Keep that Old Clawfoot Tub or not?

I have a passion for preservation. One of the main things that drew me to Jacksonville was the fact that it has an abundance of turn of the century homes. Some people like new construction; they want everything in their home to be thoroughly modern and untouched by anyone else, and there are efficiencies over the last hundred years that have made houses and the fixtures that fill them much easier to reproduce and therefore more attainable. Still even in new construction many people choose fixtures with a historic look. But it is also true that some materials are no longer being used because they are either unattainable or prohibitively expensive, and the newer versions sometimes do not measure up to the original in feel or durability. For example, some new homes have architectural features that look great from a distance but on closer inspection are made of styrofoam (polystyrene). As older homes get torn down and replaced with new construction, that original wood and metal will end up as land fill, never to be duplicated. That is why, whenever possible,I try to preserve and reuse original materials in my homes.

Eleven years ago when I moved to Jacksonville starting touring the beautiful historic homes I noticed many of the residents still had the original claw foot tubs in their bathrooms. A clawfoot tub really gives the WOW factor to any bathroom, not to mention they are quite comfortable and take up very little space. So I had to have one. As I researched them I discovered they could cost as much as $3000 new and many were constructed of acrylic or fiberglass, another example of something that may look nice but is not quite the same.

So began my husband and my journey to find a real cast iron version. Our first clawfoot came from the Waldo flea market. We were directed to a gentleman way in the back of the market that was rumored to have a few. He surely did, but the trick was to find four matching feet or claws that were in a salvageable condition, the cost $300.

The next challenge was the reglazing. It’s difficult to find an old clawfoot without a few dings. If you are lucky enough to do so your tub may have a dingy appearance or visible hairline cracks. It’s advisable to turn to a professional for the reglazing process. That’s how we found Tub King on Powers Road in Jacksonville. We recently had them re-glaze the tub for the house we are currently renovating. Not only have they reglazed our tub and its feet but also a vintage sink and it’s pedestal stand. They can match any color you bring in to your decor and they perform this service in a timely, affordable and friendly fashion. If you can’t find a vintage clawfoot they also have a wide variety of new tubs, including walk ins, and can source any fixtures you may need to go with them. We added a color to the base of this tub and our previous ones. Total cost to re-glaze it with the color was under $1000.00 and it looks great!

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Over the years we have rescued 5 tubs so far that we’re slated for disposal and it is truly gratifying to see them installed in a home instead. The really difficult part is hauling them upstairs as my husband can attest to. But even he would agree he wouldn’t have it any other way. Happy hunting!

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