Choosing a bath tub big enough to soak in: I change my Kohler recommendation

If you need to buy a new bath tub, read this post for information about how to ensure the one you buy is truly deep enough to soak in. Cynthia, a reader, asked about the soaking depth of my Kohler bath tub… and the great PR team from Kohler was quick to provide advice.

Cynthia writes:

Hi, Pam,

I saw that you have a Kohler Dynametric bathtub (maybe more than one…?) and I have a few questions. We are adding a new master bedroom and bath on our 1958 tri-level house. We are trying to keep it looking like original construction as much as possible, both inside and out.

We have a Kohler Villager tub in our kids’ bathroom; I had thought I would go with that for the new master bathroom, but after taking a bath in it (I had actually never bathed in it before; we also have a jet tub in the basement that previous owners installed, so I use that) — I found the Villager was shallow and uncomfortable. So I want something deeper…just something I can have a nice full bath in, without worrying that the tub will overflow.

So my question is — do you bathe in your Dynametric, and if so, how is it? And if it’s not too personal — how tall are you? I am 5’1″ and average weight, so I’m not a large person — but even with my fairly small size, I found the Villager too small for me.

The Dynametric is significantly more expensive, however, so I want to make sure it’s something I’ll be happy with before we invest that kind of money in it.

If you or any of your readers have a review of what the bathing experience is like in a Dynametric, I would really appreciate hearing about it!

Thanks,
Cynthia

I respond to Cynthia that, sure enough, that while I love the looks and quality of my Dynametric, in my experience the water does not fill up high enough for a luxurious soak — about 8.5 inches til it hits the overflow — the same as Cynthia’s Villager.  This was not something I thought about before buying the tub — my goof. Fortunately, no one in my house– except Astro — takes too many baths, so it’s not a big deal.

So, I then ask my contact Vicki Hafenstein at Kohler — who is always snap-to-it helpful — and she quickly responds with this advice:

Hi Pam,

I spoke with one of our product managers in bathing this morning about the baths. The Villager and Dynametric baths are great for bathing children, but because of their shallow depths, they are not best suited for adult soaking baths. It is important to think about a number of criteria when finding the right bath:

  • the use and user of a bath
  • the application/installation of a bath (stand-alone, bath/shower)
  • overall depth as well as water depth to overflow (this second portion will indicate the soaking capacity more clearly)

If it is a stand-alone bath (no shower involved), and an adult is looking for a great soaking experience, we recommend the Tea for Two or Parity bath. Both are very deep baths, and their overflow drain systems allow for a higher water level in the bath. Tea for Two and Parity will give you just under 14” of water depth.

If the application is in a bath/shower environment (which requires flanges), we suggest the Highbridge bath. This bathing depth still offers a great soaking experience while accounting for a shower as well. The Highbridge bath will give you right around 13” of water depth. On a personal note, our product manager added that at 5’3”, she finds her Highbridge bath to be very comfortable.

Tea for Two 5’ bath list price is $1,946.60 and Parity $1,785.00. Highbridge cast iron bath list price is $1,703.40.

I hope this helps your reader! Let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks!
Vicki

Kohler Mendota cast iron tub. Depth to overflow: Just under 11″

Readers, Vicki spotlighted true soaker tubs — and these are all tile-in tubs. If you just want a regular “integral apron tub,” I think the Mendota bath tub appears to be the best choice in their lineup — its depth to overflow is 11″ and it holds 45 gallons — that’s a whopping 10 more gallons that my Dynametric — and the tubs still seems to have a kind of traditional, vintage look. Online prices from the big box home stores appears to be around $800.

Anyway… all these Kohler tubs mentioned are cast iron, which I personally like. There other makers out there to look at — remember, the key is to look at the technical specifications / measurements and dimensions and look for water depth to overflow… in fact, it might be good to put all your potential choices on a spreadsheet to compare the water depth to overflow, gallons held, various measurements, and of course — price.

Some of my initial research found:

  • American-Standard: 66″ Spectra cast iron tub is 11″ deep. 53 gallons. No 60″ cast iron tub available.
  • Toto: Has a nice looking offering — their spec sheet does not indicate depth to overflow. I will try to get this from their PR dept. and add it. Looks to be about $1,000 online.
  • Eljer: Does not offer cast iron.
  • Briggs: Porcelain on steel, I could not see depth to overflow; doesn’t look promising.

Finally, and I cannot believe my life has come to this: You can get a Slip-X Bottomless Bath… and Deep Water Bath… hoodies promise to cover that overflow altogether when you take a bath. I guess I need one of these. And maybe — if you only take a rare bath and want to save mucho dinero, you could just go with the Villager ($300-$400 at big box stores and still cast iron) and use the Slip-X or Deep Water when you’re ready for that me-time. Hey, Cynthia: You can test drive one or both of these in your kids’ bath — and report back! I’ll do the same with the Dynametric. Precautionary Pam notes: Don’t flub up, though, and let your drain accidently overflow. *Disclosure”: Buy a Slip-X or Deep Water from Amazon after clicking on the widget below and I get a teensy commission. Hey, if every reader buys one here, I bet I make like $20! woo hoo!


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Comments

  1. says

    I’m not much of a bath taker anymore (can’t stand the water waste), but it would be nice to have a soak once in a while.

    I’ve found that the taller people get, the smaller tubs seem to get. One reason I’ve always loved the look of the claw foot, though even some of those are ‘short’ for a taller person.

    I actually love that Cinderella tub. That would look great in my small ranch house bath, and free up floor space!

    • Teresa Halpert says

      “can’t stand the water waste”….

      It depends on what you’re comparing it to. The modern low-flow shower heads use 2.5 gallons per minute (compared to the old 5 to 7 gallons per minute). Some of them mix air into the water, so they actually produce enough water pressure to feel like you are getting clean. For my family members, 5 minutes with this low-flow shower head would be a really quick shower, and 10 minutes would be a more leisurely shower (for washing hair, etc.), especially in the winter when our house is 62 degrees. On the other hand, my ridiculously luxurious soaking tub is a 6-foot double slipper that fills to 13.5 inches. It claims to take 42 gallons to fill when no one is in it. I fill it about 2/3 and then it reaches just to the overflow when I get in, so I use about 30 gallons or less. The water stays pleasantly hot for a good 20 minutes or more of soaking your sore muscles–more than twice the time you would have had in the shower.

      Ergo, I do not feel guilty about an occasional bath. Keep the bathtub info coming!

  2. Gavin Hastings says

    A few concerns here…
    My tubs each fill to a depth of 14 inches-yet I usually only go halfway.
    My downstairs tub is 54″ long….which slides me right down to the drain as ! am only 5″6″. In order to read a book or just relax- I have to extend my toes up against the drain end or else I am submerged to my chin. Not good.
    The upstairs bath is 4’6″, which is perfect for my size. I can stay there for hours…adding and draining…as the pages fly by.

    On another note….you know I have to get my “end of life” stuff in there: As we age, it will become a real chore to make the hurtle over the side of the tub. Even by a few inches. I work in an E.R. and most seniors don’t fall IN the tub…but by entering and exiting. Just something to think about…..Someday I may remove the downstairs tub and replace it with a walk-in…umm…roll-in shower; since my trips upstairs my be a bit fewer in the next 30 years.
    Good luck with your project.
    53 gallons seems like alot of water!

  3. Gavin Hastings says

    Something else to think about:

    I am addicted to (and WILL someday meet) the make-over gurus Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan. A few years ago they did a program replacing the fiberglass tub with an enamel over iron claw foot tub for a family in the UK where plastic tubs seemed to be the norm.

    On the re-visit, the couple had re-installed a fiberglass tub. Their reasoning was that the water heat loss of the cast iron vs plastic/the amount of water to fill were an expense they could live without.

  4. says

    Great info Pam!

    @Gavin, really? I would have thought the cast iron would hold heat better!?!! I totally despise our fiberglass tubs and want to replace them with cast iron but maybe not………………

    • pam kueber says

      Becky, I believe I have read that cast iron is not a good conductor of heat. I like those tubs anyway. They just always seem more *substantial* to me. They are easy to clean… they last forever.

    • Gavin Hastings says

      If the cast iron is hot…I questioned this as well.

      I think it might be that iron does hold heat, so that if your bathwater is 70 degrees-after it hits tub-i is only like 55…..

    • Zoocrewmom says

      We have a cast iron tub that my boys bathe in. That water gets cold quick! In our old house we had fiberglass and I could soak for 30 or more minutes. My boys are done in 20, but then again, their baths aren’t as hot as mine. One more note about cast iron – let the tub warm up before you sit down, especially in the winter!

    • Danielle C. says

      My house was built in 1928 & all 3 of my tubs are cast iron (which I LOVE!) however taking a bath in the winter IS NOT FUN lol you basically have to fill the tub with nothing but hot water, wait 1 minute then get in before it gets cold. As zoocrewmom said the water does stay warmer longer in a fiberglass tub.YES (in cast iron) wait that minute before you get in because even if your water is scalding hot the bottom of that cast iron tub is still FREEZING in the winter.

  5. midmodms says

    I measure all tubs against a claw foot that was in the upstairs bathroom of an old Victorian we lived in when I was a teenager. I don’t know exact measurements, but my 6’3″ Dad could recline in it without touching the end with his feet. I’m 5’6″ and I could, and frequently did, have the water all the way up to my eyes, raising my nose up occasionally to breathe. The sides were high enough I couldn’t see over the edge when reclining. I loved that tub.

    In my opinion claw-foot tubs are the perfect tub to bathe in. The back reclines at just the right angle, unlike newer tubs that have straight backs and always dig into the back of my neck. Someday I will have a large enough bathroom to put in a tub as close to that old one as I can find, if I have to have it custom made.

    The bathtubs are some of the few things I don’t like about mid-century design.

  6. TappanTrailerTami says

    Hi Pam,

    Great info in this post. I’m very surprised the Kohler rep did not mention their “Archer” line. Archer’s are not cast iron, but for anyone concerned with cost and/or weight, they are worth a look.

    The Archer has one of the deepest to overflow water depths, at 15″, yet the overall tub height is only 19″. This can be important as we age since it may become more difficult to get in/out of a taller tub. The reason the Archer isn’t as high as the usual 21-23″ tall soakers is because it has an oblong slotted overflow instead of the standard round ones.

    This is what I bought for my master bath, in the five foot long drop in model. The Archer line also has a very nice retro-ish bath sink, pedestal sink, and toilet as well.

    http://www.us.kohler.com/onlinecatalog/group_result.jsp?groupid=12217602&module=Bathing&parent_item_number=Archer+Suite&category=10

  7. Paul says

    Have to echo one of the earlier posts about the “Cinderella” tub featured here. I have one similar, without the angled end. It fits a 4-foot square opening with a straight-across front. It adds a surprisingly glamorous feel to the bathroom, as opposed to what would look pretty miserly as a 4-foot “regular” tub. It also makes for a very open feeling in the shower. I wish American Standard still made them.

  8. Heidi Swank says

    I have a cinderella tub that I just love. I’m 6′ and obviously I can’t fit into it all the way. However, because it takes less water, I feel less guilty about taking a bath. I call it the perfect desert bath tub!

  9. Alice says

    Pam – a discovery that I have made and that I now retain as the plan for our master bath creation is a sunken tile tub. If you flip through some of your mid-mod books you will see these beauties and they are do it yourself friendly. I first discovered one at the Greenbrier Hotel in West Virginia…the spa has many original features including soaking tubs that are nothing more than big tiled boxes that you step down into. Safety railings can be installed as the need arises. I think they are glamorous and they can be the depth and length that are needed by the user.

    • pam kueber says

      Alice, I actually lived in a very groovy apt. once that had a tub just like the one you are describing. It was incredible. Shower was in there, too. Make sure you have the foundational support… as someone else has mentioned, water gets heavy.

  10. says

    I saw this article and was going to recommend the Deep Water Bath, but I should have known that you’d just have everything covered, Pam! :-) Although I’m unsure what type of bathtub is in my 1950s bathroom, I do know that if I did not use the Deep Water Bath, the water would reach my waist and that’s it. That’s not exactly relaxing. I purchased a Deep Water Bath a few years ago and am still using the original one. It’s cheap, it’s hardy, and it helps out those of us who don’t have the $$ right now to remodel and get a better tub.

  11. Valencia Bathe says

    Just a suggestion…I have a hot tub just outside my back door which has water in it at all times…I soak every day, sometimes for an hour or so…the jets are a wonderful bonus too. I only add water about every month (so hardly any wasted water) or so and change it about three times a year (I’m the only one who uses it). I water the plants around it when I drain it (just don’t add chlorine for a few days before). It probably adds about $10-$12 to my electric bill (I live in a temperate zone), but I have friends in MN who have one they use year-round, too. To shampoo my hair, of course, I use the shower in the house, but I’m quick. I also shower at the place I take swim aerobics a couple of times a week…not luxurious, but with the hot tub…I’ve always got a little luxury! People are selling them now, so you can probably get a used one for about twice what the bathtubs you’re discussing cost. Highly recommended for many reasons, therapeutic and relaxational (HA! I made up a word). My friends in MN both get in at once and use it as their alone/conversation time. Sometimes it’s too cold outside to do much besides submerge myself up to my chin, but it’s a wonderful way to warm up in the winter and (turn down the heat) cool off in the summer. Enjoy!

  12. KKCG says

    We have what I believe to be a late forties Briggs that only allows 10″ of water before it hits the overflow, coming directly from a fiberglass tub to this one, (yes, cast iron does cool the water much more quickly than fiberglass) I was angry about not being able to take a long, hot bath. My husband solved it in two ways, one- a small space heater to warm up the tub before I take a bath, and two- he covered the lower four overflow holes with silicone caulk, leaving only the upper two uncovered. The tub does drain a little slower but not dramatically slower, you wouldn’t even notice it if you didn’t know how fast it went before, we timed it, and it added four inches to the water level, and I’ve never had a problem with water overflowing the tub, plus the caulk is fairly easy to remove.

  13. Christa says

    Hi Pam- ( It’s Christa, the former Kitchen and Bath designer again) A note…if you are planning on using the soaking tub ( or a whirlpool tub for that matter) as a shower as well, make sure to check for ease of getting in and out. For someone on the shorter side ( 5’4″) getting in and out of a soaker every morning for a shower is not easy, it’s a big stretch for my legs. Add water into the mix, and it can get pretty scary. If you are going to do the soaker with the shower, use grab bars…even if you don’t think you will need them, (trust me, you will thank me) or if you have the space, a deeper tub plus a seperate shower. ( make the deeper tub with a wider ledge at the front, so that you can sit down and swing your legs into the tub, rather than steping in…much safer ( and don’t EVER put stairs up to a soaker…you are just asking for a fall at that point…they are dangerous! water + bare feet+ tile= woops!)

  14. Burt says

    WARNING: it is not a good idea to cover the overflow hole on your tub to gain more inches when filling up your tub. If you get distracted or forget that your water is running (yes, it can EASILY happen) you could find your entire home flooded. And if you live in an apartment above someone else, you could get evicted. Just don’t do it.

  15. teardown townie says

    I’m finally on the verge of installing a tub as part of our bathroom renovation; and as I was looking at what all I would need to do the installation, I came across this drain from Kohler that allows one to close the overflow to make the water deeper for a soak. I’m putting in a Kohler Bellwether tub that has a water depth of 11 5/16″, I wonder how much more depth I’ll pick up. When reading about this closing drain, I notice it warns you to close the overflow after you’ve entered the bath and then to add more water. I guess that protects you from learning about water displacement the hard way!

    http://www.us.kohler.com/us/ClearFlo-closing-overflow/productDetail/Bathroom-Fittings/427805.htm?brandId=788686&skuId=407726&categoryId=788648&hash=id%3Dfilters%26startIndex%3D40%26scrollTop%3D110

  16. William says

    While this is very late for this discussion, I’m going to air my pet peeve. Please publish the dimension of the tub floor – from one end to the other and side to side. Counting the railings around the edge is very useful for installation, but doesn’t tell you if you will be able to actually get under the water – toes to shoulders. I’m 5’9″ and most 6′ tubs don’t even come close. The floor dimension is usually only about 4′ or so. I’m planning an addition and a bathroom remodel and, short of actually going to a shop and sitting in each model, can’t tell if most of these tubs will even begin to fit.

  17. Klaus Harte says

    We are a handicapped couple. We are in need of a new bathtub/shower. I myself am a large man, wife is disabled. Showers are not a problem for us, but in our older years a nice hot bath would feel good on our aching bodies. Our current tub size is too small for me to sit in, but for her it is ok. We do not have the option to do a remodel project to accommodate both, so we need something that would fit into the same location as our current tub/shower. The unit length may not extend current length, but there is room for a little width. I am having a hard time finding a large wider tub to fit our needs. can you help ?

    • pam kueber says

      Hi Klaus, I don’t know the answer to this question…. You will need to survey all the current available tub-makers today… Good luck.

  18. Victoria says

    I’m searching for a 72″ drop in soaker tub. I want it to be deep, but not too deep. I don’t want any jets or anything fancy. Just a plane old tub made of porcelain or durable material that won’t crack and will last the rest of my lifetime without the need to replace.

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