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What Is a Roll Top Bath?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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A roll top bath is a freestanding bath with edges which curve at the top, providing a distinctive rounded effect around the edge of the tub. Roll top baths are available in a wide range of styles, to satisfy various design needs, and many bath manufacturers produce them in a dizzying array of materials. It is also possible to purchase restored vintage baths, if an old-fashioned look and feel is desired.

The defining feature of the bath is the curved edge of the tub. Rounded edges make it more comfortable to lounge in the bath, as they eliminate sharp corners which can be painful. They also reduce the risk of injury while getting in and out of the tub. In some cases, bath companies also manufacture surrounds for their roll top tubs; these surrounds fit snugly against the side of the tub, insulating it and eliminating the lip which is created by the rolled edge.

In order to be a true roll top bath, a tub must also be freestanding, and by tradition it is elevated on feet which help to keep the floor dry, reducing the risk of rot and mildew. The tub may have a tap panel, allowing people to mount taps directly to the tub, or consumers may be expected to install taps in the wall above the tub. Roll top tubs are typically oblong in shape, and they can be deep or shallow, depending on personal taste. It is also common to find slipper baths in a roll top style.

Many people think that the look of a roll top bath is sleek and very classic. These tubs often appear in restored historic homes, as they are considered historically accurate. They can also be featured in more edgy modern design schemes, in which case they may be supported by cradles or raised on a dais for a more modern look. Typically, roll top tubs are very deep, making them luxurious and comfortable for people of a wide range of sizes.

The materials used to construct a roll top bath vary widely. Enameled metals are common, as are some untreated metals, like copper. It is also possible to find roll top tubs in porcelain, wood, and sometimes even glass. Many manufacturers offer lower cost options made from plastic or acrylic; these baths can be quite elegant and pleasing to look at, for a fraction of the cost of traditional roll top tubs.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a HomeQuestionsAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By ysmina — On Jul 01, 2011

There used to be a few classic colors and types of roll top baths before. I was at a newly opened bath store the other day and saw very new roll tops in different colors and styles.

You can find baths made with different materials and in different colors with different types of feet for it. The one I liked the most was a classic white roll top bath made of enameled cast iron with silver decorated feet. Enameled cast iron is supposed to be one of the best materials for baths. It is not the cheapest but is very good quality and maintains the heat of the water better. The feet also come in different shapes, styles and colors.

By ddljohn — On Jun 30, 2011

Not only do roll top baths look very classy in a nicely decorated bathroom, but I think it also increases the value of a house.

I believe that both the kitchen and bathrooms of a house are especially important. If they have been built and furnished well, it can draw a lot of customers to the house if you decide to sell. I have a friend who loves Victorian style houses for example. He and his wife recently bought a house and they told me that the bathroom was especially beautiful and it had a Victorian roll top bath which helped them make the decision.

So when you buy a roll top bath, you're also investing and potentially increasing the value of your house as well.

By bear78 — On Jun 30, 2011

Something I've always wondered about free standing roll top baths is, how is the bath water drained out?

I've personally never used a roll top bath before. I have seen it in films a lot and I think they are the most stylish and elegant baths ever. Whenever I see one though, I can't help but wonder how that water is drained out later. There doesn't appear to be any kind of drainage system or pipe coming out of it. Plus, the bottom doesn't touch the floor and I can see that there is no drainage there as well.

Does anyone know how this works? I'd love to find out!

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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