My Frugal Life: My Iron Claw Bathtub

My Frugal LifeWe have an old iron claw bathtub that has been enclosed in a small bathroom instead of being allowed to stand alone. It is wood paneled into the spot where a normal bathtub would have been.

The bathtub itself is absolutely beautiful, but the way it has been put into this room has made it a complete problem which is challenging to work with. It is way too close to the sink, there is not even a foot to work with when we have to replace the rubber hoses that connect to the faucet.


There huge spaces between the height of the bathtub and the waterproof enclosure that surrounds it. It has gotten old and I have stripped it off.

I have looked at the wood under the bathtub and it is holding up good, a lot of older houses are stronger than others, but I am going to have to cover up a lot of holes in this old house. It is over a hundred years old.

Once we had a plumbing emergency and the plumbers had to cut through the paneling to get to the pipes at the end of the bathtub. I am going to keep this area open but just put a curtain there to hide the plumbing rubber hoses from the faucet. This would be between the front of the tub on the left and the beginning of the sink on the right.

What were these people thinking paneling in the plumbing with no way to get to it for repair? That movie called "The Money Pit" comes to mind, where the bathtub falls through the floor while it is being filled up. If there had been a leak, that is what would have happened if we had never found out about it. I might have been in the tub at the time. Whew. I am glad that leak happened.


The fact that the bathroom is painted off white is driving me crazy. I am going to paint it white and bright white at that. I am tired of OFF WHITE!

The feet of this bathtub are so amazingly strange, it is like it is from some other civilization - they look like animal claws, and they are painted gold. The bathtub itself has a rim around it like I have never seen. You really cannot sit on the side of it and put your feet it, it is too narrow. You have to watch your step when you step in because it is so high. Stepping out of it can be dangerous too.

It is amazing easy to keep clean, but it is also amazingly slippery. I am going to put some of those adhesive things in the bottom of the tub since the old ones are wearing out.


I appreciate the fact that it is an antique, the beauty etc., but the hardship it is causing may justify me having the whole bathroom redone.

Maybe I could use the bathtub outside as a pond if I could ever find the strength to get it down the stair off our porch.

So here are my tasks to do if I decide to keep it: Retile the floor under the tub, recaulk the tub, put a curtain along the whole front outer side since the paneling fell off the last time we fixed it, put a curtain on the end of it to hide the plumbing hardware and pipes, paint the bathroom white to match the true white color of the bathtub, and then last but definitely not least, put in a fan to exhaust the humidity out of the room. It stays too humid in there even if the window is left open all the time.


I will start on all this tomorrow. Right now I think I will go take a soak in a very old bathtub with feet just a little older than mine.

By Robyn from Hampton TN

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May 19, 20110 found this helpful

One of my aunt and uncles had a claw foot bath tub in one of the houses they bought and my uncle enclosed that one, mainly because it would be a pain to clean underneath it. He did make one end of the tub surround removable, but that might have been because he was always puttering around making things, sometimes out of odds and ends. If people don't do a lot wood working, etc. they might not think of doing that.


My aunt and uncle even had a chair that he made out of an old barrel, that was upholstered. Besides the white fixtures in their bathroom and the white ceiling, my aunt painted the bathroom walls a rose/pink color, it was deeped than the average pink, but not bright or hot pink. Then the floor was 12" tiles that were black and grey. When I was young I thought it was really sharp. When I say young I lived with them for 5 years after I graduated from high school.

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May 19, 20110 found this helpful

You may be able to sell the tub to an architectural salvage place. They would pick it up, too.

The one nice advantage of claw foot tubs is that they're comfortable to lay back and relax in. I have only a "modern" tub in my home, and can only dream of relaxing in the tub.


If you try to lay back, you "break" your neck as the back wall is straight. So if you want to soak, your choices are laying with your neck bent so your chin is on your chest and your neck hurts, or laying flat, with your legs straight up on the wall at the faucet end.....

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May 23, 20110 found this helpful

My great grandparents had a tub like this. It was wonderful in their old victorian home. The problem you are having is really that your bathroom is too small for the tub. My great grand parents had a huge bathroom. It had italian tiles on the floor and pleanty of room for "bathroom furnature". The pipes to the tub plumbing were not hidden but they were copper and didn't look bad. There was pleanty of room to clean around the tub and the walls were wallpapered with wainscotting half way up. I think you would be very happy with your tub if you could enlarge your bathroom in honor of it.

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May 23, 20110 found this helpful

This looks like the cast iron tub in my 150 year old house, however no one has built it in. I love the tub and primed and painted the underside a chocolate brown and the feet gold. It is the focal point of the bath. I am restoring the rest of the house and keeping the original wood work and the coal burning fireplace which is identical to one in the Winchester Mansion in San Jose, even the same ugly green tile surround. Embrace the tub and bring it back to its former glory!

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