Image credit : Amberth


When you’re having a bathroom renovation, one of the most critical decisions you’ll make is the type of bath you want.


Many a bath lover will lust after a freestanding tub. Not only for the spa-like indulgence they provide but also for their gorgeous looks. But they’re not always the most practical. So a built-in bath might feel like the natural, albeit compromising, option.


However, before you decide, read on! Because having that freestanding bath you crave may be possible. And a built-in bath can be just as lavish as a freestanding one.


In this blog, we compare freestanding vs built-in baths and highlight the pros and cons so you know what to consider before choosing. We also look closely at some of our favourite spa bathroom ideas to inspire you.



What’s the difference between freestanding and built-in baths?


A freestanding bath is a complete unit with all its sides exposed. It has either a flat base or feet that sit directly on the floor and can be placed anywhere in the room. It often has an eye-catching design, making it an excellent focal point.


A built-in bath, on the other hand, must be installed against two or more walls. The tub’s sides are hidden in some way, such as behind bath panels, tiles, wood, or cladding. Or, for a more elegant look and bathing experience, the bath can be sunk into the floor.



Pros and cons of freestanding baths –


Freestanding baths are often thought of as the ultimate luxury. They’re exquisite and, in the right setting, can make your dream bathroom feel like a high-end luxury spa. But they have some disadvantages too. So, let’s consider the pros and cons.


Freestanding bath pros:

Looks: Freestanding baths come in many styles to suit any bathroom. From traditional to contemporary bathroom design, in round, oval and rectangular shapes.

Sizes: Once upon a time, freestanding tubs could only fit into large bathrooms. But there are now small tubs available to suit more modest-sized spaces.

Placement: Unlike a built-in bath, a freestanding bath doesn’t have to be installed against a wall. This means you can be more creative with your space. Want the tub in the middle of the room? You can!


Freestanding bath cons:

Weight: Freestanding baths are often heavy and hold a lot of water, contributing to their weight. So, floors usually need to be reinforced to support them.

Cleaning: You’ll need to clean the outside and inside of a freestanding bath. Also, the sides are deep, making it hard to reach the bottom, and it’s not easy to clean underneath baths with feet.

Water consumption: Freestanding baths are usually deeper than built-in baths, so they take more water to fill. So, if you’ve got a hot water storage tank, you could use all your hot water in one go.

Showering: It’s hard to fit a shower over a freestanding tub unless it’s against a wall. You’d also need to use a wraparound shower curtain which can ruin the look.

Storage: Freestanding baths don’t have a ledge like built-in baths. So, you’d need to use a bath caddy for toiletries unless the tub is fitted near a wall, where shelves or a wall niche can be installed.

Access: The depth of these baths makes getting in and out tricky for older people, people with mobility problems, and young children.


The only other thing to consider with a freestanding bath is the installation, which can often be trickier than a built-in bath. As mentioned above, floors usually need to be reinforced, and plumbing may need to be rerouted. However, when you work with us, we take care of everything for you.


Styles of freestanding baths –


Freestanding tubs come in various shapes, sizes, and materials. Here are a few of the more lavish designs.


Japanese soaking tubs:


Image credit: William Garvey


These tubs are perfect for small bathrooms and bathrooms with a minimalist look. They’re round and deep, designed for sitting upright with the water covering your shoulders for a relaxing bathing experience.


Infinity bathtubs:


Image credit: Kohler


This bath provides the ultimate Zen experience! It has a clever function that allows water to overflow and circulate back into the tub. Deep sides allow water to completely envelop your body as you listen to the calming sound of trickling water, creating a feeling of deep relaxation. Some models create an atmospheric fog that hovers above the water’s surface and have LED lights.


Jacuzzi bathtubs:


Image credit: Jacuzzi


If you want to maximise your bathing experience, opt for a freestanding bath with water and air jets. Water jets blast bubbles to massage muscles, while air jets create gentle bubbles for relaxing.


Clawfoot tubs:


Image credit: Amberth


The iconic clawfoot tub has long been a favourite for those wanting a luxurious traditional look for their bathroom. They come in a variety of materials. Porcelain-enamelled, cast iron and acrylic are the most common, while copper and stone resin tubs are more exclusive.


Contemporary freestanding bathtubs:


Image credit: Amberth


Freestanding tubs are also available in more contemporary designs to suit modern bathrooms. They are simple in design, with smooth, sleek lines and a minimalistic look.


Slipper tubs:


Image credit: Amberth


A slipper bathtub is ergonomically designed for a more comfortable bathing experience, with one end raised higher than the other to make it look like a slipper. The high end provides more back support when reclining in the bath. Some models are elevated at both ends so two people can bathe together.



Pros and cons of built-in baths –


Where a freestanding bath is a stand-out piece, a built-in tub becomes part of the architecture of your bathroom design. That’s not to say they can’t be a beautiful feature too. Let’s look at the pros and cons.


Built-in bath pros:

Space-efficient: Built-in baths are fitted against the walls, so they’re usually tucked out of the way.

Showering: It’s easy to install a shower over a built-in bath as the walls provide a watertight space, and shower screens to fit the tub are readily available.

Access: Their shallow depth makes these baths practical for bathing young children, older people and people with mobility problems.

Cleaning: There’s much less area to clean on a built-in tub than freestanding since you only clean the inside and top. The shallow depth also makes the bottom easy to reach.

Storage: Built-in baths have a ledge around the top for toiletry bottles.


Built-in bath cons:

Placement: Built-in baths must be fitted against two or more walls, which means there’s less flexibility in your bathroom design.

Choice: Built-in baths come in various styles and sizes to suit any bathroom. However, there aren’t as many different shapes as freestanding baths.

Looks: A built-in tub can’t compete with a freestanding tub in terms of making a statement. However, with the right surround, it can be every bit as stylish.


Styles of built-in baths –


Built-in baths may not have the same appeal as freestanding tubs, but with the right surround, they can look stunning and feel indulgent too. So, keep this in mind when comparing freestanding vs built-in baths. Here are a few designs to consider.


Standard shower baths:


Product credit: Lusso


With a shower bath, you get the best of both worlds. They’re ideal for small and awkward-shaped bathrooms and come in various styles and sizes. This bath can look stunning in any high-end bathroom when teamed with beautiful tiles, trendy shower fittings and a stylish shower screen.


Spa/soaking built-in baths:


Product credit: Duravit


A spa or soaking bath is the term used to describe an oversized, deep bath that you can lay out and relax in. This bath has been combined with a showering enclosure to create a wet zone, resembling a high-end, boutique hotel bathroom.


Sunken built-in baths:


Product credit: Corian


A sunken (or ‘drop-in’) tub is simply a bath that’s sunk into a bathroom floor or into a platform or deck created specifically for it. As a result, only the rim of the tub is exposed. These baths are designed to create a seamless aesthetic, making them perfect for modern and contemporary bathrooms.


Corner baths:

Image credit: Bette


Corner baths are triangular shaped, with two straight sides that allow it to fit neatly into a corner. It takes up more overall floor space than a straight bath, but its shape means it can sometimes work better in a small bathroom. Many models have whirlpool features, making this bath perfect for unwinding after a busy day.



Choose a bath that suits your taste, space and lifestyle


Once you’ve weighed the pros and cons, the choice between freestanding vs built-in baths ultimately comes down to personal preference. But whichever style you choose, it’s always possible to ramp up that luxurious look and feel through clever design choices throughout the rest of the bathroom.


At Amberth, we can help with that! We’re a boutique kitchen and bathroom company specialising in designing, crafting, and installing tailor-made spaces that are functional and stunningly beautiful.


Need help with interior design ideas for your bathroom? Contact us to talk to our bathroom designers today.