Fall Spruce-Ups. It’s Time To Shut The Windows

Fall Is Coming....

It pains us to say this, it really does, but that ever-so-slight chill in the air can mean only one thing – Fall.  The cooler weather has its advantages (give us a minute and we’ll think of one) but it also means that it is time to seal the envelope. Closing the windows to keep the chill out means less natural ventilation in one of the rooms that really benefits from good ventilation – that’s right – the bathroom.

We are not talking about odors (grow up!) – but we ARE talking about mold and mildew, which grow much more quickly when given the right environment. Steamy bathrooms with little to no ventilation are the perfect environment for mold. As you are relaxing in your ‘spa-like’ bathroom — there is a lot of steam heat being generated.

If your existing bathroom fan sounds like the runway at Logan Airport – it might be time for an upgrade. Most bathroom exhaust fans have been re-engineered to be a LOT quieter. That sound you hear should NOT be your bathroom fan; but for a soft humming sound.

Panasonic's Whisper Ceiling Fan

Bathroom ventilation fans have different air flow capacities, measured in cubic feet per minute (cfm). To get the right fan for your bathroom, use the guidelines set by the Home Ventilating Institute: Your fan should have 1 cfm for every square foot of floor space in your bathroom.

It’s a fairly easy formula: For bathrooms larger than 100 square feet, figure your cfm requirements by adding:

50 cfm for every toilet

50 cfm for each shower, bath and combo

100 cfm for each whirlpool (if you are lucky enough to have one)

You can go up in price if you’d like a built-in heater (a luxury when getting out of a shower in the colder weather.) Again, Panasonic makes a very highly rated one though the price reflects the addition of the light and the CFM (110 CFM). It’s called WhisperWarm™ – Quiet, Fan/Heater Solution.

Panasonic Whisper Heat Light

Mold and Mildeeeew

A decidedly un-sexy topic but we can be grown-ups, can’t we?

Thanks in large part to pressure applied by widespread media hype, today’s premium products — whether they’re made for the interior or exterior — contain some degree of mildewcide (a fancy word that means it kills mildew on contact) that companies promise will keep the paint film mold- and mildew-free for  the life of the coating. They are washable and/or scrubbable. And they protect against an unknown number of fungi invaders. Phew!

However, if you’ve spotted mildew growing on your walls (and here is a photo):

Benjamin Moore's Good Versus Bad

and you want to kill it and paint – in order for the paint to work there’s one thing that must be done first.

“You need to take care of mildew at its source before you paint,” says Andy Rzicznek, product manager with Pratt & Lambert. “I don’t know of any paint that kills mildew and mold spores.” So before you even get to the primer, you should use this ratio:

A 3:1 mixture of water and bleach will kill existing mildew, according to experts. Hopefully you don’t have this problem….and you can use your standard-issue primer.

Virtually every paint manufacturer produces mildew-resistant paint. Here are the names from some of the better-known brands.

Benjamin Moore produces two low-VOC paint lines, Aura Bath and Spa paint and Eco Spec® WB Silver, a zero-VOC commercial paint. Both are a low-odor interior paint containing additives to inhibit mildew growth on the paint’s surface.

Benjamin Moore's Aura Bath & Spa Paint Line

Sherwin Williams recommends their Emerald® Interior Acrylic Latex, which offers paint and primer in one with advanced stain blocking technology.

Sherwin Williams Emerald Latex Paint

Of course we are not going to help you choose your paint colors! That we’ll leave up to you. We will provide you with some inspiration however- with this lovely Benjamin Moore (w/Kohler products) bathroom. The soothing colors are Guildford Green and Seahorse.

Benjamin Moore's Soothing Bathroom Colors

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Did someone say Spa-ahhhhh?

Bain Ultra's Therapeutic Tubs Provide Spa Experiences at Home

Okay so summer is not quite over here in New England, and we are NOT rushing it by any means. However, right now there are many people who are in the throes of ‘back-to-school’ stress. Class schedules, work schedules, school supplies, sports sign-ups – yipes!!

Our showrooms are not named ‘Ultimate’ for nothing – we are the experts in helping everyone achieve what we’d like to think of as bathroom Zen – that’s right – Zen. In our hurry up and get it done world, it is critically important for people to take a few moments for both mental AND physical calm. To that end, we’d like to recommend a few products that really will help you feel as though your bathing ritual; no matter what time of day, is as good as any luxury spa (without the spa cost of course!)

If you have a tub, you can easily add some of these products to ensure that your tub-time is as relaxing as it should be.

Bain Ultra has the perfect pillow (okay they call it a cushion); it’s equipped with magnets that keep it in place and the ultra-resistant polyurethane construction makes it comfortable and soft to the touch and fully waterproof.

Bain Ultra Comfort Cushion

They also want you to be able to put your feet up – literally. Their legrest was designed to help provide the best positioning for a whirlpool, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it in your tub. Elevating your feet at the end of a long day is always a good idea.

Bain Ultra Legrest

Other ways to bring that spa feeling to your bath experience is to use aromatherapy oils. Aromatherapy uses plant materials and aromatic plant oils, including essential oils, and other aromatic compounds for the purpose of altering one’s mood, cognitive, psychological or physical wellbeing. You can use them by putting a drop or two in your bath, or if you have a steam shower and a showerhead with a reservoir, you can add a drop or two there instead.

ThermaSol has a a lovely selection of essential oils.

Aromatherapy Oils From ThermaSol

ThermaSol has been the leader in home steam showers since they invented the first in-home generator in 1958! If any one brand understands the benefits of steam – it’s ThermaSol. Their entire mission is to bring the spa experience into the home. Along with their Essential Oils, they also offer other ‘spa-like’ accessories that will help you relax. If you do not have a tub, try their new shower seat. Once you realize that there is room in your shower to sit, you will wonder why you hadn’t been doing that all along. ThermaSol’s shower seat is compact, it’s made from Brazilian Walnut (more durable than Teak) and comes in two sizes/shapes.

ThermaSol's Corner Shower Seat

ThermaSol's Shower Seat Folds Up

Two more products to think about as you build or reconfigure your bath to feel more like a spa. If you are enjoying the benefits of a steam shower — there is one other accessory that you should think about if you haven’t already: a fog-free mirror! Again, ThermaSol thinks of everything, and they offer a number of actual fog-free mirror designs. Here is just one:

ThermaSol Avant Fog-Free Mirror

And last but not least…one more product for your tub. These bath caddy’s are quite useful when you want to have everything at your fingertips. This one is from Sharper Image, but you can find them in many other stores.

Bath Caddy

Now get in there and start relaxing!

Posted in Uncategorized, bath accessories, bathroom design, bathroom furniture, showers (heads, values & controls), steam | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Bathroom Trends – It’s Time To Mix It Up

Kohler Purist Faucet and Carillon Sink

Last week we talked about the ‘innards’ of your shower, compliments of Kohler and their Choreograph collection. Today we are going to talk a bit about ‘finishes’ – since there have been many changes in the last year.  Most of what we’re seeing in bathroom design has to do with taking some chances; adding rich finishes and textures to your bathroom is really the antidote to years of gleaming hotel-white. Don’t get us wrong – we love white, we do. However – there are so many products available now that bring a warmth and vitality to bathroom products that we would be doing you a disservice if we didn’t show you some of our favorites.

When Brizo collaborated with the clothing designer Jason Wu, people’s first thoughts were, “How could this possibly work?” But this collaboration has been one of the most successful of any faucet brand. Wu’s vision for faucets seems to be as clear as his vision for clothing: nothing extraneous. Let the beauty of the object shine through. Even in matte black, you can see what we mean:

Brizo's Odin Suite from Jason Wu in Matte Black

While chrome and polished nickel continue to reign supreme, many designers and architects are finding that their customers seem drawn to earthier finishes; natural or aged brass, matte black and brushed gold speak less to shiny and new, and more to subtle lived-in-but-in-the-best-way. We LOVE this Kohler Purist in brushed gold:

Kohler Purist in Brushed Gold

Maybe you like the idea of bringing natural wood  into your bathroom — there is nothing that adds texture like a vanity that incorporates wood into the panels.

Kohler has a lovely collection, called Jute, which we made a brief mention of back in March when we talked about countertops, but didn’t go into detail about.

Kohler Jute Vanity

Fairmont Designs also makes vanities that have a more textured feel — their Toldeo series is a bit rustic and would work quite well with a variety of faucet finishes (we’d recommend a rubbed brass or bronze finish)

Basically, we are encouraging you NOT to be afraid of texture, color and finishes. The end result should look as though it belongs to you. If you work with a well-trained professional in a showroom, they will help you navigate the many choices that are available and you will end up with a room you love!

Fairmont Designs Toledo Vanity

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Shower Basics – We’re Not Talking About Soap

Choreograph Shower Wall and Accessory Collection

Before we get back to discussing Design Trends (as we mentioned in our last post), we thought we’d take a moment to go over some basic parts and pieces of showers , specifically the wall and the base – designing a shower is  not just about the glass doors and the showerhead. In fact, Kohler has done a LOT of thinking (and designing) and they’ve come up with a system they call the ‘Choreograph’.  Here  is how KOHLER describes what goes on in most showers:

Day in day out, we navigate around the shower caddy, we contort our bodies to accommodate an unforgiving space when we shave and we cover our floors and ledges with shampoo and conditioner bottles. Why? Because it’s the way we’ve always showered.

Your shower dance, the way you move and flow in your daily shower ritual, can be so much better. Introducing the Choreograph™ shower wall and accessory collection.

Choreograph brings functionality and organization to an otherwise chaotic space. Every detail has been considered, from the shower walls in a range of colors, patterns and textures that can be customized to match your style to the innovative storage solutions that will keep any shower organized to the seating options that make showering more comfortable. This collection presents possibilities that weren’t possible before—a shower you can choreograph to your movements in a shower dance all your own.

That is actually pretty cool — we love a system that works together seamlessly, and that’s the beauty of Choreograph. When you are renovating (or designing) your bathroom, it’s great to be able to have products that complement each other and work together harmoniously. Let’s look at some of the options they offer. Here are two of their towel bar options:

Choreograph Towel Bars

Each bar is made from anodized aluminum with integrated finish-matched caps for easy cleaning and to coordinate with your faucet finishes.

The add-on teak tray snaps securely into place and provides a dedicated space for storing the shower products you use every day.

And how about shelves? And hooks?

Choreograph Shelving and Hooks

Floating Shower Shelves

These adaptable shelves can be placed anywhere in the shower. You can also install the floating shower shelves outside the shower to open up more storage possibilities.

Made from anodized aluminum, the shelves are positioned off the wall for better water drainage, making them easier to keep clean. The shelves are removable for easy cleaning.

Shower Hook

A hook is a simple way to keep robes, towels, loofas dry while freeing the bathroom floor of clutter. They are made from anodized aluminum, which makes them durable and easy to clean.

And last but not least — you might be interested in seating!

Choreograph Shower Seating

They offer two styles – a flip-down and a stand-alone seat.

Flip-Down Seat: The 26-inch-wide seat pan provides comfort and stability in the shower. Simply flip it up when it’s not needed to save space.

Freestanding Shower Stool: The unique 26-5/8” height of the stool provides a comfortable seat to carry out daily grooming tasks both in and out of the shower. While in the shower, the specially designed stool elevates you to an ideal showering position for maximum water pressure and minimal heat loss.

Any way you look at it – KOHLER seems to have made designing a shower simple and stylish. And really, isn’t that what we all want when we think of designing a bathroom?

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Looking Ahead – Kitchen Design Trends

Ann Sacks Tile Used As Backsplash Behind Stove

We don’t have a crystal ball, but the advantage that showrooms DO have is a bit of insider information on product development and styles coming down the pike. We attend industry trade shows that introduce kitchen and bath products one or even two years before they are in our showrooms.  Everyone at The Ultimate Bath Stores tries to attend as many of these shows as possible to stay on top of trends. At the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) this past winter we saw a lot!  Here is a breakdown of some of what’s happening in kitchen and bath design – if you are thinking of remodeling pay attention!

Kitchen: Luxe metallics. While silver, chrome and stainless steel are three metallics commonly used in the kitchen, next year warmer metals, like gold, copper and bronze, will have their moment to shine. The texture and gleaming finish of metallics provide a stunning accent to most palette choices.

Copper Kitchen Faucet From Danze

Here is another bold tile from Ann Sacks – their Inca collection (made with metal, which is what gives it that sheen):

The INCA collection from Ann Sacks Tile

Color is back! We saw a marked difference in backsplash designs: stone and glass mosaics are on trend, offering alternatives to the usual and expected mosaic designs. Stone mosaics will feature specialty shaped tiles such as ovals, triangles, and hexagons, with glass mosaics displaying rectangular tiles, among other shapes.

Colorful Kitchen Tiles

The beauty of tiles is that a little can go a long way – if you don’t want to do an entire renovation of your kitchen – you can always add or change your backsplash.

Ann Sacks Beau Monde Glass Mosaics

Textured Materials Kitchens in 2015 will feature more textured and tactile materials. Natural marble and granite with honed finishes, along with fabricated stones made to replicate raw finishes, will be seen again and again. Incorporating these materials adds a touch of luxury to any kitchen. Countertop choices will depend primarily on budget but the point is that there are many choices that are less expensive than granite and still provide a design bang!

Caesarstone Island Countertop

Caesarstone is an engineered stone which many homeowners find fits their budget.

Engineered Quartz Island Countertop

What else are we seeing as far as trends?

Open Shelving! With all of the beautiful cups and dishes available, you have to wonder why we were hiding them all along? If you are remodeling, you might want to consider some open shelving. It not only provides instant eye-candy, it also lightens the room.

Open Shelving Option

As always, home design trends come and go, so the most important thing to remember is that any design should feel good to you, the homeowner. Never let a trend dictate a style that doesn’t seem to work for you. In fact, maybe we shouldn’t be using the word ‘trend’ at all…let’s call these style options and ideas.

In our next post, we’ll talk about bathroom options.

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The Shower Door – The Unsung Hero of the Bathroom

Vonse Curved Glass Shower Door from RODA by Basco

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times – good design is in the details. Amen to that we say!  If there is one thing that we know….it’s which details are important versus which are more decorative. That is not to say that decorative details are ‘less’ important – don’t get us wrong. But we have ALL experienced products whose pieces fell off, or were loose, or rusted out, or began leaking…we could go on. Which is why we are focusing this blog on shower doors.  A seemingly simple idea that could be all manner of wrong if you choose anything but extremely well-made products.

Infinity Frameless Sliding Shower

Classic Frameless Pivot Shower Door

At The Ultimate Store, we’ve been working with Basco shower doors for many years. Precision engineering and premium materials are just two of the reasons we trust Basco. Like any manufacturer which focuses on a specific product type – they have thought of virtually everything:  Frames are made of hardened aluminum that undergo an exclusive heat treatment for lasting beauty. Basco’s unique Sta-Kleen track is standard on all sliding doors. The mechanism prevents dirt buildup while keeping water securely within the enclosure. Door pulls, handles, and towel bars are 30 percent heavier than other brands. Basco offers the industry’s largest variety of glass options. They’re offered in a variety of styles from the open look of clear to the distinctive patterns of rain, etched, fluted or beveled glass.

Dresden French Doors with Inline Panels

They even have a very useful tool to help you ‘Build Your Door

Rolaire Fixed Panel Sliding Enclosure

Between Basco and RODA by Basco – this seemingly ‘invisible’ bathroom product will help define the look of your bathroom while delivering the ultimate in reliability.

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The Value Of Showrooms

We DO Feel The Music!

Given the multitude of DIY shows and big box stores that make it seem as if it’s SO easy to renovate your home, we wondered why homeowners would and should choose to work with kitchen & bath showrooms at all. Can’t everyone just ‘Do It Themselves’?

We spoke with Sarah Bride, a salesperson in our Concord, New Hampshire store to find out from her what customers appreciate about working with a showroom rather than a big box store.

Sarah Bride

Q: Hi Sarah, can you tell us how long you’ve worked at The Ultimate Bath store?

SB: I have been working at the Ultimate Bath Store for 1 year.

Q. Do you have a background in design?

SB: I have an associate’s degree in Interior Design as well as 7 years’ experience in the construction/design industry.

Q. Are you finding that homeowners are more involved in the renovation process now, then they were before all of these DIY shows? Have these types of shows helped? Or do they give people an unrealistic sense of how easy it looks to renovate?

SB: Homeowners are definitely more involved.  The builder or plumber used to select products and install them, but now the homeowner is spending time to make the product selections that reflect their personality and lifestyle.  With all of the DIY shows, consumers are getting great design ideas that help them to hone in on their style, as well as showing them some of the unexpected issues that can happen during a project.  Homeowners have a better understanding of the remodel and construction process, however the shows don’t show all of the time spent selecting, ordering, installing, etc.

Another Contemporary Bath Vignette

Q. If you had to name one reason above all else as the reason people should work with showrooms – what would that be?

SB:. Whenever someone embarks on a new construction or remodeling project they should work with a showroom.  The staff has superior knowledge of the quality products and the process of construction and remodeling.  We can explain all of the parts and pieces that are needed, what makes one product a better quality than another, and assist with the overall design of the space.

Q. Do you find that homeowners do a lot of comparison shopping and how does the online world affect your showroom?

SB: People comparison shop all types of products before they buy, whether it is a car, a new fridge, or a lawn mower. At the Granite Group we work very hard to be competitive in the marketplace while still offering beautiful showrooms where the homeowners can see and touch the products while having their questions answered by knowledgeable associates.

Q. How much training does your staff get and how often?

SB:  The showroom staff is constantly receiving training so we are up-to-date on the newest technology and products in the market.  Some of the training is done in the showroom by the manufacturer’s reps, while other times it is a trip to a factory to see how a faucet, tub, toilet, etc. are made from scratch.

Showroom Salespeople Receiving Training From Kohler

Q. What do you do to keep up with trends in the design world?

SB:  To stay up-to-date with the ever changing trends I read design magazines, keep in contact with local design firms, peruse websites like Houzz and Pinterest and of course watch the DIY shows.

Q. What are some trends that you see happening in bathroom design?

SB:  Bathroom designs are becoming simpler with clean, sleek lines, but that doesn’t always translate into “contemporary” as many may envision. Traditional styled homes are using these designs as well as modern or contemporary homes.  Bathrooms are a place to escape, they are used as an oasis from the day.  The simpler designs help to set the stage to unwind and relax.  One of the biggest changes in the products are the use of freestanding tubs.  There has been a great increase in freestanding tubs versus a drop-in tub that has a tile surround.

Q. And finally – if there was one thing you wished homeowners knew, when it comes to bathroom or kitchen design – what would that be? Now’s your chance to tell them!

SB:  I would tell them to really think about how they live and what is important to them.  Taking the time to look through design magazines or talk to family and friends about what they like best or wish they had done differently in their own homes will give homeowners some great ideas to incorporate into building their dream home.  Does a single bowl kitchen sink fit their lifestyle better than a double bowl sink like they have always had?  Would they love to have a big soaking tub to help relieve the stress of the day or maybe a steam shower to improve health and wellness?  Knowing what is most important to you will help make the decision-making process easier.

Sarah, thank you so much for your time and your thoughtful answers.

Need A Faucet? You'll Find It Here

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Everything and the Kitchen Sink – Part Two – Faucets

Brizo Belo Kitchen Designed By Allison Bergamo

Unless you are living under a rock – you are probably aware of our Nation’s and the World’s concerns about the environment and water conservation. While the forecasts might seem dire, we do live in a time where technology has been implemented to help with water conservation while making it seem as though nothing at all has changed. Low-flow faucets are now the norm; most faucets are fitted with aerators that keep the pressure strong, while at the same time reducing the GPM (gallons per minute). You’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference.

As with every other home design product – choices are plentiful. Beauty, brains and reliability are the cornerstones of virtually every product these days.  Here are our choices for some of the best:

Kallista's Jeton Pull-Down Faucet in Nickel Silver

Kallista’s Jeton design is inspired by the classicism of early 20th century architecture, French interiors, and the haute couture of fashion, designer Bill Sofield crafted the Jeton collection to reflect chic sensibility and sophisticated presence of line. This faucet has it all:

  • Pull-Down functionality
  • High Arch for easy clearance
  • Aerator
  • Solid Brass construction

Plus it’s available in four finishes. It’s a beauty!


If your kitchen has more of a country, rustic feel — Rohl has wonderful faucets. Their 3 leg bridge faucet with side spray is also all brass construction, available in five finishes and it’s flow rate is 1.5  GPM.

If you are looking for something a bit more contemporary — Brizo’s got you covered. Their faucets are elevated to the level of art; sculptural and sensuous. We love Belo:

Brizo Belo Single Hole Kitchen Faucet

Water efficient, equipped with a four-button spray wand, Belo is even ADA compliant. Plus it’s just downright beautiful.

And don’t forget pot fillers! If you are renovating your kitchen, pot fillers have certainly become the ‘must-have’ product. You will thank yourself for installing one – never again will you struggle with filling up your pasta pot.

Kohler’s Artifacts collection of faucets and potfillers is an excellent transitional design – not too contemporary, nor too traditional. The wonder of potfillers is that they work FAST – they fill up the pots very quickly so you aren’t holding a heavy object for too long.

Kohler Artifacts Potfiller

  • Ceramic disc valves exceed industry longevity standards, ensuring durable performance for life.
  • High spout with 360-degree rotation offers superior clearance.
  • Articulating swing spout for filling pots on cooktops and ranges.
  • Single lever handle with main lever shutoff.

Technology + style = fantastic choices for homeowners!

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Everything AND the Kitchen Sink

Mid-Century Kitchen From Kohler

This mid-century kitchen image from Kohler is an excellent visual of just how far we’ve come.  Or have we? The need for good, efficient workspace in kitchens remains the number one priority for most people, when asked what they want.

Efficiencies drive most innovations because time is the most important luxury – even more so now – in that way we have changed. Even though many families are so busy they aren’t able to sit down together for dinner – people still congregate in kitchens and the kitchen remains the heart of every home.

So what innovations have been made? Let’s start with kitchen sinks. Stainless remains the number one material for sinks; it’s stain-resistant, virtually indestructible, and reasonably priced. When it comes to stainless….you only need to know that 16-gauge is the best. The rest is personal design choice; single bowl, double bowl, undermount, accessories.

Kohler has an amazing amount of stainless sinks to choose from. Here are a couple:

Kohler's Strive Series of Stainless Steel Undermount Sinks

These sinks comes in all manner of shapes and sizes…it’s about as well-rounded a collection as you’ll see. It even comes in a ‘Farmhouse’ style, apron-front model.

Kohler's Vault Series Stainless Steel Apron Front Sinks

If you want to use a different material – depending on your budget, you can use marble – as with this lovely Farmhouse sink from Kallista. It is not inexpensive – but again – it sure is lovely and like stainless, it’s virtually indestructible.

Kallista For Town Collection Of Marble Sinks

Fireclay is another material option – according to Rohl, Fireclay  sinks are made of a unique clay capable of being fired at extremely high temperatures. These high temperatures cause the clay and glaze to fuse together, virtually creating an entirely new form. This clay is found in limited regions around the world, making true fireclay sinks some of the most durable sink options. Resistant to acid, alkali, scratches and impact many fireclay sinks outlive the very spaces for which they were created. Here is one of theirs:

Rohl's Allia Fireclay Sink

Once you’ve figured out if you want stainless or engineered stone or marble or fireclay, your next decision will be which accessories to choose. Never before have there been so many options for devices that help keep preparing food and cleaning up efficient. Check out these integrated cutting boards and drain racks!

Kohler Prolific Stainless Sink With Accessories

This innovative stainless-steel sink features three graduated ledges in the basin, so you can place the bamboo cutting board, multipurpose grated racks (two), colander, and washbin exactly where you want them for maximum efficiency as you work. The sink comes with all five accessories included. Sounds good to me!

Not every accessory has to be integrated into the sink. There are many that you can buy separately, and here is one that falls under the ‘why didn’t we think of that’ – who doesn’t need this sponge caddy?

Kohler Reset Sponge Caddy

In our next blog post, we’ll tackle kitchen faucets – because surprise, surprise — the options there are as plentiful as they are beautiful.

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Tubs And Tile – What You Need To Know Now

Kohler Freestanding Tub

Are bathtubs soon to become a thing of the past? We asked around, and the answers we’ve found make us believe that the answer is a resounding no! Families with small children, athletes, even the ageing population all love tubs.  Is there anything more soothing than a good, long soak? We think not!

If you are remodeling, and you have the space, you should consider a tub. Space is really the main consideration. For the sake of this blog, we are going to assume that you do have space so we can discuss the various types of tubs. If you’ve learned anything in the design field – it’s that there is never “just one type” of anything!

Here is a quick rundown on the various types of tubs:

Alcove, drop-in, freestanding, integral and undermount. If you want a more in-depth description of each of those, American Standard has a great website with drawings to help you understand.

Once you’ve decided that your room can support the size of a tub, you need to decide on the style. If your home is more traditional and you love the look of those claw-footed tubs – you are in luck. They are still quite popular and easy to find. Kohler has a number of versions of this particular style.

Alcove tubs might still be the most popular, given the sizes of bathrooms. You don’t have to settle for ‘just’ the tub however – there are wonderful tubs with built-in whirlpools to give you a spa feeling at home.

Kohler's Clawfoot Tub (person not included)

Here’s a great example of an alcove tub with integrated whirlpool – from American Standard:

As far as the tub materials – here is a little bit of information about the most popular:

Enamel On Steel/Porcelain

Enamel-on-steel tubs (or porcelain-on-steel as they’re sometimes called) have a similar look to cast iron tubs except that they’re lighter. Their surface is easily cleaned and maintained and their lighter weight means they’re easier to muscle into a remodeled bathroom than a heavier cast iron tub.


Acrylic in simple terms is a form of plastic and is another material used to make bathtubs. Benefits include its high gloss finish and lighter weight. It can be scratched more easily but these scratches can also be repaired more easily than a porcelain enamel surface.

Fiberglass Gelcoat (FRP)

Another material used to make tubs is fiberglass-reinforced plastic (FRP) that’s covered in something called “gelcoat”. You’ll find some whirlpools and air tubs made from this material because it can be shaped easily. The gelcoat provides the smooth, glossy surface of the tub and offers an easily cleaned surface. It’s a lot like acrylic but usually not as durable, as it can be scratched and/or cracked if it’s struck hard enough.


Many brands now use composite materials. These tubs are made with proprietary engineered composite materials that form the backing of the tub itself. The finished surface of the tubs are enameled. The intent with these kinds of tubs is to achieve the benefits of cast iron, like heat retention and a durable surface finish, without the weight associated with cast iron. These composite tubs can weigh about 1/3 as much as cast iron, something to think about if you’re replacing a 2nd story bathroom tub.

And now tiles –

So now that you’ve chosen your tub – let’s move on to tiles. The possibilities here are as plentiful as you would imagine! From subway tiles to glass, porcelain, wood-look and metallic-infused, tiles have come a long way from the horrible pink and black of the 50′s.

Daltile Skybridge Glazed Ceramic Tiles

The best bet when looking at, and choosing tile for a bathroom is to make sure you choose products that will last a long time and need little in the way of maintenance. Porcelain and ceramic tiles come in so many variations, and are so easy to maintain that your main concern will be choosing the colors! Many people choose subtle colored tiles for floors and add accent colors to the borders or they choose to make a mosaic pattern on one wall.  Here are some images to give you inspiration – from Daltile.

Daltile Aria Ivory and Peridot

Here is a bolder use of tile:

Random Mosaic in Silver Shore

If you want a strong, bold look – you can use tiles that give the look of slate – like these field tiles:

Deep Grey 20 x 20 field tile in a brick-joint pattern

We hope we’ve given you some food for thought (and not overwhelmed you). As always – your best solution would be to visit showrooms and speak to experienced salespeople.

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