Industry Ed with Richard: Kitchen & Bath Guideline Series – Tubs

In this post we will discuss the NKBA Kitchen and Bathroom Planning Guidelines, by first stating the guidelines and then pointing out their importance and giving insight on solutions and practices based on my industry experience. Find out more about NKBA here.

This is a follow-up on last month’s blog entry. Last month, we showed you showers. This week, we’re tackling tubs!


NKBA Guidelines

  1. The wall area above a tub should be covered in a waterproof material to a height of not less than 72″ above the finished floor.

  2. The tub controls should be accessible from both inside and outside the tub and be located between the rim of the bathtub and 33″ above the floor. 

  3. Tub controls must be operable with one hand and not require tight grasping.

  4. Controls must be on an end wall of the bathtub, between the rim and grab bar and between the open side of the bathtub and the midpoint of the width of the tub. 

  5. A permanent tub seat should be at least 15″ deep and positioned at the head end of the bathtub. The top of the seat should be between 17″ and 19″ above the bathroom floor.

My Experience

  1. The trend now is freestanding tubs. These are tubs that don’t require a wall or deck to attach to. They are great for fitting full-sized tubs in smaller spaces.

  2. The most sought-after is the “clawfoot” design, but there are limitless styles that work with any aesthetic.

  3. An important choice you have to make is where to mount the plumbing.

  4. Many freestanding tubs have a rim thick enough to mount plumbing directly to the tub.

  5. Other tubs require you mount plumbing to the floor.

  6. Most people mount plumbing at the back end of the tub, but this requires you bend to switch it on or off. 

  7. In my experience, the best place to mount plumbing is on either side of the tub.

  8. Another way to save space is to use a shower/tub combination. For that, you need an alcove tub.

  9. Alcove tubs are designed to catch water and fit between three walls, so they are perfect for the shower/tub combo.

  10. Deck tubs are also popular. These are tubs that mount to a surrounding deck, giving you that “sunken” look.

  11. A common mistake with deck tubs is placing the tub too far back in the deck. Keep in mind, the farther back the tub is, the farther you have to stretch to get in or out.

  12. There’s this misconception people have that installing a grab bar in a shower or tub makes a bathroom look like a hospital bathroom. I couldn’t disagree more. Grab bars are easy to install, convenient and do not detract from the appearance of a bathroom. Furthermore, having a grab bar is infinitely safer than not having one.

  13. Plus, most plumbing lines can give you grab bars that match the look of your towel racks and other hardware.

  14.  There are a lot of options for waterproofing a shower or tub area. 

  15. The leading innovators are Schluter Systems. Their waterproofing products can seal off almost anything and can even be placed under tile.

  16. Moisture resistant drywall also works wonders.

  17. Regarding floors, the industry is moving away from traditional rubber slip guards and toward engineered flooring. 

  18. Likewise, we are seeing less whirlpool and jet tubs.

  19. As opposed to soaker tubs, whirlpools and jets store water when switched off and can easily be contaminated.

Here are a few tubs to give you inspiration:






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