Does Having a Bathtub Increase My Home’s Resale Value?

Ask Us Anything, Bath Design

Dear Drury Design,

I’m thinking about selling my home in the next few years. I’m wondering if it’s important for the primary bathroom to have a bathtub. I know some people prefer showers, but I’m not sure if that’s the majority of homebuyers.


Penelope from Chicago


This week’s answer is provided by Senior Designer Alicia Saso, CKBD.

Alicia has been with us for more than 14 years.


Hi Penelope,

Great question. This always comes up when people talk to me about remodeling their primary bath. 

There are notable pros and cons so I always start here: how do you envision using your new bathroom?

Here are a few reasons I know of that make tubs valuable for people who have and use them:

  • Peace & happiness – If you’re someone who appreciates a “Calgon take me away” moment, a bathtub is a no-brainer and should definitely be incorporated into your design.
  • Physical relief – Joint and muscle pain are a reality for some people. A whirlpool tub can bring relief.
  • Luxury – Modern options bring a tub into the luxury experience zone: heated soak, air bubbles, lumbar support, chromatherapy… and of course there’s material selection and design. An amazing tub can be a luxury statement piece in your new bathroom!
  • Bathing others – Many people need baths in their homes to bathe kids and even pets.

Let’s talk about four tub styles and how they fit into remodeling plans. 

  • Alcove – This is when a tub fits between 3 walls. Many homes have an alcove tub with an acrylic surround. This is the least expensive option for a tub but also the most dated looking. If you prefer an alcove tub then ditch the acrylic surround and add some nice tile, or even some “wow” tile on your walls so it feels more updated.
  • Drop-in tub – This over-mount-style tub sits proud of the tub deck by an inch or more. To update this look, a shallow tub deck is key so it doesn’t look bulky.
  • Undermount tub – A better option than the overmount if you’re going for that clean, sleek appearance. An undermount tub sits below the tub deck. You can also decide to have your tub deck wider at the front if you need assistance getting in and out.
  • Freestanding tub – There is no better way to add a focal point to your primary bathroom than by incorporating a freestanding tub. You can go traditional and select a claw-foot tub, modern and sleek with an asymmetrical look, add a pop of color with a blue or red tub, or add some sparkle with a polished metal look.

Now consider this fact: a primary bathroom with a bathtub can certainly increase the value of your home. A recent study by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) found that over 72% of home buyers prefer a primary bathroom with a tub and a shower. But, will YOU use your bathtub? Or will it just take up space and collect dust and dirty clothes?

Some form of a bathtub inside the house has been common since the mid-19th century. The primary or master bathroom as we know it today has been standard on all new homes since 1980, so it only seems natural to assume that a bathtub has to be in a primary bathroom. But what if you don’t take baths?  Does it make sense to invest in a bathtub if you’ll never use it? What if you don’t really have room for a bathtub?

Baths just aren’t a thing for many people, much like dining rooms. Getting rid of them can win space in your own home for the things that actually cater to your personal needs and ways of living. In my last 15 years of designing bathrooms, I’d say that only about 15% to 20% of my clients take baths. So, the question becomes, “Do I have to have one for resale”?

The answer to this is no, you don’t need to have a bathtub in a primary bathroom, especially if there is another bathtub in your home. Having a bath somewhere in the house can be important for resale, though. If a family with little ones moves in, they’ll need a tub. Some homebuyers have joint/muscle issues and need a tub, or at least anticipate such a need. 

But think of it this way – if you plan to be in your home for the next 10-15 years, you need to invest in a space that is suited to your needs. Why spend money on a bathroom remodel that’s focused on the next owner’s needs, way down the road? A new owner might come in and tear out your bathroom anyway, because it might feel outdated by then or maybe it just doesn’t suit their needs.

These days, a large shower seems to be the key thing people expect in their “perfect home.” There are so many new bells and whistles that can be incorporated into a shower design – they’re really driving decisions to favor showers over baths. In addition to a standard showerhead, you can add a rain head, body sprays, a steam unit, light therapy, a waterproof speaker, a bench and more. You can connect all the functions together with Kohler’s DTV+ system so your shower remembers exact temperature settings for different people, and turns on daily all by itself (or via the app on your phone). The system also eliminates all the shower valves on the wall, giving the space a cleaner look.

In summary, remember that tubs still hold historic sway when it comes to resale value, but show-stopper showers are another way that you and future owners can fall and stay in love with a primary bathroom.

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