Just Add Water
Invented during the Victorian era when bathing became not only fashionable but a private practice, clawfoot tubs are historically white inside and out, signifying purity and cleanliness. Original clawfoot tubs were crafted from molten iron with a porcelain overlay inside. Casts were created using sand as a mold; then molten iron was poured into the cast, creating the tub basin. Later, molten porcelain was poured over the iron, creating a tough but slippery surface.
Clawfoot tubs produced today are made out of either cast iron or acrylic. Many new cast iron tubs are still crafted according to the techniques used more than 100 years ago, creating a strong albeit heavy tub, weighing between 250 and 400 pounds. These energy-efficient tubs retain heat longer than their acrylic counterparts.
Acrylic clawfoot tubs are much lighter and easier to move. Manufacturers of acrylic tubs can produce them in a variety of lengths, as opposed to cast iron, which is available in only limited lengths. Acrylic tubs are repairable – nicks just buff out of the surface – unlike cast iron that cannot be repaired once the porcelain is damaged.
To enhance these free-standing reservoirs, adorn your clawfoot tub with Victorian-influenced accessories, such as an English telephone faucet. This shower attachment rests in a cradle above the faucet, similar to an English telephone, and is designed for easy bathing. Or transform your tub into a shower with an antique-style shower kit. This kit includes a circular shower ring for hanging a shower curtain and a riser pipe with attached showerhead for stand-up bathing. Faucets come in a variety of finishes – including brass, chrome and polished nickel – to complement your existing plumbing.
For Victorian elegance mingled with 21st-century innovations, try a whirlpool clawfoot tub. Popular in many Victorian mansions and bed & breakfast resorts, these unique tubs combine the therapeutic benefits of a jetted whirlpool with European design, delivering a tub that is dually recuperative and retrospective.