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Bathroom Remodel

Soaking Tubs: Buying Guide

Average cost range:

$600 - $3,500

The cost to buy and install a new soaking tub in your bathroom can cost anywhere between $600 and $3,500 or more. These tubs can vary in price depending on their type, size, materials, and accessories. Some bathrooms may require a larger water heater or plumbing upgrades to support a soaking tub, which will add to the total installation cost. Talk to a contractor about your budget and specific bathroom specs in order to find a soaking tub that fits your needs.

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A soaking tub is just as delightful as it sounds. It’s a tub that is deeper and often longer than the average bathtub. Just how big? This type of tub is usually big enough to accommodate two bathers, or big enough for one person to submerge themselves over their shoulders. To give you a good idea of the difference, an average bathtub holds between 25 and 45 gallons of water. A soaking tub can hold a whopping 250 gallons.

Is a soaking tub the right bathtub for you? These tubs are best suited for those who want a luxurious, spa-like bathroom with all the bells and whistles. However, they might also be very well-suited for those who simply want to enjoy the benefits of bathing in a tub full of warm water.

Let’s take a look at soaking tubs. We’ll discuss the pros, cons, and costs, to help determine if one of these bathing beauties is right for you.

Japanese soaking tub

The Basics of Soaking Tubs

Soaking tubs are designed to submerge your body in, so they come in larger dimensions than the average bathtub. Still, these tubs come in their own wide range of sizes. Some of them might be longer, and some might be even shorter than a typical bathtub, but deeper. 

They are often created with ergonomic contours for comfortable long soaks. Some have built-in heaters that keep the water warm for an extended period of time, or gentle whirlpool jets that move the water around. They might even have a variety of lights and aromatherapy options to turn the soaking tub into a true spa-like experience.

When choosing a soaking tub, it’s important to keep these factors in mind.

  • Size. If you have a larger bathroom space, a longer tub for two might be a great option. For a smaller bathroom, consider a shorter Japanese soaking tub.
  • Price. What’s your bottom line for the tub and installation? How much can you afford? Run the numbers for your bathtub remodel before you make the final decision.
  • Bathroom layout. Do you have space for a separate shower? If not, you may want to consider a shower/tub combo rather than a soaking tub.
  • Material. These bathtubs come in a variety of materials. For instance, cast iron is great for holding heat but tends to be more expensive. Acrylic is cheaper but doesn’t hold heat as efficiently.
  • Style. Some soaking tubs can be dropped into a surround, used as an alcove tub, or be freestanding units. They run the gamut from classic to ultra-modern.
  • Installation. The cost of the soaking tub alone is not the total cost of the installation. Consider what it will cost to remove the old tub or shower, install the new tub, add fixtures and faucets, and whether you might need new plumbing.
  • Water heater. The water heater that was adequate for your old, standard bathtub might not work well for a soaking tub. Check with your bathroom contractor on whether you need to upgrade that water heater to support your new tub.
  • Additional features. These tubs offer a wide range of features, including hydrotherapy, aromatherapy, and more.

Benefits of Soaking Tubs

Soaking tubs are excellent for a long, deep soak – one that allows you to submerge your body all the way up to the shoulders. This full-body experience can help relieve aching muscles, ease away tensions of the day, and even provide further benefits if the tub is filled with jets for hydrotherapy.

These tubs often have ample room for two if you want to take a dip with a partner or have rambunctious children to bathe. They also add instant class to a bathroom space, and might increase your home value if you choose to sell the property.

There are very few downsides to investing in this type of bathtub. The most common might be the need for additional bracing and reinforcement in the floor underneath the tub. This may be required if that tub is on an upper floor. These adjustments can add to the cost of installation. However, once the reinforcement is in place and the tub is installed, the only other downside might be that it’s a bit more bathtub real estate to clean.

How Much Do Soaking Tubs Cost?

Soaking tubs can cost between $600 and $3,500 for the tub itself. The price depends upon the type of tub you choose – from a simple drop-in tub to an exotic, impressive outdoor model.

In addition, the costs of a soaking tub will vary depending upon the brand and even the time of year. For example, the price can sometimes drop during fall and winter. This is the time when new models of tubs are often coming onto the market, so you might get an “older” model at a discount.

Keep in mind that installation and labor adds to the overall cost.

  • For a basic soaking tub that uses your existing plumbing and doesn’t need additional bracing underneath it, you can expect to pay anywhere between $300 and $400 for installation.
  • For a soaking tub that requires a newly built surround or foundation or unique plumbing solutions, expect to pay $1,000 and up for installation and materials.

Another possible cost to keep in mind is the question of your water heater. Is it big enough to handle the new needs of a deeper tub? If you need a new water heater to accommodate the tub, be sure to add this cost into the final price.

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Types of Soaking Tubs

There are several types of soaking tubs. Some of them you might be familiar with, such as the Japanese soaking tub, while others might be a surprise. Here are the most popular options for these types of bathtubs.

 Japanese Soaking Tub

A Japanese soaking tub is on the smaller side, and thus can fit into tighter spaces. But they make up for that smaller length and width with a deeper depth, one that is often enough to submerge comfortably right up to your chin.

Japanese Soaking Tub

Smallest footprint of all soaking tub options

  • Fits in smaller bathrooms

  • Depth of 24 inches or more

  • Modern look and feel

Traditional Japanese soaking tubs are actually made of cypress wood. More modern tubs can come in a variety of materials, including acrylic, porcelain, or even cast iron. Expect this tub to cost an average of $1,200 to $3,200.

Soaking Tub Shower Combo

Combining the convenience of a shower with the relaxation of a soaking tub can provide the ultimate bathroom experience.

Soaking Tub/Shower Combo

Combine a shower with the tub for functionality and luxury at the same time

  • Shower stall or detachable showerhead options

  • Tub dimensions of your choice

  • Affordable installation price

The soaking tub and shower combo can be created in a few ways. The first is a solid unit that includes a shower stall around the tub. This looks very much like a typical alcove tub, just with larger and/or deeper dimensions.

The second option is a stand-alone tub, such as a clawfoot style, with a separate showerhead unit attached. This usually works with a wrap-around shower curtain. The soaking tub shower combo allows for better use of space in a smaller bathroom, and of course provides the easy option of choosing a bath or a shower. A freestanding tub option can be any sort of material, but a solid unit that includes both is usually made of fiberglass or acrylic. These can be affordable at an average of $800 to $1,500.

Drop-In Soaking Tub

A drop in tub is the shell of a tub, which is then fitted over a pre-constructed frame. A drop in soaking tub is similar to a typical drop in tub, just with deeper, wider, and/or longer dimensions.

Drop-in Soaking Tub

Fitted inside a framed enclosure and raised slightly off the floor

  • Ability to showcase the tub

  • Various material options

  • Plumbing and flooring support may be required

This tub works well for areas where you want to really showcase the tub, such as in the center of a larger bathroom. Picture a frame that includes steps that lead up to a luxurious tub. However, keep in mind that the plumbing for this kind of tub would have to come up through the middle of the floor, which can add significantly to installation costs. The drop in tub itself usually averages $600 to $2,200.

Soaking Tub with Jets

A soaking tub with jets can be likened to a whirlpool. You get the advantages of a deeper tub along with the hydrotherapy and relaxation provided by jets of water or air throughout the tub.

Jetted Soaking Tub

Enjoy the perks of the depth of a soaking tub combined with the relaxation of a whirlpool tub

  • 24 inches deep or more

  • Hydromassage therapy

  • Customizable jets

Though these tubs can be purchased with standard jets, you can also choose to customize them with jets that focus on particular areas, such as more jets in the back for those who suffer from back pain, or more jets in the bottom for the legs.

The cost of the soaking tub with jets will be more than the standard tub, of course, given the additions. Expect to pay an average of $1,500 to $3,000 and up.

Outdoor Soaking Tub

The outdoor soaking tub can be the pinnacle of luxury. Imagine a deep tub you can submerge in completely while looking out across the vast natural world.

Outdoor Soaking Tub

Luxurious addition to any backyard landscape

  • Deeper than a hot tub

  • Fits 2 or more people

  • Several exterior material options

An outdoor tub is much like a hot tub, only deeper. It might be large enough for two. An outdoor soaking tub is made of a very sturdy material that can stand up to the elements, such as a cast stone option, and often has a protective surround. Some might be made of wood.

These tubs can be more expensive than other tubs, given the need to survive the elements and the unique plumbing involved. Expect to pay around $2,000 for an outdoor soaking tub.

Dimensions

The dimensions of a soaking tub start out as a standard number, but can change with the different varieties. 

A soaking tub averages 24 inches in depth from the base of the tub to the overflow valve. Compare that to the 15-16 inches found in most typical bathtubs. If you’re going with a Japanese soaking tub, the depth could be even greater.

Some types of tubs are quite small in length. This can be great for someone who wants to sit upright, but not so good for someone who wants to lie down. Tubs that are too small in length can also be uncomfortable for those who are above average height, who would need a longer tub to soak comfortably. 

Larger soaking tubs are 90 inches in length and 76 inches in width, which is more than enough to hold a larger person or even two smaller individuals. 

Make sure that your chosen tub will fit into your bathroom space. This is where an experienced contractor comes in. A contractor can look at your space and take very accurate measurements, taking into account a frame and other factors that you might not have considered.

Other Bathtub Options to Consider

If you decide a soaking tub isn’t for you, there are still numerous options for new bathtubs for your bathroom, all of which offer unique benefits and drawbacks. Popular bathtub options include:

  • Freestanding tub. Imagine a clawfoot tub that isn’t attached to the wall or other structure at all – that’s a freestanding tub. Though the clawfoot tub is likely the most popular, there are numerous styles.
  •  Massage bathtub. A massage bathtub uses jets of either air or water to soothe aching, tired muscles. This is often much like a typical bathtub, just with jets.
  • Alcove bathtub. This common tub fits into a recessed area of the bathroom. It is usually finished on one side, and the other three sides are hidden by the walls around it.

Frequently Asked Questions About Soaking Tubs

Do soaking tubs fit in small bathrooms?

Yes, they do. This is especially true of the Japanese soaking tub, which often has a much shorter profile than other tubs, but offers greater depth for soaking. Always be sure to talk to a professional contractor about the size of your bathroom to ensure your tub of choice will fit in the desired area.

How deep are soaking tubs?

Soaking tubs have a typical standard depth of 24 inches, and some can be even deeper. This is about 8 to 9 inches deeper than the standard bathtub. For the best experience, look for a soaking tub that offers a depth of 24 inches or more.

Do soaking tubs require special plumbing?

Soaking tubs might require changes in the existing plumbing, depending upon where the faucets are located on the tub. You might also need a larger water heater. Speak to your contractor about the changes your bathroom will need to support the tub and what those changes will cost.