Cast iron bathtubs add elegance and sophistication to any bathroom, so choosing and caring for them is all the more crucial. Though we think of old-fashioned cast-iron bathtubs as more elegant than regular bathtubs, it’s funny that the first cast-iron bathtubs in the 1800s were actually intended originally as horse troughs and hog scalders. With the attachment of claw feet to the bottoms of tubs over time, they came to be used as we do now, for bathing. Some of the main advantages to cast iron as a bathtub material is a very polished appearance once coated with enamel, an overall durability and easy maintenance, as well as a superior ability to absorb, retain, and transfer heat. Regardless of their origins, they do communicate a certain amount of vintage glamour and elegance.
“Cast iron” refers to the manufacturing process, rather than to the classification of iron. Essentially, molten iron is cast into a bathtub mold shape, cooled and fire-finished at high temperatures with enamel. This creates a high-gloss surface that reduces even further any potential damage, as well as allowing a potential for achieving deep hues in their color. The sheer heaviness of iron also helps in preventing damage like cracks, dents, and chips, as well as providing great soundproofing—minimizing vibrations and noise. Cast iron tubs are also resistant to chemical damage and keep bath water hotter for a longer period of time as compared to other types of materials, even though they can be colder to the touch.
If you buy you a cast iron tub, as opposed to moving into a building with one, you can get a lifetime guarantee from your manufacturer. New cast-iron tubs can cost anywhere above a couple of thousand dollars. Keep in mind that the thicker and heavier your tub is, the more likely you might need structural reinforcements, especially if you live in an older building. Upon purchasing your tub, asking about its weight should be one of your first questions, before even asking about the type of coating material.
Most cast-iron tubs are five feet long or less, have claw style feet, and come in five general styles:
Faucets & Drillings
The drillings on bathtubs are the holes to which faucets are mounted, and can be divided into three categories: wall drilled, rim drilled, and no drillings.
On the whole, cast iron bathtubs are durable, and can last for a lifetime if you care for them properly, though they don’t require much. Here are some general tips for maintenance: