One of the biggest considerations when remodelling your bathroom is whether to have a bathtub – and if so, what shape and style to go for. Once an entirely functional fixture, bathtubs now form the focal point of most bathrooms. While they come in many different shapes and sizes, there are essentially only two installation types: freestanding and built-in. Freestanding tubs offer a striking visual impact, whereas built-in tubs are more versatile. Understanding the differences between the two will make your bathroom remodel much easier. 

So, which bathtub is right for you?

Freestanding bathtubs

There’s no getting away from it; freestanding tubs look beautiful. A standalone tub exposed on all sides, freestanding tubs have made a real comeback in the last few years. Often larger in size and round in shape, freestanding tubs look more like an elegant piece of furniture than your average bathroom fixture. 


Freestanding tubs are an eye-catching way to enhance the appearance of your bathroom, becoming the focal point of the entire space. You can get them in a range of different materials: stone, metal, acrylic, and so on. There are many different styles to choose from, whether you favour a modern, traditional or more eclectic aesthetic. 

As long as there’s plumbing in place, the installation process is relatively straightforward, and what’s more, you can place them anywhere in the bathroom, giving you an opportunity to use your space more creatively. Freestanding tubs are built for one purpose only: pure relaxation.


Freestanding tubs are bigger and costlier than their built-in counterparts – and on top of that, you will need to install a shower separately. While they are decidedly luxurious, not every bathroom has the space to accommodate a freestanding bath. You also miss out on storage potential around the ledge area and underneath the tub. 

Freestanding bathtubs also weigh more, so you will need to ensure that your floor can take the weight, and if necessary get it reinforced. If you plan to make the switch from a built-in tub to a freestanding model, this can make the installation more laborious. 

Built-in bathtubs

Built-in bathtubs must be installed against a wall, usually on two sides (hence built-in). They are still found in the majority of bathrooms due to their practicality and efficiency, giving you the option to shower or bathe in one tub, without having a separate tub or shower stall. Built-in tubs get a bad rap for being dated and unglamorous, but with the right design and materials, they can still look sleek and stylish in any bathroom.


It comes as no surprise that built-in tubs are usually more space-efficient, as they sit against a wall, placed out of the way. Generally speaking, they are more affordable and more practical for everyday use, allowing you to incorporate a shower over the bath. Additional shelving and shower niches also provide more storage opportunities. If you have a smaller bathroom, a built-in bath/shower combo is probably the way to go. 

Built-in bathtubs are arguably easier to clean, as you don’t have to clean around the exterior. And they don’t have to be boring – built-in tubs can be fitted with jets, LED lights and sound systems to make bathtime a more invigorating experience.


Built-in bathtubs can look great, but they will never achieve the same visual impact as a freestanding tub. Overall there are fewer design possibilities, as much of the exterior is hidden, relying on the design and materials of the surround to give the finished look. A built-in tub is also less flexible in terms of placement, as it must be placed against a wall. 

Ultimately, the best choice is likely to come down to your budget and style preferences. If you mostly take showers and want your tub to be multi-purpose, a built-in tub is the best option. If you already have a separate shower and want a statement tub for aesthetic purposes, consider freestanding. Freestanding tub or not, functionality is what matters at the end of the day. Both types of tub must be fitted by a professional, so get in touch with Blenheim Bathrooms to discuss your next installation.