RV Bathtub Ideas: Adding a Tub to Your RV
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Ashley Mann spent three years living full time in a 38-foot, 5th-wheel RV with her husband Josiah and their cat, Kitty. Her favorite thing about RV life is the challenge of finding the perfect way to organize a space, and she loves seeing all the creative and clever ways people come up with to customize their RVs.
One thing that many full time RVers miss most about not living in a “regular house” is being able to take a bath. For some, a long soak in a tub is the perfect way to unwind, while others have small kids or pets that would be easier to bathe if their RV had a bathtub.
In this article, I'm going to share some RV bathtub ideas for those who want the option of taking a bath but don't have an RV with a bathtub in it.
Things to Consider Before Adding a Bathtub to an RV
Before you start on a project to install a bathtub in your RV, you'll want to think about these considerations to help you consider the best course of action:
- Filling a tub may require more hot water than your RV's hot water tank can hold. If you're dreaming of a long soak in a bubble bath, you may need to install a tankless, on-demand hot water heater in your RV. But if you go that route, be aware that even a propane-fueled tankless water heater will likely require electricity to function, so that would mean no hot water when you're dry camping.
- A full tub of water big enough for an adult human is pretty heavy. You'll want to make sure the floor beneath your tub can handle the weight and add reinforcement if necessary.
- DIY modifications can void an RV warranty. If your RV is covered under a manufacturer's warranty or an extended warranty, you should be aware that alterations to your plumbing system may void warranty coverage for those systems unless you have the work done by a certified RV mechanic.
Replacing an RV Shower with a Bathtub
If you're determined to install a bathtub in your RV, the next step will be to figure out whether or not the space in your bathroom is big enough for a bathtub. There are actually quite a few RV bathtubs to choose from on Amazon, and they all seem to measure either 24″x40″ or 24″x36″. Most of them are a drop-in style so would require building some type of wooden frame with a panel across the front to house them.
Here's a video that demonstrates the framing and installation process (after the shower pan has already been removed).
The bathtub pictured below is from the well-known the RV parts website RecPro.com.
If your RV can handle the weight, you might be able to find a residential bathtub to fit the space, such as this acrylic soaker tub, which is 47″ long…
Stock Tank Used as a Bathtub in an RV
I've seen quite a few RV's renovated with a farmhouse style where the shower was removed and replaced with a livestock water trough as a bathtub, like the one pictured below.
The owners of this RV removed their shower pan and installed a stock tank tub but left a shower surround and shower fixtures. They added a shower curtain that closes on all sides so they still have the option of taking a shower if they want. This family has since sold their RV, but they said if they had it to do over again, they would build a slightly slanted platform to go under the tub to help with drainage.
If you're interested in the stock tank bathtub idea, here are some videos to check out. While they aren't RV specific, they provide some helpful insight into how to make a bathtub out of a livestock water trough:
RV Bathtub Ideas for Kids
If you don't want to do any major modifications to your RV and just need a way to bathe your kids or pets, here are some ideas for you.
Collapsible Bathtub for Kids or Pets
There area quite a few foldable or collapsible bathtubs for kids available online, but none with as many positive reviews as the Stokke Flexi Bath, a foldable tub with hard plastic sides and a drain at the bottom which makes it easy to empty when it's sitting in the shower.
This tub comes in two sizes, with the XL size being big enough for a toddler, unlike many collapsible tubs online which are only big enough for babies. You could also bathe a small dog in this tub without having to worry about the dog's nails puncturing a vinyl or inflatable bathtub.
Put an inflatable kiddie pool in your shower.
Here's a cheap idea from Pinterest that might work in an RV. The tricky part would be finding an inflatable kiddie pool with the right dimensions, but one full time RVer found this one to be the perfect size.
RV Bathtub Ideas for Adults
Using a plastic storage tote as an RV bathtub
This interesting idea was shared by an RV owner who wanted to have a bathtub in her RV. She covered a giant plastic storage container with decorative Contact paper and uses a hose connected to the kitchen sink to fill it.
Personally, I would probably want to stack two containers together if I were to try this, because my experience is that Rubbermaid storage totes can crack fairly easily, which could result in a huge mess and possible water damage if it cracked while being used as a bathtub in the middle of your RV living area.
Another drawback I can see to this idea is that it might be difficult to empty the water after use. You would probably have to drag it over to dump out the door…or perhaps you could siphon the water into the sink? Or bail the water with a 5-gallon bucket?
It reminds me of this photo I've seen circulating the internet:
Foldable Bathtub for Adults
This collapsible bathtub seems to be a great option and a good alternative to installing an RV bathtub, since the size (40″ x 20″) is similar to the size of an RV bathtub, except deeper. This tub would be ideal for older children or small adults, and it folds flat for storage when not in use.
Since it's actually designed to be used as a bathtub, it's sturdy and includes a drain hole to make it easy to empty. If you have space, you can set it inside your shower to make it easy to fill and empty. Otherwise, you can fill it by connecting the sink to a garden hose and empty it by directing the drain hose into the shower.
Inflatable Tub for Adults
For a more luxurious soak, you might consider this inflatable bathtub. However, after considering the practicality of filling and emptying it, I think I would only use it outside. Still, if you have a shower on the outside of your RV which would make it easy to fill, sitting in it with your favorite beverage in the cup holder could be a very nice way to relax. If you do decide to use it indoors, a bathtub liner can add an extra layer of protection to prevent it from leaking inside your RV.
Inflatable Soaker Tub
This inflatable soaker tub is only 35″ in diameter, which means that you may be able to fit it inside your RV shower. It's big enough for adults, and very highly reviewed on Amazon. It has a drain hose which would make it easy to empty whether you have it in your shower or just in your bathroom.
Here's another adult bathtub to consider. This one isn't inflatable, but it collapses down flat to be portable and easy to store. It also includes a drain hose, so it can be emptied into a shower.
Inflatable Hot Tub
One last idea for you. If all you're looking for is a way to relax, maybe a hot tub would be a better option. This Coleman inflatable hot tub would probably need to be used outdoors, but the advantage over a tub is that it comes with its own heater, so the water stays warm without depending on your RV's hot water heater.