What Is a Tub Surround: A Comprehensive Guide

What Is a Tub Surround?

A tub surround is a protective enclosure installed around a bathtub to prevent sliding and falling.

It is typically made from materials such as acrylic, cultured marble, composite stone, fiberglass, or solid surface.

The surround covers the walls of the bath, protecting them from water, mold, and mildew.

Different types of bathtubs, such as alcove, freestanding, claw-foot, corner, and walk-in tubs, may require different styles and sizes of tub surrounds.

The cost of a tub surround can range from $600 to $3,500.

Key Points:

  • A tub surround is a protective enclosure installed around a bathtub.
  • It is made from materials such as acrylic, cultured marble, composite stone, fiberglass, or solid surface.
  • The surround covers the walls of the bath, protecting them from water, mold, and mildew.
  • Different types of bathtubs may require different styles and sizes of tub surrounds.
  • The cost of a tub surround can range from $600 to $3,500.

Did You Know?

1. The concept of the tub surround dates back to ancient Greece and Rome, where they were known as “balnea” and “thermae” respectively. These were luxurious bathhouses that featured elaborate tub surrounds made of marble or mosaic.

2. In early 20th-century America, tub surrounds were primarily constructed with cast iron or porcelain, which made them heavy and difficult to install. It wasn’t until the 1960s that fiberglass and acrylic became popular materials for tub surrounds due to their lightweight and affordable nature.

3. Tub surrounds are not only functional but also serve as a way to enhance bathroom aesthetics. In recent years, designers have started incorporating unique materials like reclaimed wood, stone veneer, and even fabric-wrapped panels into tub surround designs to create a distinct and personalized look.

4. The installation of a tub surround can greatly impact the longevity and functionality of a bathroom. Properly installed tub surrounds provide a watertight seal that prevents moisture from seeping into the walls, which can lead to mold and structural damage.

5. To cater to various style preferences, tub surrounds are now available in a wide range of designs, including those that mimic the appearance of subway tiles, mosaic patterns, or even exposed brick. These options allow individuals to customize their tub surrounds to align with their desired aesthetic.

What Is A Tub Surround?

A tub surround is a protective enclosure installed around a bathtub to prevent sliding and falling, typically with a small step to get into the tub. It is a covering that protects the walls of a bath from water, mold, and mildew. Tub surrounds are usually made from materials such as acrylic, cultured marble, composite stone, fiberglass, or solid surface. These materials are chosen for their ability to resist moisture and provide durability.

Tub surrounds are essential for maintaining the integrity of the bathroom walls. Without a surround, water can seep into the walls, causing damage and leading to the growth of mold and mildew. Additionally, tub surrounds create a barrier that prevents water from splashing out of the tub and onto the floor. This can be especially important for bathrooms with wooden flooring or other materials that are prone to water damage.

In terms of installation, tub surrounds can be purchased as pre-fabricated units or custom-made to fit specific bathtub dimensions. Pre-fabricated surrounds are relatively easy to install and are available in a variety of styles and finishes to match the aesthetic of the bathroom. Custom-made surrounds offer more flexibility in design but may require professional installation.

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Overall, a tub surround is more than just a decorative piece in the bathroom. It serves an important functional purpose by protecting the walls and preventing water damage, making it an essential element in any bathtub installation.

Different Bathtub Styles And Costs

When it comes to choosing a bathtub, there are several different styles to consider. The most common styles include standard alcove tubs, freestanding tubs, claw-foot tubs, corner tubs, and walk-in tubs. Each style has its own unique features and benefits, and the total cost of the bathtub will depend on technology, finish, and material.

Standard alcove tubs are the most common type of bathtub and are typically installed against three walls. These tubs are often the most affordable option and are available in a variety of sizes and materials.

Freestanding tubs, on the other hand, are not attached to any walls and can be placed anywhere in the bathroom. These tubs are often considered a luxury option and can be more expensive.

Claw-foot tubs are a classic and elegant option, with raised feet that add a touch of sophistication to any bathroom. These tubs are available in various materials, including cast iron, acrylic, and even copper.

Corner tubs are designed to fit into corners, making them a space-saving option. They are available in various sizes and can be installed with or without a tub surround.

For those with mobility issues or additional bathrooms, walk-in tubs can be an alternative to traditional bathtubs. These tubs have a door that allows the user to enter and exit easily without having to step over the side. Walk-in tubs often come with additional features such as built-in grab bars, seating, and therapeutic options.

The cost of installing or replacing a bathtub can vary greatly depending on the style, material, and features. On average, the cost ranges from $800 to $4,600. Tub surrounds, which are often sold separately, can cost anywhere from $600 to $3,500. Soaking tubs, which are deep and designed for relaxation, typically range from $600 to $2,000. Whirlpool tubs, which have therapeutic water jets, can range in price from $400 to $16,800. Freestanding tubs can range from $600 to $15,700, clawfoot tubs range from $600 to $7,200, and walk-in baths have an average cost of around $5,000.

Alternatives To Bathtubs For Mobility Issues

For individuals with mobility issues or homes with multiple bathrooms, there are alternative options to traditional bathtubs. Walk-in curbless showers can be an excellent choice for those with serious mobility issues or limited space. These showers have a low or no threshold, making it easier to enter and exit without the need to step over a bathtub edge.

Curbless showers are designed to be accessible, with a flush floor that eliminates the need for a step or curb. They often include features such as built-in seating, grab bars, and hand-held showerheads. These showers can be custom-tailored to specific needs and provide a safer and more convenient bathing experience for individuals with mobility challenges.

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However, it’s important to note that walk-in curbless showers may not be suitable for everyone, especially if the home only has one bathroom. In such cases, having at least one traditional bathtub is advisable for bathing needs. Nevertheless, for homes with multiple bathrooms, installing a walk-in shower can provide a practical and accessible solution without sacrificing functionality or style.

Therefore, consulting with a professional contractor or bathroom designer is worth considering to determine the best alternative to a bathtub based on individual requirements and the layout of the space. They can provide valuable guidance on available options and help design a bathroom that is both accessible and aesthetically pleasing.

Benefits Of Whirlpool Bathtubs And Access Panels

Whirlpool bathtubs have gained popularity due to their numerous therapeutic benefits. These bathtubs are equipped with adjustable water jets that offer massage and relaxation to different parts of the body. The jets can be personalized to vary in intensity, providing relief for tired muscles and promoting overall well-being.

In addition to their therapeutic benefits, whirlpool bathtubs also add a touch of luxury to any bathroom. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes, allowing homeowners to choose a style that suits their aesthetic preferences. Whether it’s a sleek and modern design or a more traditional look, whirlpool bathtubs can enhance the overall ambiance of the bathroom.

When installing a whirlpool bathtub, it is recommended to include an access panel. This panel provides easy access to the internal components of the tub, such as the motor and plumbing, for repairs and maintenance. By having an access panel, any necessary repairs or adjustments can be made without the need to remove or replace the entire tub surround.

The presence of an access panel also contributes to safety. In the event of a malfunction or leak, having easy access to the motor and other components can help prevent further damage and ensure the bathtub continues to function properly. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for the installation and maintenance of the access panel to ensure proper functionality and longevity of the whirlpool bathtub.

Types Of Bathtubs And Materials

In addition to the different styles of bathtubs mentioned earlier, there are various types of bathtubs available on the market. These include air tubs, drop-in tubs, undermount tubs, alcove tubs, and Japanese soaking tubs.

Air tubs, also known as bubble baths, have air jets that release bubbles into the water, creating a relaxing and soothing bathing experience. Drop-in tubs are designed to be dropped into a platform or a custom-built frame, giving the bathroom a luxurious and seamless look. Undermount tubs are installed beneath the bathroom floor, creating a clean and minimalist appearance.

Alcove tubs are the most common type of bathtub and are designed to fit against three walls. They are relatively affordable and are available in a variety of materials, including acrylic, fiberglass, and enamel cast iron. Japanese soaking tubs are deep and narrow, allowing the bather to fully immerse themselves for a soothing and therapeutic experience.

When it comes to materials, the most common options for bathtubs are fiberglass, porcelain-enameled steel, enamel cast iron, and acrylic. Fiberglass bathtubs are lightweight, affordable, and easy to clean, but may be less durable than other materials. Porcelain-enameled steel bathtubs are durable and maintain heat well, but may be prone to chipping or scratching. Enamel cast iron bathtubs are known for their durability and heat retention, but they can be heavy and require extra support. Acrylic bathtubs are lightweight, easy to maintain, and available in a wide range of colors and styles.

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Each type of bathtub material has its own benefits and considerations, and ultimately the decision should be based on personal preferences, budget, and the overall design of the bathroom. It is important to research and choose a bathtub that best suits individual needs and fits within the desired budget. Consulting with a professional contractor or bathroom designer can provide valuable insight and guidance on selecting the right type of bathtub and material for the specific project.


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Frequently Asked Questions

Is a tub surround a good idea?

Installing a tub surround can be a sensible decision. Over time, the enclosure around a bathtub tends to endure more wear and tear than the tub itself. Inevitably, major wall repairs may be required before the bathtub needs to be replaced. Rather than facing the challenge of repairing ceramic tile walls, opting for tub surround panels can offer a simpler and more efficient solution.

What is a tub shower surround?

A tub shower surround is a protective and decorative covering that surrounds the walls of a bathtub or shower. Its main purpose is to prevent water and moisture from seeping into the walls, while also adding visual appeal to the bathroom. Tub surrounds can be crafted from various materials such as acrylic, fiberglass, ceramic, porcelain tile, and marble. Depending on personal preference and budget, individuals can choose the material that best suits their needs and desired aesthetic. Whether it’s a sleek and modern acrylic surround or a luxurious marble one, tub surrounds offer both practicality and style to any bathroom.

What is tub surround tile?

Tub surround tile, also known as bathtub tile, refers to the tiles that are installed on the walls surrounding a bathtub. These tiles serve both a functional and aesthetic purpose. Functionally, tub surround tile helps protect the surrounding walls from water splashes, preventing potential damage. Aesthetically, the choice of tile can greatly impact the overall design of the room, whether it be by contrasting with the tub for a bold statement or coordinating with it to create a harmonious and cohesive look. Ultimately, tub surround tile is an essential element in bathroom design, offering both practicality and visual appeal.

What are most tub surrounds made of?

Most tub surrounds are commonly made from materials such as ABS plastic, PVC, and fiberglass due to their water-repelling properties and easy installation process. These materials are practical and cost-effective options for creating a functional and aesthetically pleasing tub surround. On the other hand, for those seeking a more luxurious and durable choice, marble or stone surrounds can be chosen, although they may present challenges during installation due to their weight and fragility. However, despite being expensive and requiring careful handling, marble and stone surrounds can add an exquisite touch to any bathroom.

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