Whirlpool or air tub?

susanilz5January 2, 2012

We are thinking about remodeling our master bath. I've had a whirlpool tub for the last 17 years. I love the way it massages away all of lifes little aches and pains. I've never had a problem with maintenance, in fact there really hasn't been any. I just fill the tub a couple of times a year and run it for 10 minutes with bleach in the water. Never had any gunk in the lines or mold. No problems ever, and I use the tub often.

We are going to replace the tub with a larger one, and now I see all the new air bubble type of tubs on the market. I really don't know which is better. I would tend to stay with the whirlpool, since I use it often and as we age I think it has more thereapuetic value. Yet I've never been in an air tub. Any one use both type of tubs and can chime in on the differences? Which is better for aches and pains?

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First off, you don't have to choose between the two - many tubs offer both.

The air bubbles feel nice but aren't particulary therapeutic, not like an aerated water jet aimed at your spine. I'd like the air tubs better if they produced large numbers of tiny bubbles rather than a smaller number of large bubbles that dissipate quickly. (this is a difficult concept to explain, but you can try this to see what I mean: - while in the tub, cup your hands just above the water surface and push some air down into the water, aiming inward towards your back. Do this a few times quickly, then stop. The large air bubbles from your splashing will quickly rise to the surface within a second or two. Over the next 10-15 seconds, you'll feel some tiny air bubbles that stuck to your back slowly begin to work their way upward, tingling your skin all the way, which feels great. The air-tub manufacturers need to figure out how to produce those tiny bubbles rather than the larger ones.)

    Bookmark   January 3, 2012 at 7:50PM
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The small bubbles lee676 is speaking of can be found in Kohler's tubs with the effervescence feature. We have the Kohler purist with effervescence, whirlpool, lights, back & neck jets. DH likes a whirlpool as it feels therapeutic to him. To me, it's torturous just to look at all that water churning much less being in the tub with the jets on, but I love the way those little bubbles feel as they tingle all over. Mom & Dad have a Bain Ultra air tub and it's still too rough for me. That's why we went with this Kohler tub and crossed our fingers that the effervescence would be gentle enough & make those tiny tingly bubbles and it is absolutely perfect--the best of both worlds! When the effervescence in on it looks like the bubbles in a champagne glass (not the ones that foam up to top immediately)and they even visibly lightly pop as they reach the surface. Hope this helps & good luck

    Bookmark   January 4, 2012 at 5:36PM
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Thank you for your response. Things sure have changed since I bought my last tub!

mydreamhome - I checked out the Kohler Purist which would be perfect since we would have the best of bth worlds, is it really 7,000? I have a case of sticker shock!

    Bookmark   January 4, 2012 at 6:31PM
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If you want both whirlpool & effevescence there are 2 packages they're available in--

The Spa Experience Package Model# K-1110-AH:


The Whirlppol with Spa/Massage Experience Package Model# K-1110-V


We got the K-1110-V at a HUGE discount when a plumbing showroom was changing out displays. It was the biscuit color & DH was worried about mixing it with white sinks & toilet, but once installed, it looks just fine. I think one of the things that drives up the price on this tub is that is has the overflow feature--you can run the water all the way to the top so you get full immersion if you want to. Any water that splachsed over falls into the overflow channel--works really well too if you need to add more hot or cold water and the water level is at the top already. Or if DH decides to join you in the tub after you're already in fully immersed.

I would call around to plumbing showrooms & see if anyone has one on display they are wanting to change out. I've also seen some on eBay from retailers who are getting rid of stock for a good price. The links above go to the eFuacets site which was our 2nd choice for purchasing the tub if something had gone wrong with the display model.

Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   January 4, 2012 at 8:11PM
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The MSRP prices of some tubs can be pretty shocking, I know! We were looking for an MTI Harmony (whirlpool/airbath combo) and I found a great deal at tubzlady.com, along with a very knowledgable and helpful salesperson named Koren. It was delivered by local freight carrier, direct from the manufacturer, with no shipping charges. I checked their website and unfortunately it doesn't look like they carry Kohler but I'd give Koren a call and see if there is something else that you might want to consider.

(BTW, I'm not affiliated with this website, just recommending a source that I had a great experience with!)

    Bookmark   January 4, 2012 at 9:13PM
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I will second how helpful Koren at tubslady.com is. We bought a Jason International tub, and she was very helpful with narrowing down which tub to purchase.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2012 at 9:47PM
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We installed Bain Ultra Amma and are very happy with it. It is made by a Canadian company with a great customer service. If you call them, they can direct you to either a vendor or a hotel where they have the air bubble tub for you to see or if even try. We paid for our tub around $3k. It has the lights, heated back and air bubbles. It is much quieter than our old jacuzzi.

Below is a link for a show room:

    Bookmark   January 5, 2012 at 12:35AM
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Wow that Kohler tub is impressive! I didn't realize the whirpool I was dreaming up actually exists - and has an overflow channel to boot! Don't you always wish you could fill the tub until the water was all the way to the edge? Now you can....

I do wish they offered a rectangular tub with this feature set for those of us with less space. They have some with the effervecence bubbles but no jets, and the infinity edge is even more striking since it's level all the way around. I may have to book a night at this hotel just to try out the shower and tub.....

Here is a link that might be useful: Kohler K-1110-AH

    Bookmark   January 5, 2012 at 2:18AM
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oops that link should read K-1110-V not AH.

> works really well too if you need to add more hot or cold water and the water level is at the top already. Or if DH decides to join you in the tub after you're already in fully immersed.

mydreamhome - how quiet are the jets and air bubble when they're on? The last 2-person tub I used would have been great except that we HAD TO SCREAM AT EACH OTHER to be heard over the roar of the jet motor.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2012 at 2:43AM
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Well, to be honest, we have never had one before this--only used Mom's & the ones in hotels. I would say it's not any noisier than the ones we've used in hotels before, it is definitely quieter than Mom's air tub. The effervescent ports are quieter than the jets. We definitely don't have to scream at each other to be heard. Regular speaking voices work just fine. We have a TV at one end of the tub & while you do have to turn it up when you turn on the jets, it's not that much louder. DH did say that if I wanted, he could put some sort of sound deadening insulation on the backside of the access doors and we probably wouldn't hear anything at all. I told him I was good with it the way it was and not to go to the trouble. Hope that answers your question some!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2012 at 3:44PM
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susanilz5 & lee676--check this out!!! Great deal on the Kohler Purist K-1110-AH tub...


Here is a link that might be useful: Kohler Purist k-1110-AH On Sale

    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 8:55PM
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Wow, thanks! Those are some great prices..... Still expensive mind you, but nearly half price off MSRP puts them almost in my grasp. I'm considering not only the Purist whirlpool/air tubs but also the "Sok" tubs, which don't offer jets, but do have the tiny champagne bubbles that cling to your skin (as seen here)....

.....in an easier-to-fit rectangular size, and an infinity edge on all sides which allows you to fill the tub right to the very brim - then step in and stretch out with wild abandon, ignoring the waves of water you just sent cascading over the ledge. Did I mention there's room for two? It's so indulgent, which of course is why I want one!

here's a youtube video of a Sok tub in action. Even if I had the room I'm probably do without the larger Sok For Two, which is a whopping 104" long. That tub is shaped for two people facing each other at opposite ends; I prefer the arrangement on the supposedly one-person Sok which is still plenty wide and long enough for two (same width, 75"L) but faces both people the same way. Overstockdeals has the Sok overflowing bath w/champagne bubbles & chromatherapy from $6570. (The Sok for 2 starts at $7,200). The Sok has a strangely uneven tub floor; the part you sit on near the back is a step up from the rest of the tub; not sure I'd like that.

They also have the Purist oval tub which overflows mostly in the front (though can all around) but offers whirlpool jets that the Sok lacks, plus the tiny champagne bubbles and optional chroma for $3788. If you want just the bubbles, they have them from $2,794; If you just want the tub - no bubbles, jets, or lights, you can have one for only $988 (!) You'll need to check those prices carefully, because there are lots of configurations, several kinds of bubble systems ("relax", "spa", "massage") and with or without jets or colored lights, etc., so be sure you know what you're ordering.

I've also considered the Kohler Riverbath which delivers yet another sensation - most of the jets are at your feet pointing forward, so there's a current in the tub flowing from feet to head, washing over you continuously. 66" or 75" whirlpool round whirpools w/chroma start at $6,477, the more practical rectangular whirlpool w/integral fill and chroma, from $6,918.

Lots of scintilating choices here....

MDH, would appreciate any other impressions or advice. How did you mount your tub? i.e. in a large rectangular deck that reaches the walls, or an oval support just large enough for the tub as in the above pictures? Are the parts and labor for building the deck and tiling it expensive? Is the backrest and neckrest comfortable to lean against? Are the rotating back jets therapeutic? Do two fit comfortably? (it's listed as a single person tub, but I'd venture the phone-booth of a shower I have now is also intended for one. Never stopped us :-). Is it difficult to climb over the tub to get in or out, and are any extra bars in place to aid in the effort?


    Bookmark   January 10, 2012 at 3:38AM
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    Bookmark   January 11, 2012 at 9:37PM
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Hi Lee676--Sorry for the delay in answering your questions...my computer caught a nasty virus & had to be sent in to be worked on. I'm using DS's computer, but that also means no pics to share. I will post a photo of the tub for you when I get my computer back in a few days.

In the meantime, our tub is mounted in a rectangular deck--way cheaper than building the oval one although it looks really cool! We used granite for the deck material. I've seen decks made of marble, cultured marble, corian, tile, granite, quartz, etc. I didn't like the idea of tile because I wanted a smooth flat surface. As you will see in the pics, the granite deck is surrounded on 3 sides--a wall at the back & bookshelves on either end. We have a 4" tall backsplash that runs along the 3 sides. Our shelves & deck base are custom, so they were more expensive than they could have been had we gone without the shelving units.

I would not say it is any more difficult to get in and out of this tub than any other jetted tub I have used. I think the main thing is to make sure your faucet is offset--I've seen so many tubs where the faucet is right in the middle of the tub where you are supposed to climb in leaving very little space on either side to get in.

The backrest & neckrest are comfy. I wondered about that too and made sure I hopped in the tub before we bought it to give it a test run. The back jets pulsate up your back starting low and moving upward and then out across your shoulderblades, then it starts again low. I would say they are therapeutic--they feel like one of those expensive NordicTrack massage chairs. Very nice. The neck jets pulsate side to side.

DH & I fit in there together. One of us at either end works, as well as side by side. I prefer one at either end because then we both have a place to rest our arms along the sides of the tub--it does make it harder for both of us to watch the TV in there though. I tell DH I love that tub every time I get in it. I am tempted to go ahead and buy another one off that website I posted as backup in case anything ever happens to this one :-)

Hope this helps! I 'll post those piccs as soon as I get my computer back!

    Bookmark   January 12, 2012 at 11:09PM
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lee676--Forgot to mention that Riverbath tub sounds cool,too.

Here's the pic I promised...

    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 11:46AM
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Thanks! Looks great, BTW.

I'm also thinking of ordering two tubs, though for a different reason. My dilemma: The house has 3 bedrooms upstairs with only one bathroom, a 5' x 7' hallway bath that can't readily be enlarged. I'm planning to finish the basement and add a bedroom suite and an attached full bath, which is where the whirlpool tub would go. I want the back jets for my ever-sore back. But that will leave an unusual configuration where the nicest bathroom is on the lower level. It's like the master bedroom being downstairs instead of upstairs, but this house doesn't have an upstairs.

What's more, I don't plan to live there more than a year or two. So I'm thinking, buy both the full-tilt Kohler Purist whirlpool/air/chroma tub an install it now, and the plain-tub version for an additional $988 for the "backup", which I'll leave in the box and store in the basement or attic for now. Then when I move, I can pull out the fancy tub to take with me and reinstall in another state, and the plain tub will fit easily into the tile cutout since it's the exact same size and shape. Even the plain tub will still be 6' long with an overflow channel, alot nicer than the sixty-year-old 5' tub on the main floor.

I just hope it isn't too hard to remove and re-install an existing tub. I'll save the packaging to help transport it, and probably use the whirlpool tub packaging to store the extra non-whirlpool tub until I use it (assuming the two boxes are different sizes; if they're the same size I'll just keep the plain tub unopened and use that box to transport the whirlpool tub when I move). Despite the nuisance of moving it though, I don't want to buy an expensive tub I'll only use for a short time and probably won't boost resale value much, but also don't want to wait another two years to have one.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 4:04PM
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What a great idea lee676! Check with your installer--our tub was set in a mortar bed so it won't be coming back out without demolishing it I think. I'm sure there is another way to install so it is easily removable without damaging the tub in the process. Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 4:58PM
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I have spoken to Koren but I use the www.tubz.com I linked it below. Don't pay attention to the MSRP listed on their site because she will give you the discounted price or at least that is how it used to be.

Here is a link that might be useful: Koren at Tubz.com

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 9:07PM
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