Plumber: Deep thoughts about soaking tub styles

Plumber: Deep thoughts about soaking tub styles

Question: Hi Ed: We’re really thinking a lot about our upcoming bathroom remodel, and now want to include a soaking tub. It’s a big area, so I want the bath in the middle of the room. Should we choose a drop-in style with custom base or a freestanding tub?

— Bev, Maine

Answer: Installing either a drop-in bath with a custom-built and finished support base or a freestanding soaking tub are both nice choices for larger bathrooms. These soaking tubs come in many shapes, sizes and colors, along with nice spa and comfort options.

But there is a big difference between the two styles that may require some extra thinking and budget planning.

First, drop-in bathtubs are finished on the inside of the tub along with a wide, flat, finished tub rim on top. (Undermount units are also available.) A finished custom support base usually needs to be built around the unfinished sides of the tub.

Freestanding baths, on the other hand, are just that. It’s basically a one-piece self-supporting fixture with finished surfaces inside and out.

With these differences, each style has its own advantages. Drop-ins can offer workspace for plumbing inside the support base, while freestanding units are usually ready for installation without needing surround walls or extra finish work.

Finally, I can’t tell you what style to choose. But I can tell you that placing a large soaking tub in the middle of a large bathroom can create a big-time center of attention.

(Master Contractor/Plumber Ed Del Grande is known internationally as the author of the book “Ed Del Grande’s House Call,” the host of TV and Internet shows, and a LEED green associate. Visit or write Always consult local contractors and codes.)

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