a whirlpool into an old bath. Invest in new plumbing accessories and give your tub a nice surround. If you’re planning for a larger, freestanding unit, the space might need some reconfiguration to look balanced and well-designed.
In practice all these considerations mean that you need to establish your budget and figure out if it’s enough to help you get the ambiance you’re dreaming of. Otherwise, the final effect may prove disappointing. Also, bear in mind that in most cases it turns out people need at least an extra 10 percent over the expected expenses.
Like with any other product, hot tubs differ in designs, but also in quality, and it is that latter feature that decides whether you are going to enjoy long years of pleasurable soaks. If you make a random choice, the tub may cost you a fortune to run and you will end up treating it like a rare luxury. And you still have to add the costs of potentially frequent repairs.
Since the expenses to run a whirlpool tub depend on how much energy it uses, the best tubs are ones that offer several layers of good insulation. If the tub retains temperature well, you won’t have to heat the water too often and the costs will not be horrendous. While researching the products online, look for manufacturers that offer a full product warranty and whose website provides very detailed information about each model.
Another indicator of quality is the material the tub is made of – the most common are fiberglass, acrylic and cast iron. While fiberglass is the most economical option, acrylic and cast iron are far more durable and a bit easier to maintain. Of course, it doesn’t really mean fiberglass is not recommended. The choice will naturally depend on your budget and your approach to durability. Cast iron tubs may need added floor support, which can obviously add to the cost of installation.
Always ask friends and family for recommendations and check out consumer report sites for complaints against the manufacturer or dealer.
This is where the creative part begins. Now that you know your technical and financial limitations, you can start putting all the information together and look around for specific designs and features. For the most part, it is going to be an exciting phase, but you may be a little overwhelmed by all the different options. Here are some bits and pieces of information that might help you make up your mind.
There are 4 types of whirlpool tubs: drop in, alcove, corner and freestanding tubs. The choice will basically depend on the size and configuration of your bathroom as well as your budget and the extent of remodeling applications that you are ready to accept.
If you are wondering which type of whirlpool tub will suit the style of your bathroom, there isn’t too much advice out there except what your taste will tell you. It is said that rectangular tubs with flat decks have a more modern look and suit contemporary bathrooms, while oval shaped tubs seem more traditional, but in the end it is the treatment of the deck that sets the design tone.
Here’s where the distinction between water-jet tubs and air-jet tubs should be made. It was already mentioned that air jets are more recommendable for people who are not going to use the tub all too often, as air makes it possible to get rid of water accumulating in pipes. However, there are at least two more important differences.
First of all, the choice will depend on what kind of massage you prefer. In water-jet tubs water is drawn into a pump and forced through jets on the sides and ends, which provides a really vigorous, concentrated massage. The disadvantage is that bath salts and oils cannot be used in water-jet tubs, since they can coat and clog the pump. On the other hand, water-jets typically make less noise than air tubs.
If you prefer a gentle caress, an air-jet tub will be a better choice. Air is forced through numerous pinholes along the tub walls and bottom, which offers a subtle, more enveloping massage. Using bath salts and oils is OK, but air–jet tubs tend to make more noise and lose heat more quickly. There are a lot of models that offer a combination of both types of jets.
Also, think about optional add-on features, such as grab bars, arm rests, chromotherapy or an inline heater. For people with limited mobility, there are even tubs with doors that make getting in an out easier.
Once you’ve found a tub that measures up to your expectations, test it if possible before you make the final decision. Ask if you can sit in the tub to make sure its size and shape as well as the placement of controls, fixtures and jets are comfortable. Is it easy to get in and out of? Don’t buy anything just because you love the design. You’re not going to look at your tub. It is supposed to help you relax, and it might be hard to achieve when something is digging in your back.