Freestanding or drop-in bath?

Should I choose freestanding or drop-in (small) bath for my bathroom renovation?

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Hi @mauz, welcome to the community.

Is it a style question or functionality concern?

If the current bath room has a built in bath tub replacing it with a free standing will often require more extensive work on the floor and wet sealing.

If you are having a professional do the make over they can advise any difference in cost. In a small bath room a free standing tub may not provide good access to the space between the near wall/s and tub, if cleaning is also a concern.

Confident others will add their observations.
Is the current tub built in (Drop in)?

We were looking for a small rectangular deep free standing Japanese tub (also know as a European compact in our place) for a bath room reno.

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The practicalities of also getting in and out also need to be considered. Usually drop-in/built in baths are a lower point of entry to freestanding baths. As one gets older or has an ailment/injury, the additional height of a freestanding bath may pose problems.

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There are some interesting options such as:

Our observations of standard height built in baths with the elderly is they also present difficulties getting down and back up. A shower chair or wall seat under an extendable shower can become a great option.

Interesting is the right word. Maybe good if one isn’t worried about aesthetics.

It’s a bathroom. Perhaps function is more important. :wink:


It’s a question of space, cost and look.

If you have plenty of room and pots of money have whatever you like. If resources are limited read on.

Free standing baths tend to be much more expensive to buy than drop in. If you already have free standing then the wall and floor will be prepared for that and the cost of installation will be modest, just some plumbing connections. If you have drop in and replace it with drop in provided it fits the installation will also be modest. If it doesn’t fit it will be more to adapt or rebuild the frame.

Drop in requires constructing a supporting frame, covering it (usually with tiles) and sealing it into the walls. Taking out a drop in and installing free standing will cost to demolish the frame and to line the floor and walls where the frame was. New tiles will look funny unless they match the old, so you could be up for a complete re-tile job.

If you don’t have much room the free standing will have to go in a corner. The space behind it and under it will be hard to access and become dirty and hard to clean. In a small room the drop in may save space and cleaning as it can go right into a corner, look OK and underneath the frame isn’t accessible at all so doesn’t need cleaning.

Get several quotes for purchase and install before deciding.

And here is another idea. Do you really need a bath at all? If you are on tank water or want to save on water and energy a shower stall only will be useful and taking out an old bath may open up up a pokey little bathroom.


This one can’t get in and out of a tub anymore. Its shower or nothing. I’d love to do a reno to get a bigger shower area.


We have continuously had spa baths since the late 1980s. They are nice, but as we aged the tub is used less and less, partly by our inability to get in and out as easily, and partly as the current ‘double’ spa tub became a single :frowning: .

Today we could easily forgo a tub as long as the shower was pleasantly large. Modern showers with benches to sit on, multiple heads from the tops and sides, and so on are increasingly attractive options and eliminate the problem of getting in and out of a tub.

As @syncretic noted cleaning around a free standing tub can be a biggie.


I definitely need to win the lottery. I need a kitchen and bathroom reno, and many general maintenance things done around the house. The dollars just dont go far enough, on a pension.

I live in a tiny granny flat with no room for a bath. However for $25 at a Choice discount type store (no relation to this site) I bought a large round tub from the pet section. It fits perfectly in the shower and as I’m a small person I can relax in it.

There are of course only shower taps in the cubicle so that’s what I use to fill it. An ice cream bucket works fine for emptying. Getting out is a form of exercise, much like getting up from the floor. When I’m not using it the tub stores neatly under my bed (which happens to be a little higher than average).

So that’s my bath-on-a-budget!


Do you decanter into a basin as imagine the shower drain would be covered by the ‘bath’?

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The water does get away, slowly. When most of the weight is gone, I put a door chock under one edge to finish the job.