Bath vs shower? It’s a choice that never fails to cause a stir. The bathtub has long been hailed as a bathroom luxury – an entire room has been named after it no less. But let’s take a step back for a minute. Is there still a place for the bath today and if not, why not?
The bath vs shower debate
First of all, there’s the comfort factor. If you want to shower, you’re going to have to stand up in a cubicle, whereas with the bath, you can just sit back and relax. It’s in the family home though that the bath truly comes into its own. As soon as you add a child to the mix and it’s no longer just you and your partner, you’ll discover that it’s actually pretty impractical to wash a small child in the shower. My cousin’s baby loves bathtime so much that I bought her a floating tea set last Christmas. I can’t imagine doing the same had my cousin opted for a shower only bathroom. You can plug up the bottom of the shower of course but there’s not much space available to fill with water. Letting a child splash around in a shower tray is only going to result in one very wet floor. You would probably be better off buying a baby bath – those mini tubs, available for between £10 and £40 that are designed to cater for the zero bathtub household.
That said, we can’t forget the preparation time. A bath has to be planned and run for roughly 15 minutes before it’s full. Possibly 10 if you don’t want to fill it to the top but still, there’s no jumping straight in. In my house, running a bath has often proved to be a stressful experience in itself – hands up if you’ve also been hit with the sudden panicky realisation that you haven’t checked it in a while? More and more of us have increasingly busy lifestyles and you can’t beat a quick shower for convenience.
Much of the preparation time comes down to the amount of water that’s used. Shower rather than bathe and you’ll save 35 gallons of water each time – providing you’re not opting for a high-volume power shower with large holes in the showerhead. It might look fancy but you can actually use more water in five minutes than you would by filling up an entire bath! If you make smart decisions such as investing in a low-flow shower head, you’ll find that you’ll use half the amount of water than you normally would.
There’s just no comparison when it comes to being green in the home – shower sensibly and you’ll help to conserve water and lower your water bill in the process. According to the Energy Saving Trust, if a family of four swap just one bath each a week for a five-minute shower, you can save up to £20 a year on gas bills and up to £25 on water bills if you have a water meter.
This is where the black and white facts turn grey. A shower may be kinder to your bank balance in the long term but should you not already have one installed, the cost of fitting it might see you having to wait at least two years before you start to see any payback through your gas and water bills. That said, this only really applies if you’re replacing your bath with a shower, as the average electric shower will cost around £150, while the bathtub £235 if it’s a shower bath or £600 if it’s free-standing bathtub.
With the average property now being smaller than it was 5 years ago, it’s understandable that we don’t all have baths in our bathrooms. Creating space tops our home wishlist and a small bathroom cannot always accommodate a bath and a separate shower. According to the International Plumbing Code, the average bath is 1700 x 750mm (1.275 square metres) while the average shower takes up just 900-914 x 900mm (0.81 square metres). Not only that but the height of the shower screen alludes to more space, working in the same way as floor to ceiling curtains to elongate the room.
Also rising in popularity is both the mini bath and showerbath, aka the shower within a bath. Many bathroom companies have cottoned on to the design of ever smaller bathrooms in houses and responded by producing smaller baths, often containing showers, which reach 1500mm in length rather than the standard of 1700mm. The Milano Alton showerbath suite by Alton is a perfect example of the latter. At 1500mm though, these mini baths still can’t compare to the space-saving shower.
I believe that the preference for bathtubs or showers can be traced right back to the culture that you find yourself. Despite the obvious advantages of a shower, when we asked our Facebook fans if there was still a place for the bath in the modern day, they responded with a unanimous “yes”. Whether they felt that “you can’t beat a good soak”, that their bath “would be something [that they]… would take to [a]… desert island” or that “bathtubs are a must!! Showers are a convenience” – the message was clear, we can’t banish the bathtub just yet but we’re not ready to give up our showers and would prefer to accommodate for both (whether that means investing in a shower bath rather than a separate tub and shower cubicle). Interestingly, there’s a common point of view that taking a bath is unhygienic, since a person will end up sitting in their own dirt. I’ve come across many people in England who take a bath to relax but then also finish off by taking a shower – wasting rather a lot of water in the process!
When it comes to deciding whether to keep the bath, it’s always a good idea to think about the future as well as the present advantages and disadvantages. Are you intending to sell your home because if so, having a bathroom without a bath can be off-putting to potential buyers, especially if they have or plan to start a family. That said, if you’re dealing with a rented property, then this won’t be so much of a concern. Many young couples rent and they’re not as likely to be particular about their home containing a good old-fashioned tub.
Do you think that there’s still a place for the bathtub? Perhaps you’ve swapped yours for a shower cubicle, or your bathroom has space for both? Post a job on Rated People in our bathroom specialist category to receive quotes from our qualified and trusted tradesmen.