Tub, Shower or Both?

Lexington Homes has been increasing the size of shower stalls, like this one in a new home at Lexington Towne at Arlington Heights in Arlington Heights, Ill. The master bathroom also includes a soaker tub.

Lexington Homes has been increasing the size of shower stalls, like this one in a new home at Lexington Towne at Arlington Heights in Arlington Heights, Ill. The master bathroom also includes a soaker tub. Photo courtesy of Lexington Homes.

When looking for your new dream home, how do you decide which bathroom features are perfect for you and your home? Where do you start?

There are bathtubs, walk-in showers and tub/shower combinations. Which bathrooms get which features?

There are many things to consider when deciding which bathroom features will best fit your family’s needs and your home’s layout. Below are the pros and cons of each option to help you decide if a shower, tub or both are a good option for your new home:



• A Glamourous Look

A big, separate tub looks and feels very luxurious. “Free standing tubs have come such a long way and are now a piece of functional art. Today’s soaking tubs are as beautiful as they are relaxing,” says Nancy Haskin, an Operations and Custom Home Manager with Anlon Custom Homes & Construction in Clackamas, Ore.

• Rest and Relaxation

Soaking in a tub can be good for your health as it helps to relax your mind and muscles. Many tubs also have built-in jets, whirlpools, Jacuzzi features, etc. Spa day can be every day — get your eye cucumbers out!

• For the Children

Having a tub allows you to easily bathe small kids (and pets!) as it is wider and deeper than sinks.

• Resale Value

Spencer Chambers, owner of real estate company The Chambers Organization based in Newport Beach, Calif., says that “there is no need to put a tub in every bathroom, but there should be at least one in the house. This is crucial for resale value.”


• Can Be Hard to Get In and Out

Tubs, especially very large ones, can be difficult for older people or people with injuries or disabilities to get in and out.

• Lots of Water

Unfortunately, filling up a bathtub uses a lot of water, which is not eco-friendly and can affect the water bill, despite energy-efficient fixtures.

• Lots of Space

A bathtub can take up a lot of room in a floor plan, so skipping the big, luxurious tub will make your bathroom feel bigger and more spacious.



• On Trend

Walk-in shower stalls are very popular right now in new homes. Jeff Benach, principal of Chicago-based Lexington Homes, says the builder has been increasing the size of shower stalls in its homes in the last few years. In fact, a larger shower with ceramic tile surround as a standard finish has been replacing the tub-shower combo in some of their floor plans.

Brian Hoffman, an executive with Red Seal Homes, a Chicago luxury homebuilder, says the builder is seeing luxury features in showers. These fancy features include built-in benches, rain shower heads, jets, separate thermostat/temperature controls and steam options. Ooh la la!

• Safe for Life

Curbless showers mean you simply walk in, making it easier for older adults to get into, without the hazard of a step that can trip folks up. A curbless shower means you won’t have to make any adjustments, save for handle bars, later in life. So, you can age in place with a curbless shower.

• Eco Friendly

Taking a quick shower typically uses much less water than a big tub, so that will positively affect water usage. Couple that with a high-efficiency showerhead and the savings add up even more.


• Cleaning and Maintenance

The glass shower doors, in particular, are sometimes hard to keep looking new. Minerals from water can easily build up and leave the glass looking cloudy. Squeegee to the rescue!

• For the Children

As mentioned earlier, bathing babies and kids is much easier in a tub, so a walk-in shower might not be the ideal place for bath time.

• No Spa Bath

Putting away my eye cucumbers now …

Best of Both Worlds

Both, in one piece:

• A tub/shower combo is great for those who need both features, but do not have a lot of space to work with in their bathroom’s layout. These are often found in secondary/guest bathrooms.

Both, but separate:

• A separate bathtub and walk-in shower is great for those who need both features and do have the space for it. These are often found in master bathrooms.

Thinking Ahead

An interesting point to consider is that your needs might change over time. If you are planning to age in place in your new home, consider your safety and physical needs. Perhaps the separate tub or the classic tub/shower combo seems fitting now. Features like this can be difficult to manage in the future.

Unless you choose a walk-in tub (a tub with a hinged door), a walk-in shower with a hand rail is the safest option. Haskin says that “when faced with a choice, our clients over 50 will always pick a walk-in shower over a tub/shower combo.”

Each bathroom feature has its benefits and challenges. When choosing which options are best for you, consider the available space in the floor plan, how long you plan to live there and if any family member’s age requires particular accommodations.

Most of all, make sure you have a space that you will love to come home to. Relax and revive from your busy life in your own luxurious bathroom. Haskin says that “a bubble bath really can do wonders for the soul.” Agreed!
Julia West is a search marketing associate for Builders Digital Experience and a former content intern for NewHomeSource, where she contributes articles on a variety of topics about homebuilding, real estate and home and garden.

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