Clawfoot tubs have been around for years and remain a favorite choice for many remodeling projects. But why are these tubs so popular and is a clawfoot tub the right choice for you?
At one time the clawfoot tub was about a very traditional look. When I started in the plumbing industry in San Francisco in the early 90’s a dream bathroom often included a clawfoot tub with polished brass faucets and big porcelain handles. That style has evolved; brass has been replaced with brushed nickel and the classic clawfoot has been joined by more contemporary versions of freestanding tubs.
In fact today it may be more accurate to talk about “freestanding” rather than “clawfoot” tubs as the classic clawfeet have been replaced with pedestal bases, wood frames, metalwork supports and even designed to sit directly on the floor.
There are a few points to consider if you are thinking about having a freestanding bathtub. Some obvious things, like will it fit in the space and do you like the way it looks, are fairly easy to decide. Other factors like what it is made of (cast iron, acrylic, cast product) and water delivery requirements may require some additional thought.
Traditional clawfoot tubs were made of cast iron and cast iron continues to be a common choice. A cast iron clawfoot tub will require the outside to be finished, usually by painting, as it will be rough iron (often you will have a choice of ordering painted or unpainted for finishing onsite). The shape of the feet may vary, ball and claw and Imperial are two common styles, and come in various finishes (white, chrome, brass, etc).
Originally it was common to have a shower setup over a clawfoot tub. This usually requires a ring and shower curtain to prevent water from ending up on the floor. These days I find most freestanding tubs do not have showers overhead and require just a tub filler. Traditional clawfoot bathtubs might have the faucet attached to the tub wall, tub deck or floor mounted with an “over-the-rim” spout. Most of the modern freestanding tubs do not have space for a deck or tub wall mount and so the tub filler is floor mounted. There have been some very beautiful floor mount tub fillers created in recent years.
A couple of tub companies have created a faucet pedestal that is designed to fit against the bathtub to provide a horizontal deck that can accommodate a standard deck mount tub filler. This may provide you with more choices of faucets.
The majority of freestanding bathtubs are “soakers”; there is no jetting system available. There are a few exceptions to this. Bain Ultra offers the “Thermomassuer” system on all of their freestanding models (including a footed tub). Jason and MTI also offer freestanding bathtubs with an air system. There are few (if any) manufacturers offering whirlpool systems on freestanding tubs (as there is no way to hide the pipes).
Most of the freestanding baths that offer air systems are made of double wall acrylic (Jason and BainUltra and others). Now we are seeing many of the contemporary styled model being made of a “cast stone” or resin product.
Here are some of the latest in freestanding tubs…
Wetstyle bathtubs are at the top of the design ladder.
The “Be” collection takes its form from a walnut shell which creates a tub interior that cradles the bather. Wetstyle “Image-in” is a beautiful option that adds a textural design to the tub exterior (see above).
Lacava is another design-centric manufacturer. The “Suave” freestanding model uses cast resin and wood to create this unique bathtub. The “Ovale” is an egg form designed to envelop the bather.
BainUltra has several Thermomassuer freestanding models including the footed model “Cella” bathtub. This month BainUltra is introducing their “Essencia” tub; a unique look that we are looking forward to seeing.
Victoria and Albert created the Lido and Lido Grande decorative faucet stand. This clever product allows one to install a standard deck mount tun faucet with a freestanding tub. Victoris and Albert offers a large selection of traditional and contemporary bathtubs.