Over the years of planning renovations, I’ve seen how homeowners ended up downsizing or removing tubs simply because they picked the wrong type. Settling for an unsuitable or poorly executed alternative to traditional tubs can mean enduring daily frustrations. I’m listing space-saving bathtub alternatives for various home layouts to achieve ultimate relaxation.
My Top Recommended Bathtub Alternatives
Bathtub alternatives like smaller tubs, frameless showers, jetted portable hot tubs, and free-standing inflatable options maximize enjoyable bathing flexibility without overwhelming small home layouts. You may also consider Japanese tubs, walk-in showers, or shower chairs.
Having a bathtub isn’t feasible when you have a tight space and budget. The joy of soaking in a bathtub may also drain as you age. When physical movement becomes more challenging, getting in and out of a bathtub becomes difficult and dangerous.
After a long and tiring day, you’ll want to remove all the stress from your body with a nice shower experience. Checking out bathtub alternatives lets you have space-saving, inexpensive, and accessible options for people of all ages.
|Best Interior Style
|Miniature built-in bathtub
|Small bathrooms, modern
|Fits tight spaces, inexpensive
|Set into floor
|Space-saver, aesthetic design
|Deep wooden soaking
|No tub, just shower
|Ability to stand
|Built-in hot bubbles
|Hydrotherapy, spa-like ambiance
|Highly adaptable, stowable
|Highly affordable, easy to store
|Walk-in shower or tubs
|Enclosed space; safety grips
|Modern and streamlined
|Multiple bathtub features in one
1. Small Bathtubs
You need to be able to clean up; many people feel like a bath is the best way to do it. I guided clients who had small homes, and finding the space for a normal-sized bathtub was difficult.
Consider small bathtubs when you’re struggling to figure out the best solution for your bathroom, or you want to avoid using a simple shower. You might be surprised by how practical a small bathtub can be for your small bathroom.
It won’t provide the normal comfort of traditional bathtubs, so you may feel a bit cramped in tiny spaces. Small bathtubs are only going to be practical for people who can fit in them comfortably enough. This is likely going to feel very uncomfortable if you are a tall individual or bigger than average.
- Pros: Fits in tight spaces; allows efficient bathing functionality
- Cons: Can feel cramped; limited sizes may not fit larger people
2. Freestanding Bathtubs
Freestanding bathtubs offer versatile standalone bathing stations for a relaxing shower experience after a long and tiring day. They are completely self-contained tubs on claw feet, a pedestal, or a solid base without any attachments to walls. However, the double walls retain heat, saving you hot water.
Aside from being space-saving, this bathtub alternative fits many home decors from modern to vintage. A freestanding tub can be made from acrylic, enameled metal, copper, or wood and are available with optional jets or heaters.
Freestanding bathtubs make highly customizable aesthetic statements alone or complemented by coordinating faucets. However, freestanding tubs are generally costlier investments and require sufficient open floor area.
- Pros: Versatile standalone style; contemporary, vintage, modern looks
- Cons: More expensive; requires sufficient open floor space
3. Sunken Bathtub
When I wanted to create the illusion of higher ceilings while having convenient access to the bathtub, I knew I needed a shallow tub with the rim and inner part exposed. A sunken bathtub is one of the best bathtub alternatives when you don’t want a bathtub touching the double walls.
Unlike installing a freestanding bathtub, using sunken bathtubs involves doing some home improvement, so it isn’t going to be the simplest method you could use. Even so, it could wind up working out beautifully.
Sinking a bathtub into the floor doesn’t magically make your bathroom larger. You will still need enough floor space to fit the sunken bathtubs.
- Pros: Create a bigger visual space; stunning modern aesthetic design
- Cons: Expensive renovation work; permanence limits future changes
4. Japanese Soaking Tubs
A Japanese soaking tub is one of the best bathtub alternatives when you’re looking for deep, immersive bathing experiences rooted in hydrotherapy traditions. Traditionally carved out of cedar, contemporary styles use stainless steel, tile, and other waterproof materials.
Like small bathtubs, the design looks like a hot tub with just enough room for one person to sit immersed to the neck. Offering heated and circulating water without jets or bubbles, Japanese Ofuro tubs promote relaxation.
However, the restrictive, compact dimensions of this bathtub severely limit mobility within. Soaking tubs require sufficient surrounding floor space and waterproofing measures too, while customization possibilities are more limited.
- Pros: Total body immersion; relaxing heated water therapy
- Cons: Very small, restrictive; limited accessibility
A simple shower is the most practical bathtub alternative. Showers are much simpler than bathtubs because they do not require as much space, yet you can still have enough space to pamper yourself. You can also adjust the water pressure in most shower heads.
Compared to a freestanding bathtub, you can install a shower in a much smaller space, making a shower experience more practical than pretty much any bathtub. For this reason, showers are far more commonly seen in small bathrooms than the other bathtub alternatives.
Installing a small shower that can fit one person is less tedious than renovating a whole spot to put a big bathtub. You will be able to get cleaned up, and it shouldn’t feel too cramped so long as your bathroom isn’t absurdly small.
- Pros: Easier entry than tubs; consumes less space and water than a regular bathtub
- Cons: Must be able to stand; requires maintaining shower doors or curtains
6. Clawfoot Bathtub
Iconic clawfoot bathtubs steadily hold a fascination with their exposed pipes and feet. The striking freestanding construction suits traditional and vintage design styles particularly well. This is the perfect solution if you want a readily available bathtub that doesn’t require complex installation.
Clawfoot tubs can be made of enameled steel, acrylic, copper or porcelain, generally on a double slipper or pedestal-style base. Even in tiny spaces, they command attention alone or combined with showers.
However, clawfoot tubs require extensive maintenance as pipes and feet are exposed. Fixtures and designs are also not as easily updated as built-in bathing stations.
- Pros: Iconic antique style; free-standing versatility
- Cons: No modern features; requires constant cleaning behind pipes
7. Shower Chairs
There are instances when people have medical problems or injuries that prevent them from standing up and showering. Sunken bathtubs or a traditional shower can sometimes be risky to use. People who don’t have room for a freestanding bathtub will often have to make do with a shower, so this can be a bit of a dilemma.
The space-saving bathtub alternative is to purchase a shower chair. They allow people to sit in either a shower or a bathtub more comfortably. You can clean up while using the shower chair and you can do everything without worrying about falling.
This sort of makes your experience more akin to a bath than a traditional shower. This is going to be a very important purchase when you have problems standing while showering. Shower chairs will make your life a lot easier and allow you to stay clean without having to worry.
- Pros: Mobility assistance; lets you shower without having to worry about hurting yourself or falling down
- Cons: Confined and wet space; it isn’t really a luxury item that is designed for your comfort
8. Jet Tub and Jacuzzi
Jet tubs and jacuzzis have become synonymous with luxury and relaxation in the realm of bathing experiences. These sophisticated bathtub alternatives to traditional bathtubs come equipped with powerful jets that propel water, creating a soothing and massaging effect.
Aside from a comforting environment, the heated water offers therapeutic benefits, promoting muscle relaxation and stress relief. Whenever clients seek a spa-like atmosphere, I incorporate jet tubs and jacuzzis into their hot tub design plans.
Unlike other bathtub alternatives, the advanced features and customizable settings of this design make ket tubs and jacuzzis popular for those desiring a rejuvenating escape from the daily grind.
- Pros: Luxurious spa hydrotherapy; customizable jets
- Cons: Much higher installation costs; jets break down over time
9. Portable Bathtubs
A portable bathtub is the perfect solution if you are working with an extremely limited amount of space. Compared to sunken bathtubs, portable bathtubs are actually very small and can fit in just about any room.
You can also use portable bathtubs when kids want to take a quick dip in the backyard, especially during the summer. What’s more, you can bring the bathtub on camping trips.
It is going to be a bit cramped compared to a regular bathtub. As long as you are small enough to fit, this bathtub design will be something that you can use. Portable bathtubs won’t be practical for people of all sizes, so keep that in mind before you get too excited.
- Pros: Small enough to fit just about anywhere; can be used both indoors and outdoors
- Cons: Durability issues over time; thin PVC gets holes easily
10. Inflatable Bathtubs
Inflatable bathtubs present a unique and versatile solution for individuals with limited space or those who enjoy the flexibility of bathing in different locations. These portable bathtubs are made from durable materials, allowing users to inflate and deflate them as needed.
They are perfect for small apartments, outdoor spaces, or travel enthusiasts looking to recreate the comfort of a bath anywhere. Inflatable bathtubs often have added features, such as built-in cushions and cup holders, enhancing the overall bathing experience.
I make sure to invest in inflatable bathtubs because of their practicality and portability for family trips. This serves as a creative and accessible bathtub alternative for various lifestyles.
- Pros: Extremely affordable; deflates for storage
- Cons: Durability issues over time; thin PVC gets holes easily
11. Walk-In Shower
The walk-in shower or bathtub represents a functional and stylish bathtub alternative for individuals with mobility concerns or those who prioritize ease of access. I include this in my designs when clients want to eliminate the need for stepping over high edges. In this way, I can give them a safer shower experience.
Walk-in tubs have doors that open and close, allowing you to step in and out effortlessly. Compared to other small bathtubs, some designs even include built-in seating and handrails for convenience.
Walk-in showers provide a modern and streamlined appearance, often featuring customizable showerheads and seating options. As an alternative to a freestanding bathtub, this is perfect for individuals seeking a balance between accessibility and contemporary design in their bathroom spaces.
- Pros: Highly accessible for individuals; sleek designs and customizable options
- Cons: High initial installation costs; some designs may require more space compared to traditional tubs
Frequently Asked Questions
What Can Replace a Bathtub?
Options like corner tub inserts, shower chairs, smaller built-in tubs, frameless walk-in showers, and portable bathtubs can replace permanent full-size bathtubs. These bathtub alternatives use less space while allowing relaxing baths.
What Can I Use Instead of a Bath?
For those unable to install full bathtubs, flexible options like standing showers, shower chairs, portable bathtubs, inflatable bathtubs, and jetted hot tubs provide alternate bathing solutions.
How Do You Make a Bath Without a Bathtub?
Create alternate bathing stations without built-in tubs using solutions like freestanding bathtubs, inflatable tubs, or convertible showers in wet rooms with chairs. You may also consider installing accessible corner tub inserts, using shower chairs, or moving to versatile portable buckets.
From petite tubs to jets and portable buckets, opting for bathtub alternatives lets you enjoy and eliminate all the stress as you soak in a space-saving bath. Match reduced dimensions, adjustable positions, or standalone versatility to your priorities and possibilities. A thoughtful alternate bathing station ensures soothing water therapy without overwhelming rooms.