This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. (Learn how and when to remove these template messages) This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. The specific problem is: Poorly written/generalizations. Please help improve this article if you can. (July 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Bathtub" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (January 2013) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Private cast iron bathtubs with porcelain interiors on "claw foot" pedestals rose to popularity in the 19th century
Private cast iron bathtubs with porcelain interiors on "claw foot" pedestals rose to popularity in the 19th century

A bathtub, also known simply as a bath or tub, is a container for holding water in which a person or animal may bathe. Most modern bathtubs are made of thermoformed acrylic, porcelain-enameled steel, fiberglass-reinforced polyester, or porcelain-enameled cast iron. A bathtub is usually placed in a bathroom either as a stand-alone fixture or in conjunction with a shower.

Modern bathtubs have overflow and waste drains and may have taps mounted on them. They are usually built-in, but may be free-standing or sometimes sunken. Until recently, most bathtubs were roughly rectangular in shape, but with the advent of acrylic thermoformed baths, more shapes are becoming available. Bathtubs are commonly white in color, although many other colors can be found. The process for enamelling cast iron bathtubs was invented by the Scottish-born American David Dunbar Buick.

Two main styles of bathtub are common:

History of bathtubs and bathing

Main articles: Bathing and History of water supply and sanitation

Traditional bathtub (19th century) from Italy
Traditional bathtub (19th century) from Italy

Documented early plumbing systems for bathing go back as far as around 3300 BC with the discovery of copper water pipes beneath a palace in ancient Europe.[citation needed] Evidence of the earliest surviving personal sized bath tub was found on the Isle of Crete where a 1.5-metre (5 ft) long pedestal tub was found built from hardened pottery.[1]

The clawfoot tub, which reached the apex of its popularity in the late 19th century, had its origins in the mid 18th century, when the ball and claw design originated in the Netherlands, possibly artistically inspired by the Chinese motif of a dragon holding a precious stone. The design spread to England, where it found much popularity among the aristocracy, just as bathing was becoming increasingly fashionable. Early bathtubs in England tended to be made of cast iron, or even tin and copper with a face of paint applied that tended to peel with time.

The Scottish-born inventor David Buick invented a process for bonding porcelain enamel to cast iron in the 1880s while working for the Alexander Manufacturing Company in Detroit. The company, as well as others including Kohler Company and J. L. Mott Iron Works, began successfully marketing porcelain enameled cast-iron bathtubs, a process that remains broadly the same to this day. Far from the ornate feet and luxury most associated with clawfoot tubs, an early Kohler example was advertised as a "horse trough/hog scalder, when furnished with four legs will serve as a bathtub." The item's use as a hog scalder was considered a more important marketing point than its ability to function as a bathtub.

In the latter half of the 20th century, the once popular clawfoot tub morphed into a built-in tub with a small apron front. This enclosed style afforded easier maintenance and, with the emergence of colored sanitary ware, more design options for the homeowner. The Crane Company introduced colored bathroom fixtures to the United States market in 1928, and slowly this influx of design options and easier cleaning and care led to the near demise of clawfoot-style tubs.

In the 1960s fiberglass bathtubs became the standard[citation needed] for homes, being lightweight and inexpensive.

James R. Wheeler and his brother Richard in 1979 adapted the acrylic being used for outdoor spas to make acrylic bathtubs. Working with Spartech Plastics, they developed the modern co-extruded and durable acrylic bathtub. The company American Bath Factory was the first to expand the diversity of acrylic bathtubs to include whirlpools, clawfoot bathtubs, and a large variety of pedestal and modern bathtubs.


Slipper tub
Slipper tub
Wooden bathtubs for children and infants in Haikou, Hainan, China
Wooden bathtubs for children and infants in Haikou, Hainan, China
Jacuzzi whirlpool bathtub
Jacuzzi whirlpool bathtub

Clawfoot tub

The clawfoot tub was considered a luxury item in the late 19th century, originally made from cast iron and lined with porcelain. Modern technology has contributed to a drop in the price of clawfoot tubs, which may now be made of fiberglass, acrylic or other modern materials. Clawfoot tubs usually require more water than a standard bathtub, because generally they are larger. While true antique clawfoot tubs are still considered collectible items, new reproduction clawfoot tubs are chosen by remodellers and new home builders and much like the Western-style bathtubs, clawfoot tubs can also include a variety of shower head options.

Clawfoot tubs come in four major styles:

Pedestal tubs

Pedestal tubs rest on a pedestal in what many would term an art deco style. Evidence of pedestal tubs dates back to the island of Crete around 1000 BC.

Baby bathtub

A baby bathtub is one used for bathing infants, especially those not yet old enough to sit up on their own. These can be either a small, stand-alone bath that is filled with water from another source, or a device for supporting the baby that is placed in a standard bathtub. Many are designed to allow the baby to recline while keeping its head out of the water.

Hot tubs

Wooden hot tub on a trailer in Finland.
Wooden hot tub on a trailer in Finland.

Hot tubs are common heated pools used for relaxation and sometimes for therapy. Hot tubs became popularized in the U.S. during the early hippie era (1967–1980), appearing in films and music.[2]

Whirlpool tubs

Whirlpool tubs first became popular in the U.S. during the 1960s and 1970s. A spa or hot tub is also called a "jacuzzi" since the word became a generic after plumbing component manufacturer Jacuzzi introduced the "Spa Whirlpool" in 1968. Air bubbles may be introduced into the nozzles via an air-bleed venturi pump.

Freestand bathtubs

Freestanding tubs have become popular in recent years as a result of larger bathrooms being constructed. Freestanding bathtubs may be made from various materials such as stone resin, cast stone, acrylic, cast iron, fiberglass, porcelain, copper, and cement.

Soft bathtubs

Soft tubs are made from soft plastic or foam with a protective non-slip coating.[3] While soft tubs have been available since the 1970s,[4] by the 1990s they were being sold by major manufacturers.[3] The tubs are typically marketed for children and the elderly, to prevent injury from falls.[5]

See also


  1. ^ "The Evolution of the Design Bathtub in the History". CeramicaFlaminia. 13 August 2015. Archived from the original on 2 August 2018. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
  2. ^ McCleary, John Bassett (2002). The Hippie Dictionary. Canada: Ten Speed Press. p. 220. ISBN 978-1-58008-547-2.
  3. ^ a b Austin, Gene (July 19, 1991). "Soft bathtubs touted as the new wave in offbeat bathroom fixtures". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  4. ^ Reif, Rita (September 2, 1976). "Doesn't Anyone Out There Need a Soft Bathtub?". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  5. ^ Austin, Gene (August 17, 1991). "Will The New Soft Bathtub Need A Hard Sell?". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 27 July 2018.