For decades, the competition in the UK between baths and showers wasn’t exactly an equal contest. Ever since we first started building homes with bathrooms rather than relying on a tin bath in front of the fire, baths have been a clear winner. Showers have been around since the Victorian times but didn’t really take off in terms of popularity until the 1970s. Now, almost 90% of UK homes have at least one shower, and some new houses are being built without a bath at all. So if you only have room for one, which should you choose?
Best for Young Families
For families with young children, baths are always a better choice than a shower. Very small children can’t stand up in a shower, and many don’t like the sensation of water falling onto their heads even if they can. Unless you’re prepared to get into the shower with a baby every time you want to give them a wash, then a bath is definitely more practical. Many property experts agree that it’s harder to sell a larger house without a bath as many families will discount properties which only have a shower.
Best for Older and Disabled People
Conversely, showers are often better for people who are elderly or have mobility issues. Getting in and out of a bath can be very difficult for people in a wheelchair or who aren’t as able as they used to be, and adding grab bars or shower seats makes it much easier and more practical to use. Although it’s worth noting that there are baths available that are specially adapted for use by elderly or disabled people.
Taking the concept a stage further and building a wet room where the shower drains into a corner of the floor rather than through a separate shower tray makes access even easier for these groups. Getting rid of the bath completely and kitting out the bathroom as a wetroom will appeal to older people and young professionals, but again may make your property less attractive to family buyers.
Which costs less?
When it comes to buying a shower versus a bath, there’s not much in it, but the shower wins out. A basic plastic bath from a large bathroom showroom will cost around £140, and while showers generally come around the same price bracket you can get basic models from around £65.
There is a common belief that a shower will cost a lot less to run than a bath, and, generally speaking, this is true. A normal bath will use around 80 litres of water, and a standard shower will use about 35 litres every 5 minutes. However, if you’re the sort of person who takes 10 minutes in the shower every morning then the benefit of having a shower is almost cancelled out. If you have a strong power shower, these can use up to 60 litres of water in 5 minutes, so a 10-minute power shower uses far more water than having a bath. If you’re on a water meter, these extra litres used every morning can mount up.
Which is more hygienic?
Many of us believe that baths are less hygienic than showers because showers wash everything away down the plughole while having a bath means sitting in your own dirty water. Is there any truth in this though? It may well be true that dirt comes off our body and into the bath water, but unless you are absolutely filthy when you get into the bath, the amount of dirt and bacteria in the water is not going to do you much harm. In terms of cleaning, there also isn’t much difference between cleaning the shower and cleaning the bath.
Which is more relaxing?
It’s hard to argue that a shower is more relaxing with a bath. Sinking into a tub of hot water with lots of perfumed bubbles at the end of a long day at work is always going to beat standing in the shower. You can also read a book in the bath, or even play games or watch television on your tablet, as long as you take care not to drop it in the water. Baths can help lower your blood pressure and help you unwind after a stressful day, and the same cannot be said for a shower.
Showers are ideal for a quick wash before heading out to work in the morning or washing away the sweat after a good session at the gym. With a bath, you expect to spend a lot more time in it.
It’s a bit of cop out, but there is no clear winner in the battle between shower and bath. Showers are probably better if you’re an adult in a hurry, but for families with children, baths are always going to win. Why not get the best of both worlds by fitting a shower over your bath?
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