Tubs for Small Spaces
When a standard 5-ft. tub won't fit the bathroom, consider one of these alternatives.
Synopsis: A standard bathtub is 5 ft. long, but some bathrooms can’t accommodate a tub of that size. As a result, some manufacturers offer tubs designed to fit into smaller spaces. In this article, longtime Fine Homebuilding contributor Jefferson Kolle looks at four categories of small tubs: walk-in tubs, which are equipped with watertight, in-swinging hinged doors; above-floor-drain tubs, which allow installation above the floor joists; corner tubs, which are available as either freestanding or drop-in units; and soaking tubs, extra deep units that can be built into a tiled surround or mounted freestanding on the floor.
A standard bathtub is 60 in. long and 30 in. to 32 in. wide. There’s no such thing as a standard bathroom, though, especially because people are tucking them into smaller spaces in their homes.
To help outfit these compact spaces, several manufacturers make standard-shape tubs in small sizes. For instance, American Standard’s Huron is available in a 4-ft.-long model ($325), and Vintagetub.com sells a 4-ft.-long claw-foot tub with a 29-gal. capacity ($900 to $1200). Before you envision a lanky movie cowboy shivering uncomfortably in a galvanized basin, though, know that there are small tubs that still hold a lot of water. A corner, safety, or soaking tub could be just what you need.
Before you buy a small tub, it’s a good idea to study all the literature. Most tubs are sold without fixtures, which can get quite pricey, and drains. For something as large as a tub, even a small one, shipping can be expensive — and don’t forget return shipping if you make a mistake. Talk to your plumber about any reservations either of you might have; know that some soaking tubs may not have built-in overflow drains. If you’re going to do your own installation, plan on a few trips…