Soaking tubs provide a relaxing bathroom retreat

Bathrooms are a popular area for home improvements, and these improvements often make the room a relaxing place to escape after a long day. A wide array of shower accessories are designed to soothe, including speakers built into the showerhead, essential oils that are dispersed with the spray, and mood lighting.

Soaking tubs have also become a popular choice in bathroom upgrades. As the name suggests, these bathtubs allow you to enjoy a full body soak and let your troubles melt away for awhile. According to a recent survey on bathroom renovations by the home improvement site Houzz, nearly two-thirds of homeowners who included a bathtub upgrade in their work put in a soaking tub.

Reclining in a standard bathtub usually isn't too relaxing. The tub is too short and shallow to allow for a deep soak; your knees tend to be left high and dry, and you'll probably have to recline more horizontally than is comfortable.

The design of a soaking tub allows you to be fully immersed. Jeanne Sager, writing for the National Association of Realtors, says this type of bathtub is typically freestanding. This allows for a curved shape to be incorporated into the tub, allowing you to sit back in a more comfortable position and giving the tub more aesthetic appeal.

Soaking tubs come in a variety of materials and finishes. Jean Nayar, writing for the home improvement professional Bob Vila, says these can include copper, wood, and even claw feet for an old-fashioned touch.

In addition to providing a relaxing and stylish feature for your bathroom, soaking tubs can accentuate other features of the bathroom. Michele Dawson, writing for Angie's List, says a freestanding tub will show off more of a beautiful tile floor pattern. If you have radiant floor heating, a soaking tub also allows this system to heat the bathroom more efficiently.

Some soaking tubs allow you to save space. Bathtubs tend to be surrounded by a tub deck, which can take up a lot of room; freestanding tubs often won't need this feature. Cabuchon Bathforms, a luxury bathtub manufacturer, says that since they are designed to have a person be in a sitting position, soaking tubs are often shorter than traditional bathtubs.

Nevertheless, you'll still need a good deal of space to put a soaking tub in your room. There should be enough room for you to comfortably enter and exit the tub. You'll also have to consider where to put the spout to fill the tub; you may be able to have it come out of a wall, but you may also need plumbing to come up from the floor.

Soaking tubs are usually very good at retaining heat. This is especially true with smaller tubs, since less of the water's surface is exposed to the air. Cast iron tubs are highly effective at keeping the water warm, and are also less susceptible to scratches and cracks.

However, heat retention and other qualities will vary based on what material the tub is made from. Cast iron is very heavy, so you'll want to make sure the floor can support it and if it might be too burdensome to bring into the bathroom. Nayar says fiberglass and acrylic are lighter and less expensive; however, both are more likely to fade, crack, or scratch over time.

In general, soaking tubs come without any frills. However, Sager says you can choose to add spa jets, lighting, or other features.

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