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Jetted or Soaking Tubs?

May 31 2010

As bathrooms evolve as spa-like retreats, jetted tubs and soaking tubs have become standard issue.
If you’re considering remodeling your bathroom, which kind of tub should you choose?

The difference in jetted and soaking tubs lies in the level of massage therapy you require and in the amenities of the tub.

Jetted tubs

Jetted baths were first introduced to the home by Jacuzzi after selling a portable hydrotherapy pump to hospitals and schools in the 1950s.  The first self-contained, fully integrated whirlpool bath debuted in 1968.  Heating and filtration allowed bath water to remain clean and warm. 

Whirlpool baths in jetted tubs have been around for years, but enhancements and features continue to be added.  The whirlpool is created by a pump motor that forces water through the jets.  Movable jets can be directed to the spot you wish to be massaged.  The intensity of the massage therapy can also be moderated by the size and volume adjustment of the jets, as well as whether the water is assisted by a heater. 

Whirlpool baths offer the most massage for sore muscles and joints.  Manufacturers vary in the size of the jets, number of jets and placement. 

New offerings in jetted tubs go high tech with a built-in waterproof television, gaming station, or audio features to entertain you while you relax.  Some designs are built for two to several adults, plus children.  Underwater chromotherapy lights enhance the atmosphere even further. 

For a softer massage and more relaxing experience, try an air bath tub.  The water action comes from multiple holes in the bottom of the tub or the sides or both, rather than movable jets.  Settings can range from constant bubble to wave action and pulse action, changeable by an optional remote control.  The effect is a softer, gentler massage with bubbles. 

Some baths even offer a combination of turbo jets, micro jets and air bath jets, so that the same tub can supply light to intense therapy.   These tubs will have two systems to run the bath, but both can be used together for bubbly and sore joint therapy.

Designs for jetted tubs range from the antique appearing slipper tubs to multi-media tubs that can seat a whole family.  No matter the design of the bathroom, there are jetted tubs that can fit the décor and your specifications for the level of therapy you desire.

Soaking Tubs

Soaking tubs, which can be designed with or without a heater, are the latest fashion in baths.  They differ from regular tubs by depth, allowing the bather to relax in shoulder-deep water for a full body soak. These tubs are not jetted, so therefore, offer the quietest relaxation option. 

Soaking tubs that are featured in kitchen and bath showrooms today are inspired by Japanese designs, where round tubs were made of local wood and salts and herbs were added for relaxation.

The variety of materials and designs can create a soaking atmosphere with crisp modern lines or antique restoration clawfoot designs.   Copper, nickel, composites, and acrylic materials can be used to create the perfect design.  Freestanding designs are chic and really show off the style of the tub.

You’ll have to do your homework to determine what features you require in a hydrotherapy tub, then shop and compare models and prices.   They are available in 3-wall alcove styles (rectangular bath only), drop in or deck mount (can be any shape), under-mount (flat rim tub, any shape), and freestanding (drain will show, needs a freestanding or wall-mounted bath faucet). 

Be sure to have a plumbing contractor verify that the weight, placement, and utility of the tub you desire will work in your bathroom.