The search and rescue mission for a tiny bathtub for my tiny home

Guest post by Oriana Venture

tiny home bathtub

One of the aspects of building a tiny house is the difficulty in finding products and materials suited to a tiny space. The Bigger is Better construction movement in this country has left few options to those of us with a different mindset. I say, in this country, because I can find the materials I’m looking for on websites based in Japan, China, and the UK — but importing anything from those places involves a higher carbon footprint. I keep hoping and trying to find suitable solutions here.

Take, for example, our tub.

I really, really, really wanted a tub. High up in my priority list is someplace to chill out and unwind at the end of the day. The tub is my favorite spot. Standard American tubs leave a lot to be desired — they are long, but not quite long enough to stretch out, and with the low sides and top drain, they can never be deep enough to really soak. Also, they have a HUGE amount of surface area and I always seem to get cold before I can actually relax. What were they actually designed to do? (If you are a tub designer, please let me know.)

So, with the 4′ footprint allowed by the space in my bathroom, I went shopping for a cheap, deep, small tub.

Enter a LOT of Craigslist searches, visits to the Re-Store, Habitat for Humanity, and Goodwill. Also, Home Depot, Lowes, Bath stores, and random Upcycle Shops.

I had ideas in mind — Trough tubs, the Nagano by Neptune, walk-in tubs, oversized sitz tubs, tubs that looked like eggs, tubs that looked like clay pots, and tubs that were made of wood.

None of them were the right fit — too big, heavy, tall, or expensive.

This went on for a while. The smaller the budget and the smaller the space, the longer it will take to find what you are looking for, and the harder you’ll have to work to get it.

Eventually there was a hit on Craigslist – a fellow was doing demo of an old ’50s basement bathroom and had offered up a 4′ tub online for $40. It was raining, dark, and just horrible outside when I drove almost an hour to meet him. (Hello Carbon Footprint.) The tub looked like it had been pulled out of a basement — caked with silicone and grungy — but I couldn’t see any damage. We made a deal with the owner and gratefully brought home the 4′ tub.

Before and after the tiny tub rescue mission.
Before and after the tiny tub rescue mission.

This past weekend I finally finished work on cleaning the tub. Using a razor blade I cut off the gunk and then hand sanded the remaining bits off to reveal the porcelain underneath. It took about three hours total of just being crouched over or on my knees scraping and sanding to get it reasonably presentable but the finished job speaks for itself.

Was it worth it? Would it have been better to just buy a custom tub or attempt to build my own out of wood or a horse trough? I’m honestly not sure. This is the first tub I have ever owned.

The new used tub was built before I was born, it had a whole life before me, and I hope it will have a happy new life in my tiny home. I’m sore, things didn’t go the way I’d hoped, but I’m happy … and there is an appropriately sized tub in our little bathroom.

Comments on The search and rescue mission for a tiny bathtub for my tiny home

  1. When I lived in Austria, one of my rooms had a very short, but also very deep tub. I could easily soak up to my shoulders, and the tall sides kept the bathroom from getting splashed when I showered. My other flat only had a shower stall in the bathroom, and the toilet was on its own in a closet down the hall.

  2. Lemmie go right ahead and answer your rhetorical question: YES. This tub was worth it, and it’s a great tub! And I bet even the time spent waiting, searching and scraping still makes the $40 price better than anything you coulda bought or fashioned. I really love a lot of old things, and old tubs always make the list. I think it looks amazing with that tile, too.
    Bless your tiny house dreams!

  3. Hah, I was going to say, you’d have to look for a vintage 1940s or ’50s fitted bathroom tub. I know, because my 1949 bathroom has the original built-in tub, & there’s no easy way to replace it. The walls are built around it, & no modern-made tubs will fit into that space. They’re not made that short anymore.

    Glad you found one!

  4. Hi all,

    Thanks for reading! 🙂 The bathroom is currently tiled, grouted, and sealed. Now I get to put on all the shiny stuff, Huzzah! This weekend I’m gonna try my hand with an air gun for the trim and it’ll be a functional shower. Yesss…

    @KathyRo – I could see that. That isn’t my life right now, but I can see where having that much low level water would be really handy.

  5. Yay! I wish I had a tub I could soak in!

    I despise american tubs. I’m currently stuck in apartment complexes that all think that the wide, too short, to shallow garden tubs are a selling feature. I dream of a bathroom with a long, deep, narrow tub so I can soak and separate hot and cold water taps so I can fill the tub with hot water quickly.

    If anyone has a bathroom hack for garden tubs to make them usable please let me know.

  6. I am glad that you got a bathtub, which is appropriate for your tiny bathroom. One of my friends recommended me to buy a new walk in bathtubs in Seattle for my granny who is suffering from paralysis since 5 years. While searching on the Internet , I got various types & patterns in bath tubs after going through this webpage

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