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What is a Clawfoot Tub? 2019 Guide to Clawfoot Tubs

What is a Clawfoot tub?

A clawfoot bathtub is a freestanding bathtub that has four pegs or feet directly underneath it. These pegs are finished with a claw design, lending the name of “clawfoot”. These feet are available in multiple styles, allowing you to change the aesthetics of your bathtub should you so choose. These bathtubs are finished on all sides, with a lip on the front, acting as a footrest or a place for a bath tray. 

Are Clawfoot tubs still popular?

The short answer is no. Clawfoots are appreciated by enthusiasts and those who value the more vintage styles of the past, but today it is widely understood that they are not very practical for everyday use. Many clawfoots are being overshadowed by newer, more modern freestanding bathtub designs, and the truth of the matter is that clawfoots are not the most flexible of bathtubs compared to modern designs, showing why they aren’t widely produced as they used to be. 

Types of Clawfoot tub feet

  • Ball and claw –Drawing inspiration from chinese lion statues, the ball and claw finishes with a round ball as the bottom piece. This creates a more round design for the bathtub to rest on.
  • PawThe traditional design, paw clawfeet are just that-a paw shaped foot. The difference between paw and ball and claw is that the bathtub stands on actual feet instead of just a flat, smooth surface.
  • CannonballA more simplistic take on the ball and claw, cannonball loses the lionesque frills of ball and claw to give you a simplified round base. Nothing fancy, just something that works.
  • ArmadaDesigned for naval ships, the Armada removes the balled edges of the previous styles to give you a simple wooden flat surface. These are usually decorated with some light gilding, but generally these are much lower to the ground than the styles mentioned above, for increased stability.

What types of Clawfoot materials are there?

Clawfoot bathtubs come in a wide variety of materials, and these materials will drastically affect your bathing experience. For that reason it is best to associate yourself with some of the more popular materials on the market and better understand which is best for you. 

  •       Cast Iron -A highly durable material, cast iron is constructed by pouring molten iron into a shape then finished with a layer of enamel coating. These bathtubs are highly durable, perhaps the best on the market in terms of overall durability and heat retention. The drawback to cast iron is that the material is extremely heavy, perhaps the heaviest on the market so extra considerations towards floor reinforcement must be made.
  •       CopperAn expensive but high quality material, copper bathtubs carry a few interesting characteristics compared to other materials on the market. Overtime they will patena, creating a more vibrant bathtub the older it gets. They are remarkably easy to clean, with copper being an antibacterial material, and they have excellent heat retention. That being said, they are also the most expensive material on the market.
  •       AcrylicThe most affordable clawfoot on the market, acrylic is made by taking vacuumed sheets of acrylic which is then reinforced with fiberglass. The result is a lightweight material that has decent heat retention as well as durability. Compared to other materials on the market, it is not nearly as durable, but it’s lightweight nature makes it easier to install and remove.
  •       PorcelainThe classic clawfoot material, porcelain bathtubs are made by taking a bathtub made of glass, tile or metal and covering it with a protective porcelain enamel coating. The result is a bathtub that is durable, has good heat retention, but are highly vulnerable to heavy impacts. Restoring them can also be a bit pricey compared to other materials on the market. 

clawfoot style bathtub

What is the average dimensions or size of a Clawfoot tub?

The average size of a clawfoot bathtub is 54 inches long with a width of 32 inches. This is considered to be the medium size of a clawfoot bathtub. For the small size, you have a length of 48 inches, with a width of 30 inches which creates a compact bathtub size which is fairly popular. A step up from this is the widely popular 59-60 inches long with a width of 40 inches. This is considered to be the larger size of clawfoots, but the length can easily grow to 72 inches. The water depth between all these sizes will range anywhere from 24-30+ inches, depending on the size. 

How much can a Clawfoot tub weigh?

Clawfoot bathtubs are generally heavy bathtubs by normal standards, but the weight varies from material to material. An empty acrylic bathtub can weigh around 120 pounds whereas a cast iron bathtub can easily weigh around 200-400 pounds. Add in water and a cast iron bathtub can weigh anywhere from 500-900 pounds so it is vital that you reinforce your floor when installing a cast iron clawfoot bathtub. So when choosing your clawfoot bathtub, understand which material your bathroom can handle and it’s weight as acrylic is the lightest of the materials and cast iron is the heaviest, so as long as you sit in between, you should be fine. 

How many people can fit into a Clawfoot tub?

On average, two large people can fit into a clawfoot bathtub, but there are more personal sized clawfoot tubs that are meant to house just one individual bather. While it may seem like a good idea to have a larger bathtub just in case, it is recommended to have a bathtub that fits you comfortably, as in the long run, you will be using it more frequently, which means having it the right size for your body means more comfort and less risk of health problems down the road such as slouching or poor posture. 

What are common Clawfoot accessories?

  • Shower Attachment -The most common accessory to the clawfoot bathtub is the shower attachment, elevating this bathtub from occasional use to an everyday use. By attaching a shower faucet to your bathtub, you add much needed flexibility to your clawfoot bathtub. 
  • Bathtub board/shower caddy -One of the weak points of a clawfoot bathtub is the loss of a cubby that holds your soap and shampoo. A bathtub board or shower caddy can easily fix this by holding all your bathing equipment within an easy to reach area.
  • Shower Curtain -For those that want an extra bit of privacy, a shower curtain helps to keep you more isolated during your bathing time. It also serves the double purpose of keeping water out of your bathtub from spilling over as well. 

What is the value of a vintage clawfoot bathtub?

Vintage bathtubs surprisingly hold their value over the years, but it will largely depend on the quality and style. The more commonly manufactured bathtubs from the 1920’s and 1940’s can either sell for around $300-1,000, depending on their condition or around $2,000 depending on the rarity of a model. The classic 5 foot clawfoot bathtub can be purchased from anywhere between $300-500, but a french double end clawfoot can easily run $2,000 starting. Restoration is another topic as the cost of restoring one of these older models can run anywhere between $400-500, sometimes equivalent or more expensive than the cost of the actual bathtub so be careful that you do not exceed your budget in restoring one. 

clawfoot tub

How do I know if a Clawfoot tub is right for me?

When it comes to clawfoot bathtubs, you should understand that they will require a bit of work to make them more practical for everyday use. First off is having soap and shampoo close by as there are no compartments in a clawfoot bathtub unlike the wall compartments of a built-in bathtub-a workable fix, but something to consider. Second, the design of a clawfoot bathtub is a little less child friendly, making it quite easy for them to splash water over the sides, flooding your bathroom-this can be corrected by having a segmented or splash proof zone in your bath/shower space. A clawfoot bathtub is also a great deal taller than a built-in bathtub, so if you are a shorter individual, it may prove more difficult to use than a built-in bathtub.

In addition to the height, the overall size of a clawfoot bathtub may not fit every bathroom, so it is best to understand the limitations of your space. Lastly, is maintenance, as cleaning a clawfoot bathtub will require a bit of extra work when compared to built-in bathtubs as you have to clean the feet and undersides of your bathtub. If none of these factors bother you in the slightest, then a clawfoot bathtub is the right choice for you. 

Clawfoot bathtubs represent a beautiful part of our history. They appear timeless and classic, and no matter what, these bathtubs will always be appreciated on an aesthetic level. But for everyday bathers and the modern home, they are a bit impractical. So before you purchase one, consider the drawbacks to see if it’s still the right bathtub for your home. 

 

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