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  • Stephanie Donnelly

Bath vs Shower

One of the most basic decisions when it comes to designing a bathroom for your home is the choice between a bathtub or shower. In both cases, the overall look and design of the space is very important, but keeping in mind functionality, the space available, and the needs of each person are even more important. It's not the same process equipping a large bathroom as it is equipping a small one, just like designing a space for a single person to use every day isn't the same as designing a space to be used by a whole family.

A bathroom can add value and comfort to a home, and what you choose to go in your bathroom directly impacts your every day life. However, many bathrooms cannot accommodate both shower and bathtubs at once. This brings about the highly asked question of whether a shower or a bathtub is suitable for your new bathroom or renovation.

Most people select a tub, shower, or shower/tub combination for their main bathroom renovation. This decision is typically based on whether they have a use for a tub and whether or not they already have a tub elsewhere in their home. Although the shower/tub combination is the most common in households, people are actually ripping these out in primary bathrooms and creating a new layout for their bathrooms. The goal of this is to make the bathroom larger and separate the two as it is more luxurious to have a stand up shower and separate tub in your bathroom design.

Some people are even removing the tub entirely from their main bathroom, but a general rule is to have at least one bathtub in the house. This is something to keep in mind for future homeowners because a bathtub can end up being a dealbreaker when it comes to selling your house later.

There are many factors that affect the choice you make between a bath and shower. You need to think of space, energy costs, and people who will be using it every day. But these aren’t the only factors you should consider when making your decision. We've put together a list full of pros and cons when it comes to deciding on adding a bath or shower to your bathroom design.

Although both of them have their own advantages, they also come with their own downsides. The only way to determine what will work best for you is to look at the reasons why you need a shower or a bathtub. These considerations can help you make the right choice for both your space and your lifestyle. Keep reading below!

Bath Pros


There's no denying that there's nothing quite like coming home after a long day and soaking in a warm bubble bath to relieve stress and tension. Unwind after a long day, or massage your sore muscles in a specialty tub such as a deep soaker tub or one that comes with its own air jets.

Make Bath Time Easy

If you have young children, it is much more practical bathing them in a bathtub rather than a shower. This also makes life a lot easier when you want to bathe at least two children at once.

When it comes to selecting the best bathing option for your main bathroom, function arguably outweighs all other considerations. If you have small children or pets and you don’t have another tub in your home, it’s wise to include one in your renovation.

Sizes & Styles

A bathtub has the charming ability to become the center of attention in any bathroom design, and can set the tone of the décor. It's fairly versatile in fitting with any bathroom style as it comes in many different sizes and style. The most flexible bath for layout placement is the freestanding tub while a drop in and under-mount tub is more traditional in style, and the traditional style tub makes a pretty focal point with all of the tile that surrounds it. It all boils down to the amount of space you have to accommodate a bathtub in your bathroom.

Bath Cons

Water Usage

A bathtub requires a lot of water and it may consume a larger percentage of energy to heat up the water. Not only will you spend on the costs of energy, but you will also spend more on the cost of water as a large amount of water is used with each bath.

Difficult with Disabilities

Bathtubs are difficult for older people, injured people, and people with disabilities to use due to the high step it takes to get into the tub. One can install grab bars to hold onto for assistance while getting in and out of the bath, but it still can be difficult.

Shower Pros

Faster to Shower

Whether you’re a “shower person” or a “bath person” at heart, chances are you’re a shower person by default most days of the week. Showers are more of a necessity and baths are more of an leisurely activity for most people, including those who enjoy taking baths as often as they can. Even if you have another shower in your home, your main bathroom design should definitely include a shower so long as showering is a standard part of your daily self-care routine.

Water Usage

Showers typically use less water than baths depending on how long you take and if you have multiple shower heads going. If green living is important to you, you should know how your bathroom design choice can affect your water usage. Showers are generally a more ecological choice, as the average shower uses less water than the average bath, even when you don’t fill the tub. An 8-minute shower uses about 17 gallons of water, while the typical bath uses about 24 gallons of water.

Easier with Disabilities

A shower works best for the elderly or injured since they do not have to go through the hustle of climbing in and out of a bathtub. Large open showers with a built-in benches and grab bars are much more accommodating for people using a wheelchair or those who may have difficulty stepping over the edge of a tub to take a shower.

Space Saver

Showers tend to take up less room which is extremely valuable when designing a small bathroom space. The average bathroom is about 40 square feet, while a standard tub is 15 square feet and the average walk-in shower is 12 square feet. Gaining an extra 8% of floor space may not sound like much, but it can make a world of difference in a small space that sees a lot of activity. We would advise against choosing a shower that is less than 10 square feet and more than 25 square feet. This is because too large of a shower space can feel too open and be cold due to the size of the space that the water needs to warm up, and too small of a shower space makes it hard to truly be able to enjoy your shower experience.

Special Features

Special features such as rain showers, jets, and steam options are one of our favorite aspects of shower designs. You can turn your shower into an escape and paradise with the right features. This is why it is so important to find a designer who does more than simply give you what you want and instead goes above and beyond to show you everything you didn't know you could have.

Shower Cons

Bath Time can be Difficult

If you have young children, it is much more difficult to bathe small children that need assistance in a shower rather than a bathtub. It's still possible, it simply is more difficult than a bathtub would be.


Regardless of what you choose for your bathroom, you have to keep it clean. If you choose a walk-in shower, cleaning becomes a regular task of wiping down the glass of the enclosure and keeping the walls from getting dirty with water buildup.

Important Details

A few small details that can easily be overlooked when it comes to showers, but these small details can cause big problems if they're not done properly. When deciding to install a shower in your bathroom, make sure your glass shower doors have clearance to open fully before finalizing your design. Your shower also needs the proper pitch to drain properly, and always, always, ALWAYS, use a matte, shower floor approved tile with smaller sized tile. Using small tiles requires a lot more grout than large tiles would have because of the grout lines, and this adds to the non-slip factor.

Choosing a bathtub or a shower is absolutely a personal choice that depends on what makes the most sense for you and your family. If you aren't sure what the best fit would be for your lifestyle, or if you simply would like expert advice on your bathroom design, start a conversation with Stephanie today!

~This blog was brought to you by S. Donnelly Interiors. Learn more about the interior design project process by following Stephanie Donnelly and her interior design services in Glen Ellyn, Illinois and the surrounding areas!


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