Alcove Bathtubs: An Ultimate Guide To Find & Design The Best

Small white alcove shower/tub combo with a glass door over the tub

An alcove bathtub is a type of bathtub enclosed on three sides by walls. Alcove tubs are sometimes referred to as “recessed bathtubs,” since they are installed within a recess or pocket in your bathroom. This article is a comprehensive guide to the art of designing a bathroom with an alcove tub that’s perfect for you. You’ll find plenty of links to follow with additional resources.

Alcove Bathtubs vs Freestanding Tubs

Photo of alcove tub nestled in two white tiled walls and photo of freestanding white tub

The main difference between alcove bathtubs and freestanding tubs lies in their installation and appearance. While alcove bathtubs are surrounded by walls on three sides, freestanding tubs stand alone and are not enclosed by any walls. Here’s a quick comparison table to help you grasp the differences:

FeatureAlcove BathtubFreestanding Tub
InstallationRecessed in a wall alcoveNot enclosed by walls
SpaceSpace-savingRequires more floor space
StyleMore common, traditionalMore luxurious and modern
MobilityEasier for young children and mobility-impaired individualsCan be challenging, especially with deep soaking tubs

Alcove Tub Sizes


You can find small, standard, and large alcove bathtubs to fit your space. See the chart below for typical measurements:

SizeLength (inches)Length (cm)Height (inches)Height (cm)Width (inches)Width (cm)

Depth Vs Height

Alcove Bathtub Materials

couple choosing new bathtub in shop

When choosing an alcove bathtub, materials matter. In this section, let’s dive into the most common alcove bathtub materials used, such as cast iron, acrylic, and fiberglass. Each material has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Cast Iron

Cast iron bathtubs are renowned for being incredibly durable and long-lasting. They also retain heat well, which means your bath stays warm longer! However, they are quite heavy, making installation a challenge. Cast iron tubs are also expensive compared to other materials. These tubs are often coated with porcelain enamel.


Acrylic bathtubs are a popular choice due to their lightweight nature, making them easy to install in various bathroom layouts. They are also affordable and come in various shapes and sizes. But, they are less durable than cast iron and may become scratched or discolored over time. You can look for a double-walled acrylic tub for extra heat retention.


Fiberglass bathtubs are the most affordable option, making them perfect for budget renovations. They are lightweight and easy to install, but may not stand the test of time due to their less durable nature.

Cast IronDurable, heat retentionHeavy, expensive
AcrylicLightweight, affordableLess durable, prone to scratches
FiberglassMost affordable, lightweightLeast durable

Top Benefits

White alcove soaking tub in white tiled nook
The Grayley Alcove Soaking Tub from the Wyndham Collection. See it at Wayfair.

Although alcove bathtubs might not always steal the spotlight like their fancy counterparts, alcove bathtubs come with a host of benefits. Here are a few of them:

Space Efficient

One of the strongest suits of alcove bathtubs is their ability to save space. They fit snugly into three-wall enclosures, making them perfect for smaller bathrooms where every inch is precious.


Speaking of non-slip surfaces, alcove bathtubs score high on safety. These surfaces minimize the risk of slipping and falling, giving you peace of mind while you enjoy your bubble bath. Unlike freestanding tubs which can have much more soaking depth, you can find an alcove tub with 12-inch soaking depth. This may be better for bathing children.

Special Features

You might think alcove bathtubs lack flair compared to other types, but you’d be pleasantly surprised! Many of these tubs come with built-in features like grab bars, armrests, and even non-slip surfaces. This proves that they can be both functional and stylish.

Streamlined Design

Alcove bathtubs have a simple yet elegant design. Their clean lines and cozy feel make them an attractive option for those creating a traditional or modern bathroom decor.

How Affordable Are Alcove Tubs?

A beautiful bathroom with a grey cabinet, white marble countertop, and a tiled shower with a sliding glass door.

Cost has been an essential factor for folks like yourself who want to strike a balance between quality and affordability. Fear not, alcove bathtubs have got you covered!

For instance, the cost of cast iron alcove tubs may be a bit on the higher side, but it’s surely worth the investment. Cast iron boasts durability and excellent heat retention, making it a top choice to keep those bubbles warm!

Here is a breakdown of typical alcove bathtub price ranges based on the materials:

MaterialPrice Range
Acrylic$500 – $1,200
Fiberglass$300 – $700
Cast Iron$800 – $2,500

Installation Costs

Installation costs are another factor to consider in your bathtub budget. According to Homewyse, the basic cost to install a bathtub in the US ranges from $1,305 to $2,316 per tub and will vary according to your region.

Best Alcove Bathtub Of The Year

Shop the complete list of our best alcove bathtubs for this year. You’ll find tubs from the best manufacturers in the space including Kingston Brass, Kohler and American Standard.

Best Alcove Tub – Overall Winner

aqua eden

Kingston Brass Aqua Eden Alcove Tub

Excellent price. High gloss.

Capacity: 60 Gallons

Installation: Alcove

Shape: Rectangular

Size: 60″ x 36″ x 22″

Drain: Left

Material: Acrylic

This modern alcove bathtub offers great quality for the price. The non-porous, glossy finish on this bathtub makes it easy to clean and maintain. Plus, the sheen of the gloss will look extra sharp in any bathroom.

Made with lightweight acrylic, this tub is very easy to install. The tub comes with an attached apron that will prevent water from leaking under the bathtub. 

This tub does come with leveling feet. However, you may want to add mortar beneath the tub for extra stability. 

If you want an alcove bathtub that will match your modern style and won’t hurt your pocketbook, this just may be the one.

Best Alcove Bathtub Accessories

Serene Life Body Spa Massage

Why build your alcove bath nook and then fail to maximize it’s amazing-ness? That’s where your bathtub accessories come in. From the super-fun electric bathmat (see video above) to the super-relaxing luxury spa foam, to the super-practical bamboo shower caddy, you can’t go wrong with accessorizing your space.

Design Ideas

You can use an alcove tub in any bathroom design. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Alcove Tub for a Modern Look

White alcove tub and a white vanity against an abstract tiled wall with a long mirror and vanity lights

Opt for a sleek look with large format natural stone tiles and a floating vanity. Use pendant lighting around a simple mirror. Find a tub with wide ledges for storage and clean lines to complement the modern vibe.

Traditional Style With Alcove Tub

A bright bathroom with a cream colored cabinet, subway tile shower and bathtub, and a patterned tile floor.

Alternatively, you could create a traditional vibe by using penny tile reminiscent of the 1950s and a Victorian era stained glass window above your alcove bathtub.

Add A Shower & Tile The Nook

Small bathroom with an alcove tub and a modern, black, floating vanity. Bath tray crosses the bathtub. Behind the shower system is a wall of black and white accent tiles.

You can enhance the functionality of your alcove tub by adding a shower. There are various shower designs to choose from, such as handheld or wall-mounted shower heads! Then creative with the tile design or mix different types of tiles (e.g., subway tiles and penny tiles) to add a unique touch.

Set The Mood With Chromotherapy

White alcove whirlpool heated jetted tub
WOODBRIDGE 60″ Alcove Acrylic Rectangular Whirlpool Heated Jetted Tub. See it at Wayfair

Just because it’s an alcove tub, doesn’t mean you can’t have all the frills necessary to create an upscale spa vibe. Try an alcove tub with heated jets and chromotherapy! The LED lights will turn your bathroom into an at-home oasis.

How to Clean Your Alcove Bathtub

How to Clean Your Tub with Baking Soda

You need to know your bathtub material in order to know which solution will work to clean your particular alcove tub without damaging it.

Acrylic, fiberglass, and porcelain-enameled cast iron are nonporous materials, which mean that you can use a nontoxic solution of baking soda and warm water. See the video above for details.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I choose between a left drain and right drain alcove tub?

When selecting an alcove bathtub, consider the layout of your bathroom. The choice between left or right drain depends on the plumbing in your home. Stand facing the alcove where your tub will be installed and visualize yourself standing facing the tub. If the drain is on your left, go for a left drain tub, and vice versa. You don’t want to switch the plumbing wall if you’re replacing an existing tub, because that will add significantly to your overall cost.

Are there notable differences between American Standard and KOHLER alcove tubs?

Both American Standard and KOHLER make high-quality alcove bathtubs. They offer a variety of sizes, materials, and styles. One key difference is their signature design elements. American Standard is known for simplicity and functionality, KOHLER tends to add extra flair to their tubs. Carefully consider your personal style preferences and bathroom design before making your choice!

What materials are commonly used for alcove bathtubs?

Alcove bathtubs can be made from a variety of materials. The most common materials are:

  1. Acrylic
  2. Fiberglass
  3. Cast iron

Each material has its own pros and cons. Keep in mind factors like durability, cost, heat retention, and ease of maintenance when selecting a material for your alcove bathtub.

Can soaking tubs be installed in an alcove?

Yes! Many alcove bathtubs are designed to be soaking tubs as well. Soaking tubs generally have a larger interior basin and higher sides, allowing for a deeper water level. When selecting an alcove soaking tub, ensure it fits comfortably and securely within your bathroom’s alcove space.

Remember to weigh the pros and cons of each material before making your final decision on an alcove bathtub. Happy soaking!

Tags: alcove tub, recessed tub

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *