Restoring a Clawfoot Tub

Category: Restore & Repair

We were really excited to find an old clawfoot tub through a friend for the upstairs bath. It had a few layers of chipping paint on the outside, and the inside had been "flower decal-ed" (a la the 60's)...but, all in all, it was in great shape. Solid iron.

So, how do we bring this tub back from the brink...?

First, a call to our pal, Tim at Aquarius Limited...he had refinished our downstairs tub if you've been following along.

And the inside is smooth and beautiful.
All the way out to the edges of its rolled rim.

Then, I had to go to work with an orbital sander and some heavy grit sandpaper on the outside to prepare it for primer and repainting. I'll follow up with a finer grit before we actually put the primer on.

Surprise! When I got down to stripping the lion's paw feet...shiny metal underneath! We will paint the outside white...but I think we'll leave the feet shiny and silver.

p.s. Just a quick very careful when choosing a contractor to refinish your tub. There are many fly-by-night companies who will train people to refinish tubs too quickly, or without proper materials/techniques. You want someone who is very familiar with the different types of refinishing techniques, who will prep and ventilate the work area, who will offer a warranty on the finish and who will educate you on how to care for the tub. We got a referral through Midwest Chemicals...a manufacturer of tub refinishing products.

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wow. the tub is beautiful. its going to be perfect for hot baths.

WOW is right! But, how is that 6'7" guy going to fit in it? POPS"30"

POPS, I'm not going to try to fit--I get the oversized shower instead.

I was just on houseblogs. I was going to post that the button to see more entries had disappeared and when I got done with the comment there was no post button there, so i am here.

The shiny feet are SO COOL!

i'm so jealous!!! i want a claw-foot tub, too but derek doesn't think it suits our house, so i'm left to dream.... it's beautiful!

Nice job!

If you're going to sand off the old paint, make sure you're wearing a lead-approved dust mask and watch that dust (use TSP to wipe everything down after -- floors, walls, etc).

I tested our claw-foot tub for _lead_ and it came off-scale (eek!).

The paint they used on these things was often extemely high in lead -- it gave it a nice smooth, white, finish.

Extremely toxic, especially for pets and children.

For what it's worth,

When we get ready to do the outside of our clawfoot, I'll have to come back here for reference. The inside of ours was very nice already when we got it, but the outside is all peely and the faucet is grotesque. I can't wait to work on it now that I've seen yours!

The owners of the multi-family (rental) bungalow next to the one we just purchased offered to sell us one of the two original cast iron clawfoots they still have (ours was removed sometime during the last 100 years) for $500. I think one of them was in pretty good shape. My wife is excited about it, but knowing how long they take to heat up even when filled with scalding hot water, I'd just as soon go with acrylic.

But we can't really afford either right now, so it's moot.

Ouch! If you have to refinish it, $500 is not a bargain. We paid around $100 for this one and that includes moving it to our house.

The water is the temperature it is when it comes out of the faucet. Iron keeps water hot longer than acrylic does. That's why I love iron tubs :)

Nice job on the tub. It appears that you did the whole thing with the tub upright. My wife and I spent about two weeks with ours upside down in our kitchen (talk about camping with a mortgage!). Our tub had been painted to varying extents under the tub.

One important tip that may seem a little late. If you reached shiny metal on the feet with your orbital you may want to have them refinished. It's not likely to stay shiny for too long. We discovered through trial and error that the best option is to remove the feet (that means turning it upside down like us) drop them in a bucket of paint stripper for a while. Use a stiff brush to get in the crevices. A tooth brush will work if you finish before the stripper finishes off the brush but stay away from wire. We ended up repainting our feet since replating is a bit pricy but we had great replating success with hardware from our teens hoosier.

The tub looks great!


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