How to Design a Roman Bath

Written by j.e. myers
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How to Design a Roman Bath
A Roman bath offers a luxury spa experience in your home. (la baignoire (2) image by fotogisèle from

Ancient Roman baths were public facilities that would look to modern eyes like a cross between a swimming pool and a hot tub. Nowadays, Roman baths are installed in private homes, albeit on a much smaller scale. A Roman bathtub is basically a somewhat oversized, deep soaking tub that fills from a faucet located in the centre of the upper "deck" of the tub rather than inside the tub. Shower fixtures are not included.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Visit home-improvement and speciality bath design stores to find and select a Roman tub. Buy either a completed Roman bathtub or a tub liner that requires the construction of a custom surround or deck to finish the look. A Roman tub is usually larger and often more rectangular in shape than a regular rounded or oval bathtub.

  2. 2

    Locate floor space in your bathroom to accommodate a large tub. Soaking in a Roman bath is meant to be luxurious, so an attractive view---out a window or at a piece of artwork-- is recommended. Position the tub well away from any walls.

  3. 3

    Sketch out any surround or "deck" that might be needed to enclose and finish your Roman bath. Roman bath deck ledges are wider than a traditional bathtub edge. They must be wide enough to accommodate Roman bath faucet fixtures, but not so wide as to make entry into and exit from the tub difficult. You should be able to sit on the deck ledge and swing your feet into the tub without having to scoot along the ledge. You should also be able to stand up in the tub and step over the ledge and onto the bathroom floor without difficulty.

  4. 4

    Use marble or fine ceramic tiles to surface and decorate the bath surround, deck ledge and any surrounding walls. Classic Greek or Roman bas-relief (raised) tile designs work particularly well with a Roman bath. These tiles should be designed to either visually sooth or entertain a tub user.

  5. 5

    Select faucet fixtures that match your tile design. These special fixtures are mounted in the centre of the bath, not at the end, and outside the tub on the deck ledge, rather than inside the tub. They usually have a taller, more curved spigot, similar to a kitchen sink spigot. They also fill the larger tub much faster than a traditional bathtub faucet. The fixture's exterior location prevents bathers from being poked in the back or the head by side-mounted faucets, especially when stretching out and resting against the tub sides or when more than one person is using the bath.

  6. 6

    Install attractive hand railings to help bathers get in and out safely. Bathtub handrails are available in many styles and finishes but are usually fancier for Roman baths than traditional stainless steel handrails. Marble and solid resin handrails made to look like marble are available.

Tips and warnings

  • Don't clutter up the bath deck ledge with too many spa accessories--wall niches and shelves within reach are a good alternative.
  • Keep an eye on children around Roman baths. They are much deeper than traditional tubs and children can drown in them quickly.

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