What is a slipper tub? This shapely, free-standing bathtub is true to its name: One side is higher than the other, much like a heeled shoe.
The slipper tub was all the rage in Victorian times and were first installed in public bathhouses and washrooms, according to Sara Chiarilli, an interior designer with Artful Conceptions. The higher end of the tub allowed the bather more privacy.
As people began adding them to their homes, they became a status symbol.
“This tub was considered a luxury item, not a necessity, because only the wealthy took baths,” says Drew Henry of Design Dudes.
And today, slipper tubs are experiencing a renaissance.
“These beautiful tubs went away for a time when building became more about production and cost cutting, but as we’ve become more individualized, slipper tubs have come back,” says Chiarilli.
Here’s what you need to know about adding a slipper tub to your bathroom.
What is a slipper tub?
“Slipper tubs have really started to take off, especially the more ornate ones with decorative feet,” says Karen Gray-Plaisted of Design Solutions KGP. “You can purchase an antique tub, but there are great variations manufactured in acrylic and porcelain today.”
“There’s nothing better for soaking away a tough day than a slipper tub with its arched back and sides that can be used as arm rests,” says Jason Oliver Nixon, co-owner of the design firm Madcap Cottage. Homeowners can find slipper tubs with a variety of accessories such as head pillows or air jets.
Not only is the tub a looker, but so is the hardware that accompanies it.
“Unlike traditional in-wall plumbing, these pipes are meant to be seen and appreciated,” says Jamie Novak, author of “Keep This Toss That.”
What size slipper tub is best?
As with most oversize soaking tubs, it’s best to pick your tub and then design your bathroom around it to make sure there’s enough space, suggests Novak.
If you’re installing a slipper tub in a tight space, measure carefully, since these products range in length from 30 to 80 inches and are generally 19 to 67 inches wide.
Unlike a conventional tub, slipper versions aren’t meant to be installed flush against a wall or snug in a corner. Instead, you’ll need to allow about three to six inches of clearance all around so your tub stands alone.
Whatever you do, don’t try to cram a tub into a tiny space.
“If you’re hoping to reclaim the space of a shower-tub combo, a slipper tub probably won’t fit, so save this item for larger bathrooms where you have more room to breathe on either side,” says Henry.
Other measurements to keep in mind include your own personal dimensions. Make sure to try it out for size by getting in (without water is fine).
“Get inside a slipper tub you’re thinking of purchasing to see if you fit comfortably,” advises Gray-Plaisted.
Also be sure to check your hot water tank’s capacity so these fixtures can deliver the heat you’ll require. If you don’t have enough hot H2O to fill your new tub, it won’t see much use.
Slipper tub cost and materials
A white slipper tub is classic, but there are many colors on the market. Materials, too, are myriad, including porcelain, stone, cast iron, acrylic, and metals such as copper and enamel-coated steel.
Prices range from under a thousand to over $30,000, depending on size and materials.
“Fiberglass and acrylic are the least expensive options, but these can scratch and fade, while cast iron will retain heat and is very durable,” Chiarilli explains.
Cast iron is also heavy, so be certain your floor can handle the weight. “And keep in mind that antique cast iron can be resurfaced and will bring a lot of class to your overall design,” she adds.
Last but not least, if you like to splash with a partner, a double slipper tub is just the ticket. This version sports a raised end on each side so you both can sit back and relax in the bubbles.
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