Essential Buying Info: Showers, Tubs, and Toilets

May 21, 2020 | Starr Tingle

Bathroom Remodel - Showers, Tubs, and Toilets

Buying showers, tubs, and toilets for your bathroom can be overwhelming. This buying essential info checklist will help make sure you get the showers, tubs, and toilets you need for your bathroom.

Showers, tubs, and toilets are a huge part of your bathroom remodel – yet no one talks about them much. It’s always the tile or the vanity that gets center stage, but the toilet that everyone is using. This week I’m continuing my deep dive into showers, tubs, and toilets – doling out sound advice for any of you who needs details for sound decision making! If you are planning a bathroom remodel, I have put together a free step-by-step planning guide for bath remodels. You can access it here.  

This post is all about buying showers, tubs, and toilets for your bathroom remodel. 

Where to purchase:

I know I’m running the risk of sounding like a broken record, but your best for purchasing with confidence is your local plumbing supply house. Last week, I told you to find your local plumbing supply house, type “local plumbing supply house” into Google, and find a list of them near you.  

In my video, I did make a case for perhaps buying your free-standing tub online. There are so many options available, and the reviews are beneficial. I’ve purchased free-standing tubs online from Amazon, Wayfair,, and Signature Hardware. I’ve never had a bad experience with any of them, but I have had an outstanding experience with Signature Hardware – on more that one occasion. I am not affiliated with any of those brands, just my honest opinion.  


A shower, whether in a guest bath or a master bath, pretty much fall into three categories. I like to call them good, better, and best.  


In the good category, you’ll find your fiberglass shower (or tub/shower). While this product is totally considered “builder grade” which often translates to cheap and junky, I’m not sure that moniker is merited for this particular product. It is indeed cheap, I can buy one all day long from my local plumbing supply house for under $500. They are waterproof, easy to clean, and while not gorgeous, they are not offensive. So if you are working on a real tight budget, I would totally consider buying this type of unit.


Easy to clean and attractively priced, a fiberglass insert should not be overlooked.

As a side note: if your budget is too tight to tear out and replace an older, existing fiberglass unit, there are professionals out there who can repairs scratches and buff them out to restore them to a better state. The service will cost almost as much as a new unit, but remember, the cost of replacing a unit goes a lot deeper than that just the unit. You are likely going to have to do a lot of work to get the old one out and the new one. And be warned, a new one-piece unit will likely not go back into space. Those are typically brought in during framing and can’t be gotten into a finished home. You’ll be looking at a two or three-piece retrofit unit.


In the better category, I place fiberglass shower pans or tubs with a tiled wall above. Like the fiberglass units I talked about in the “good” category, fiberglass shower pans are just the floor of the shower and fiberglass bathtubs. Tile the walls to elevate the look of your bathroom. Waterproof, easy to clean, and price make this option very viable. They have the added benefit of making a DIY bathroom renovation much more manageable. Tiling a shower floor requires a lot of skill and knowledge; while not outside of the scope of a seasoned DIYer, tiling a shower floor is not something I would recommend anyone take on.

Tiling shower walls elevates the look of your bathroom, while the fiberglass plan holds down cost and makes a DIY project more manageable.



The best category is where I’m going to place enameled cast iron shower plans and tubs ever so slightly ABOVE tile showers – where the floor is also tiled. I’m not a fan of keeping a tile shower floor clean, so I rank cast iron shower pans as my top pick. The enameled cast iron is durable, easy to clean (SO VERY EASY), and, I think, look fantastic! They feel heavy (read expensive) to the touch. I am still kicking myself for not doing one in our home. 

When using this type of precast shower pan, it does mean that you have to stick with a particular size shower, 3’x 5′ or 3′ x 4′. By far, my most favorite product in this category is Salient by Kohler.


With these, obviously, the walls are tiled. The cost is actually about the same as a tiled shower floor; Salient by Kohler runs around $1,000 online.  

Also, in the best category are tile showers. They are flexible in that any size and shape can be achieved. The options for floor tile are seemingly endless and are only limited by the skill set of your tile setter. There are options for trough and hidden drains to elevate the look of your shower further. Here is a lovely example of an all tile shower we did not long ago:


This shower is 4’x 7′, includes a seat, and several water features. The only limit to a tile shower is your budget.


There are three main tub types to choose from as well, but these are more of an application rather than good, better, best like showers.  


First, there are alcove tubs. They look like this:


Alcove Tub

Alcove tubs literally fit in an alcove that was built to hold them. The tub usually comes with an apron across the front, which is super easy to clean and looks fine. These come in fiberglass and enameled cash iron. One I really like is the Princeton model by American Standard. You can find it here. Fiberglass tubs have these great built-in armrests that I love because obviously, I spend too much time reading in the tub… you can see one here.


The next type of tub is drop-in, and they look like this:


Drop-in Tub

This means there is a platform built, and the tub is “dropped” into the platform, which is most commonly seen in a master bath. I only have experience with fiberglass models, but I did a little research and realized that Kohler has enameled cast iron drop-in tubs. Of course, I’m dying to install one now because I love their shower pan so much, my expectations on the tub are super high! You can see one here. They looked to be pretty pricey and are quite large. I’m kinda here for it, though. I’m already wondering how long Tony will make me wait to remodel our bath…


The third and last type of tub I’m going to cover is a free-standing tub. The first thing to come to a lot of your minds will be the iron, claw foot tub of yore. Like this:


Claw Foot Tub

But actually, there are many, many different types of free-standing tubs as they have really gained popularity in recent years. Most tubs are fiberglass and are insulated (be sure to check for this!!). You can still get cast iron, but beware, the water cools quickly. But check out a lovely cast-iron double slipper tub here.

Beyond these installation applications, you can get many options for water jets, air jets, heated water, and maybe even one comes with a personal masseuse, IDK. Just know, when you choose all the upgrades, you are complicating your remodel. You MUST give the complete specs for your tub, your plumber, and electrician. The price is going to be further reaching than the initial cost of the tub, you’ll have to pay the plumber and electrician more to install the unit. In my experience, calling them to find out how much the installation cost does not work. There are so many, many options available, they would be crazy to answer you. If you force them to answer you, they will shoot way high on the price to protect themselves. My advice here, as will all things, is to keep it simple. 



Round bowl versus elongated. Almost everyone prefers an elongated bowl to a round bowl. However, you should be aware that an elongated toilet bowel sticks 2″ out further from the wall than does a round bowl. That can make a difference in a very small bathroom.  


The standard height for a toilet in America was 14″ – 15″ for many years. Thankfully there is a new trend toward 16″ – 18″ toilets commonly referred to as chair or comfort height. I would recommend you get one this height, for sure. The only time I would maybe consider a standard size would be in a bathroom of very young children. But honestly, probably not then. Children, as we know, don’t stay little for long, so I would go into it with the end game in mind.

Special Note:  

If you are replacing the toilet in your bathroom, before you go buy a new one, take a measuring tape and measure from the wall out to the screw on either side of the toilet base. It should be very near 12″. If it is less or more, says 10″ or 14″, you definitely need to take that information to a plumbing supply house to purchase your toilet. It would be sporadic for a big box store to accommodate you buying a toilet for a 10 or 14 inches rough-in. If you are moving your toilet to a new location in your bathroom, I would hold off on purchasing a new toilet until your plumber has moved the flange to the new site, then verify with him that the new toilet rough-in is 12″.  

Flushing ability:

Walking down the toilet aisle in Lowe’s quickly tells the story of consumers who have problems getting their toilets to flush well! They make all kinds of bold claims about how many golf balls they can flush, etc. On this topic, I would tell you to take your past experiences into consideration and get whatever appeals to you.  

There are also dual-flush toilets: for liquid only and, err, for more than liquid. They can be a water-saving feature worth looking into. I’m all for being conscientious in this regard, so again, get whatever appeals to you.


Increasing in popularity in the U.S. with the toilet paper shortage of 2020. If you want one, buy it very early so you can alert the electrician if there needs to be electricity. THAT ELECTRIC NEEDS TO BE IN A SPECIFIC LOCATION. I’ve seen models that require a receptacle on the left side of the toilet, for instance. Get those specs out and read them and have them available for the electrician and the plumber. Word of advice: I fully encourage you to know and understand those specs so you can verify their work before they leave or at least before the drywall goes up. We live and work in a time when people can be distracted by their cell phones every other moment, so mistakes happen more frequently than they used to. Actually constantly. Errors regularly occur, requiring you to be more aware and double-checking daily. 

My potty picks:

I am not sponsored by any of these brands. Still, I have used them over the years and found them to be long-lasting, easy to install, and easy to find parts for, and I actually like the look of them. They are probably a little bit more expensive (that’s how I roll sometimes) 

I’ve linked both of these directly from the manufacturer. You can likely get a better price on them through your local plumbing supply house, so please be sure to check there before you order online.  

This post is all about buying showers, tubs, and toilets for your bathroom remodel.


Wrap Up

Shew! I told you this was a lot of information! Shower, tubs, and toilets are hard-working members of our home. They deserve our attention and thought.  

If you have questions about the cost of a bathroom remodel, take a look at this post where I broke down e v e r y t h i n g. For a step by step guide to planning your bathroom remodel.

In the past few weeks, I have looked at laying out a bathroombath vanitiesbath lighting, and bath faucets to help you prepare for your upcoming bathroom remodel. Please check them out to make the best decisions for your home and your budget.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook @Sanctuary Homes, Instagram at @sanctuaryhomes, and Pinterest at Sanctuary Homes. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR TIME!! Chow for now!