A whirlpool bath is a great way to relax after a hard day's work. When it comes to choosing the right one, there are a lot of features to consider.

Base materials

The base - the actual tub - can be made of several different types of materials:

  • Cast iron is the premier tub material, rock-solid with a layer of high-gloss enamel in a wide range of colors. Most cast-iron bases come with a 50-year warranty. Keep in mind that cast iron is obviously extremely heavy, so installing one may require structural upgrades.
  • An acrylic tub can be manufactured in unique shapes and sizes. These models are vacuum-molded from sheets of colored acrylic and reinforced with fiberglass for resistance against cracking and flexing. Acrylic tubs are durable and easy to care for.
  • Composite tubs are constructed of a mixture of polyester resin and fiberglass, making them economical, attractive and easy to maintain. They also weigh 20 percent less, making installation much easier.

The hardware

The water jets are the most important part of a whirlpool - you can option for four or five jets with a standard tub, or up to 19 or 20 for a custom model. If you're investing in a high-end whirlpool, you'll get adjustable or even sequencing jets.

The best type of whirlpool pump is a two horsepower variable-flow model. This type offers the most power with the least energy consumption. Most standard tubs come with a one or two horsepower pump.

Other features

Another good option to consider in your new whirlpool is an integral water heater - this will reheat the water as it flows through the system, keeping you warm and comfortable longer and reducing the strain on your primary water heater.

And for safety's sake, be sure to look for these features as well:

  • 20-minute safety shutdown
  • ADA compliance
  • Slip-resistant finish
  • Adequate ledge space
  • Lumbar back support
  • Built-in grip rails

Installation

In most communities, building codes require whirlpool tubs to be installed by certified professionals because of the risk of working around water and electricity.

If you prefer, you can purchase a whirlpool at your local home center or retail outlet, and hire someone to install it for you.

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