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Freestanding Bath vs. Built-In: Pros and Cons

by | Jun 13, 2022 | Interior Design

Not all bathrooms – or baths – are created equal. Much like a good personality test, there is one for every person. Get to know which bath is perfect for you!


Types of baths


Freestanding bath

Similar to a piece of furniture, freestanding baths are finished on all sides and constructed to stand alone in your bathroom without framing or support. Freestanding baths are quite heavy and may require a reinforced floor prior to installation.



Built-in bath

Built-in baths are bathtubs that have unfinished sides. They require a provision for support. Bathtubs that are installed permanently into an enclosure or platform are examples of built-in baths.



Spa bath

 bathroom with large hydromassage tub

If you’re looking for a spa experience at home, a spa bath is the bathtub for you. These baths are furnished with hydrotherapy jets to help tired muscles relax – just the thing you need after a long day!



Shower bath

Shower baths are both convenient and practical. This shower-and-bathtub combination is ideal for bathrooms that have smaller spaces to work with.



The ultimate debate: freestanding bath vs built-in?

Not many home topics can be as polarising as the question, should you get a freestanding bath or a built-in one? Before you hear my vote, here are the pros and cons to help you decide for yourself:



Pros of a freestanding bath

Higher aesthetic quality

You have to admit, the sculptural design of stand alone bathtubs are undeniably gorgeous. They’re sleek, sophisticated, and sculptural – everything you’d want in a camera-ready bathroom. If your uninspiring bathroom is causing bathtime to become a bore, it may be time to consider getting a freestanding bathtub for a stylish facelift.



Added property value

Let’s face it, one of the things potential home buyers and real estate agents are keen to be excited about is the bathroom. If you’re thinking of selling your house and would want a higher appraisal for your property, invest in an elegant stone freestanding bath and have your bathroom deep cleaned from top to bottom. 



Cons of a freestanding bath 

Safety risk for kids

freestanding bathtub with a non-slippery mat

When there are kids in your family, safety is of utmost importance. This principle extends to how you construct your bathroom.

Unfortunately, small children run the risk of slippage and drowning when they’re in freestanding baths more so than if they’re bathing in a built-in one. Make your bathroom less prone to child injury by positioning a non-slip rubber mat in your bathtub and another one right beside the bath for you and your child to step on. You may also want to install a small freestanding bathtub instead of a bigger one to suit your child’s size.



Hard to clean

Freestanding baths are relatively harder to clean than built-in baths. The space under the bathtub is a magnet for trapped water and dirt, and would need a more thorough scrubbing or deep cleaning in the long run.



Can take up space

These baths will require more space in your bathroom than a regular built-in bath. If you still want to get one, but are concerned about how to maximise your bathroom space, you can buy a back-to-wall bath type or install your freestanding bathtub as a corner bath. This way, you get to enjoy the aesthetic of a freestanding bath without compromising much of your bathroom area.



Pros of a built-in bath

Safe for kids

Built-in baths are normally shallower and easier to hold on to than freestanding baths. This structural function makes a built-in bathtub safer for toddlers and young kids (even for you!).




Built-in baths are usually installed against the wall or in a corner. This kind of setup frees up space for you to put in other bathroom fixtures like the toilet and sink.



Easy to clean

Cleaning built-in bathtubs is pretty easy and straightforward. You won’t have any problem reaching into grooves and corners that you’ll normally encounter when cleaning a freestanding bath.



Cons of a built-in bath

Lower aesthetic quality

Because they’re not designed to be installed as stand-alone bathtubs, built-in baths lack the sleekness and sophistication that sets freestanding baths apart, quite literally. 

This doesn’t mean you can’t have an attractive bathroom, however. Choose the right tile colour and texture to elevate the look of your bath without spending a fortune.



Fussier installation

Here’s a fact: built-in baths have a much fussier installation process. Built-in baths are attached onto a tiled enclosure or cemented pedestal, then grouted to seal any spaces. 

This means you’ll have to contend with a lengthier construction process and will have to deal with tile grouting if you want your bath area to be well-maintained.





Are freestanding baths going out of style?

Stylish as they are, freestanding baths may be losing their popularity among homeowners who DIY their cleaning. This is because water runs to the bottom of the bathtub every time it’s used, which makes it such a hassle to clean.

If you’re intent on retaining your beautiful stone bathtub, but want to do away with the stress of reaching into every nook and cranny, the best thing you can do for your bathroom (and yourself) is to hire property cleaning experts.



Do freestanding baths take up more room?

Whether your bathtub is freestanding or built-in, size plays a factor on the amount of space your bath occupies. Because of its structure, however, a freestanding bath will require a larger perimeter around it than a built-in bath.



I have a small bathroom. Can I still install a freestanding tub?

If you still want a stand-alone bathtub but have little space for it, get a back-to-wall freestanding bath or a freestanding corner bath. Another way to optimise your space is to make it multi-functional by installing a freestanding bath with shower.

This way, you’ll be able to get the aesthetic you want while still having enough wiggle room for your other bathroom activities.




Build the bathroom of your dreams

Whether you’re on Team Freestanding or Team Built-in, we can all agree on one thing: an awesome bathroom will elevate your shower and bath experience. A long, luxurious peppermint or lavender-scented soak is sometimes all we need to rejuvenate for the next day. 

While functionality is always an important thing to consider, it’s hard to argue against style! A freestanding bath that’s back-to-wall is a good compromise when you want the best of both worlds. As I’ve had to decide between a freestanding bath and built-in bath myself, it’s a great option to have when you’re considering the best design for a limited amount of space.


About Author

Sophie Franklin

Sophie is the subject matter expert within Maid2Match. Most importantly though she is our biggest fan girl and generous in sharing what she knows.


About Author

Sophie Franklin

Sophie is the subject matter expert within Maid2Match. Most importantly though she is our biggest fan girl and generous in sharing what she knows.