Alcove Whirlpool Tubs Vs. Drop-In Whirlpool Tubs

whirlpool tub consists of an electric pump and water jets that work together to produce high-pressure streams of water. The pump pulls water towards the jets from the tub. The water is then injected with air particles, resulting in a forceful spray of water back into the tub. People use whirlpool bath tubs for leisure, therapy and treatment of muscle aches.

The two most common types of whirlpool tubs are alcove and drop-in. Alcove whirlpool tubs are the most commonly used because they are cheaper and require lesser space. Drop-in tubs are also very popular, but they are more expensive and elaborate in design. Many of the drop-in whirlpool tubs can accommodate two people, as compared to alcove tubs that can usually only accommodate one person.


Alcove whirlpool tubs are similar to regular bathtubs, and are usually installed between 3 walls. Only one side of the tub is exposed, and can be decorated according to the buyer’s requirement and budget. The exposed side is called the apron, so this type is sometimes also called an "apron tub." The ones with elaborate designs on the apron are generally more expensive than the standard varieties. Alcove tubs are usually made of acrylic or steel. Steel tubs are usually cheaper than the acrylic ones, but can become worn with extensive use.

Drop-in whirlpool tubs are also known as platform whirlpool tubs. These tubs are built into casings that are covered with wood, marble, granite or ceramic tiles. Drop-in tubs can be installed in a corner, between walls, in the middle of the bathroom and even out in the open. Due to the larger sizes and better features, a standard drop-in tub may be pricier than a high-end alcove tub.


Alcove whirlpool tubs are usually built to accommodate a single person. Most whirlpool tubs of this type can fit in standard-size bathrooms. Generally, alcove whirlpool tubs also accept standard shower surrounds. Most bathrooms can easily accommodate one of the smaller alcove whirlpool tubs, with minimal changes in plumbing or layout required.

Drop-in whirlpool tubs are bigger, and some can accommodate multiple persons. These tubs are available in many shapes, such as heart, square, circular, oval, and diamond, among others. Fitting drop-in whirlpool tubs in bathrooms is more difficult, as they tend to be larger and more complicated in design. You may have to contact a plumber to determine the suitability of your bathroom for the purpose of adding a drop-in whirlpool tub. These tubs may also have specific plumbing requirements, and not accept the standard shower surrounds. As a result, installation might require new plumbing and other changes. Drop-in whirlpool tubs are generally installed in new buildings where the construction is in progress.

Access Panels

The apron or the exposed side of an alcove whirlpool tub is usually removable. The access panel is located behind this apron, to enable servicing and maintenance of the motor.

Drop-in whirlpool tubs offer more options for the placement of the access panel, which can be located on the wall, or in the casing. Most of these tubs usually require the creation of an opening for the access panel during installation.

If you have the space and the budget, a drop-in whirlpool tub can be an elegant addition to your bathroom, whereas an alcove whirlpool bath tub can perform most of the same functions at a lower price.