Bathe and relax with ease! How to make the right choice between a freestanding bathtub and built-in bath!

Before committing to your exciting new bathroom renovation, there’s a big question you will need to ask yourself. Do you desire a freestanding bathtub or built-in bath? There’s plenty to consider such as lifestyle, bathroom space, practicality and, shape preference. Who Bathroom Warehouse is hot for both styles and each can look fantastic in your new bathroom. We’ve put together a handy guide with loads of info to help you decide between a freestanding or built-in bath. For more inspiration, check out our bathroom design gallery.

Freestanding baths

The delicious and luxurious freestanding bath has been extremely popular in recent years. They’re eye-catching, make a strong design statement and, designed for people who enjoy a long relaxing soak. Whether you like a modern or vintage look, this type of bathtub has an incredible variety of shapes and sizes, allowing you to customise your bathroom’s appearance. It’s hard to go past their gorgeous and very chic style.


  • Range – A freestanding bath can suit any décor scheme. Whether your preference is the classic claw-foot or the avant-garde egg shape, there is virtually no limit to the diverse range of freestanding baths. They aren’t restricted by a need for a lot of space and don’t have to fit between walls or set into tiles. This allows designers the freedom to be more creative with shape and form.
  • Appearance – Freestanding baths are very appealing and often chosen for their good looks. They’re generally associated with luxury and grandeur. This type of bath makes a gorgeous statement piece with its chic artistry and glamour. Many high-end salons favour the opulent freestanding bath.
  • Installation – A freestanding bathtub is a lot easier to install than a built-in bath. A plumber is possibly all you’ll require and there will be no need for a decorator and contractor. WHO Bathrooms is happy to offer further expert advice about installation.
  • Position – Free-standing baths allow the opportunity to use your space with a bit more creativity and flair. Want a bathtub in the centre of the room or directly beneath a skylight? Ready, willing and able! While built-in baths often need two or more walls for installation, free-standing baths are the winners in the positioning stakes.

Some limitations

  • Price – Freestanding bathtubs can be a bit more costly than built-in baths regardless of the lesser installation price. This is due to a more complex fabrication and the numerous design options.
  • Weight – Traditional freestanding baths can be extremely heavy and often require a reinforced floor. They are usually larger which means they weigh more when filled with water. At WHO, we stock a range of handmade fibreglass/Lucite™ acrylic models that weigh less than stone or steel alternatives.
  • Shower combination – While it is possible to mount a shower to a freestanding bathtub, combining a shower with a built-in is a better choice. Mounted showers tend to look unrefined and require a curtain. There are some freestanding baths available with a small hand-held unit for rinsing and this can be a handy alternative to a full shower. 
  • Storage – A freestanding bath has lesser options for convenient storage. Basically, there is no ledge where you can place your shampoo, candles, and grooming accessories. However, this situation can be easily rectified by the use of a bathroom caddy or a small
  • Size – Getting in and out of some of the swimming-pool sized beauties that are around today can be awkward. Another hindrance is height. The deeper freestanding baths are often more difficult to lean over for cleaning and bathing a child or pet.


Built-in baths

Built-in baths still have many fans due to their practicality and accessibility. They conveniently fit into most bathrooms, are great for smaller spaces, plus they’re easier to use and clean. Let’s not forget presentation. A built-in bath can still look fabulous with the right design and match the beauty of a free-standing bathtub.


  • Price – Built-in baths are generally a more affordable option, even though freestanding baths have increased in availability. Obviously, if your built-in bath requires a surround, the cost will be affected by this component.
  • Space saver – For using space more economically, built-in baths go to the top of the class. They sit flush against a wall which means they’re positioned more out of the way. Freestanding baths usually require a decent amount of surrounding free space so they’re more room hungry. Therefore, if you have a small bathroom, a built-in bath is a beneficial choice.
  • Storage – Built-in baths offer more storage options due to their flush placement against the wall. For example, shelves can be mounted, or a niche recessed into the walls beside the bath. If the surround is large, the edge can be used for storing smaller bathroom products.
  • Plumbing – Plumbing for a built-in bath is generally already installed and tucked under the bath where it’s out of sight. The plumbing for a clawfoot freestanding bathtub can be a bit complex, often requires new piping, and can look unattractive due to lack of concealment.
  • Cleaning – Built-in baths tend to be smaller, making them easier to reach into for cleaning. An added bonus is the fact you don’t have to clean outside or beneath the bath.

Some limitations

  • Position – Obviously, positioning isn’t as flexible as the positioning of freestanding baths. Built-in baths have little choice but to be placed to the side of the room and may have to be allocated to a corner of the bathroom.
  • Range – Basically, the range of built-in baths is minimal compared to the multi-choice range of freestanding baths. However, a dose of creativity can be found amongst the built-in bath space. By incorporating a fashionable surround, the built-in bath can still look stylish and unique. 
  • Installation – A built-in bath needs more installation elements than a free-standing bathtub, regardless of any new plumbing the free-standing may need. Built-in baths require sealing, mounting, and often the formation of a waterproof surround (hob). 
  • Appearance – At the end of the day, it really comes down to personal choice and practicality. While built-in baths can make a stylish addition to your new bathroom, a free-standing bath continues to outshine even the most fashionable built-ins. It’s difficult to go past the design statement a free-standing bath makes.


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Ultimately, when you weigh up everything, do throw in a generous amount of personal preference. After all, it’s your new bathroom and the most important person to impress is yourself. Determining which type of bath will add the most value to your property can be a speculative process. Our advice is to make sure the bathtub is appropriate for both décor and usage. A bathroom that brings all the elements together to work as a seamless package will be your best bet.

If you have space and like the elegant characteristics of a freestanding bath then follow your dreams and don’t let limitations be a hindrance. There’s good news for those who prefer the practicality and simplicity of a built-in bath. WHO Bathroom Warehouse also stock several great built-in options for you to choose from.

For further advice and assistance, talk to our friendly WHO team!