Clawfoot bathtubs are elegant, beautiful and stylish. They look great in modern, as well as old/Victorian-styled bathrooms. There are however a few things that you first need to know before buying a clawfoot bathtub.
Clawfoot tubs are the oldest type of freestanding bathtubs. They are originally from Europe and were primarily made of copper or cast-iron. A clawfoot tub is identified by its four feet which originally had a ball and claw design and hence their name.
They were quite famous in the Victorian age but later died off in popularity after the invention of the contemporary freestanding bathtubs. The popularity of clawfoot bathtubs is however soaring and almost every homeowner wants one in their bathroom?
Are clawfoot foot tubs are a good ideas though? What has changed so much that everyone now wants a clawfoot tub?
Apart from being so attractive and elegant, clawfoot bathtubs are very easy to work with. They go well with modern as well as vintage styles. You can also install them just about anywhere in the bathroom, and can also be modified to include a shower. Clawfoot tubs made of cheaper materials like acrylic also makes them affordable.
Before deciding to buy and install a clawfoot tub, there are a few things that you need to know. Here are some of them:
1. You Need a Big Bathroom
Unlike an alcove or other in-built bathtubs, clawfoot bathtubs are mostly installed in the middle of the bathroom. You therefore need free space all around the tub to access it from all sides especially while cleaning it.
This means folks with small bathrooms should check into alcove tubs or even corner bathtubs. Although you can still install a clawfoot tub adjacent to the bathroom wall, it will not stand out as much as it would in the middle of the room where all its features are visible from far.
With a clawfoot tub, you also need a separate space for the shower. Unlike the case with alcove tubs which also doubles up as showers, you rarely see a clawfoot-shower-combo, although they are there.
2. You Need a Strong Floor
Clawfoot tubs especially those made of copper and cast-iron are quite heavy. If you add the weight of the tub itself, water and your own weight, it goes without saying that if you have a weak floor you are staring at a disaster.
This is especially the case if you are planning to install the tub in your upstairs bathroom. If you suspect that your floor is not strong enough and you really want a clawfoot tub in your bathroom, consider reinforcing it first.
3. What is Your Floor Made Of?
Most of us have used a 3-wall alcove bathtub. And what have you noticed about the walls surrounding these tubs? They are tiled. And why is that? For the simple reason that damp walls are undesirable, paints starts to peel off and tiles are just way easier to clean.
Now let us come to clawfoot tubs. They are installed away from walls hence are surrounded by nothing. If your bathroom floor is tiled, you are safe. On the other hand, if you have a wooden floor then you might want to reconsider a clawfoot tub.
It is almost impossible to soak up without splashing some water on the floor. With a tiled and watertight floor, cleaning up is very quick. That is however not the case with wooden floors. They absorb water and rotting is inevitable.
This is however not to say that folks with hardwood floors should not have clawfoot tubs. Just know that you will need to meticulously clean your floor every time you use the tub and splash water
4. Do You Have Kids?
Kids love splashing water. While that can be manageable for people using an alcove bathtub, it is a nightmare if you have a clawfoot or basically any other freestanding tubs.
As in the point above, you will have an even bigger problem if your floor is wooden. In short, a house with kids and a wooden bathroom floor is one of those areas where you least want to install a clawfoot tub.
This might however work if you have several bathrooms in your house. Just install the tub in the master bathroom where only one or two people use it. That way you will be able to control splashing and you floor will last long.
5. Do You Like Cleaning?
Clawfoot tubs are hands down the hardest tubs to clean, apart from jetted tubs. Apart from cleaning inside the tub, you also have to clean all around it as well as underneath it.
Due to its feet, the body of a clawfoot tub is usually raised a few inches from the floor. To clean that small area you have to literally bend on your knees so that you don’t miss a spot.
These tubs feet are also nicely detailed, something we love about them. What you might not know is that it becomes very easy for dirt to hide and embed in the little crevices. You therefore have to look for a way to clean them without scratching/peeling off the finish.
6. Exposed Plumbing
As you well know, a bathtub needs a faucet, an overflow and drain. With alcove/inbuilt tubs, most of the plumbing is done/concealed inside the wall and all you see is a faucet spouts and handles.
That is however not the case with clawfoot bathtubs especially if they are installed in the middle of the bathroom. You will have faucets installed on one side of the tub and an overflow pipe on the other side.
While this might bother some people, most are not. Thankfully, clawfoot tubs faucets, overflow and drainpipes are made of high quality metals like polished brass, oil-rubbed bronze and chrome, which is also the same material as the claw feet themselves. These pieces work as accessories rather than a bother.
7. They are Heavy
Unless you are buying a clawfoot bathtub made of acrylic or fiberglass, cast-iron and copper clawfoot tubs are quite heavy. This is a problem for 2 reasons.
If you are buying the tub far from where you live, you will definitely pay more in shipping costs. This might however work in your favor if the company you are buying from offers free shipping.
A heavy bathtub is also hard to install. Regardless of whether you are installing it on your own (not recommended) or paying a plumber to do it, you will need more pairs of hands to lift and align it as needed. More hands often means more money paid.
8. They Have no Storage
With an alcove or drop-in bathtub, you just need to extend your hand and reach the soap, shampoo, conditioner, towel or anything else you might want while using a tub. If you have been very observant, you would know that clawfoot bathtubs do not have any storage facility near.
Picture this. You have already immersed your tired body in the tub and are already starting to feel good then all of a sudden it hits you, that you have forgotten your towel. You now have to stand, climb out of the tub, walk to where the towel is and come back. All this time dripping water on the floor.
If you are going to install a clawfoot tub, you need to be creative and find a way to access all you necessities when you need them. Having a big shelf next to a clawfoot tub will however take its allure from it. Look for something as decent as the tub itself.
9. How Tall/Short are You?
A bathtub needs to be high enough so that a big part of your body is immersed in the water without it splashing on the floor. Most bathtubs are able to do that.
The thing with clawfoot tubs is that they are quite high due to the extra height of the feet. Short people, children, seniors and people with limited mobility will find these tubs to be less than ideal. Walk-in tubs is a better choice especially for the seniors and people with mobility problems.
10. Do You Have an Uneven Floor?
If you are going to buy a clawfoot bathtub, make sure that you bathroom floor is level. This is not always the case in old houses.
You can successfully work your way out with an uneven floor using an in-built tub. That will however not work with a clawfoot tub. You will always notice that it is sloping to one side, which is not an experience you want to have.
Some clawfoot bathtubs are fortunately designed in such a way that the feet can be adjusted to suit an uneven floor. If you do not want to fix your floor then this is an option you can check out. A good example is the Woodbridge Clawfoot Bathtub.
Types of Clawfoot Tubs
There are different types of clawfoot types based on design. Let us go through each one of them so that you are in a position to buy the best possible one.
1. Classic/Single-Ended Clawfoot Bathtub
Single-ended clawfoot tubs are oval in shape with one of the ends being square while the other is rounded. The rounded end is where you rest you back, neck and head while the faucets are mounted on the squared end.
These tubs are usually 5-feet long with a deck-mounted, freestanding or wall-mounted faucets, depending on where they are installed. They are used by one person at a time.
2. Double-Ended Clawfoot Bathtub
A double ended bathtub is rounded at both ends, flat at the top with curled lips. Due to their design, you can bathe on either side of the tub, or if they are big enough they can be used by 2 bathers.
For your convenience, the drain is usually located in the middle and the faucets are side-mounted. Again, you can choose to go with a freestanding or deck-mounted double-ended clawfoot tub faucet.
3. Single Slipper Clawfoot Bathtub
A single slipper clawfoot tub looks like a lounger. One end of the tub is raised higher than the other in a sloping design to support your back, neck and head. These types of tubs are best for people who like to take long baths.
The drain is usually located on the lower sider, just like the faucets, and sometimes a shower head. Single slipper clawfoot tubs are used by one person at a time.
4. Double Slipper Clawfoot Bathtub
A double slipper clawfoot tub is specially designed for 2 bathers. Both ends of the tub are raised high with a side-mounted faucet design and a center drain. The middle section of the tub is however low enough to allow you get in and out of the tub easily.
Make sure that if you are buying a double slipper tub to be used by 2 people it is long enough. You will also need an equally big bathroom space to install it.
Acrylic Vs Cast-Iron Clawfoot Bathtubs
Most clawfoot bathtubs in the market today are either made of acrylic or cast-iron? So, which is a better bathtub to buy between one made of acrylic and another made of cast-iron? Let us look at their pros and cons.
Acrylic is a strong plastic material that exhibit glass-like properties like clarity, brilliance and transparency. To make an acrylic bathtub, a sheet of acrylic is bend and molded into the desired shape and then reinforced with fiberglass.
Cast-iron bathtubs on the other hand are made by pouring molten iron into a mold of the desired shape and size, and after cooling they are smoothened and coated with a layer enamel.
Both cast-iron and acrylic clawfoot tubs have their advantages and disadvantages. Let us look at all of them in more details.
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It is not easy to tell acrylic and cast-iron bathtubs apart, but if you know where to look you can definitely do it. To start with, both of these tubs are available in any design you may want, whether a slipper tub or classic single-double-ended tub.
With a cast-iron tub, the interior is usually finished from the factory while the exterior isn’t always and you will have to paint it yourself after installation. On the hand, an acrylic tub comes completely finished and all you have to do is to install it.
Even after installing, you will notice that the exterior of the cast-iron tub is somewhat rough than that of an acrylic tub. A painter will charge you between $40 and $100 to paint an acrylic bathtub, or you can do it yourself.
Acrylic bathtubs will often have acrylic feet too, which are most of the time permanent. Cast-iron tubs have feet made of various types of metal and are also removable and adjustable. High-end acrylic tubs will however have polished metal feet.
The process of installing cast-iron and acrylic bathtubs is the same. What you need to know though is that you will need more people to install a cast-iron tub than you would an acrylic tub.
To be specific, you will need four people to lift a cast-iron tub, but 2 people would be enough to lift an acrylic tub. Cast-iron tubs weigh between 250 and 500 pounds depending on size. Acrylic tubs weigh 100 pounds on average.
If you are outsourcing labor, you will pay more to install a cast-iron clawfoot tub than you would to install an acrylic tub. Cast-iron tubs are also more expensive to ship than acrylic tubs.
Another thing you also need to think about is where the tub is being installed. If you are installing the tub in the upstairs bathroom, you may need to reinforce the floor if you are installing a cast-iron tub to support its weight. An acrylic tub will do just fine.
A cast-iron clawfoot tub will surely cost more than an acrylic clawfoot tub. Having said that, I should mention that the statement only holds if we are talking about tubs of the same size.
A long and detailed acrylic bathtub will cost more than a short and simple cast-iron tub. You also need to be careful and check what is included in the purchase. One tub might look cheaper than the other but that could be because the faucets, drain and overflow pipes are not included.
As you might already know, bathtubs prices vary not only because of their material and size, but also because of the brand among other factors. A well renowned brand will without a doubt sell its tubs at a premium price compared to smaller less-known brand.
On average an acrylic clawfoot bathtub will cost anywhere between $600 and $2500. On the other hand, a cast-iron clawfoot bathtub will cost between $1500 and $4000.
Cast-iron is a more durable and stronger material than acrylic, provided it does not come into contact with water. In such a case rusting is inevitable. Thankfully, cast-iron tubs are nicely enameled in the inside while the outside is lifted off from the ground.
While acrylic is a strong material, it might flex after years of usage, although not to the extent that fiberglass bathtubs tend to do. Cast-irons tubs will never flex. They maintain their shaper for as long as you will have them.
A cast-iron tub’s enamel will chip if it comes into contact with brutal force. Fortunately it is possible to refinish a cast-iron tub, otherwise the iron below will start to rust. Acrylic bathtubs will neither chip or crack, but it can scratch or stain.
Since the exterior of a cast-iron tub is usually painted, you will need to repaint it after some time. Acrylic tubs are factory-finished and repainting is not needed.
Good Acrylic Clawfoot Bathtubs
There are many acrylic bathtubs in the market, some good and some not so much. I will therefore list 3 of my favorite acrylic clawfoot tubs just in case you might be interested in one.
1. Baths of Distinction HLDS59FPK Clawfoot Bathtub
This is an all-inclusive double sleeper clawfoot bathtub made of heavy duty CoreAcryl material. Some of its features include:
- Dimensions: 59 x 30.7 x 31 inches
- Shape: oval
- Style: double sleeper
- Solid brass faucet with handheld shower.
- Drain and supply line in your choice of finish
- Built-in aluminum heat barrier
- Cast-iron ball and claw chromed feet
- 144 pounds
- Finishes: brushed nickel and oil rubbed bronze
2. Woodbridge Single Slipper Clawfoot Bathtub
This is a very well made and comfortable tub that is also available in different sizes. You can choose to buy one which is 54, 59 or 67 inches long. Their depth are 30 inches and a height of 31 inches.
The following are more of their features:
- Water depth: 14.25 inches
- Chrome finishes
- Drain location: side
- Solid brass drain, chrome finished
- Solid brass overflow, chrome finished
- 1-year warranty
3. Hotel Collection HLSL57FPK Acrylic Clawfoot Tub
If you are looking for a petite/small clawfoot bathtub then this is it. This 57-inches long tub is made of high quality double walled acrylic and is all-inclusive. You don’t need to buy anything separately.
Here are some of its features:
- Tub dimensions: 57 x 30 x 28 inches
- Edwardian tub faucet with shower
- Drain with lift-off stopper
- Straight supply lines
- Finishes: chrome, brushed nickel or oil rubbed bronze
- Great heat retention
- 131 pounds
Good Cast-Iron Clawfoot Bathtubs
The following are some of the best cast-iron clawfoot tubs in the market. As stated, you will notice than cast-iron clawfoot tubs are pricier than their acrylic counterparts.
1. Signature Hardware 915546-72-RH Arabella
Signature Hardware make quality products all the time, and this tub is not different. Let us see what makes it one of the best cast-iron bathtub in the market.
- Bathtub dimensions: 72 x 31 x 30 inches
- Brushed nickel feet
- Center drain location
- Designed for 2 people
- 330 pounds
- White finish
- Lifetime warranty
2. The Tub Connection 54” Swedish Tub
This is another small but fantastic cast-iron clawfoot tub that you wouldn’t go wrong with. Let us look at some of its features:
- Tub dimensions: 53.5 x 29.5 x 29.5 inches
- Brushed nickel feet
- Water depth: 18 inches
- Capacity: 42 gallons
- White porcelain interior
- Weight: 320 pounds
3. Kingston Brass Aqua Eden VCT7D7231NC5
This is a big and quality cast-iron clawfoot tub that is perfect for 2 people. Its features and specifications are:
- Bathtub dimensions:72 x 31 x 26 inches
- Capacity: 58 gallons
- White porcelain enamel
- Painted white exterior
- Water depth: 15.3 inches
- Oil rubbed bronze/brushed nickel/chrome feet
- Weight: 442 pounds
Good Copper Clawfoot Bathtub
If you are looking for an even more vintage look, a copper clawfoot bathtub id the way to go. Here are some of the best copper clawfoot tubs in the market:
Sinkology Heisenberg Copper Clawfoot Tub
This handmade bathtub is quite solid, beautiful and of great quality. The following are some of its features and specifications:
- Tub dimensions: 67.5 x 32 x 30.5 inches
- Color: bronze
- Capacity: 40-50 gallons
- Pre-drilled 2.5-inch overflow hole
- 14 Gauge pure solid copper
- Options to choose with/without overflow
- Easy to clean/maintain
- Single sleeper
Are Clawfoot Bathtubs Dangerous?
Is there any danger associated with using a clawfoot bathtub? This is a question I have had people ask me on more than one occasion.
Due to their feet, clawfoot bathtubs are considerably taller than other types of bathtubs. Climbing in and out of the tub can therefore be a challenge for some people, coupled with the risk of slipping which is present in all types of bathtub.
I suggest having a rag on one side of the tub at all times, to prevent slipping while getting out of the tub. Rags also increase to the overall décor of the bathroom.
In case you are a short person, I would suggest that you look for a clawfoot tub that is not too high. The same case applies to children. Old folks and generally people with limited mobility should install a walk-in bathtub.