Freestanding bathtubs are a great addition to any home. They offer an elegant feel that is hard to find in other types of bathtubs, and they can be found in various styles to suit your needs.
One common concern with freestanding baths is the plumbing area because, with many freestanding baths, the pipework is exposed and on show.
This article will cover 4 ways you can hide a freestanding bath waste pipe – so you don’t have to worry about it detracting from your beautiful tub!
What is a Freestanding Bath?
Freestanding baths are bathtubs that stand on their own and are not fixed to a wall giving the bathroom a rather unique aesthetic. This type of bathtub comes in various styles and sizes – so there should be something for everyone!
Some freestanding baths have legs that give them clearance from the floor leaving all of the pipework visible whereas others appear as though they are solid and rooted to the ground and no pipework can be seen.
What is a Freestanding Bath Waste?
A freestanding bath waste is a fixture or fitting attached to the pipework that leads the wastewater away from the bath.
A bath waste is what most people in the UK would know as the plughole and overflow fittings. These are both parts of the same pipework leading to the trap which is designed to catch debris and prevent drain smells from entering the house.
Where Does the Waste Go on a Freestanding Bath?
The waste on a freestanding tub goes to the same place that it would on a regular tub fitted against a wall as the plumbing is essentially the same. The waste pipe leads to the trap which then leads out to the drainpipe.
Does a Bath Need a Waste Trap?
Yes, as per building regulations in the UK, all plumbing fixtures such as toilets, sinks and baths must have a waste trap to prevent any nasty sewer smells, bacteria, and insects from entering the home.
The waste trap on a bath must have a water depth of at least 50mm to comply with regulations. Where you have a bath with little clearance for a trap underneath, a shallow trap may be installed but another deeper trap must be installed between the bath and the stack.
Do You Need to Hide the Bath Waste?
This is a good question and will entirely depend on the design of the bath that you have bought or are intending to buy and also what type of floor you have.
Some freestanding baths (those that look solid and meet the floor all the way around) will have their waste fittings hidden internally already which is great if the rest of the plumbing is underneath the floor.
If, however, you have a solid floor, you may have to build up a small platform to place the bath on in order to hide the plumbing and pipework underneath.
How To Hide Freestanding Bath Waste
There are numerous ways to hide any unsightly bath wastes and plumbing to get the look you really desire.
One – Build a Platform
Although it is possible that you need to build a raised platform if your bathroom has a solid concrete floor, building a nicely tiled raised platform not only hides any plumbing but looks fantastic too.
Platforms are not only for those with concrete floors though, but they can also be built in any bathroom, and they give an aesthetic quality like no other. I have seen a few that have blown my mind.
Two – Buy a Bath with Internal Waste Fittings
The next one is obvious, if you do not want a bath to show any external fittings at all, you will not want to buy a bath that stands on legs with an open space underneath.
Many baths have the waste fitted internally and there is usually either an access panel at the back that can be removed or there is a recessed section underneath so you can access the plumbing.
Three – Chrome Fittings
This one is not so much about hiding the waste pipe but making it look the best that it can be.
Chrome fittings on a freestanding bath with legs are a must. They can look especially good when you have the taps floor-mounted too. Then you will have all of the chrome fittings go into the floor in a similar area, making them a feature and not something to be hidden away.
Four – Boxing In
For me, this is the least attractive way of hiding your waste pipes. Even if your woodworking skills are top-notch, you will have a hard time boxing in the pipes and getting a good-looking finish.
I would be happy to be proved wrong, but I have yet to see a boxing-in job underneath a bath that looks attractive.
Do Freestanding Baths Move?
In a word – yes, unless fixed to the floor, freestanding baths are likely to move. Although they may look heavy, most modern tubs are made with strengthened acrylic which makes them particularly light when empty.
We always advise that you fix your freestanding tub to the floor to prevent the bath from moving and any damage that may occur to the plumbing. Even if the tub has been fitted with flexes, any kind of movement could end up causing leaks further down the line.
I love a freestanding bath; I think they look sleek and modern and can make any bathroom look great no matter how big. Some of the best-looking bathrooms that I have seen have had their baths atop a small, tiled platform. This is a great way to not only keep the plumbing above the floor if needed but also give the room a unique aesthetic not often seen.
Other freestanding baths that look great do not even try and hide the waste; they make it part of the feature with chrome fittings – how you decide to do yours is up to you.
Plumbing Wizard Tips
“Freestanding baths look best when they are accompanied by freestanding taps!”
“Make sure that if you build a platform, you build it strong enough to hold the weight of a full bath!”
“Make sure that you have the correct size trap between the bath and the stack – nothing worse than your house smelling like a sewer!”
“It is good practice to ensure that there is access to the plumbing if needed in an emergency, make sure everything can be removed without damaging anything that could prove costly!”
Frequently Asked Questions
Do freestanding baths have an overflow?
Yes, all baths must have an overflow to prevent flooding. The overflow is part of the drainage system of a bath and will be attached to the waste (plughole).
Can you have a freestanding bath in a small bathroom?
Yes, with so many different shapes and sizes, designer freestanding bathtubs will fit in any room. If the room is particularly small, your options may be limited but there will be a bath available somewhere.
Are freestanding baths comfortable?
As with any bath, the size and shape of the bath and the person using it will determine comfort. A large person in a small bath for instance will not be as comfortable as they would be in a large bath.
Do you tile under a freestanding bath?
How you have your flooring is entirely up to you. If you want the room to look as good as it can possibly be, then tiling is a great way to do that. Just remember though that at some point, you may need access to the plumbing under the floor so you may want to build in some kind of access.
Why might one choose a freestanding bath over a traditional one?
Freestanding baths offer a unique aesthetic and elegant feel, which can serve as a centrepiece in a bathroom. Their design flexibility can also suit a wide range of bathroom styles and sizes.
Are there specific floor types more suited for freestanding baths?
While freestanding baths can be installed on various floor types, considerations like waste pipe placement might require adaptations such as building a platform, especially on solid concrete floors.
What maintenance considerations are there for freestanding baths?
Freestanding baths, especially those with exposed pipes, may require regular cleaning around and beneath the tub. Additionally, ensuring that there is easy access to the plumbing for potential repairs is crucial.
How durable are the chrome fittings on freestanding baths?
Chrome fittings are typically durable and resistant to tarnish and corrosion. However, their longevity can be enhanced with regular cleaning and avoiding abrasive materials.
What precautions should be taken if I choose not to fix my freestanding bath to the floor?
If you decide not to fix your tub to the floor, ensure that the plumbing connections, especially the waste pipe, are robust and flexible to prevent damage from potential tub movements.
Can freestanding baths be used in commercial settings like hotels or spas?
Yes, freestanding baths can be a luxurious addition to commercial settings. However, establishments should ensure regular maintenance and safety precautions, especially if the tub isn’t fixed to the floor.
Are there any potential cost implications when installing a freestanding bath compared to a traditional one?
Installation costs can vary based on bathroom structure and plumbing needs. Hiding waste pipes or building platforms might add to the installation cost for freestanding baths.
How do I determine the right size and style of a freestanding bath for my bathroom?
Consider the size of your bathroom, your aesthetic preferences, and your functional needs. It might be helpful to consult with a bathroom designer or architect.
Is it challenging to replace parts or fittings of a freestanding bath?
The ease of replacing parts depends on the bath design and installation. Baths with access panels or recessed sections usually offer more straightforward access to plumbing for replacements.
What are the environmental implications of using a freestanding bath?
Freestanding baths might require more water than standard-sized baths, impacting water usage. However, many modern designs come with eco-friendly features or can be paired with water-saving fixtures.
I’m Lee the Plumbing Wizard. I’ve been a plumber for over 40 years and have seen it all. People used to call me a magician because I could fix things so easily – hence the name Plumbing Wizard.
I’m always happy to help out a fellow tradesman or woman, so if you need any advice or just someone to talk plumbing with, don’t hesitate to get in touch!