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It’s time to remodel the bathroom, and you’re contemplating a bold decision: to remove the last remaining bathtub of the house in favor of a spacious shower. Maybe the kids prefer to take showers now that they’re a little older, or you’d love to have a stall that’s easier to climb in and out of on a daily basis. In any case, you need to weigh these personal preferences versus some valid concerns about selling a house without a bathtub down the line.

What will this decision mean for resale — and will you wish you’d kept the home more broadly marketable? We dug into bathroom remodeling trends and spoke with real estate experts on how tub preferences have changed, the growing appeal of showers, and how much you can expect to limit your buyer pool with a tub-less house.

Bathtubs have long offered a mix of spa-like benefits in addition to their practical uses, like bathing your kid or cleaning your dog’s muddy paws. But homeowner preferences have certainly shifted over the years when it comes to bathtub styles. When the Jacuzzi brothers invented the first hydrotherapy jetted tub in 1956, it became a valued feature for many homes well into the ‘80s, and ‘90s.

However, most home design trends have a shelf-life, and jetted tubs were no exception. People soon came to realize that jets are a pain to clean, and large tubs require a ton of hot water to fill. Over time, many of these tubs became glorified storage bins.

Now, freestanding tubs are considered the “modern” option. Many of them come in beautiful designs, and these tub styles have a smaller footprint than their jetted predecessors.

“We do a lot of luxury real estate, and freestanding tubs are very common — new construction almost always has these contemporary-looking bathtubs that are longer and wider,” says Woody Fincham, an appraiser Charlottesville Virginia area and the recipient of the Outstanding Service Award at the 2017 International Valuation Conference.

However, recent remodeling research indicates that the importance of having any bathtub at all in the primary bathroom is dwindling. A study from Houzz found that in 2019, half of renovated main bathrooms had no bathtub, while the number of homeowners who say they enjoy soaking in the tub for relaxation dropped 7 percentage points to 55%.

While not having a tub in the main bathroom isn’t the same as having no tub in the house, it does indicate that shower versus bath preferences are becoming more fluid in American households, with upscale showers as an alternative gaining more ground.

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