A copper or nickel bath can be the crowning element for a unique and stylish bathroom scheme. Explore the practical considerations before you invest.  

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Image: Copper boat bath with nickel interior, BC Designs

Copper baths are a popular, much lusted after style for both traditional and contemporary homes; however, they often represent a significant investment, with prices ranging from £3,000 up to £10,000+. 

To ensure you know exactly what to expect from a copper bath, as well as the alternative metal styles, in terms of functionality, the Grand Designs mgazine team spoke to the experts about what needs to be considered before opting for one of these statement bathtubs. 

Heat retainers

It's a common misconception that copper baths are cold and lose heat quickly and in fact the opposite is true. Copper is a super conductor of heat, meaning that when the bath is filled you'll get a good, even warmth throughout. It will also stay hotter for much longer than a cast iron bath, making it perfect for long, relaxing soaks. 

Some copper tubs are lined in a contrasting material such as nickel or enamel. This is often a less expensive option but does not offer all of the advantages of a copper interior. 

Read more: Bathtub in a bedroom: the practical considerations

Nickel offers a stylish contrast to copper, as is still a good conductor of heat, even if not quite so excellent as copper. Enamelled interiors tend to be used over acrylic finishes due to the luxury nature of copper baths, and offer a more traditional bathroom look on the interior of your bathtub. 

nickel freestanding bath - steel and copper baths: what you need to know - home improvements - granddesignsmagazine.com

Image: Nickel bath, Indigenous 

How about hygiene

Copper is actually a super metal when it comes to killing germs. While most viruses can last for days on steel and glass, they are killed within hours or sometimes minutes on copper. “Knowing that copper kills bacteria and viruses within a short time frame, without any additional help from cleaning products will help to put a lot of people’s minds at rest when it comes to making sure a high-traffic area such as a bathroom remains germ free," says Barrie Cutchie, design director of BC Designs

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Consider the logistics

Copper baths can be heavy, but they are significantly lighter than cast iron baths. Copper bath manufacturer William Holland says that: "On average our copper baths weigh only 45kg. To put this in perspective, a cast iron bath weighs a monumental 250kg often needing reinforced floors and a whole team to install." 

Opt for an experienced installer who can let you know whether work will need to be done to reinforce your bathroom floor. 

Read more: Ensuite bathrooms: how to design a luxurious space

While copper baths may seem most at home in large, luxurious bathrooms, they shouldn't be discounted for smaller spaces too. "Copper and nickel baths can work for smaller spaces too," says Joss Thomas, Founder & Designer of Indigenous, "and  can be positioned next to a wall and still create plenty of drama."

cp hart copper bath - steel and copper baths: what you need to know - home improvements - granddesignsmagazine.com

Image: William Holland copper bateau bath, C.P. Hart

Stylish and functional

Copper and steel baths are proven to be functional as well as effortlessly stylish. "In terms of finishes, warm metallics are continuing to be very popular, with brushed or satin versions of favourites such as copper and bronze. They can really brighten up your bathroom space and create a beautiful focal point, which is what many homeowners want to achieve with a freestanding bath," says Yousef Mansuri from C.P. Hart

The shapes available for copper and nickel baths are limited, largely to bateau styles. This style of bath, deep with high edges, offers a different, more upright, bathing experience from a standard bath. However, their deep nature ensures that shoulders and knees are always submerged in water, ensuring you'll still be able to soak and unwind in your tub. 

How to maintain a copper bath

Copper is a natural material that will age and patina over time therefore they must be maintained regularly in order to keep the original polish.

Check out the video tutorial below courtesy of BC Designs for more information about copper bath care. 


For more bathroom planning advice, read Grand Designs magazine digitally for free now by registering your details

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