Methods to Recycle and Reuse Your Old Bathtub at Home

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Methods to Recycle and Reuse Your Old Bathtub at Home

The 2022 Houzz Bathroom Trends Study reveals that the national median spend on bathroom renovations has increased to $9,000. Despite the high cost, homeowners are willing to invest in these projects because of the many benefits they bring to their daily routines.

However, large-scale renovations and replacements can produce a lot of waste that adds to the overall budget. If you don’t want to throw away your old items, especially old bathtubs, there are many ways to repurpose them and extend their life. Bathtubs are built to be durable, waterproof, and spacious, which makes them perfect for alternative uses. Although repurposing them may require some effort and the right tools, it can save you money on hauling away trash and create something new that adds a unique functional twist to your home or backyard.

Create a duck pond

ducks in repurposed bathtub pond

@baulchservices/Instagram

If you have enough outdoor space to keep ducks but no pond at your disposal, consider making a mini version from an old bathtub. This project can be done with just about any style of tub, so you’re not limited by what you have on hand, and it’s pretty simple to pull off with a few extra supplies. To make the tub functional for ducks, you’ll need to install a ramp outside of the tub so they can climb in — and a ramp inside the tub so they can climb out. Additionally, tubs that aren’t freestanding will need support to keep them off the ground.

Light your garden with a koi pond

koi pond in bathtub at night

@sherri_in_paradise/Instagram

Koi ponds are one of the most interesting pieces you can incorporate into your garden’s setup, but if you want to add even more flair, try creating one out of an old bathtub. There are plenty of ways you can go about this project — creating an open viewing window on the side out of glass, for example, or hooking the tub up to a water supply so it flows like a fountain. Whatever you do, however, it’s incredibly important to ensure everything is properly sealed. You don’t want to miss a crack only to find your pond has run dry after a few days.

Repurpose a tub into an outdoor planter

white bathtub planter outside

@eyesspice.grow/Instagram

Planters are one of the most popular DIY projects to make with bathtubs, and for good reason. They’re large enough to allow you to plant different crops or flowers, they’re typically already elevated off the ground, and they even have built-in drainage if you don’t plug the existing drain. Because of this, transforming an old freestanding bathtub into a planter is as easy as filling it with soil, sowing your seeds, and giving everything a healthy dose of water. The final look will be quirky and whimsical without requiring a ton of work — perfect for a garden that needs of a bit more personality.

Cut out a chair or two

repurposed bathtub chairs

@mcbullart/Instagram

Bathtubs are meant for sitting in, so why not use that design to your advantage after they’ve served their purpose in your bathroom? With a quick saw down the middle and a custom-built frame, you can transform your bathtub into an inventive piece of accent seating unlike anything else available on the market. If you’re worried about the surface being too hard for comfort, this could be the perfect opportunity to incorporate some stylish cushions to make everything a bit more inviting. Just make sure you properly sand down the edges of the tub — so you’re not at risk of cutting yourself on any sharp edges.

Go from bathtub to wheelbarrow

bathtub sitting on log cart

@rustandfeathers/Instagram

Wheelbarrows, whether you decide to use them for their actual intended purpose or as a decorative item, are an absolute gardening essential. If you need of something to conveniently haul supplies from one location to another but find yourself lacking, however, consider making your own out of an old cart and a repurposed bathtub. It seems a bit unlikely that you’ll already have both of these materials on hand, but sourcing them for this project might just be worth it if you’ve been on the hunt for a wheelbarrow that’s larger and can transport more than some of the other options available for sale.

A cozy chaise lounge

yellow and metal bathtub chair

@finalcutnewjersey/Instagram

As it turns out, creative seating using bathtubs as a base doesn’t stop at just chairs. This chaise lounge idea takes advantage of the tub’s angled back to provide a cozy spot for reclining, as well as keeping the piece’s high sides to act as places to rest your arms. The plan for this DIY will all depend on the size and style of bathtub you’re working with, but, for the most part, all you need to do is add some supports and a layer of cushioning to cozy everything up. If the tub is freestanding, your job is even easier — toss in some pillows, and you’re set.

Coffee tables need a sturdy base

brown bathtub coffee table

@athanasios_gkiaouris/Instagram

Coffee tables are an absolute core piece to consider when creating a functional living room, but if none of the options on the market align with your personal style, why not try making one out of a bathtub? Free-standing tubs with an even top are already primed and ready to act as the base of a coffee table — all you need to do to complete the project is add a tabletop over the basin. Screw it on if you want to ensure everything stays steady, even when bumped, or keep it loose and use the interior of the tub as a spot to store pillows and blankets.

Grow plants in a backyard tub garden

water lilies in repurposed bathtub

@junkflirt/Instagram

What happens when you combine the idea of a bathtub koi pond and a planter? A water garden, of course! If you like the idea of having an outdoor water feature in your yard but you’re not quite ready to shoulder the burden of live animals, try your hand at growing some aquatic plants in a bathtub. The result will be an interesting and easy-to-maintain planter that attracts and benefits local wildlife, all without having to go through the hassle of growing and caring for plants in a full-sized pond.

Reimagine a vintage couch

green and white bathtub couch

@daretodreambykitty/Instagram

If you’ve watched “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” recently, you likely remember the iconic bathtub sofa that acts as the focal point of Holly Golightly’s living room. While the idea might seem a bit quirky and out there at first glance, it’s actually one of the most popular ways to reuse an old bathtub. This project does require some pretty hefty power tools to pull off, but once you cut out the side section of your tub, you’re already halfway there. Add a custom-fit cushion to the bottom to make everything more comfortable, then accessorize with your favorite pillows to finish off your homage to a classic film.

Paint it like a canvas

teal hand painted bathtub

@stadtart/Instagram

If you’re a painter, there’s no reason to limit yourself to creating artwork on plain canvas. Next time you’re feeling creative and have scrap materials lying around — yes, even a full-blown bathtub — try using it as a base for your next piece. Different materials, from porcelain to metal, can have different reactions to paint, and the unique shape of objects can add more dimension and variety to your artwork. It might be a bit of a challenge at first, but painting on a bathtub might be just the thing you need to get yourself out of a creative rut.

Old tubs double as cement mixers

people mixing cement in bathtub

@hxp.fijinadi/Instagram

Mixing cement, especially if you’re doing a large-scale project, requires quite a bit of room and the use of a mixing area that you’re not afraid to mess up. If you were going to trash it anyway, then why not use a bathtub? Once you plug up the drain, a bathtub can make for the perfect spot to mix your concrete. Because they’re so large, you can mix a large quantity at once, and you can even see the material throughout the mixing process, so you can be certain that you’ve created the right consistency and removed any lumps and bumps of unmixed concrete.

Relax with an outdoor spa

bathtub in backyard

@harro4art/Instagram

Outdoor showers are a popular inclusion in beach houses and backyards with a pool, but why not add an outdoor bath, too? Whether you intend to use it more like a hot tub or simply want to enjoy your soaks surrounded by nature, installing an outdoor bath is sure to bring an interesting and relaxing twist to your routine. Opting for an outdoor bath could be especially helpful if you’re lacking space in your existing bathroom setup, too — you’ll be able to free up some room to have a luxurious shower space indoors without sacrificing your ability to enjoy a bubble bath from time to time.

Keep drinks cold in a cooler bathtub

upcycled bathtub beer cooler

@sammyandbellaofficial/Instagram

If you’re hosting an event where you want guests to be able to grab drinks and serve themselves, a large cooler is an absolute necessity. This way, drinks will stay ice cold, guests don’t have to wait in a long line at the bar, and you don’t have to worry about finding room for and hauling in a refrigerator. At these events, however, an average cooler might not cut it size-wise. For an upgrade that expands on the number of drinks you can make available and adds a quirky twist to the event’s décor, consider filling a bathtub with ice to keep everything ice cold.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.