But, with so many options on the market, it helps to know what you're looking for before you head to the showroom or home center. We've compiled the basics on tubs, whirlpools, toilets, showers, and more. Explore luxury homes here.
Even if you personally prefer showers, it makes sense to include a tub in your plans, if only for resale appeal. The highest-quality tubs are constructed of enameled cast iron. But, if you want an oversized tub, consider a fiberglass-reinforced acrylic model. These products are lightweight, so you may not have to reinforce the floor beneath the tub, and can be molded into comfortable, body-embracing forms, with built in arm- and headrests, as well as grab bars.
Options range from 5-foot-long remodeler tubs designed to fit into an existing tub recess, to luxurious freestanding claw-footed ones that replicate tubs from the 19th century. For an extra dose of luxury, you might opt for a soaking tub. These circular tubs, generally 29 to 32 inches high, take less time to fill than a whirlpool and do not require an integral heater.
Top-of-the-line whirlpools are made of enameled cast iron and hold a high-gloss finish indefinitely. However, acrylics are equally popular, since they maintain water temperature better than cast iron, are lightweight, and can be molded into a range of shapes.
Remodeler units fit right into a standard tub recess, and large, deluxe models can accommodate two or more people and offer intensive massage options. For a true spa-like experience, you'll want to choose a model with adjustable jets. Look for a jet system that allows you to change the direction of water flow and the air-to-water ratio. More air means a stronger massage, whereas more water creates a gentler effect. Some new whirlpools work by forcing air alone through the jets, so bathwater isn't recirculated through the system.
Though it may not be the most exciting element of your new bath, a toilet is a necessity. And the latest models are more attractive than ever before, with low profiles and sculptured lines. Improved efficiency is another selling point: In compliance with federal law, new models now require no more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush. Toilets are almost always made of vitreous china, a durable, stain-resistant material. For a sleek, sophisticated look, consider a one-piece model, which combines the tank and bowl in a single unit. Also called low-profile toilets, these often include elongated bowls that are easier to keep clean because of their increased water surface.
Custom showers are framed like walls and finished with a variety of materials, including ceramic tile, glass block, and marble. Safety glass walls and doors are another common feature. A few manufacturers now offer trackless glass doors, which are easier to clean and offer a more open look. Prefabricated units, which are less expensive than custom-made models, are usually manufactured of molded plastics, such as acrylic or fiberglass. They are available in a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes.
Accessories include multiple massaging showerheads, an adjustable hand-held sprayer mounted on a sliding bar, a seat, overhead lighting, a mirror, and even basic sound systems with AM/FM radios and CD players.
There are six basic styles on the market today. Which you choose depends on your taste, your budget, and the specifics of your space.
Self-rimming sinks are installed in an opening in the countertop. Adhesive applied to the raised rim or lip, which rests on top of the counter, holds the sink in place and forms a waterproof seal. Undermount basins are joined to the vanity surface from below, so there is no raised lip - a boon for easy cleanup. Integral sinks are perhaps the most hygienic option. Manufactured from solid surfacing, they are fused with the countertop to form one seamless, easily maintained unit. Vessel sinks usually rest above the counter, allowing their shapes and colors to function almost as sculpture within the room. Vessels are made of everything from fireclay, stone, or metal to heavy-duty glass. Pedestal sinks have a classic, traditional look. Keep in mind, however, that pedestals offer no storage underneath and little surface area for toiletries. Console sinks, which stand on two or four legs rather than on a central pedestal, provide wide, practical decks, but no storage underneath.