Q: After years of saving our money and waiting for our children to move out, my wife and I plan to turn one of our extra bedrooms into a large bathroom. We're going high-end and want to install a big free-standing bathtub right in the middle of the bathroom. Before we start looking at different models, what basic information can you give us about free-standing bathtubs?

A: A "free-standing" bathtub is pretty much what the name says. Free-standing baths are self-supporting tubs that are finished on all sides with no need to add wood framing. Basically, you put them into place and install the plumbing. The old cast-iron claw-foot tubs were the first example of a free-standing bath.

While you can still get free-standing tubs made with cast iron, solid-surface acrylic is quickly becoming the material of choice. This new heavy-duty material offers comfort, value and beauty, since it can be formed to fit any style. Also, solid-surface acrylic is available in a rainbow of colors and is very easy to clean and maintain.

Just remember, though, that with any free-standing tub, you do need to install a separate showering area since these tubs are designed for soaking only.

While a free-standing bath will add a decorative splash to the bathroom, you don't want it splashing water all over your floor, so keep that in mind when considering flooring options.

Master contractor/plumber Ed Del Grande is the author of the book "Ed Del Grande's House Call," the host of TV and Internet shows, and a LEED green associate.