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For bathtubs & older bones, bubble massage bests whirlpools |

For bathtubs & older bones, bubble massage bests whirlpools

Q: We’re getting older and plan to stay in our home longer than expected. We’re remodeling the bathroom with age-friendly plumbing fixtures. What tips can you give for an aging-in-place massage soaking tub? — Ann, Nebraska

A: I know from personal experience that old bones love a gentle soaking. My tips:

• Check out a drop-in style tub. These usually require a custom-built enclosure, which will let you add stairs and seating areas around the tub for easier access.

• In place of a whirlpool jet system, I recommend a bubble massage system. Soft, rising bubbles are a lot easier on the body.

• Don’t forget comfort and lumbar support. Look for a tub with rounded edges and body-supporting features.

Q: Our children are getting to be independent in the bathroom. We want to teach them good water-saving habits. What do you recommend? — Becky and Joe, Rhode Island

A: To start, I would upgrade to high-efficiency fixtures. My tips:

• Upgrade your faucets with water-efficient aerators and teach the kids to turn the tap off while brushing teeth.

• Install an adjustable-height shower and slide bar instead of taking baths.

• Replace your old toilet with a high-efficiency dual-flushing toilet. Kids love to press buttons. Teach them the No. 1 button (half flush.) is for No. 1 and the No. 2 button (full flush) is for No. 2.

Q: I’m planning an extensive kitchen remodel and would like a kitchen island with a bar sink. What features would you suggest? — Mary, Wisconsin

A: With kitchen island sinks, I can tell you that the good old fashioned bar sink has evolved into a staging area for food and beverages rather than an actual work station. Thus I suggest exploring these design features:

• Material choices: Cast iron and acrylic are popular, as well as stainless steel.

• Shapes and mounting: Under-mount bar sinks with rounded shapes can make a dramatic visual statement.

• Faucets and accessories: High-end faucets and custom cutting boards also help keep a new island sink on the cutting edge of design trends.

Ed Del Grande is a Master Contractor/Plumber and LEED green associate. Visit or write

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