Such was a response from New York Sales Professional Jim Cotungo in a recent Linked in® discussion on whether or not to build master bathrooms with a tub plus separate shower or forgo the tub in favor of oversized spa-type showers. Please understand, we’re discussing homes with two or more bathrooms and there is always a tub in another bathroom.

Throughout the home, today’s buyers are showing more practical housing preferences, such as the great room concept replacing formal living rooms. Buyers don’t want to pay for something they’re not going to use! So many, many women we spoke with said the master suite bathtub is something they don’t need, use or even want. Of course, our increasingly busy lives affect this, too. Kerri Durkee, who specializes in home staging and redesign, summed it up well, “Personally, as a working mom, I don’t have the time to soak in a tub--and I have a Jacuzzi tub in my master bath that I wish were not there.”

About 1/3 of women, but less than 10% of men wanted a tub in the master bathroom IF the bathroom also had a large shower.

Gender differences

Gender differences showed up in a big way. Builders and new home sales professionals we talked with concur: when buyers have interest in master bath tubs, it’s mostly women looking for a tub to relax in—and not just the tub in the kids’ bath due to size and privacy issues.
Size matters.Tub size was frequently brought up. Trish Holder, Publisher of Greenspiration Home (, said “I’m starting to enjoy small baths in hotels a lot more. They fill up quicker and stay warm longer! And I don’t feel so guilty about all the water I am wasting at the expense of my children and others’ children as well. Shame on me for that big tub in my master bath. I really regret it.” While 40-50 gallons of water fills a standard 5-foot tub, larger tubs take as much as 80 to over 100 gallons, using all your hot water! Note: If you dream of having a large tub, talk with your contractor about larger capacity water lines (so the tub fills faster) and a larger capacity water heater (or separate water heater) for the tub.



Scott Smith, General Manager at Rooftight Homes in Fall River, Nova Scotia, pointed out “When women I talk with realize jetted tubs are simply recirculating the same water with their hair and dead skin cells, they quickly lose interest in a whirlpool tub.” In our interviews, some ladies thought soaking in a tub of dirty water and soap scum was just offensive. One individual said she felt she would need to shower off after taking a bath! Her Home Publisher Janie Murnane added, “Women can develop infections due to soaking in bubble bath or other products that can cause irritation.”

Age and accessibility. Many younger buyers were willing to explore tubless bathroom options, but others simply wouldn’t consider purchasing such a home. And while numerous builders, Realtors and older home owners identified dangers associated with getting in and out of a bathtub, many also said seniors wouldn’t give up their long, hot soaks.

Ginny Knauff, Tile Design Consultant with QDI Stone was emphatic, “I could not ever imagine not having a tub! I look forward to my bath every day! Yes every day! What can I say, it’s part of my therapy. I am an active adult, with terrible arthritis. I have four grown children and will soon be a grand mom. There’s nothing better than soaking in a nice bubble bath with candles and a glass of wine. What is more comfortable to aching joints, lower back pain, arthritis, chronic pain, etc. than a nice warm bubble bath, taking all of the weight you have carried around all day long, away?

Aesthetic appeals of a beautiful bathtub are unmatched. Designers strive to create a focal point – and the tub itself, the tub surround, faucet and lighting can be the inspiration. The natural place for a nice window is often above the tub. The bathtub is really a multi-sensory experience. In your dream bathroom, if there’s a tub, how does it make you feel?

Of course, the trend towards oversized showers ushered in a new level of luxury appointments of their own, from fanciful lighting to body sprays. Again, talk with your builder and plumber to ensure you have adequate water flow plus plenty of water heating capacity. And make sure you can run just one showerhead when you prefer.

“We’ve only used the tub 3 times in 5 years!” was typical of regrets we heard over having to clean a bathtub that wasn’t being used. Larger/deeper tubs are even more difficult to clean.

Less upkeep…a larger shower… a private toilet area… added linen storage… separate vanities...tubless bathrooms have their advantages. Then there’s the cost. Deleting a fancy tub may save thousands of dollars – including installation – money that could be spent elsewhere.

What about resale? Some Realtors we spoke to felt the lack of a tub in the master bathroom would hurt resale, others said buyers were shying away from homes that didn’t have an oversize shower, regardless of the presence of a tub. Builders confirmed Realtors’ influence, citing Realtors who convinced buyers they needed a tub for resale, but the bathtub desirability statistics clearly favor no tub.

Younger buyers planning on moving again were more concerned about resale, viewing the master bathtub as an investment. In effect, they were building for the next buyer, not for themselves! Custom home buyers and older individuals were less concerned about resale. “If it’s popular in new homes, it will be popular in resale homes, too,” represented feedback we received. Custom home designers suggested future buyers would just remodel the bathroom if it was really important. Remodelers and home stagers agreed that if the seller’s budget allowed, taking the tub out of the master bath and installing a big shower was a sure way to get a home sold.

above left: Luxury showering can include special showerheads pre-set with your preferred temperature and spray patterns.
photo courtesy Moen

above right: Kohler’s sok® overflowing bath with chromatherapy for added stress courtesy of Kohler Co.

right: Delta’s all-inclusive shower has everything seniors asked for: traditional showerhead + hand shower + grab bars + no threshold, made possible by the trench floor drain (inset photo)
photos courtesy

“There’s nothing better than soaking in a nice bubble bath with candles and a glass of wine.”

Ultimately, the best decision on including a tub in your owner’s suite comes down to your preferences and your beliefs. Do you dream of a master bathtub? Why? Is it because you enjoy soaking in it or because a beautiful bathroom should have a beautiful bathtub? What size bathtub is ideal? Are age or accessibility issues a factor? Can you have the bathtub and the larger shower too? Are you making the decision based on what you want, or for the next owner of that home?

Thanks to everyone who joined our exploration into tubless owner’s bathrooms! Today’s trend is towards large showers, but tub bathing has strong, passionate advocates. We offer one last piece of advice—be true to yourself. If you’ll regret not having a tub in the owner’s bath, then insist upon a tub. And if you’ll regret devoting that extra space and expense to a tub, forgo the tub. After all, it’s your money!

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