Pop Quiz: Do You Know What a ‘Garden Tub’ Is?

published Apr 11, 2019
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(Image credit: Minette Hand)

If the kitchen is the activity center of the home, then the bathroom is the zen center—a place to enjoy a quiet moment of pampering in privacy. With the rise of the self-care movement, it should come as no surprise that modern homes today are tricking out their bathrooms to make them resemble spas, incorporating luxury amenities like steam and rainfall showers, heated flooring, saunas, and more.

Of course, bathtubs are an important part of the equation as well, and one of the most popular tub styles on the market today is the garden tub. However, it seems that everyone has a different idea of what exactly a garden tub is. (Just look at all the different types on Google Image Search!) Is it a large triangular tub that fits in a bathroom corner? Is it a tub for outdoor use? Or something else entirely?

I spoke to two interior design experts to set the record straight on the garden tub. Here, the definitive answer:

What is a garden tub–and is there one widely accepted definition of this kind of tub in the industry?

“When I hear garden tub, I think of a deep soaking tub that is freestanding and separate from the shower,” says Krista Watterworth Alterman, creative director of KRISTA + HOME in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. “A garden tub is very deep and big enough to completely submerge your body.”

What other definitions of a garden tub might exist?

“A garden tub is a deep, soaking tub,” says Julia Leigh Sergeon, founder and principal designer, The Camp NYC. “Historically, it was placed outdoors or near a window so that views could be enjoyed during a bath.”

Alterman agrees, adding that some people will use the term for a tub surrounded by windows that overlook a garden or lush foliage, i.e. a corner tub.

(Image credit: Liana Hayles Newton)

What are some characteristics of garden tubs? How are they different than a standard tub?

Garden tubs are usually oval, freestanding, and large—both wider and deeper than standard tubs, Alterman says.

The size is the main draw, Sergeon says: “Most adults enjoy their extended depth and ergonomic design that encourage lengthier soaking time.”

What are the typical garden tub dimensions?

Garden tubs are larger than standard tubs, which are typically 60 inches long, 30 inches wide and 19 inches deep, but they do vary in size. Alterman says a typical garden tub measures 60 inches long, 42 inches wide and 24 inches deep. Sergeon says a garden tub is usually at least 60 inches long and anywhere from 24 inches to 36 inches deep.

What types of materials are they made of?

Traditionally, garden tubs are made of natural materials, Sergeon says: “These include wood and a variety of stone options, like granite and marble.” These days, the most common ones on the market are porcelain-enameled cast iron.

Alterman adds that stone resin, acrylic, and plastic options are available, too—with plastic being the least expensive.

(Image credit: Sophie Timothy)

What kind of faucets do garden tubs have?

Freestanding tubs are normally outfitted with a floor-mount tub filler, according to Alterman, but a wall-mount filler is also an option.

How much do they generally cost?

Depending on the material, a garden tub can range anywhere from $700 (for acrylic) to $5,000 (for a natural material).

Have they risen in popularity in recent years? If so, why?

“It’s not only popular, it’s becoming the standard,” Alterman says, noting that they’re becoming commonplace in larger bathrooms with more floor space. “My clients who are renovating as well as my clients who are building brand new homes all request a free-standing garden tub, as their homes tend to be 4,000 square feet and up.”

Sergeon has seen the same rise in demand: “Culturally, we are seeing an increased focus on self-care; this desire can be fulfilled with the nostalgia and incentive to relax that this home fixture provides.”

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