If you like spaces that resonate with personality, consider buying a claw-foot bathtub. The statement-making fixtures work in any size bathroom, complement traditional and transitional decorating styles, and are available in an array of contours and colors. Mirroring versions popular between the 1880s and 1930s, today's claw-foot bathtubs offer ageless character combined with ergonomic shapes and spa-like systems. Happily, plenty of vintage bathtubs (with original finishes intact or in need of refinishing) are readily available for those desiring authenticity.
Always in fashion, claw-foot bathtubs can be installed in the center of a bathroom, within a windowed bay, aligned against a wall, or set diagonally across a corner. Before selecting a bathtub, know the location of the bathroom's water pipes and how much floor space is available for the bathtub, as well as the width of doorways, staircases, and hallways through which the tub will be carried. New claw-foot bathtubs are available in acrylic, cast iron, fiberglass, and copper and range in length from 4 to 6 feet, with 5-foot lengths being the most common size for both new and vintage models. If you choose a cast-iron tub, you may need to beef up the bathroom floor to support its weight.
Think about how you want to fill the bathtub. Most claw-foot bathtubs will have holes drilled into a tub wall or on a tub deck to house faucets and tub fillers; undrilled tubs may require using a floor-mount tub filler or wall-mount faucet. When choosing a tub filler fitting, opt for one equipped with a handheld shower or one to which a showerhead and a circular shower rod enclosure can be attached.
Traditional rolled-rim claw-foot bathtubs position the plumbing at one end, leaving the other end free for resting your head; dual rolled-rim claw-foot tubs feature a side-mount faucet and a center drain so that heads can rest on both ends. Rolled-rim bathtubs are ideally suited for casual cottage, retro, and country bathroom designs.
Slipper claw-foot bathtubs supply a high-back construction at one end for reclining; dual slipper claw-foot tubs feature high-backs at each end and a side-mount faucet and center drain to better accommodate two bathers. These bathtubs have elegant curves that enhance high-Victorian, Parisian chic, or formal bathroom styles.
Take time to compare a number of claw-foot bathtubs that fit both your bathroom and budget. Though these tubs fall into just three categories, there are numerous details worth reviewing. Some are designed for relaxing soaks while others boast jetted whirlpool systems. Claw-foot bathtubs are available in white, cream, and tan with some tubs sporting black, pink, brown, or gray interiors. Some manufacturers let buyers custom-color both the tub's basin and exteriors. Pay attention to each tub's feet, as foot shapes vary. You'll find bathtubs rising on sleek chrome stubs, standing on cannonball feet, and resting on bronzed claw-and-ball paws. No matter their silhouette, the feet may be left white or highlighted with shiny gold, silver, black, or brass finishes.
If you're interested in buying old instead of new, there are a few things to consider. Vintage claw-foot bathtubs cost from $100 up into the thousands; prices are based on condition, rarity of design, and size. You'll find models with their original finishes still available, but you could save money by purchasing a salvage bathtub in need of refinishing. Check that vintage tubs have their original legs (they will be more stable than those with replacement parts) and that the iron has no cracks or holes. Vintage tubs with dull scratched finishes can generally be reglazed for between $500 and $1,000.
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