It’s time to settle an age-old debate: bathtub or shower? Read on to determine which is right for your bathroom remodel.
The Shower Argument
Showers have a surprisingly long and interesting history. Our earliest, pre-civilized human ancestors took advantage of natural rainfall as their means of freshening up. When civilizations began taking shape—such as ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia—humans began using jugs full of collected water to bathe.
Showering was considered a social event by the ancient Greeks, and they would gather together at bathhouses to wash off dirt and grime; their showering systems were surprisingly advanced for the times, as pipe systems (aqueducts) could actually provide pressurized water for these bathhouses.
The first modern shower, however, wasn’t invented until 1767 in England, when William Feetham first patented a mechanically powered shower. These showers weren’t like the ones we see today—they were operated with a hand pump, and the water supply was recycled over and over again.
By the 1880s, showers were finally connected to running water supplies, leading to needle and rain showers. Finally, the Victorian era gave humanity combination/canopy showers, which at the time were seen as opulent, or rather, a sign of wealth and power. Luckily, showers today are much more mainstream, as billions of people worldwide now have one, two, or even three in their own homes.
History lesson aside, consider the main reasons for choosing a shower over a bathtub for your bathroom remodel:
It’s no surprise that showers are much cleaner than bathtubs. Falling water washes away dirt and grime from your body and rinses it down a drain, making it far more effective for getting squeaky clean. Showers are also designed to evenly distribute water over your body, ensuring no areas are missed when bathing. But showers aren’t just clean—they’re efficient.
An average bath requires 50 gallons of water, compared to 25 gallons used during a 10-minute shower. If you’re worried about bills and environmental impact, a shower is the best overall choice. Not to mention, cleaning up in a shower is more practical for daily life, as it takes much less time to prepare, bathe, and complete the process. If you need to freshen up quickly before or after work, you can get yourself clean in 10 minutes or less!
The last practical reason for choosing a shower relates to guests; most guests prefer to shower in unfamiliar homes, so having one in a guest bathroom is always recommended.
We now know that showers are the cleanest method for bathing, but what are the design benefits of choosing them over bathtubs? Showers take up significantly less space than tubs, making them the preferred choice for smaller or secondary bathrooms—even the smallest of bathrooms can fit a stand-up shower.
While a bathtub is often more visually appealing than a shower, there are many shower models available that look great with any décor. You can opt for a modern look by installing an open-concept shower that uses glass walls as opposed to curtains. You can also try different faucet styles to find a look that fits perfectly with your bathroom remodel. With some creativity, you can pick a shower that’s just as stylish as a fancy bathtub.
The Bathtub Argument
Much like showers, bathtubs have a unique origin story. Bathtubs and showers were complementary for thousands of years—bathhouses that featured showers always featured bathtubs, as well. And elite individuals weren’t the only ones taking baths; many people who were less affluent in various civilizations had access to a tub, albeit their tubs were filled with collected water as opposed to pipes and water systems.
Romans were the first humans to recognize the hygienic benefits of bathing, but that changed when the Dark Ages rolled around. Many western civilizations preferred “perfuming” as means of sanitation, making bathtubs, much like showers, a luxury of the elite. During this time period, tubs were lavish, decorative, and perhaps overly gaudy.
It wasn’t until 1883 that American John Michael Kohler invented the modern bathtub—his invention was cast-iron and sat upon four legs. Most importantly, his tubs were supplied with water from pipes. While only 1 percent of the American population in 1921 had pipes in their homes, bathtubs quickly became more common in households as the century progressed.
Stylized tubs became more accessible to the general public, and the industry saw a massive boom as an increasing number of individuals saw bathtubs as more than just a practical way to bathe. Nowadays, bathtubs are both practical and decorative; some even feature luxury amenities like water jets.
With that, here are the many reasons why bathtubs are still an excellent choice for any bathroom remodel:
While you might not need a bathtub in your home, it is a nice option for bathing. They might seem less practical than showering, but tubs are more associated with relaxing and treating yourself—there’s nothing quite like running a bath to let the stress of your day wash away.
If you’re someone who wishes to have the option to relax in water, you can’t go wrong with a tub. Additionally, ornate bathtubs are typically far more aesthetically pleasing than the mechanical look of a shower, making them perfect for modernized remodels.
Bathtubs are almost always cheaper to install than showers, typically ranging from $400 to $8,000 in total, as opposed to $450–$10,000 for shower installation. Even advanced tubs, such as ones with jets, will cost you significantly less than a walk-in shower.
But the financial benefits don’t stop there—most homebuyers these days prefer at least one tub in the home, specifically in primary bathrooms. Having a tub in the primary bathroom increases your return on investment and makes your home more desirable if it ever hits the market. Plus, many young families require a tub for bathing young children and infants, along with pets.
When it comes to deciding whether a bathtub or shower is right for your bathroom remodel, it’s often determined by your preferences and needs. Weigh the pros and cons of each when planning your renovations to find the best possible solution. Or, opt for a combination of both! Whatever you decide, our bathroom remodel contractors are here to help you and ensure total satisfaction.