With all the emphasis on showers and wet rooms in recent years, baths have found themselves unjustly omitted from many bathroom suites. Yes, there has been concern over its usage of water (but recent studies have shown that it is often similar to that of the average shower, especially in the case of power showers) and yes, it takes longer, but isn’t bathing the most luxurious experience?
Make time and space in your life for a good bath. On a purely practical level, a house or flat without a bath tends to have a smaller market potential and lower value than one with: many older people prefer to use a bath and generally, its presence just ticks one more box in the desirability rating of your home.
Full-stretch or slipper bath?
Bath designers know that space is often at a premium. So baths start at just 1.2m long, and the lengths rise via 1.5m, 1.6m and 1.7m to 1.8m long, the longest regular size. The standard rectangular bath tends to be 700mm wide, rising to 800mm when you get up to the longer, more luxurious models or those with irregular shapes.
The most popular and economical models are cast in acrylic, typically 5mm thick. These used to suffer from flexing and crazing, but look for models that have built-in encapsulated base boards underneath and reinforcement on the bath itself, to make it stiff and secure. They also come with steel frameworks and adjustable legs for secure, convenient installation. Often the tap or waste holes have not been drilled, which gives your plumber options when fitting the pipework and allowing you to plan how the bath’s fittings will look.
So confident are manufacturers that both the British-made Ceramica and the Ideal Standard ranges are backed by 25 year guarantees. Ceramica starts at under £100 and is excellent value. Ideal Standard have stylish designs by Robin Levien, and their First baths have a patented built-in overflow, hidden inside the waste, that uses twin pipes: one fills at the same height as the bath, and if you overfill then the water in the pipe flows up and over and away via the second pipe into the waste. You do away with the separate overflow hole and the design has been able to include a lower step-in height with the same capacity as usual.
The Moods Cascade is a double-ended 1.7m design, 800mm wide, with two curved corners that can be very useful for easy circulation around the room as well as being attractive. Ideal Standard have their Jasper Morrison-designed Asymetric bath that has a curved corner, left or right. It is made from their Idealform +, a thicker, warm-touch but strong material.
No more Cold Steel?
A more traditional and arguably more environmentally-friendly material, being recyclable, is steel, coated with vitreous enamel. This is cooler to the touch at first but holds the heat in longer once warm. It is also more resistant to scouring or harsh chemical cleaning. Do check your floor loadings, however, as these are heavy baths that can be 50kg or more (plus the water and you!). The steel gauge varies: standard models may be 1.6mm, rising to 1.9mm, while the top-quality Bette baths are a sturdy 2.4mm and come with a 30 year guarantee.
Baths take Centre Stage
A funky alternative is the roll-top or freestanding bath that takes pride of place. This needs careful planning and thought about where the water supply and waste water are going to go, and to make the pipework as invisible as possible. Showers are more difficult to add to these designs as water can go everywhere, although Burlington do offer shower bath models with a square tap end and raised side edges to contain the water. These baths (except for some very expensive and heavy iron designs) tend to be made in double-thickness acrylic so that they show a smooth face to the world on both sides. The exposed legs are often in aluminium. Royce Morgan claim to be the fastest-growing company in this sector, focusing on craftsmanship.
Not just Standing Room only
Shower baths offer a useful compromise where space is tight, and usually involve a rounded standing shower area at one end of the bath. Ceramica offer a stylish curved-screen design: they also have a fast-selling modern squared-off L design.
Give it a Whirl
Finally, we must not ignore the whirlpool bath. The jets of water are supplied by 6 or more pre-installed nozzles, and you can control the turbulence level. The forced water movement raises the heat next to your skin, relaxing pain and tension and relaxing you. There is a need for maintenance of motors and cleaning of pipework from time to time, but whirlpools are a luxurious option to consider.
So there are baths for all tastes, and there really is no excuse not to allow yourself the indulgence of becoming an old soak once in a while…