We are buying a 2-floor house, and are thinking about the layout of the rooms and common spaces. The building company, by default, puts a bathtub on the second floor (where the bedrooms are), while putting a shower in the bathroom on the first floor (where the kitchen and the living room are). Unfortunately, the bathroom on the second floor is smaller than the one downstairs. Hence, we are thinking to ask the company placing the bathtub on the first floor instead.

We have not decided yet, but when looking at the houses around, we've noticed that they all have bathtubs on the second floor and a shower on the first floor. So there might be some reason for that which we do not grasp.

Can anyone help us understand what can be some potential pitfalls of having a bathtub downstairs?

Thanks in advance!

  • 1
    Welcome, BTW, to Home Improvement. Please take the tour and have a gander at the "asking questions" section of the help center. You've done a really good job of just skirting along the edge of an "opinion based" question. You've asked for "potential pitfalls" which are more or less objective, but, as you can see by the answers generated, there is a lot of opinion! That's pretty darn good for a new person!
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jul 24, 2020 at 14:12
  • 2
    You'll have a tough time selling the house w/o a 2nd floor full bathroom. Commented Jul 24, 2020 at 16:40
  • Do you need a bath tub at all? I've not had a bath in years, but shower daily.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jul 24, 2020 at 23:54
  • Personally I’d only get one bathroom with a shower. What’s the advantage of having a second bathroom?
    – Michael
    Commented Jul 25, 2020 at 8:22
  • 2
    Please clarify where you are, and what you mean by “first” and “second” floors, as these differ by country. For example in Europe, floor zero is the ”ground floor”, and one staircase upwards is the “first floor”; whereas in the USA, they start by calling floor zero the first! Commented Jul 25, 2020 at 10:56

3 Answers 3


If you plan to stay in the house until you are old, consider what amenities you'd like to have when stairs become difficult, impossible, or risky for your aging self to use. Stair lifts have their limits, and having to move out of your house due to factors you built into it is annoying, if you would otherwise prefer to stay. In some cases this may lead you to choose to build a single-story house rather than a two-story house.

If you don't have long-term plans, make your choices as you will.

There are many "common things" that either never made sense, made sense only in the age of "hired help" or "roving bandits," or that only are "common" in one part of the world and not others. Try to look at them with a fresh eye when you get to build the house, rather than following "the norm" blindly.

To wit:

  • Bedrooms on the second floor - harder to get out in the case of a fire, which you are already at disadvantage for from being asleep. Second floor views are generally better for the living spaces. Bands of marauding peasants breaking in downstairs and being held off at the stairwell by sword-wielding inhabitants is a bit outdated as reasons go, but there you are.
  • "Laundry in the basement" = sure, when it goes down the chute you can't now have for fire regulations to the laundress you don't employ who gets to carry it back upstairs. The bulk of laundry is generated at and used in bedrooms, and the laundry processing should be near those and the bathroom(s) near them for efficient plumbing and not dragging most of the laundry around the house needlessly. In my area second floor bedrooms and basement laundry are the norm. It's nuts. Quiet machines, sound insulation, and/or scheduling use deal with the "noise of the machines while I'm sleeping" reason sometimes trotted out for locating them inconveniently. In other places, laundry in the bathroom is the norm.
  • Who the heck decreed that shower/tub must share the room that the toilet/WC is in? They are both plumbing, and plumbing inside the house is a relatively new concept that humans are very slowly adapting to, so they got thrown in together when running those new-fangled pipe things into the existing house. Then that carried over into new houses. They are not the same, and making use of one block the other is at times VERY inconvenient. The privy/outhouse did not have a bathtub in it...
  • No doubt other things that are not coming to mind at the moment...
  • 16
    1) Bedrooms upstairs are generally quieter and more private. Guests stuff downstairs, Family/Personal stuff upstairs. 2) Laundry in the basement can be a very good thing when the washer leaks or you end up with piles of laundry on the basement floor waiting to go in the washer. 3) Having all the plumbing share a common route through the frame of the house makes the plumbing work much more efficient and convinient
    – gnicko
    Commented Jul 24, 2020 at 14:07
  • 2
    "Bands of marauding peasants breaking in downstairs and being held off at the stairwell by sword-wielding inhabitants is a bit outdated as reasons go, but there you are" -- OK that has me LOL! +1. However, "dragging most of the laundry around the house needlessly" -- most people (Americans, at least) could use the extra exercise of tromping up and down stairs hauling baskets of laundry! - 1. Net no vote! (J/K, +1 from me)
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jul 24, 2020 at 14:07
  • A lot of new houses are now putting a small stackable washer/dryer unit in the master closet.
    – Glen Yates
    Commented Jul 24, 2020 at 21:58
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    @GregNickoloff for the plumbing you can get a similar result by having separate shower and toilet rooms adjacent to each other. Commented Jul 24, 2020 at 22:14
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    @DanIsFiddlingByFirelight Agreed, the plumbing issue can be easily solved by just having a proper wet-wall like most homes that aren't custom-built do, though that brings it's own issues (lots of metal means lower RF transparency, so it can interfere with stuff like OTA television signals and WiFi). Commented Jul 25, 2020 at 1:47

Children, especially young ones (diaper/nappy age), can often need a bath in the middle of the night to clean up from accidents. Turning on the lights, running a tub, and cleaning up the kid are enough hassle at 2am without having to also make a trip down and up the stairs.

Plus 1 for having the tub on the same floor as the bedrooms.

  • When I read "Turning on the lights, running a tub, and cleaning up the kid are enough hassle at 2am" I thought you're going to recommend to have the tub downstairs as not to wake up the one sleeping in the bedroom upstairs.
    – AndreKR
    Commented Jul 24, 2020 at 21:38
  • 1
    Especially in a busy household, having the bath upstairs (or more precisely, away from the main living areas) may make it easier to get a young child bathed and settled into bed with fewer distractions.
    – avid
    Commented Jul 25, 2020 at 0:17
  • @AndreKR - it all depends on the kid. We have 2 that will sleep through a tornado and one that'll wake up to a mouse fart at 50 yards.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jul 25, 2020 at 1:56

In fancy construction, I believe that the tub is usually placed in the "master bathroom" under the assumption that it would be mainly used by one of the occupants of that room. A smaller downstairs bathroom would mainly be used by guests, children, or elderly for whom a dedicated shower (no tub with high stepover) is the appropriate and much, much safer bathing facility.

EDIT In my neighborhood (1970 tract development of 270 single story) 40% of houses have 2.5 baths, 60% 2 baths. Originally all had a shower only in the master bath which was smaller than a central hall bath which had a tub-shower with 14 inch step-over. There has been a lot of remodeling and one of the things some people do is enlarge the master bath and add a free-standing tub. We have not remodeled extensively and neither my wife nor I have ever used a tub for bathing. I had to hot soak a lesion once in 42 years. I use the tub to wash our 20 lb dog using a hand held shower.

I now shower in the tub and have installed grab bars as an absolutely essential aid to getting in and out, but I know many people my age (upper 70s) who could not do so. There is actually a system for cutting a passageway through a tub as a cheaper alternative to removal and conversion to a shower.

I think the first floor location for a tub has advantages, but if all the bedrooms and the largest bathroom are on the second floor, then probably the tub should be there.

  • But if all the bedrooms are upstairs (as indicated in the OP) and the only tub is in the master BR, that's great when there are no kids, OK when they're little, but a pain when they're big-enough-to-take-a-bath-on-their-own-but-not-yet-taking-a-shower-in-their-own-bathroom age.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jul 24, 2020 at 14:10
  • in "fancy" there would be two, one in the master bathroom and another on the same floor for the rest of the house
    – Rémi
    Commented Jul 24, 2020 at 14:44
  • What country is this property located in? Is the upstairs bathroom off a hall so it is designed to serve all the upstairs bedrooms? Commented Jul 24, 2020 at 20:14
  • My house has just a shower in the master bath and a tub in the guest bath. I wish it were the opposite.
    – Kat
    Commented Jul 24, 2020 at 21:20

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