A bathtub (AmE) or bath (BrE) is a plumbing fixture used
for bathing. Most modern bathtubs are made of acrylic or
fiberglass, but alternatives are available in the form of
enamel over steel or cast iron, and occasionally wood. A
bathtub is usually placed in a bathroom either as a
stand-alone fixture or in conjunction with a shower.
Modern bathtubs encompass an overflow and waste and may have
taps mounted on them. They may be built-in or free standing
or sometimes sunken. Until recently, most bathtubs were
roughly rectangular in shape but with the advent of acrylic
thermoformed baths, more and more shapes are becoming
available. Bathtubs are commonly white in colour although
many other colours can be found. The process for enamelling
cast iron bathtubs was invented by the Scottish-American
David Dunbar Buick.
Two main styles of bathtub are common:
- Western-style bathtubs in which the bather lies down.
These baths are typically shallow and long.
- Eastern style bathtubs in which the bather sits up.
These are known as
ofuro in Japan and are typically short and deep.
Soap and bath salts may be used when bathing. A bath is
often used as a technique to temporarily relieve body aches
This section does not cite any references or sources.
Please improve this section by adding citations to reliable
sources. Unverifiable material may be challenged and
removed. (tagged since September 2007)
The Clawfoot Tub or Claw Foot Tub is typically made of cast
iron; acrylic versions are also available. Modern technology
has contributed to a drop in the price of clawfoot tubs down
to around $1000 including shipping. Hence, while true
antique clawfoot tubs are still considered collectible
items, restored, and coveted by some, new reproduction
clawfoot tubs are chosen by some remodellers and new home
Clawfoot tubs come in 5 major styles:
Classic Roll Rim, Roll Top, or Flat Rim tubs as seen in the
Slipper tubs - where one end is raised and sloped creating a
more comfortable lounging position.
Double Slipper Tubs - where both ends are raised and sloped.
Double Ended Tubs - where both ends of the tub are rounded.
Notice how one end of the classic tub is rounded and one is
Pedestal Tub - Pedestal tubs, unlike all the styles listed
above, do not have claw feet. The tub rests on a pedestal in
what most would term an art deco style. Evidence of pedestal
tubs dates back to the Isle of Crete in 1000 BC.
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. Both types are
designed to allow the baby to recline while keeping its head
out of the water; however, the baby must always be supported
by an adult as well.
This short section requires expansion.
A Short History of Bathing
Main article: Bathing
Documented early plumbing systems go back as far as around
3300 BC with the discovery of copper water pipes beneath a
palace in the Indus River Valley in India. Evidence of the
first personal sized bath tub was found on the Isle of Crete
where a 5 foot long pedestal tub was found built from
hardened pottery. This tub is the most likely forefather of
the classic 19th century clawfoot tub.
The Roman Empire is most widely known as the early champions
of bathing. Around 500 BC Roman citizens were encouraged to
bathe daily in one of the many public baths. Private bathing
rooms were far more ornate and typically would resemble
shallow swimming pools that encompassed the entire room. The
Romans used marble for the tubs, lead and bronze for pipes,
and created a complex sewage system for sanitation purposes.
The Roman empire set the early bar for personal hygiene as
we know it today.
Contrary to popular belief, bathing and sanitation were not
a lost practice with the collapse of the Roman Empire.
Soapmaking first became an established trade during the
Early Middle Ages. Also, contrary to myth, chamberpots were
not disposed of out the window and into streets in the
Middle Ages -- this was instead a Roman practice. Bathing in
fact did not fall out of fashion until shortly after the
Renaissance, replaced instead with the heavy use of
sweat-bathing and perfume, as it was thought that water
could carry disease into the body through the skin. Modern
sanitation as we know it was not widely adopted until the
19th and 20th centuries.
The bathtub's modern spouse, the toilet, had problems
gaining acceptance. Sir John Harrington invented the first
flushing toilets for himself and for his godmother, Queen
Elizabeth I. When Harrington published a book describing his
invention, he was roundly chided by peers, embarrassing him
to the point of retirement from plumbing. His two toilets
were the only ones he ever produced. The next water closet
would not be seen for 200 years when it was introduced by
Alexander Cummings in 1775. This event would mark the very
beginnings of the modern bathroom.
It was now time for the piping to catch up with the
fixtures. Until the 19th century, most water pipes in the US
were made from hollow trees. In the early 1800s, cast-iron
production began reducing American reliance on England for
this material. Finally, in 1848, The National Public Health
Act was passed in the US, creating a plumbing code for the
In 1883, Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Company and Kohler
Company began producing cast-iron bathtubs. 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." It is almost humorous to note that the item's
use as hog scalder was considered a more important marketing
point than its ability to function as a bathtub. Everyone
knew what a hog scalder or horse trough was, but many people
at that time had never bathed in a tub. In truth, these tubs
caught on because of the sanitary and easy-to-clean surfaces
that prevent the spread of disease than from any purchaser's
desire to smell nice for his neighbors.
A few years later, Thomas Twyford created the first
valveless toilet constructed from china. Before this time,
toilets were normally made from metal and wood. Thomas
Crapper would gain infamy as the inventor of the modern
toilet when he bought the rights to a patent for a "Silent
Valveless Water Waste Preventer", but he did not invent the
Bathtub Drain Firestop, as shown, top and bottom. This
firestop consists of a bounded firestop mortar on top and
rockwool packing on the bottom. The drain pipe is made of
copper.The bathing world was rocked by controversy when a
completely inaccurate account of bathing and bathtub history
was published by H.L. Mencken in 1917. What began as a light
attempt at humor ended up being adopted as the truth by the
public and even reputable publications. While perhaps good
reading, Mencken's account of laws prohibiting bathing, and
much more, is not true.
The end of World War I resulted in a housing construction
boom in the United States and a new conception of the
purpose-built modern bathroom. Bathrooms prior to World War
I were typically a converted bedrooms or spare rooms, not
rooms built originally to contain bathroom fixtures.
Complete with toilet, sink, and tub, the modern bathroom was
a feature of 100% of new homes by the end of the 20th
century, whereas only 1% of homes had had bathrooms in 1921.
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 US market in 1928, and
slowly this influx of design options and easier cleaning and
care led to the near demise of clawfoot-style tubs.
Firestopping a Bathtub Drain
If the bathtub is located in a building with multiple
stories, where the floors are required to have a
fire-resistance rating, the drain from the bathtub causes a
service penetration firestop to be required, which must be
built and bounded in accordance with the provisions of the
local building code. In the case of the picture to the
right, the drain pipe is made of copper, which is
non-combustible. Since the pipe itself will not give way in
the event of a fire, the firestop can be made of
conventional means, such as firestop mortar or silicone
sealant, each topping off a bounded packing material. If the
pipe were made of plastic, however, the firestop would
likely involve intumescent materials, which would expand in
the event of a fire, in order to choke off and seal the
melting and disappearing plastic pipe.
Look up bath, tub, bathtub in Wiktionary, the free
References and bibliography
Two main styles of bathtub are common: