What is a Slipper Bathtub?

T. L. Childree

A slipper bathtub is designed with extra depth at one end to provide back support. The shape of the slipper bathtub allows most users to recline with their legs extended while soaking. This tub design was first implemented during the Victorian era and continues to be popular among owners of older-style homes. These bathtub variants are usually very heavy and may be equipped with small feet for additional support. Although early models of the slipper bathtub were not equipped with a faucet, modern versions typically have wall mounted fixtures which may also include a showerhead.

Slipper baths are commonly used as soaking tubs, because the unique shape allows the full body to me immersed in the water.
Slipper baths are commonly used as soaking tubs, because the unique shape allows the full body to me immersed in the water.

This tub gives the appearance of a slipper when viewed from a side angle due to the higher walls on one end. The higher walls are intended to provide additional back support when seated. Although one end of this bathtub appears deeper, it holds the same amount of water as a tub with straight sides. A variation of the standard design is known as a double-ended slipper bathtub. This double design features higher sidewalls on each end and can sometimes hold two people at the same time.

A slipper bathtub allows many users to recline in the tub while fully extending their legs in front of them. The user is seated at the deeper end with feet pointed toward the shallower end. This position is intended to provide a more relaxing bath or soak in the tub. The faucet and drain are located at the shallow end for ease of use. Standard models are usually 72 inches (182 cm) long, 30 inches (72 cm) wide and can hold up to 50 gallons (182 liters) of water.

Early versions of the slipper bathtub came into use during the mid to late 19th century. Running water was uncommon during this time, and the tub was typically filled by bucket. These tubs were usually enjoyed only by the wealthy during this period. As indoor plumbing became available, many new tub models were introduced, and the popularity of this bathtub began to decline. Modern versions of the slipper bathtub continue to be relatively popular among owners of older residences.

Original versions of the slipper bathtub were constructed of enamel-covered steel, porcelain, copper, and treated wood with small feet at the bottom for support and stability. These early models were also very heavy and difficult to transport and install. Modern versions are typically constructed from some type of lightweight acrylic material. Unlike early models, contemporary versions are installed with wall mounted faucets. Some models also feature a showerhead and ring curtain.

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