Are Garden Tubs Outdated? (Find Out Now!)

Ryan Womeldorf
by Ryan Womeldorf

The right tub can make or break a bathroom. That not only means getting the stylistic choices correct, but having a tub that is properly sized for the room that it is in. And while it all comes down to personal preference and situation, there are some styles that you probably want to avoid.

One style that has come into question of late is garden tubs. Due to their larger-than-normal size and oval shape, they have fallen out of style in recent years. They can still be found in some older homes, however. They were popular for new homes in the 1990s but have not transitioned well into the sleeker, more contemporary modern design that is popular today in so many homes and new constructions.

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What is a Garden Tub?

It helps to know what a garden style tub is before worrying about whether or not it is still in style. Initially, the garden tub was classified as a standalone, deep soaking tub that was installed at a nearby window.

The term comes from the simple fact that the soaker could enjoy the outside view while they were in the tub. But the definition has been changed a bit throughout the years. Garden tubs, by the early 1990s, had become popular in new home constructions.

In those new builds, garden tubs typically were built into an alcove or corner of the master bathroom with extensive tiling surrounding it. Garden tubs can actually be either oval or triangular in shape. They have ledges and even come with whirlpool jets to create that complete spa feel. They can include steps but they don’t necessarily have to have them.

Have Garden Tubs Gone Out of Style?

The biggest detraction to garden style tubs is their size. Because everything is shifting to a sleeker, slimmer design aesthetic, the bulkiness of garden tubs are why they are finding themselves on the way out.

Consider this: a 5-foot tub in a triangular shape can hold up to 96 gallons of water. Even more, it can take up almost 25 square feet of floor space. In a master bathroom, that is a lot of equity given over to a tub.

The steps are also something of an outdated feature when they are included. Yes, they ensure getting in and out of the tub in a safe manner, but they take up even more room. Basically, the tub dominates the room and that has become a challenge for modern home décor trends.

What is the Difference Between a Garden Tub and a Traditional Tub?

Tubs in general are something of a divisive subject for those in the bathroom decoration and renovation world. Tubs are welcome because they allow the owner to enjoy a nice soak whenever the choose and can double as showers. Then again, tubs also take a lot of space and can create issues for those who have mobility challenges.

But what are the main differences between a garden tub and a traditional one? Let’s take a closer look to get a better idea.

Size and Shape

The biggest difference between a garden tub and a traditional one is the size and shape. Garden bathtubs are much wider and deeper than their counterparts. They are big enough to submerge an adult with little to no issue, whereas a normal tub can’t accommodate.

The shape is also a noted difference between the two. Traditional tubs are generally in a rectangular shape, though the corners can be both sharp or rounded. Garden bathtubs can come in a triangular or oval shape, depending on preference. This is largely due to the point of installation, which is a corner of the bathroom.


There are also specific usages for a garden tub versus a traditional bathtub. Whereas you can use the latter for both bath and shower purposes (with the right fittings), you can only use the garden tub for a singular purpose.

You can’t install a shower in garden bathtubs in most cases. This is due to the size and shape of the tub. Installations are possible but they will generally cost a lot more to have done professionally. It is comprehensive enough of an installation that doing it as a DIY project is not recommended.


The last major difference between the two is the cost. Bathtubs can vary in cost due to several different factors. The style, fixtures, materials, and size of a bathtub can drastically alter the costs. But you can bank on a garden tub being quite expensive.

The average freestanding tub is generally anywhere between $3,000 and $5,000. You can find plastic garden tubs out there for around $500 to $1,000, but those tend to look a lot less nice than something of a better material. You can safely expect to pay two or three times more for a garden tub than you would for a traditional tub.

Just How Big are Garden Tubs?

The standard size for an oval garden tub is roughly 60 inches long, 42 inches wide, and 24 inches deep. Keep in mind, however, that this is just the standard. It is possible to get way bigger than that depending on your specifications and the space of the room.

They can get to be as big as 70 inches long, 70 inches wide, and 30 inches in depth. In that case, it is basically like having a jacuzzi in your home. Since garden tubs have jets installed in them, the differences can be difficult to discern.

What are Garden Tubs Constructed of?

The one really cool thing about garden tubs is that they can come in a huge array of materials. The most notable garden tub materials are enameled cast iron, stone resin, and acrylic. Each comes with its own set of costs and restrictions, however.

Enameled cast iron is one of the more popular options out there because it is really easy to clean, has good heat retention, and is super durable. The downside is that it is a lot heavier, which can add some stress to the installation process.

Acrylic, on the other hand, is quite flexible in more ways than one. It comes in a wide array of designs and shapes, so you can really customize the look of your garden tub with acrylic. The downside is that the heat retention of acrylic is not so great and it isn’t nearly as durable.

Stone resin is kind of a happy medium between the two. It has good heat retention but the flexibility to implement different shapes and designs.

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Choosing a Garden Tub

When it comes to stylistic ideas for your bathroom, it all comes down to personal taste. Sure, garden tubs may be considered “ out of style”, but if it looks good to you then it should be the choice that you make.

There is a uniqueness to garden tubs that others do not have. The shape is unique and the capability to soak makes it an enticing option. But it does have clear downsides. The installation is a lot more comprehensive, the tub itself is a lot more expensive, and adding a shower feature is difficult.

On the whole, you may be better served going with a different option. The costs and difficulty, combined with being out of style, make it a less desirable choice.

Ryan Womeldorf
Ryan Womeldorf

Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.

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