Tub in master bathroom -- necessary or not?

lkplatowMay 12, 2011

I'm asking this on behalf of my sister, who is planning a bathroom model but is afraid of doing something she'll later regret. Her house is a circa 1970s colonial. The current master bathroom has a regular size (not big soaking size) tub stuck in the area behind the door. There is a large walk-in stall shower. The vanity is very small and only one sink with very little counter space (think cheapy-70s tiny vanity with formica counter top) and it is right next to the toilet. The tiny vanity and it being right next to the toilet are driving her crazy, so she wants to remodel. There is no way to expand the room, so she has to work within the existing space.

For her, the best choice seems to be to remove the tub, move the toilet to the area behind the door (kind of separating it from the rest of the bathroom), keeping the shower where it is, and expanding the vanity to the old area where the toilet was, which allows for a much bigger vanity with double sinks and lots of storage. But this means that there will be NO TUB in the master bathroom. She doesn't care about that because she is not a "bath person" but I know many people are and this might be a dealbreaker come resale time.

Or she has another option of moving the stall shower to where the tub is currently, putting a soaking tub where the stall shower is but orienting it differently, and then expanding the vanity into part of where the old stall shower was. This gets her both a tub and walk-in shower, but means a smaller than option #1 vanity plus it leaves the toilet right next to the vanity.

Her other option would be to change the walk-in shower to a combination bath/shower, but I think that would be cheesy -- sort of like the worst of both worlds.

Personally, not being a "bath person" myself, I like option 1. I suggested that she trick out the shower to make up for the lack of tub, figuring that even a "bath person" might be won over by a steam shower/sauna/multiple showerhead type setup. I think that she should remodel her bath based on her priorities, which are a nice shower and a big vanity, and not worry so much about resale. But like it or not, resale is a factor and so I told her I'd ask on here to see if you all had strong opinions one way or the other.

So, if it were your house, WWYD?

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This topic has been discussed a few times in this forum. Use the search box at the bottom of the forum pages to see other examples.

Assuming there is another tub somewhere in the house, I think option 1 is fantastic. While some people are "bath people", others (like myself and you and your sister) are shower people. A large, luxurious shower with a large vanity would be preferably to a tub in the master. You may wish to check with local realestate agents and neighbors to be certain the buyers in the neighborhood would not be disappointed, but I think option #1 sounds great.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 4:18PM
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Is there a tub in another bathroom? If so, having a tub in the master is not necessary IMHO.

A couple years ago we removed a jacuzzi tub from our Master and used the space for a big walk-in shower. We do have another bathroom with a tub so bathing little kids who visit can still be done.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 4:21PM
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Yes, search as this was very recently discussed. For us, we definitely want both a shower and a tub in our master bath. I really think its personal choice.


    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 4:24PM
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I really contemplated adding a tub to our master but I just couldn't justify the space I was losing. Ours doesn't have one and their is one in the hall bath. I'd rather have a larger shower, two sink and private potty room.

It really comes down to what she wants. For every person that wants a tub there is one who doesn't.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 4:28PM
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There obviously cannot be a consensus on this issue but it is definitely true that tubs are not considered essential anymore! If you want one, find a house that has one. Otherwise double sinks, large walk in shower are a must.

Tubs are like ... hmm stables. If you have a horse, find a house with a stable ;)

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 4:43PM
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I think you can probably lump potential buyers in the following buckets.

1. Have to have a bath and shower in the master
2. Doesn't need a tub in master as long as there is one elsewhere
3. Don't care

Then you'll need to add those that want
1. Private toilet room
2. don't care

Then the larger vanity
1. double sink
2. Single sink
3. don't care

Maybe use the responses here to figure out what the percentage would be falling in each category and see what percentage buyer you'd loose.

I personally would prefer 2 vanities, private toilet area, and a bathtub somewhere in the house.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 5:00PM
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We got rid of the tub too because we have one in another bathroom. She should post a plan in the bathroom forum to help with the layout. The know their stuff over there. I can say, moving a toilet is one of the most expensive things to do in a remodel so if she can keep it where it is and move things around it, she's better off.

Markets vary depending on location, in our area, buyers pretty much prefer the dual sinks and larger shower as long as a tub is available. If resale is a concern, your sister should consult with a Realtor who's familiar with her market first.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 5:12PM
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I'd rather have a shower. i have both -but the tub is a waste of space and if i can afford it next yr, I'll have it ripped out. there's another one in the hall bath.

the 2 sink vanity seems to be more important these days (I don't have that tho and am ok with it).

I'm NOT ok with a tub/shower combo. hate those.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 5:57PM
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Well, I DO love my occasional soaks in the tub.
I would not want a bathroom without one...

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 6:12PM
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For resale I wouldn't remove the tub unless there was another one in the house. I'm a shower person myself but I have 2 close friends who loves their baths. A family with young children would not only want but need a bathtub. Is there a bathroom closet she could remove?

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 6:51PM
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In many towns code demands that there be at least one tub in a house.
when I re did my bath....I removed a closet and put in a shower and made the tub smaller....but there is a tub. I don't use it often but would really miss it if it weren't there.
Linda C

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 7:29PM
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I am a bath person, so I would want one, but if there is another one in the house already, go for it. I wonder what would happen if someone wasn't able to stand for some reason--how would they do it without a tub? How do you soak aching muscles without a tub. And I love to read in a hot tub.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 8:59PM
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*****For her, the best choice seems to be to remove the tub, move the toilet to the area behind the door.....*****

Just so you know, moving a toilet stack is major. And since you describe the house as a colonial, I'm assuming this bath is on the 2nd floor so moving it is even more complicated. Not saying it can't be done, but it's not a simple project.

I'm a bath AND shower person. One is business and one is pleasure (or muscle therapy as jockewing mentioned) and I want both in my master bath. As a potential buyer, my expectation is there will be a tub in the master bath or I will have to remodel and put one in.

I'd also recommend finding a good designer - it's amazing what they can come up with when you are convinced there is no space.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 9:36PM
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Thanks guys. There is another bath in the house with a tub.

Why is moving the toilet so major? She seems to think it will be pretty straightforward - there's a plumbing chase that everything ties into that is accessible from both areas of the bathroom. She seemed to think they'd just have to take up some of the subfloor to be able to run the pipes they needed (yes, the bath is on the 2nd floor). But maybe it's harder than she thinks?

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 11:35PM
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A tub was important to me - so my new home has an airtub and a nice sized steam shower. I do have a small tub on the second floor - but, since I live alone I will never use that tub. It's so small that I think only kids could fit in it.
As for my sink area - I put one bowl with a large 48 inch counter and a nice sized sit down vanity area.

I would think that should I decide to sell, I will get buyers that want two sinks. But, I saw no need other than resale to have to sinks when I will only be using one.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 10:42AM
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For me personally, I would not buy a home without a tub in the master bath. I'm a "bath person" though. Even if there was another bathroom with a tub, I would still require a master tub because I have three sons and I very much prefer my own private bathtub in my bedroom.

That said, I think your sister should do what suits her needs. It sounds like getting rid of the tub is what works best for her and I'm a believer in creating spaces that work for the people living in the home unless they have plans to sell in the very near future. And even if there are plans to sell, it would depend on the market in that area for that price range/size/bedrooms. Having or not having a master tub is not going to effect resale in all cases.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 10:57AM
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Although I rarely take baths, I use the bathtub for other purposes, like washing big items. It just comes in handy.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 11:20AM
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Maybe she could cut down the size of her shower stall and at least get more room to have a single sink with a larger vanity.
That way she could keep the tub. I agree with the other poster about calling in a bathroom designer for help here.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 12:03PM
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We are remodeling our masterbath, and on my list was a soaking tub, dh's preference is for a nice sized shower, separate from the tub. Neither of us cared about having two sinks or a toilet cubby.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 1:35PM
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We have a house that sounds much like you sister's. We have a master bathroom with a shower. Down the hall is a full bath with a tub. We have another tub in the basement, adjacent to a bedroom/office. I'm assuming your sister's house has another bathroom with a tub. If so, then she should remodel to suit her needs/wants.

I think a walk in shower with jets would suit her needs/desires now and would enhance resale value.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 6:12PM
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I thought I wanted a really nice tub when we were looking at houses, but now I really think I could take it or leave it... we have a combination jacuzzi tub/shower in our bathroom, and I was excited about it when we bought the house but I haven't used it yet. I think a tricked out shower would lure me in, in the absence of a tub.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2011 at 9:52AM
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We have a tub in our upstairs bathroom, and a large shower in the downstairs bath. We all use the downstairs bath for several reasons, but most of all because we all prefer showers.

I shower every day, but haven't taken a bath since we moved into this house 23 years ago. Would not be an issue for me at all. I also seem to recall reading that most people who have the large jetted tubs rarely use them because it takes so long and so much water to fill them.

About resale - I think being concerned about it is worth something, but I think you need to be realistic about what your plans are. If you think you will be in the house for another 10 years, what you need to do, what is popular, what will sell a house will be different than it is now, anyway. If you are planning on moving next year, different issue.

And even then, really consider what works for YOU - we are in the 23rd year of what was to be our 5 year house.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2011 at 5:16PM
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I think the obvious answer for me would be to make it a tub with shower combo. I think separating the 2 elements takes up more space than is necessary and probably costs more. I'd much rather shower in my bathtub than to take a bath down the hall from the master. The tub also keeps the water from getting out of the shower.
I have never lived in a house that had a separate shower and tub in the same bathroom, so don't see the great benefit. It is 1 more thing to keep clean and I'd rather use the extra space for a closet or something useful. If I had a huge house, then I'd consider separating the 2 functions.
In our case, we bought our house with an ugly master bath. We assumed the shower leaked because there was a large crack in the floor tiles. We used the shower stall as a closet, pre-reno. We planned on adding a large air tub but could not make one fit in the space comfortably without giving up too much bedroom. We ended up making a larger half bath with no shower and are just fine with our decision. We have 2 other full baths in our house, so the 3rd was overkill. OTOH, both dh & I would love to someday have a a master bathroom that had a nice size air tub/jacuzzi. We are big time soakers and would get loads of use out of one. It would be nice to not tie up the family bathroom every time one of us wants to take a bath. A master shower is no real thrill for us because we get up at different times in the a.m.. I'd rather he not shower nearby while I am trying to sleep in the early a.m.. A tub is more a nighttime thing.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 3:56PM
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Every house needs a tub for soaking kids and washing dogs. Every master bathroom does not need a tub.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 4:03PM
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Just outside Atlanta urban area, midrange family home: Appraiser told us our 3/4 guest bath on the first floor counted as a full bath in this market and also that most people have removed master bath tubs from their lists. As in been there, had that, don't need.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 6:15PM
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Thanks guys. I'm going to email this whole thread to my sister, but it sounds like the plan to just have a nice shower works since there is another tub in their hall bath. I was afraid everyone would freak at the prospect of removing the tub from the master (a la the shoppers on House Hunters who absolutely want that big tub and those double vanities, LOL!). But I think rosie is right - a lot of people have had the big tubs and realized that they don't use them (and yes, I'm including myself in that category -- we've lived here with a jacuzzi tub in the master for 9 years now, and the only people who've ever used it were the kids and then it has been less than 5 times!) -- for precisely the reason Les stated -- it takes FOREVER to fill and basically empties our hot water heater, so you better not plan on using any other hot water for a couple hours afterwards.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 7:33PM
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Coming late to this, but one thing to consider, which I discovered when I redid the master bath in my old house: a soaking tub needn't be 6' long. One that's 5', but deep, allows the bather to get well and truly immersed and uses a LOT less hot water - longer soaks! If she wants to preserve the option of a tub, a shorter tub, maybe even one designed to fit in a corner, might open up some possibilities.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 8:10PM
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Necessary? YES!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 12:16AM
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