Bathtub Installation Methods

In this article I will be looking at the different ways that bathtubs can be installed in your home. I will cover drop-in, alcove, freestanding, and undermount bathtub installations, as these are the most common types. It is important to know about the different installation types as it may affect the kind of tub that you end up buying. If you want a bathtub to go in the middle of your bathroom so that you can walk all around it, for example, then you will need to get a free standing tub, as tubs that are to be installed using the other methods generally need at least a supporting wall.



The first installation method that I will look at is the drop-in method. This is also sometimes called the platform or the deck-mounted installation method. This is typically done with the type of tub that requires it to be dropped into a deck structure that is usually built into an enclosure. Whirlpool and air bathtubs usually have to be installed with this method because the space below the deck is needed to house and conceal all the plumbing required for operation. A removable panel is usually located on the deck to give access to the plumbing and hardware.


Alcove or recessed tub installation is used to put rectangular tubs that are adjacent to 3 walls in place. Alcove tubs are widely considered to be the standard bathtub. The location of your plumbing and drain will determine whether you should get a left or right-hand alcove installation tub. These tubs have borders on their front, back and one side so it is important to know which side is the open side to make sure it matches with your drain.

Free Standing

Vintage and clawfoot tubs are classic examples of freestanding bathtubs. These type of tubs sit on the bathroom floor independent of any supporting walls or a deck structure. You will have more options as to where you can put a freestanding tub in your bathroom; it will still need to be located close to the drain and delivery plumbing, so make sure that both are easily accessible if you decide to get a tub that requires this type of installation.


As the name implies, an undermount installation tub will have a supporting structure underneath it. Similar to platform tubs, it will also be covered by a deck top. The main difference between these two types of installation is that an undermount will have a structure underneath the tub while a platform installation will essentially be hanging from the deck.

Those are the main installation methods that you can use for bathtubs. It is common to hear the type of installation being used in the description of a bathtub. For example, the KOHLER K-1123-0 Archer that I reviewed can be called a drop-in tub because that is the method of installation that it requires.