Cast Iron Tubs


Cast iron tubs are as much a staple in today’s lavatories as they were in inception in the late 19th century. A washing contrivance invented by David Buick in 1880, it is revered for its low maintenance cost, heat retention, and unrivaled durability.

Cast iron tubs, as the name suggests, are heavy and durable made from molded (cast) iron. These tubs can be either freestanding or claw foot. They lack a standard design or shape since the iron cast can be easily molded to any shape.

Construction of Cast Iron Tubs

The base material is cast iron which is an iron-carbon alloy often coated in porcelain or enamel. There’s no standard thickness for the tub, but in most instances, it is 3 to 7 inches thick.

The interior of the cast iron tub is coated with 3 or more layers of high-grade, scratch and chemical resistant enamel giving it a nice glossy finish. The extra layers, as well as the thick base of the cast iron tub, assist in heat retention.

Most cast iron tubs weigh anywhere from 300 pounds to 600 pounds when empty. With this fact in mind, there might be a need for additional floor support. Most standard tubs come with bath cradles, bath frames and mortar beds for support. The rule of thumb for additional floor support is: get an experienced builder to ascertain whether it is necessary.

Freestanding cast iron tubs especially, cast iron claw tubs, exert extra stress on the underlayment and subfloor since the weight is not distributed over a large floor area. For this reason, they should preferably be placed on the ground floor.

Designs, Shapes and Sizes of Cast Iron Tubs

Cast iron tubs are basically large bulky tubs with no specified shape or size. You can find rounded, squared and slipper shapes as well as drop-in and pedestal styles. The bulky nature of the cast iron tubs means they tend to take the generic or soaking tub shape.

Most cast iron tubs take the slipper tub shape which offers the single slipper and double slipper style tub. The single slipper cast iron tub has one end raised for added comfort. A cast iron double slipper clawfoot tub can comfortably support two people having its both ends raised and inclined.

What made a cast iron tub the classic it is today is the freestanding cast iron tub with feet. The design of the feet is really up to the owner’s behest, but the most popular selections are a lion, imperial, or bear claw. A cast iron slipper clawfoot tub is a sight to behold, a timeless classic indicative of Victorian and French luxury.

Freestanding cast iron tubs without feet are a popular option in transitional homes. A good example is the pedestal cast iron tub that uses a plinth to raise the tub making them a focal centerpiece in modern bathrooms.

A modern cast iron tub includes some features that were previously reserved for fiberglass tubs for instance molded features, jets, and body-cradling shapes. There is also an option of the drop-in cast iron tub which is freestanding but not clawfoot.

Cast iron tubs come in a variety of finishes that include: white, biscuit, cashmere, black among others. A white cast iron tub projects purity and innocence while a black cast iron tub adds mystery and a laid-back vibe to your bathroom.

Cleaning and Maintenance of the Cast Iron Tubs

For the most part, using a damp cloth to clean the inner parts of the tub then drying it off with a dry towel suffices for daily maintenance of a cast iron tub. This is to avoid build-up of soap on the surface of the tub. Spruce the interior surface with baking powder and remember to be generous with it. Douse some vinegar over the baking soda and use a soft, clean sponge to clean it. Rinse then dry with a dry cotton cloth.

Avoid using abrasive cleaning agents, acidic formulas or scouring pads as all these hurt the enamel coating. Ensure the faucets do not drip as this will encourage the build-up of rust.

Some consider cast iron tubs as the zenith of tubs. Their durability, low maintenance and above all their classic aesthetic look distinguish them from the other tubs.