Alcove vs. Skirted Tub: Is One Better?

Bathtubs come in numerous styles and designs, including alcove tubs, tub and shower combinations, drop-in bathtubs, freestanding bathtubs, skirted bathtubs, and corner tubs. So, there’s no shortage of options, which makes finding the perfect bathtub easier.

That said, some bathtubs work better for specific situations. This article compares alcove and skirted tubs to help you decide which option is better for your home, so continue reading to learn more!

Alcove Bathtubs

Alcove bathtubs aren’t necessarily a specific type of bathtub. Instead, the name indicates the installation method for this particular bathtub. Alcove bathtubs, also known as recessed bathtubs, are installed in a recessed portion (or alcove) of your bathroom. 

Generally, these bathtubs are installed in a pocket alcove with three joining walls in the bathroom. So, while three sides are alongside walls, there’s one side that is exposed. Some modern designs feature two walls and one large window to help reduce the confined feeling of this installation. 

Many folks add a shower curtain (or sliding door) to provide privacy and make taking showers in the recessed tub easier. Many alcove tubs feature a shower and tub spout to combine showering and bathing in one space. 

Benefits Of Alcove Bathtubs

Alcove bathtubs offer a few notable advantages that swing the odds in their favor. A few benefits of alcove bathtubs include:

  • Fit into small spaces
  • Offer a streamlined appearance in your bathroom
  • Tend to be an affordable option
  • Last for many years with proper care
  • Easy to clean
  • Widely available

Common Materials Used For Alcove Bathtubs

Alcove bathtubs come in a few different materials, although the primary materials are fiberglass, acrylic, cast iron, and stone resin. Fiberglass and acrylic are arguable the most common bathtub materials, but you can find alternative options on the market. 

Each option has its pros and cons, so deciding on the best material comes down to your personal situation. For example, fiberglass and acrylic tend to be considerably less expensive than cast iron and stone resin, so if you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, these might be your best bet.

Standard Alcove Sizes

Although alcove bathtubs are ideal for saving space in your bathroom, there aren’t many sizes available on the market. For the most part, the average alcove bathtub is about 48 inches long, 25 inches wide, and offers 16 inches of water depth. 

There are larger sizes available on the market, with a length of 72 inches, a width of 42 inches, and a water depth of 20 inches, but they’re not as widely available as their standard counterpart. These tubs aren’t widely available in very many sizes or designs, so you might have a tough time finding the correct size if your bathroom doesn’t align with standard sizing. 

How Much Do Alcove Bathtubs Cost?

For the most part, alcove tubs cost anywhere from $295 to $650. The price may fluctuate based on the type of material you choose, the size, and installation costs in your area. For instance, if you DIY the installation and choose a basic fiberglass or acrylic tub, it’ll likely be on the cheaper end of the spectrum. 

On the other hand, if you choose a larger tub or a pricier material, such as cast iron, it might cost more than $650. Cast iron is heavy, so installation can be tricky, which drives the cost up. 

Skirted Bathtubs

Skirted bathtubs are another popular bathtub style that features one side with a skirt or apron. Generally, the skirt is either flat or bowed and extends the entire length of the bathtub. This makes it much easier to install and offers a convenient area to rest on. 

Skirted tubs come in several different installation configurations, such as a drop-in tub. Drop-in skirted tubs offer protection from outside debris and create a smooth transition from the floor to the tub. These tubs are often designed for two people, but you can find larger sizes. 

These bathtubs are available in a few different options. The skirted portion simply encompasses the bathtub, offering extra support and easier installation. You can find skirted bathtubs in the following configurations:

  • Freestanding 
  • Clawfoot 
  • Garden
  • Whirlpool or jacuzzi

Skirted tubs are available in single-sided skirts or two-sided skirts. Generally, two-sided skirted tubs are more expensive than single-sided skirts, as the extra material increases the price. The skirt is usually made of tile or beadboard, with beadboard being the more popular choice because of its inexpensive nature. 

Tiled skirted tubs are usually made of ceramic or natural stone before being applied to the outside of the tub’s skirt. You can find tiled skirted tubs in various patterns, colors, and price points, so finding something to match your bathroom’s aesthetic shouldn’t be overly challenging. 

Of course, there are a few other options, such as natural stone and matte patterns, but beadboard and tile are usually the most popular options. 

Benefits Of Skirted Bathtubs

Like alcove bathtubs, skirted bathtubs feature a unique set of benefits. A few notable pros of skirted bathtubs include:

  • More flexibility with installation
  • More placement options
  • Flange collects moisture, ensuring it doesn’t end up in the wall cavity
  • Superior moisture protection
  • Better mobility

Common Materials Used For Skirted Bathtubs

Like alcove tubs, skirted bathtubs also come in a few different materials, including fiberglass and acrylic. The best option for you depends on how much you want to spend and what features you expect from your bathtub (durability, longevity, etc.).

How Much Do Skirted Bathtubs Cost?

The cost of your skirted bathtub hinges on the material, design, number of finished sides, and brand. These tubs can cost a few hundred dollars on the low end, but on the high end of the spectrum, they can be as expensive as several hundred dollars. 

Of course, the cost depends on the particular model, so there isn’t a pinpointed price.

Is One Better?

Ultimately, the best bathtub for your home depends on the layout of your bathroom, how much you expect to pay, and what kind of style you prefer. If you like the looks of skirted bathtubs and have plenty of room for the added skirt, choose a skirted tub that works well for your bathroom. 

On the flip side, an alcove bathtub might be the best option if you have a smaller bathroom or a pre-existing alcove. Each selection has its merits, but it’s up to you to choose between the two. 

What Is The Difference Between An Alcove Tub And A Regular Tub?

Standard bathtubs and alcove bathtubs are the same things. Many homes feature alcove tubs, so many folks consider them “regular” bathtubs. The reality is there are multiple bathtub styles, but since these are one of the most common types, many folks think of alcove tubs as regular bathtubs. 

So, there isn’t a difference between the two. Of course, if you’re thinking of a different tub style (other than alcove tubs) as a regular bathtub, there will be numerous differences. 

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