The 6 Common Types of Bathtub Drain Stoppers

Choosing the right bathtub drain stopper is an important decision that can impact your bathing experience and the functionality of your tub. There are several common types of drain stoppers to consider, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the six most popular styles of tub drain stoppers and help you determine which is best for your needs.

Lift and Turn Stopper

The lift and turn or flip stopper is one of the most common and simple drain plugs. As the name suggests, this stopper operates with a lift and turn mechanism. The stopper fits into the drain opening and has a post that connects to a rod beneath the tub. To operate it, simply lift the stopper up and turn it to open and close the drain.


  • Very easy to operate and manipulate
  • Provides a tight seal when closed
  • Long lasting and durable


  • Can loosen over time, requiring replacement
  • Some models prone to getting stuck
  • Exposed parts may collect hair and gunk

This style comes in various shapes and sizes. The most basic version is the flat metal disk style. More decorative options include ceramic stoppers in different shapes. Overall, the lift and turn is one of the most convenient options that works well in most bathtubs.

Toe-Touch Stopper

Toe-touch or pop-up stoppers activate by simply pressing on the stopper with your toe. A lever mechanism connects to the stopper and plugs the drain when pushed down. To open the drain, you press on the stopper again with your toe.


  • Very easy to use, hands-free operation
  • Smooth open and close motion
  • Stylish appearance


  • More difficult to adjust or repair internally
  • Can become stiff or stuck over time
  • Potential for debris to get caught in lever mechanism

Toe-touch stoppers have a nice appearance and seamless functionality when operating properly. However, the internal mechanism is more complex than other options. This style also requires access below the tub to install or replace.

Trip Lever Stopper

Trip lever stoppers utilize a lever mounted on the tub’s edge to operate the drain plug. The stopper connects to a cable that lifts up or drops down when you flip the trip lever up or down. Many trip lever stoppers have a pivoting ball joint that allows smooth motion.


  • Easy to use and manipulates with one hand
  • Clear open and closed positions
  • Various style options for lever and stopper


  • Exposed components may corrode over time
  • More difficult to repair internals below tub
  • Potential for cable to get stuck or loosen over time

If you prefer a hands-free drain control option, the trip lever design is a great choice. The lever mechanism provides reliable operation and a wide range of style choices to suit your décor.

Push-Pull Stopper

As you may have guessed, the push-pull stopper operates by pushing down or pulling up on the stopper. A spring-loaded mechanism allows the stopper to drop into place when pressed down. To open the drain, you simply pull the stopper back up.


  • No separate lever required
  • Simple mechanism with fewer parts to fail
  • Easy to remove for cleaning


  • Must use hands directly on stopper
  • Spring may weaken over time
  • Potential for stopper to get stuck

The push-pull is one of the most hands-on types of tub stoppers. But its simple and compact design allows easy cleaning. This type comes in a range of shapes and finishes.

Rotating Stopper

Rotating or swivel stoppers operate with a twist motion to seal the drain opening. The stopper connects to a rotating post or rod. Turning the stopper one direction drops in place to close the drain. Rotating in the opposite direction lifts it to open the drain.


  • Provides a strong seal when closed
  • Smooth twist operation
  • Durable construction


  • Handle may loosen over time requiring repair
  • Requires more force to rotate than other styles
  • Post may bend or break with excessive force

Rotating stoppers have an elegant look and feel when operating properly. The all-metal construction typically outlasts other material types. Just take care not to force the stopper or handles when operating.

Lift Knob Stopper

Lift knob stoppers integrate a knob attached to the stopper. To close the drain, you lower the stopper in place by the knob. Lifting the knob raises the stopper to open drainage. The knob provides easy fingertip control.


  • Allows precise control to open and close
  • Comfortable knob shape to grasp
  • Creates a tight seal when closed


  • Knob may loosen over time and fall off
  • Exposed components may show grime buildup
  • Requires reaching into the tub to operate

For those that prefer the control of a dedicated handle, the lift knob design is ideal. The large knob allows you to precisely raise and lower the stopper.

Questions to Consider When Choosing a Bathtub Drain Stopper

With so many types of tub drain stoppers to choose from, it can be tricky to select the right one for your bathroom and preferences. Here are a few key questions to ask yourself during the decision process:

How important is the appearance of the stopper?

If style is a priority, narrow your search to options with finishes and shapes that match your décor. Decorative ceramic, metal, and glass stoppers allow making a fashion statement. For a more subtle look, consider polished chrome or oil-rubbed bronze.

Do you prefer hands-free or manual operation?

Think about whether you’d like the convenience of a toe-touch, trip lever, or push-pull stopper. Or if you don’t mind using your hands directly, a lift-and-turn or rotating stopper may suffice.

What is the existing stopper style or system?

In some cases, you may need to match a replacement stopper to the existing equipment already installed. This can limit options but allows for easier compatibility.

How important is ease of cleaning?

Stoppers that are easily removable or have smooth surfaces tend to require less cleaning effort. Exposed mechanisms may collect more gunk and hair over time.

What level of repair access do you have?

Some stoppers require access below the tub to install or repair. If access is limited, seek options that are serviceable from above the drain only.

By weighing factors like these, you can zero in on the best bathtub drain stopper for your needs and preferences. And be sure to consult with a professional if you have any plumbing issues or uncertainties during replacement. Investing in the right stopper makes enjoying leisurely baths a pleasure.


The wide range of bathtub drain stoppers gives you plenty of options for managing water flow and decorating your bathroom. Lift-and-turn, toe-touch, trip lever, and other designs each have their own perks and drawbacks. By weighing the advantages of each against your needs, you can pick the perfect drain stopper to enhance your tub.

With a little care and maintenance, a quality stopper should provide years of trouble-free performance. Be sure to periodically check for any loose components or early signs of wear. Replacing a worn stopper before leaking occurs will help avoid water damage. Installation is usually a quick job for a handy homeowner. But always seek professional assistance if you have any doubts or problems getting a new stopper seated and sealed properly.

Taking the time to choose the right stopper results in safe, reliable drain control and a classy finishing touch for your dream bathroom. So turn bath time into a truly relaxing experience with one of these common and convenient bathtub drain stopper systems.

The 6 Common Types of Bathtub Drain Stoppers

Bathtub drain stoppers are an essential component of any bathtub installation. They allow you to seal the drain opening to fill the tub with water, and open it to let water out. There are several common types of tub drain stoppers to choose from when installing a new bathtub or replacing an existing drain assembly. Here we detail the six most popular styles:

Lift-and-Turn Stopper

This is likely the most common type found in most bathtubs. A lift-and-turn stopper fits into the drain opening and connects to a horizontal pivot rod below the tub. To operate it, you simply lift the stopper up, and turn it to engage or disengage the seal.

Pros: Very easy to use, provides tight seal, affordable and simple mechanism.

Cons: Prone to coming loose over time, limited decorative styles.

Toe-Touch Stopper

Toe-touch stoppers work by pressing on the stopper with your foot to open and close the drain. An internal lever mechanism connected to the stopper plugs or unplugs the drain when depressed.

Pros: Hands-free operation, stylish appearance.

Cons: More complex internally, parts may become stiffer over time.

Trip Lever Stopper

Trip lever stoppers use a lever mounted on the tub’s edge to operate the drain. Pulling the lever lifts or lowers a connected cable, which raises or lowers the stopper.

Pros: Easy to manipulate with one hand, variety of décor-matching lever designs.

Cons: Potential for cable and internal parts to malfunction over time.

Lift-Knob Stopper

These stoppers integrate a large knob attached to the stopper assembly. You raise or lower the stopper by lifting up or pushing down on the knob.

Pros: Allows precise manual control, provides tight seal when closed.

Cons: Knob may loosen and fall off over time, exposes gunk around components.

Push-Pull Stopper

Push-pull stoppers simply raise or lower when you manually push down or pull up on the stopper. A spring-loaded mechanism allows easy opening and closing.

Pros: Simple mechanism, easy to remove for cleaning.

Cons: Must use hands in water, spring may weaken over time.

Rotating Stopper

Rotating stoppers seal the drain by twisting the stopper until it drops into place. Twisting in the opposite direction lifts the stopper to open drainage.

Pros: Strong seal, smooth operation, durable metal construction.

Cons: Potential for handles and internal parts to loosen over time.

Choosing the Right One

When selecting a bathtub drain stopper, consider factors like ease of use, exposed vs enclosed parts, decorative style options, durability, and ease of repair. Think about which type matches your needs and preferences to pick the best option.

FAQs About Bathtub Drain Stoppers

Bathtub drain stoppers are a small but important component that allow you to control water flow in and out of your tub. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about tub drain stopper types, operation, repair, and installation:

What are the most common types of bathtub drain stoppers?

The six most popular styles are lift-and-turn, toe-touch, trip lever, push-pull, lift-knob, and rotating stoppers. Each works slightly differently but serves the same function of plugging or unplugging the tub drain.

How do I know which stopper type I have?

You can identify the stopper style by looking at the drain assembly and operating mechanism. If a knob, lever, or flip mechanism is present, observe how they manipulate the stopper to determine the type.

Why does my stopper leak or not fully seal anymore?

Over time, stoppers can wear out or loosen, preventing a tight seal. Replacing worn gaskets or o-rings can often fix minor leaks. Badly worn stoppers may need complete replacement.

How do I remove my existing tub stopper?

There is usually a threaded retaining nut, fasteners, or clamp that secures the stopper. Rotate, loosen, or pry these off to detach the stopper for replacement. Consult a plumbing pro if unsure.

Do I need special tools to install a new stopper?

Usually just basic tools like pliers, screwdrivers, and wrenches are needed. Use caution not to scratch fixtures. Teflon plumbing tape helps secure threaded drain connections.

How can I make my stopper operate more smoothly?

Try lubricating the moving components with non-toxic plumber’s grease. Tighten any loose fasteners. Remove built up hair or gunk around mechanisms.

Still leaking after replacing stopper – what next?

Persistent leaks likely indicate issues with drain pipes/gaskets. Inspect connections for cracks or damage. Using plumber’s putty around the drain assembly can help seal stubborn leaks.

Replacing a worn-out bathtub drain stopper restores water control and the finished look of your tub. With some basic DIY skills, you can install a new stopper to extend the life of your bath. But for complicated leaks or repairs, rely on professional assistance.


The humble bathtub drain stopper plays a vital role in controlling the flow of bath water. While most homeowners take them for granted, choosing the right stopper type and maintaining it properly helps ensure relaxation and prevent expensive water damage.

The most common stopper varieties each have their own pros and cons. By understanding lift-and-turn, toe-touch, trip lever, and other popular designs, you can select the best match for your needs and décor. Periodically inspecting stoppers for wear also allows replacing them before leaks occur.

With a quality tub drain stopper securely in place, you can soak in the tub without worrying about a surprise draining. Be sure to seek help from a professional plumber for any tricky installations or repairs. Investing a few minutes into choosing and maintaining the right stopper results in years of trouble-free baths.