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An RV Bathtub: A Soaker’s Paradise or Waste of Space?

An RV Bathtub: A Soaker’s Paradise or Waste of Space?

Many people love to take a warm, relaxing bath from time to time, or even every day. In fact, some people far prefer baths to showers. But is an RV bathtub worth having? What are the pros and cons? And are RV bathtubs actually what you envision, similar to those in sticks & bricks houses?

Let’s find out!

Are RV Bathtubs Practical?

A bathtub in an RV is certainly possible — but is it practical?

We’ve lived full-time in our RV for almost two decades now. That’s nearly 20 years of living without a bathtub. That’s why we’ve figured out how to take the most awesome RV shower possible! (of course, that involves being very frugal with water while boondocking.)

Since we haven’t felt the need for a tub all this time, the answer for us would clearly be that an RV bathtub wouldn’t be a practical use of valuable space. But for other RVers, a bathtub just might be a priority.

There are many people for whom a bathtub is a source of comfort and warmth and how they prefer to bathe in general. Others have small children and find it easier to bathe them in a tub.

A baby in a bathtub

RVers with babies and very young children might prefer to have a bathtub on board.

For all of these travelers, an RV bathtub might be worth the extra space it takes up in the RV.

However, space isn’t the only concern for those considering the value of an RV bathtub. Other factors might make an RV bathtub impractical.

Space

Let’s start with the obvious – tubs take up more square footage than showers. (When’s the last time you were in an RV shower with room to lie down in it?!) While some RVers with very large rigs might have ample room for a bathtub, many other RVs just don’t have that kind of space to spare.

Class B RVs, most Class C RVs, truck campers, and camper vans certainly don’t have the space needed for an RV bathtub. In fact, many smaller rigs have an RV wet bath to save precious space.

But even if you have a dry bath, (for more information see our post “What Is a Dry Bath in a Camper?“), most RVs just don’t have the space for RV bathtubs. That’s the reality.

Use of Water

Taking a bath generally uses a considerable amount of water.

If you’re an RVer who usually, or always, connects to full hook-ups, then this would be less of a consideration for you than it would be for us boondockers, but it’s definitely something to consider.

When your only water source is what you’re carrying on board in your freshwater tank, you’d be unlikely to use that precious and limited resource to fill a bathtub.

Use of Power and Propane

Again, if you’re constantly connected to shore power, this would be less of a concern for you. But heating an entire tub of water requires some power and/or propane use. And since the most common RV water heaters range in size from about 6 to 12 gallons, you’ll likely run out of hot water before the tub is full.

Of course, if you have an on-demand water heater, like our awesome Truma AquaGo, there’s no such thing as running out of hot water! But running out of water is still an issue when boondocking though.

If you’re boondocking, you may want to prioritize your power and propane for other uses.

Lack of Room to Relax

And finally, an RV bathtub might not be quite what you think it is. While you can bathe small children and pets in an RV tub, you might not find there’s quite enough room to stretch out and enjoy a relaxing soak.

Let’s take a closer look into the size and construction of RV bathtubs…

What Size is an RV Tub?

So, here’s the thing: Even if you’ve got room for a tub, an RV bathtub is not the same thing as a home bathtub.

A small bathtub in an RV

Whether an RV comes with a bathtub or you’re installing one “from scratch”, an RV bathtub is usually much smaller and lighter than a traditional home bathtub.

A full RV bathtub is generally anywhere from 36″ to 46″ long and 24″ wide.

A standard home bathtub is generally between 60″ and 72″ long. That’s a significant difference!

The tubs you’re accustomed to soaking in are most likely longer and deeper than an RV tub.

So again, if your goal is to bathe children or pets and take an occasional (cramped) bath yourself, then an RV tub might be worth having.

But if your end game is for adults to be able to luxuriate in a nice hot bath, an RV bathtub might be a disappointment.

What Are RV Bathtubs Made Of?

The construction of bathtubs made for RVs also differs from that of a typical home bathtub.

Like many RV amenities, RV tubs are constructed with weight in mind.

For this reason, you’ll find that RV bathtubs are made of lightweight materials, typically high-grade plastic or fiberglass-reinforced plastic.

Can You Put a Bathtub in an RV?

In many cases, you can! If you can fit an RV-specific tub or tub/shower combination in your RV’s bathroom space, you can put a bathtub in your RV.

Once again, though, it’ll probably have to be a bathtub made for RVs.

This means it will be made of lightweight materials, it’ll likely be shorter and/or not as deep as a home tub, and it’ll have to fit in your RV’s bathroom.

But camper bathtubs and tub surrounds with showers are available for RVs that can accommodate them. They come with right-hand or left-hand drains, in various lengths, and as full baths or corner baths.

Lippert Better Bath RV Bathtub

This Lippert RV bathtub, model 209658, is 24″ x 36″ with a right-hand drain.

It’s made of scratch-resistant ABS acrylic, has a 240-liter capacity, and weighs only 9.16 pounds.

Lippert 209658 Better Bath RV Bath Tub 24" x 36" Right Hand Tub/Drain White
  • ABS acrylic bath tub ideal for RVs with space for a full bathtub/bathroom
  • Classic style and color fits in with most RV color schemes

Lippert also carries a tub surround made of the same scratch-resistant ABS acrylic. It matches up with this bathtub at 36″ x 24″ with a height of 59″.

Lippert 210305 Better Bath RV Bath Tub 24" x 36" x 59" White
  • DURABILITY - Made from scratch-resistant ABS acrylic for maximum durability
  • STYLE OPTIONS - Choose from multiple shower and tub upgrade solutions

RecPro RV Bathtub

Made of “chemical-resistant polymers,” RecPro’s 40″ x 24″ replacement bathtub for RVs is  4″ longer than the Lippert model above, though it’s important to remember that dimensions are edge-to-edge, so the actual interior of the tub doesn’t give you a 40″ space to recline.

Exterior measurements offered by tub manufacturers are for installation purposes.

According to user reviews, the interior space of the tub actually measures 34″ x 18”x 13” deep.

This tub has a centrally located drain with molded-in drain threads for leak prevention.

RV Bathtub | Durable Replacement 40" x 24" | Camper Trailer RV Tub | Alpha (White)
  • Style lines for increased structural integrity.
  • Colors – White and Parchment

ICON Sit-in Step Tub

This 60-gallon sit-in tub measures 37.8″ x 16″ x 15″ and has a right-hand drain.

Many older RVs came with sit-in step tubs like this one. This tub is a replacement for those that may have yellowed or cracked over the years.

Note that the drain hole in this tub is not pre-drilled, though installation is otherwise simple according to reviewers.

Amazon information states in two places that this tub weighs in at one pound, but we’re sure that must be inaccurate… seems pretty light, right?! LOL

Sale
ICON 00476 Sit-in Step Tub with Right Hand Drain TU500RH - Polar White
  • Drain Style: Right hand
  • Bath Tub Color: Polar White

FerdY Bali Freestanding Bathtub

For a less conventional approach, if you’ve got an appropriate space in your rig, you might be able to consider a freestanding bathtub like this one.

With dimensions of 55.1″ x 28.0″ x 22.8″, the FerdY Bali acrylic tub has a capacity of 52 gallons.

Installation of this type of tub would be simple with the tub itself being glued and caulked to the RV floor.

While this isn’t a tub made specifically for RV use (at 64 lbs, it isn’t especially lightweight), it may be just right for some applications.

FerdY Bali 55" Acrylic Freestanding Bathtub, Gracefully Shaped Freestanding Soaking Bathtub, Glossy White cUPC Certified, Toe-Tap Chrome Drain and Classic Slotted Overflow Included
  • 🛀 GRACEFUL SHAPE: Our FerdY Bali freestanding bathtub offers gracefully sculpted curves that cradle your body as you settle in for a deep and...
  • 🛀 A PERFECT BATHING EXPERIENCE: With 55-inch length and 15-inch soaking depth the sloped lumbar support offers extra comfort while bathing. Classic...

Portable/Inflatable Bathtubs

Our final RV bathtub idea is also a bit unconventional. But might be perfect for RVers who can’t install a traditional tub but have babies or little children for whom a bath works best. (Smaller adults can actually use this type of tub as well.)

A portable bathtub would sit in your shower stall, fill from the shower spout, and drain into the shower drain. They require no real installation but would require inflation before use.

This first portable tub has exterior dimensions of 60 x 34 x 27 inches, meaning that you’d need that much space in your shower. (The alternative would be to bathe the kids outside if you’ve got the privacy… or in bathing suits if desired.)

The internal space of this inflatable portable bathtub is 48″L  x 23″W x 17.5″ high.

HIWENA Inflatable Portable Bathtub, White Durable Soaking Bath Tub with Large Backrest, Freestanding Inflatable Pool Bathroom Home Spa
  • Suitable for Family: The inflatable bathtub is simple and durable, allowing the family to take a spa, bathe, relax at home and enjoy the comfort of...
  • Sufficient space: The internal inflatable size of the portable bathtub: 48 inches long, 23 inches wide and 17.5 inches high; external inflatable size:...

The other type of portable inflatable tub, the Japanese soaking tub, is more likely to fit in an RV shower space.

The small size of this circular tub is 29.5″ in diameter x 22″ tall. The manufacturer notes that it’s suitable for adults who are 5′ 10″ and under.

The large size is 35″ in diameter x 22″ tall and is supposed to be suitable for adults 6′ 2″ and under.

Portable Bathtub (Small) by Homefilos, Japanese Soaking Bath Tub for Shower Stall, Inflatable Flexible Plastic Adult Size Foldable Ofuro
  • 1ft 10in * 2ft 5.5in (Height * Diameter). Small-size recommended for adults 5ft 10in and under
  • SAFER & MORE COMFORTABLE SHORTER HEIGHT – Use without fear of tripping (especially for elderly and shorter people) and without feeling...

How Do You Replace an RV Bathtub?

If you want to replace an RV bathtub like those highlighted above, you’ll want to start by referring to the owner’s manual for a particular tub.

However, to give you a general idea of what’s required, here are some basic steps you’d follow:

Measure, measure, and measure again. Before ordering your new tub, it’s important to be sure to get the right measurements so that you won’t end up with a tub that doesn’t fit the space.

On that note: We’ve learned over nearly 20 years of DIY RV projects and replacing various gear on our rig that nothing fits better and installs more easily than an identical replacement part. We’ve done that many times… water pump, air conditioners, and water heater (the first time, before we discovered Truma!)

  1. Remove any accessories such as shower bars and curtain rods.
  2. Turn off the water to the RV.
  3. Remove the fixtures.
  4. Remove the tub surround and retainer strip.
  5. Remove the old drain.
  6. Remove the tub itself.
  7. Prepare the area for installation of the new tub by removing old caulking, dirt, dust, etc.
  8. Prepare the new tub by attaching the new drain to it.
  9. Install the new tub and connect the plumbing.
  10. Reinstall the old surround or install a new surround.
  11. Replace all of the plumbing fixtures.
  12. Carefully replace the seal using high-quality mold-resistant silicone caulk.
  13. Caulk the edges of the tub.
  14. Turn the water back on.
  15. Check for leaks!
  16. Take a bath! (after waiting for the caulk to dry!)

How About Those of Us With Only a Shower?

Since the vast majority of RVs are equipped with only a shower, we thought this would be a good time to revisit a short, classic video of ours:

Here are some handy bathing accessories like those featured in the video:

Sale
Whedon Products USB4C Showerhead, Chrome
  • This Product Is A 1.5Gpm Deluxe Shower Head
  • Purpose Of Use For Tub And Shower Faucets And Accessories, Bathtub-And-Showerhead-Faucet-Systems
Sale
Better Living Products Aviva, 2-Chamber, Satin Silver
  • Eliminate shower bottle clutter with this convenient dispenser
  • Includes-handy storage hooks for razors and accessories
Sale
Better Living Products 76345 AVIVA Three Chamber Dispenser, Chrome
  • Eliminate shower bottle clutter with this convenient dispenser
  • Includes-handy storage hooks for razors and accessories
OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Squeegee
  • Wipes off tiles, mirrors, shower doors and windows
  • Flexible blade works on rippled surfaces
Sale
Shave Well Deluxe Anti-Fog Shower Mirror - Fogless Bathroom Shaving Mirror - for Men and Women - Large - Removable Adhesive Hook - Frameless - Portable - Ideal for Travel, Camping, Gym - Unbreakable
  • LARGER DESIGN: The Deluxe Shave Well Mirror makes your shower routine effortless from shaving to removing makeup to brushing your teeth. The larger,...
  • NO MORE SUCTION CUPS TO FALL OFF YOUR SHOWER WALL: The mirror’s strong adhesive hook outperforms weak, standard suction cups to stay secure on all...
GE Sealants & Adhesives M90006 Supreme Silicone Kitchen & Bath Sealant, 10.1oz, Clear
  • 100% WATERPROOF: This 100% silicone formula offers ultimate protection from water damage, providing a reliable seal in areas prone to consistent water...
  • LIFETIME MOLD-FREE PRODUCT PROTECTION: Resists stain-causing mold and mildew growth

Do You Have a Bathtub In Your RV?

If you’ve got a tub in your RV, let us know if you use it mostly as storage, to clean off sandy children or muddy paws, or if you actually use it for a nice zen-like soak!

Inquiring minds want to know so drop us a comment below!

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Gay RV Enthusiast

Tuesday 6th of December 2022

I think it depends on the RV. If it's 30'+ in length or larger, a bathtub might fit if it's installed in a way that allows room for other essential interior accessories. I don't know if there's such a possibility in a 20'-25' motorhome.

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