Slipper Baths – Choosing and Fitting

Slipper Baths

A slipper bath is a traditional bath with feet, that has a plug and overflow at one end making it what’s called a single ended bath. Slipper baths have one end, the head end (where your head would normally be), that is higher than the other, foot end, of the bath. Slipper baths are usually roll top baths, that means that the edge of the bath has a profile that approximates to a section from the circumference of a circle, in other words it rolls, and if you try to balance your coffee on it, you’ll either end up with coffee on the floor or coffee in your bath.

Fitting Taps to your Slipper Bath

Many slipper bath, especially those manufactured recently, have a tap platform. A tap platform on a slipper bath is an area at the foot end of the bath edge that flattens out so that tap holes can be drilled in the bath and taps mounted on the edge of the bath. Some antique baths that do not have a tap platform have holes drilled (or cast in the case of cast iron baths) in the vertical bath wall at the foot of the bath. For baths such as these you need specialist taps known as globe taps, globe taps are still manufactured but your choice is very limited as they are almost exclusively used only with antique baths and most manufacturers do not make them, it is also quite difficult to find decorative water feeds and piping suitable for use with globe taps.

The best advice is to avoid such baths. Where there is no tap platform and no holes for globe taps then your taps either need to be wall mounted or floor mounted. If they are floor mounted they will need to stand on stand pipes, stand pipes cover the pipes carrying water to the taps with chrome or gold tubing and are also sturdy enough to support the weight of the taps. Stand pipes stand in contrast to pipe shrouds (also called confusingly and inaccurately ‘bath legs’), because pipe shrouds are used when taps are mounted on the edge of the bath and as such are only intended to provide an attractive chrome or gold cover to the water feeds not to support the weight of the taps. Pipe shrouds are usually telescopic so that they will fit any height of bath (within reasonable limits).

Choosing and Fitting a Waste Kit to Your Slipper Bath

Most slipper baths are fitted with a traditional plug and chain waste kit, but the issues your need to be aware of are broadly the same whatever type of waste kit you are fitting. Firstly be aware that unless the foot of the bath is tucked snugly in an alcove the waste pipes will be visible, this means you will need an exposed waste kit, that is, one that is all chromed not plastic. The waste kit consists of all the parts you see inside the bath, the plug, chain and inserts for the overflow and plug hole as well as the overflow pipe on the outside of the bath which takes water from the overflow down and under the bath to join up with the waste water from the plug hole.

The other parts of the waste kit are the trap, which is effectively a U-bend that stops foul smells coming back up the waste pipe from your drains, and the waste pipe which attaches to the trap and usually has a right angle in it so that it can take waste water into drains under the floor or behind the wall. There are two main issues to consider when fitting a waste kit to a slipper bath. Firstly you will find that the clearance under the bath is too small to fit a conventional trap and you will need an extra shallow trap. The shallowest traps commonly available are about 55mm deep but you will need to get such traps from a specialist in freestanding baths. If the clearance under your bath is less than about 120mm then you will probably need one of these shallow traps. Secondly when a very shallow trap is fitted you will find that the waste pipe cannot be led out the same way that the overflow pipe comes in as they will try to occupy the same space, the usually means that the waste pipe must go towards the head end of the bath.

There are special considerations if your bath is an antique, in particular the plug hole and/or overflow hole may be larger than in a contemporary bath ans this may mean that the normal fittings that fit into the inside of the bath will be too small so that they drop straight through the hole. Apart from salvaging antique waste kits (which are not guaranteed to fit anyway) or having parts remanufactured there may not be an easy answer. I general the best advice is to avoid baths that have outsized plug or overflow holes.

What is Your Bath Made Of

The vast majority of slipper baths are made of one of three materials acrylic, stonecast resin or cast iron. Acrylic is a synthetic polymer of methyl methacrylate, in other words its a kind of plastic, not dissimilar from fibreglass. The main advantages of acrylic are that it is light, cheap and easy to manufacture with as well as being strong, non-porous and easily mended if scratched. Its main disadvantage are that some people consider it too plasticy. Most standard baths are made of acrylic. Acrylic slipper baths are usually made of two skins of acrylic that are strengthened at the base or throughout with some kind of resin. Stone cast resin is a combination of a powdered mineral, usually limestone and resin, usually some reactant is used to chemically combine these during the manufacturing process. The main advantages of good quality stone cast resin are that it is strong and inflexible, easily mended if scratched and has a somewhat ceramic touch and feel, at least when compared with acrylic.

Its main disadvantaged when compared to acrylic is that it stains more easily because it is more porous and in some cases it may not be the correct white colour, in which case it will be painted and this means that if it gets scratched it will have to be repainted. Cast iron is a very heavy material it does not retain heat as well as acrylic or stone cast resin. Cast iron has to be enamelled inside. One of two techniques is usually used – vitreous enamelling is the traditional kind of enamel, its main disadvantage is that it is relatively brittle and can therefore damage easily, once damaged it is not easy to mend. The second technique is cold enamelling, this is basically a paste applied to the inside of the bath that hardens, unless it is done to a very high standard cold enamelled surface can suffer from pitting, that is very small pin prick sized holes in the surface of the enamel that over time can fill with dirt and be difficult to clean causing black spots to appear on the surface of the bath.

Finally – Getting it into Your Bathroom

Slipper baths are usually quite high baths, especially at the head end of the bath and also they are usually quite wide. This means that it is important that you do not fix the feet to the bath until you have it in your bathroom because you will usually have to turn the bath on its side without the feet on in order to fit it through your bathroom door.