Freestanding bath vs. built-in bath - which bath is right for me?

Looking to invest in a new bath or for a bath upgrade? With such a large range of baths on the market, deciding on freestanding or built-in is a great place to start your research.

Here’s a quick guide on the key differences to help you get started.
Built-in baths, also referred to as fitted insert baths are generally mounted against a wall or built into a corner space or alcove, and usually require side panels to enclose the tub and the plumbing. Traditional built-in bath designs tend to be made from acrylic and rectangular in shape whereas contemporary styles offer curved D, L or P shaped tubs to complement a wider range of bathroom spaces.
A freestanding bathtub is a standalone tub which usually sits directly on the floor and is generally not attached to any wall or tucked away in the corner. For this reason, freestanding baths are easier to install and tend to be more versatile when it comes to style and design, available material as well as practical use.
Which bath is right for me?

Ultimately your decision will be influenced by a number of different factors but we’ve picked out several key considerations below.

Available Space
Consider your space and think about what will fit best.

Built-in baths are a practical option when space is limited and come in a range of sizes to accommodate most bathroom layouts. To make the most of available space they are commonly paired with overhead showers and bath screens, or mounted bath-shower mixers to offer a complete bath-shower experience.

Fitted insert casings can also be a handy solution for additional storage. Aside from their enclosing go-to ledge around the bath (perhaps for the occasional glass of wine!) built-in baths can incorporate storage areas within bath panels. But bear in mind that fitted baths may be limited to specific areas within the bathroom, which can narrow down your bathroom layout options.
In comparison, freestanding baths offer the freedom to be located anywhere in the room (and not necessarily confined to the bathroom – freestanding baths in the bedroom are rising in popularity!) offering greater flexibility with bathroom layout ideas.
Take time to plan the layout of your bathroom to avoid any disappointment down the road.

All baths require plumbing and pipework to be installed but how much of the pipework is exposed may come down to the type of bath you choose.

By design, built-in baths conceal all pipework and plumbing behind bath panels or within the adjacent wall itself, keeping things tidy and clutter free.

Freestanding baths generally require some level of exposed pipework, whether this be for waste systems or freestanding taps and brassware. This isn’t necessarily a downside though, as it can create an iconic pairing feature.

Your bath budget will help narrow the options available. Be sure to factor in the cost of installation too, as well as the additional costs of taps or brassware that may be required with the bath.

Generally, freestanding baths are more expensive due to their lavish nature (although this can be slightly offset with a reduced installation cost), but these tubs tend to be of higher quality and more durable making them a worthwhile investment.

Equally, when paired with an overhead shower, built-in baths can offer a more cost effective option to maximise bathroom use. Why settle for just a bath or shower when you can combine the two?

Consider how and who will use your bathroom, and not just now but how your needs may change over time. It’s likely that family bathing requirements are going to be very different to an ensuite use, for example.

Built-in baths tend to be easier to clean and maintain and slightly more practical for family use. That being said, freestanding baths can be very accommodating for families too. Designs can be narrow and shallow for young kids, or deep and spacious offering a more indulgent soak. The freedom to access the bath from all angles can also be a great feature when it comes to bath time!

Deciding on a style of bath can be a deciding factor on whether to go for a freestanding or fitted bath.

Built-in baths tend to be more functional than aesthetic, attracting a timeless, classical style design which can seamlessly blend into any décor - making them a popular choice for casual bathers.

But if you’re looking for a way to create an iconic centrepiece, freestanding baths are the epitome of style; the staple of a luxury bathroom. With a wide variety of styles, colours and materials to choose from why compromise on anything other than elegance and luxury.

Our Advice
Ultimately the decision of a freestanding or built-in bath is a personal choice, but it’s worth remembering that a well-planned bathroom will provide value for years to come. Our advice - take time to plan and consider all options before you go ahead and make a purchase or speak with a bathing specialist first.

Browse the Indulgent Bathing range of freestanding and built-in baths.

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