Best Drop In Bathtubs

Updated September 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

29 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
385 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best drop-in bathtubs

Last Updated September 2020

Sitting in a tub can be a relaxing experience. Buying one, however, is considerably less so. One of the most common types of tubs you will find on the market these days is the drop-in tub, and even this type of tub alone can leave you bewildered with the wide variety of shapes, sizes, and features available.

As the name implies, drop-in tubs are installed by dropping or lowering them into a pre-built frame or surround. You can design the surround however you wish, making this one of the most versatile tub types you will find. They are also affordable, providing the perfect way to add a little comfort and luxury to your bathroom without going over budget.

This guide will break down all the elements you’ll need to deal with — from construction materials and size to features such as slip-resistant flooring and reversible drains — when shopping for a drop-in tub. We also examine what you should be paying for a drop-in tub, and what you can expect in a tub at various price points. Finally, we’ll offer up a variety of our favorite models, and highlight what we like about each one.

One big plus of a drop-in tub is that it is often a more efficient way to use limited bathroom space than other forms of tubs.

Key considerations

Construction materials

Drop-in tubs can be constructed from a wide range of materials, including copper, cast iron, fiberglass, and even stone.

More often than not, however, a drop-in tub will be made from acrylic, which is both strong and lightweight. It is also easy to clean. Sometimes a fiberglass layer is added to the acrylic to provide more strength without adding any weight.

Weight is a major consideration when comparing materials. Try to imagine dragging a cast iron or stone drop-in tub up a flight of stairs and then securely installing it with enough support so that it doesn’t wind up back on the first floor during its maiden filling. Now imagine the same scenario with a 65-pound acrylic tub.

Appearance

As the tub will be a focal point of your bathroom, it should be attractive and work with your décor. Drop-in tubs are available in a range of colors (depending on the manufacturer) and can generally be found in shapes such as rectangular, oval, round, square, or even contoured hourglass.

One big plus with a drop-in tub is that it is installed into a frame, which you can design using whatever materials or colors you wish. The appearance of the drop-in tub, as such, isn’t as important as that of a standalone tub, as much of the drop-in tub will be hidden behind the surround.

Soaking vs. whirlpool

The majority of drop-in tubs will be simple soaking tubs, but some do more closely resemble spas, with whirlpool or air jets to help massage away stress. While certainly a welcome addition for some bathers, any whirlpool options will add considerably to the price and installation process.

Size

The width, length, and depth of a drop-in tub can all vary considerably, and you should give careful consideration to all before you settle on a tub. This is particularly true for those who are taller or heavier and will need a larger tub just to be able to comfortably use it.

Drop-in tubs typically range from 35 to 86 inches in length and 20 to 84 inches or more in width. The depth of these tubs will usually range from 12 to 41 inches. A larger and deeper tub will provide you — or you and a friend — with a better soaking experience. On the other hand, a larger tub can be more difficult to fit into tight spaces. It will also not be as economical since you will use more hot water.

EXPERT TIP

Decks around the lip of a drop-in tub can be narrow or wider to hold tub-side toiletries, candles, and other items.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Lumbar support and armrests

Relaxation is the key to a comfortable soaking experience, and to this end, some drop-in tubs offer lumbar support or armrests. If you have back trouble, find a tub with lumbar support that will provide a more ergonomic slant to rest against. This will allow you to soak for longer periods without experiencing pain or discomfort.

Armrests provide you with ergonomically designed indents so that you can position your arms for optimal relaxation. They can also provide something to hold onto when exiting the tub.

Overflow drains

For deep soaking, a drop-in tub should have some way of allowing water to drain off before it breaches the lip and begins to flood your bathroom. Some of these overflow drains are in the form of decorative slots as opposed to simple holes, which can turn something functional into an attractive design element.

Reversible drains

Some drop-in tubs are designed with reversible draining capabilities. This will allow you to face the tub in either direction, which provides flexibility when installing the tub.

Slip-resistant flooring

Standard in the majority of drop-in tubs is some form of slip-resistant flooring, which provides some texture to the bottom of the tub. This safety feature will allow you to more easily enter and leave the tub without risking a fall.

Whirlpool features

As mentioned, some drop-in tubs offer advanced whirlpool features. These are primarily in the form of adjustable jets that emit water or air, adding a massage element to your bathing experience. Whirlpool features are relatively rare for a tub of this type and can add significantly to the overall price.

Other features that you might find in a whirlpool drop-in tub include underwater lighting, heaters, and even aromatherapy options.

DID YOU KNOW?

Simple drop-in tubs without drains typically weigh between 60 and 80 pounds.

Drop-in bathtub prices

Drop-in tubs are a bit of an investment, with even the least-expensive options setting you back at least $400. If you really want to splurge, be prepared to pay $1,000 or more.

The majority of drop-in tubs will be found in the $400 to $600 range, making them generally cheaper than standard tubs. At lower price points, you will find simple acrylic tubs, that are usually more compact in size and have few advanced design elements.

As the price rises to $600 to $1,000, so does the size of the tub, both in terms of length, width, and depth. More expensive tubs will usually offer advanced features such as reversible drains, and a more ergonomic design for increased comfort. The construction here still generally uses acrylic or acrylic/fiberglass for strength and a lighter weight.

Drop-ins for over $1,000 feature a superior build and advanced features such as whirlpool jets. At premium price points, you will find alternative construction materials such as copper, cast iron, and stone.

EXPERT TIP

If you are on a budget, drop-in tubs are generally much more affordable than comparably sized standard tubs.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • To more easily access tub plumbing, be sure that you build a removable panel into the tub surround.
  • Before purchasing a drop-in tub, determine how much time you will be spending in it. Those who enjoy a frequent long soak will be better off spending more for additional features than those who will use their tub sporadically.
  • Slip-resistant flooring may be more difficult to clean and won’t offer the “resistance” that some buyers are searching for. You may be better off going with your own removable anti-slip pad to use in the tub.
  • Whirlpool tubs with jets will up the installation time, cost, and difficulty considerably. Some additional items you will need to deal with when installing a whirlpool tub include pumps, switches and timers, and other elements necessary to run and manage the jets.
  • Acrylic drop-in tubs are easy to clean, requiring no scrubbing. A bonus here is that with the outer portions of the tub hidden behind the surround, you only need to keep the inside and lip of the tub clean.
  • Be aware that the larger the tub, the more strain you are going to be placing on your water heater. If your water heater isn’t up to the task, a large or deep tub may not be a practical investment.
  • Where a drop-in tub is usually installed up against a wall, you can install it hemmed in by three walls, effectively making it an alcove tub. For people who have trouble entering and exiting a tub, an alcove installation can be a better fit for them.
Drop-in tubs can be easily replaced if your bathroom décor changes. However, you should purchase a model that isn’t trendy and will still look good in a decade to save money in the long run.

FAQ

Q. Can I install a drop-in tub myself?
A.
Unless you are really sure you know what you are doing, the installation of one of these tubs is best left to a professional. From installing the plumbing and building the surround and mortar base to securing the tub and protecting your walls with a tub flange kit, there are a number of construction areas that you will need a fairly decent familiarity with to pull off a drop-in tub installation.

The sole purpose of your tub is to hold several hundred pounds of water and you. If you have the least bit of doubt concerning your abilities in this area, you should hire a professional to install your tub.
 

Q. Can I combine a drop-in tub with a shower?
A.
While drop-in tubs typically aren’t designed to be used with a showerhead, you (or a professional) can certainly set it up so that you can use the tub for showering. To do so, be sure the tub will be installed against the wall that will hold the showerhead and plumbing. You should also install the tub with some form of enclosure to keep water from splattering onto the tub decking and other parts of your bathroom. You may need to purchase a special tile bead kit to keep water from collecting between the tub and wall.
 

Q. Will I need to supply my own drain?
A.
Drop-in tubs at this level typically do not ship with drains or other fixtures, so you should plan to purchase them separately (and budget for them). Note that these tubs usually use specific drains, so be sure to check with the manufacturer when buying the tub to verify that you can pick up the correct drain at the same time.

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The BestReviews editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.
The team that worked on this review
  • Ciera Pasturel
    Ciera Pasturel
    Digital Content Producer
  • Melinda Snowden
    Melinda Snowden
    Web Producer
  • Rich Gray
    Rich Gray
    Writer

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