A blog about the restoration, remodel and renovation of a 1929 Chicago-style brick bungalow

Air Tub Anyone?

Last night I sprang the news on Pete that I thought we should redo the first-floor bathroom instead of tearing out the bedroom wall when we’re ready to move forward with the attic renovation. He took it rather well. Of course he pointed out that we’ll need a full working bathroom in order to do that. (He’s always quick to point out the negatives, while I’m inclined to focus on the positives. It tends to be a good balance in the long run even though I usually get irritated with him.)

He wasn’t bringing up anything I hadn’t already thought of. I figured we’d have to get the basement bathroom shower up and running first, but to me that’s a minor issue. It’s not like we have a specific timeline for all this.

For a while we thought about eliminating the basement bathroom shower altogether and turning that space into a storage closet. After thinking about it more — and since the plumbing for it already exists — we decided it’d be more trouble to completely demolish the shower than to re-build it. Plus, in addition to being handy for a renovation like this, it would be convenient to shower down there after working in the yard rather than tracking the dirt through the house.

Now back to the main floor bathroom. Since it’s covered in tile, even on the ceiling, it will have to be completely demo’d. And since the original bathtub is a dark teal green (the PO had it glazed white), it’d be a good time to replace it instead of going to the expense of having it refinished every 10 or so years. There’s already some chips on the current finish, so it would have to be refinished in the near future.

I’m all for keeping original fixtures, but just because it’s old doesn’t mean it was a good idea. Designing a bathroom around a teal green tub is not a good idea in my mind.

So with this latest renovation idea brewing in my head, I began to research bathtubs.

Mainly due to space constraints, I’d already given up my desire to have a large shower and soaking tub in the master suite, so why not install a soaking tub in the first floor bathroom?

I ended up on the GardenWeb Forum, which, if you haven’t stumbled across it yourself, is a great source for home and garden discussions. This thread introduced me to air tubs and manufacturers that I’ve never heard of.

Initially, I was only interested in soaking tubs because I don’t like whirlpool tubs: too noisy, and the force of the jets don’t soothe me at all. I had heard of air tubs but have never tried one. Supposedly they have a more gentle blast through a number of openings around the tub. Bath oils and salts can also be used in them, as opposed to whirlpool tubs.

Who knows what will happen in the end, but right now I’m really liking the BainUltra Thalassa 55 Air Jet. I think it would be a good retrofit for the space.

In the meantime, anyone have any experience with air tubs? Pros? Cons? Installation or noise level problems? I’d love to hear from you!


  1. Britten Carlson on January 9, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    I spent the last three years working for a custom tub manufacturer. We built jetted tubs but handled service work for air tubs. Air tubs typically have the air ports in the bottom of the tub. Over time the valves for the air ports start to leak allowing water to drip under the bathing well which can lead to bacteria formation. Before purchasing one I would highly recommend talking to the manufacturer; find out what they have done to safeguard against this potential problem. Good Luck.

  2. denise on January 9, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    Thanks Britten! That is great to know and definitely makes me think twice about getting one. Perhaps I should stick to the original plan and get a plain soaking tub without the bells and whistles.

  3. Jennifer on January 9, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    I’m a fan of KISS… keep it simple… get the soaking tub, and get one of those bubble mats to put in the tub when you want air bubbles! They are cheap, and you won’t have to worry about leaks or bacteria in the tub.

    My in-laws have a jet tub… they hate it. It needs so much maintinance that they never use it. I have no idea if bubble tubs are like that…

  4. denise on January 9, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    Jennifer—you are SO right! Sometimes I let myself get carried away when I see all the possibilities — thankfully it usually happens only in the research phase. In the end I usually come to my senses and ask myself a) do I really need that? b) is this a trend/will it go out of style? and c) will it last a long, long time?

    All I’ve ever really wanted is a deep enough tub to have a nice soak once in a while. We certainly don’t need maintenance issues.

  5. southsideandy on January 10, 2009 at 12:32 am

    Hi Denise,
    We have a two-person jacuzzi tub (probably not the same, but it goes along with your last thought) that was here in the basement bathroom from the PO.

    In nearly two years now, I’ve used it once, and Gina has never used it. I’ve only cleaned it once (before I used it), and when I found out how you have to clean the jets like, every time, I said screw it!

    Someday I plan on taking it out, selling it used to someone with more patience, and turning that half of the bathroom into a train layout! But Gina doesn’t know this dreamy lofty goal yet! 🙂 Ha!

  6. Adam on February 6, 2009 at 9:40 am

    We are just finishing up our master bath remodel and put in a BainUltra Pro Meridian 55. The main reason we went with this manufacturer is due to the air jets instead of the standard water jets. Every time you run the jets, there is a few minute drying cycle after about a 10 minute pause. And even if you don’t run the jets, after you are done in the tub you can run the jets to blow any water out that may have filtered into the air holes. We really love ours, but they are a bit noisy to if you can install the motor in a basement under the bathroom, that would be optimal.

  7. denise on February 11, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Adam: Great information, thank you! I will definitely keep this in mind if we end up going this route.

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