The Characteristics That Define a Standard Alcove Bathtub

Bathtub with Fireplace

A bathroom is one of the most important rooms in the home as it is a shared space that is used by everyone. There are many different elements of bathroom design to consider to ensure you get a bathroom that is both aesthetically pleasing and suitable for your needs. One of the key elements of a bathroom is a bath, and there are a surprising number of options available in terms of style, design, color, shape, and size. One type of bathtub that you might consider is an alcove bathtub. Here is everything you need to know about alcove bathtubs, including the main characteristics that define them, the advantages of this style of bathtub, and the optional features available.

What is a Standard Alcove Bathtub?

According to The Spruce, an alcove bathtub is the most common type of bathtub in homes in the United States. This is a bathtub that fits into an alcove of three walls, thus there is only one side of the bathtub exposed. They usually come as either left-hand or right-hand installation, and this simply refers to the position of the drain. Alcove bathtubs are also known as recessed bathtubs or fitted bathtubs. The term standard alcove bathtub simply refers to the fact that there is a standard size of this type of bathtub.

How Does It Differ from a Skirted Bathtub?

Another common type of bathtub is a skirted bathtub, and people are often unsure of the differences between an alcove bathtub and a skirted bathtub. The main difference is that while an alcove bathtub fits into a space between three walls, a skirted bathtub is one that has walls behind it and to one end. This means the front and one end of the bathtub are exposed. Which is the better option for you and your bathroom will generally depend on the space you have available.

What Are the Alternatives?

Alcove and skirted bathtubs are not the only options available. According to Aquatic Bath, some other bathtub options include:

  • Corner tubs– These are triangular in shape to fit neatly into the corner of the bathroom and usually have a curved outer edge. These are a good space-saving option for square bathrooms with a smaller floor area. Corner tubs are often designed to accommodate two people, so they are a good option if you bathe with your partner or you have children who bathe together.
  • Undermount units– These are bathtubs that are installed beneath a cutout in the mounting surface so that there is no visible edge.
  • Drop-in tubs– There are no finished sides on a drop-in tub, and they are installed into a constructed deck and surround. Above the mounting surface, a self-rimming edge is visible.
  • Freestanding bathtubs– You can place one of these bathtubs almost anywhere that there is plumbing. They are finished on all sides and come in a variety of style, from vintage bathtubs with claw feet to modern designs on pedestals.
  • Walk-in bathtubsHome Style Choices also mentions walk-in bathtubs as an option. These are generally bought by people who have difficulties getting in and out of the bath as they have an opening that allows you to walk straight in.

The Main Characteristics of an Alcove Bathtub

There are five main characteristics of an alcove bathtub. These are as follows:

  • Dimensions– The dimensions of a standard alcove bathtub are all the same. According to Badel Luxury Bathrooms (, the dimensions of a standard alcove bath are 60 inches long, 30 inches wide, and 16 inches of water depth.
  • Panels– An alcove bathtub is one that fits into a space between three walls. For this reason, one of the main characteristics of an alcove bathtub is that they have only one panel.
  • Faucets spaces– All alcove bathtubs come with spaces for the faucets. The only difference between alcove bathtubs in this respect is that some have the spaces at one end of the alcove while others have the spaces to the sides.
  • Materials– In most cases, a standard alcove bathtub is made from premium cast acrylic products. These are specially formulated for use in the production of bathtubs and this material is extremely durable. In rare cases, you may come across an alcove bathtub that is made from another material, such as porcelain.
  • Side fittings– Standard alcove baths have fittings attached to three sides below the lip that will slot into the tiled walls for easy installation.

Variable Features of Alcove Bathtubs

In addition to the main characteristics of an alcove bathtub, there are also many differences between the options available as the features can vary significantly. Some of these variable features include:

  • Color– Alcove bathtubs come in a wide selection of colors. The most common color of standard bathtub is white. However, it is possible to buy alcove bathtubs in a wide range of colors to suit the design of your bathroom.
  • Style– It is possible to buy a standard alcove bathtub in various styles. These range from traditional styles to contemporary options.
  • Fittings-the fittings of the bathtubs, such as the plugs and faucets, come in various metals and styles. You can opt for fittings that coordinate with the other fittings in your bathroom and will complement the overall style.

Are There Other Sizes of Alcove Bathtubs?

Although a standard alcove bath is the most common option and will fit in most bathrooms, there are other sizes available. Smaller alcove bathtubs typically measure 45 inches long, 30 inches wide, and 14 inches of water depth. The larger alcove bathtubs will generally measure 72 inches long, 42 inches wide, and 20 inches of water depth.

Reasons to Choose an Alcove Bathtub

If you are unsure of whether an alcove bathtub is the best option for you, then it is important to look at the reasons why you should choose this style of bathtub. Some of the main reasons why people choose alcove bathtubs include:

  • Off-the-shelf options– Buying an alcove bathtub is easy s there are plenty of off-the-shelf options to choose between. This means that you will not have to search for specialist stores to buy a new bathtub for your bathroom.
  • Variety– Alcove bathtubs come in a wide variety of styles and colors, so it is easy to find one that coordinates with the color scheme and style of your bathroom.
  • Fantastic for small bathrooms– Standard alcove bathtubs are smaller than most of the other style options, so they are ideal for smaller bathrooms with limited small space. Many people choose them for an apartment with only one bathroom so that they also have space for a shower, and they are also a good choice for en suites.
  • Shower and bathtub combinations-Many people choose to have an alcove bathtub so that they can have a bath and shower combination in their bathroom. If there is space at the end of the alcove, you can have a separate shower and use the dividing wall as one of the walls of the shower. Another alternative is to have an over-the-bath shower that is fitted to one of the walls of the alcove in which your bathtub is contained.
  • Price– Of all the styles of bathtubs, alcove bathtubs are generally the cheaper option. Therefore, they are ideal for those people who are fitting a new bathroom on a limited budget.
  • Good for bathing children– Alcove bathtubs usually have lower sides, and this makes it easier for bathing young children. Similarly, they have less water depth, which also increases safety when bathing children.
  • The best option for people with a disabilityAccording to Hunker, an alcove bathtub is one of the better bathtub styles for people with a mobility issue for two reasons. The first is that they have a lower rim height to tackle, and this makes it easier to get in and out of the bath. Another reason why they make a better choice is that they are fitted between three walls. This reduces the risk of falls out of the bath, and also means there are more places to fit handrails.
  • Easy installation– In comparison to other styles of bathtubs, alcove bathtubs are one of the easiest to install. Similarly, they are also easy to remove when you are ready to upgrade your bathroom and replace the bathtub.

Are There Any Downsides to Alcove Bathtubs?

Although there are clearly many advantages of choosing an alcove bath, all products have their downsides. There is only one real disadvantage of choosing an alcove bath, and that relates to its size. They are smaller in length, height, and depth than other styles. This means they are not ideal for larger people who may need a slightly bigger bath, or for those who like to take long, relaxing baths in deep, bubbly water. Other than this one downside, alcove bathtubs are generally a good option for most groups of people.

Deciding If an Alcove Bathtub is the Best Option for You

When deciding if an alcove bathtub is the best option for you, there are some considerations that you need to make. According to Ideal Home, some of these include:

  • The size of your bathroom- Measure the size of your bathroom to decide on the best size of bathtub and the other bathroom furniture you will need. If you have limited space available, then an alcove bathtub is probably the best option. However, an alcove bathtub is just as suitable for larger bathrooms.
  • Shape and space available- It is not just the size of the room that dictates the style of bathtub you can choose as the shape of the room and the space available are just as important.
  • Plumbing and drainage- The location of your plumbing and drainage points will make a big difference in the size and style of bathtub you choose. It is important to note that it is possible to move the plumbing and drainage points in many situations if it will give you more options, but this will add a significant sum to the total cost of your bathroom refurbishment.
  • Family- Who you have living in your home also impacts on your choice of a bathtub. If you have young children, then alcove bathtubs are a convenient, easy, and safe option for bathing children. If you are larger adults, then alcove bathtubs are not necessarily the right choice.
  • Physical needs- If you do not have any additional physical needs, then the style of the bath may not impact on your health, mobility, or your ability to care for your own hygiene needs. However, if you have difficulty getting in and out of the bath, then the two best options are a standard alcove bathtub or a walk-in bathtub.
  • Budget- your budget is an important factor to consider when refurbishing a bathroom, as the costs of buying the bathroom, having it fitted, and decorating can soon add up. For those on a budget, a standard alcove bathtub is the best choice.

Alcove Bathtubs – The Final Verdict

An alcove bathtub is one that fits into an alcove of three walls, and this style of bathtub is one of the most popular options for residential properties. All standard alcove bathtubs have the same dimensions, a front panel, and fitted faucets at either the end or the side of the bath. However, there are also differences between the styles and colors available, so you will find the perfect bath for your bathroom. There are many advantages to choosing this type of bathtub, while the only disadvantage is the smaller size. However, this is also one of the benefits of these bathtubs for people who have limited space available. A standard alcove bathtub is easy to install and remove, and it gives you the option for having a bath and shower combination in your bathroom. Overall, the characteristics and benefits of a standard alcove bathtub mean that it is a good option for most bathrooms.

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