The phrase “Classic and trendy” is not contradictory when used about cast iron bathtubs. A cast iron bathtub can be the perfect addition to your bathroom décor.
Cast iron bathtubs have been a fixture in homes since the late 1800s and remain popular due to their ability to retain heat, resistance to chipping, durability, and classic design. They require minimal upkeep, are a long-lasting investment, and add value to any property.
However, there is a drawback to cast iron bathtubs; they are more expensive than other materials and are incredibly heavy.
If you are considering installing a cast iron bathtub, here are some things you should know about cast iron bathtub weight and whether cast iron bathtubs are the best option for you.
In the 1880s, David Buick created a process of bonding porcelain enamel to cast iron, a sturdy iron-carbon alloy that can be cast into various shapes due to its low melting point.
Cast iron bathtubs are made by coating porcelain fused with iron with enamel to prevent chipping, resulting in a highly durable and chip-resistant bathtub. Its iron composition also makes it resistant to scratches and heavy impacts.
Furthermore, because cast iron is a natural heat absorber, this bathtub can hold water temperature for a more extended period, providing a lasting bathing experience.
Although early cast iron bathtubs were clawfoot and freestanding, today’s cast iron tubs come in various shapes and installations. These tubs are sturdy and heavy, often outlasting other features in old homes.
- Has a classic and timeless appearance.
- Highly durable and long-lasting.
- Requires minimal maintenance.
- Resistant to chipping and scratching
- Offers various color options.
- It can be refinished, refurbished, and painted to rejuvenate its appearance.
- Retains heat for a more extended period, providing a comfortable bath experience.
- Extremely heavy, requiring additional support during installation.
- Comes at a high cost compared to other bathtub materials.
- The enamel coating may crack or chip, leading to rusting, but the enamel is usually thicker to prevent this issue.
The weight of an empty cast iron tub can range from 240 to 500 pounds depending on the size, shape, and thickness of the cast iron.
When filled with water, the total weight of the tub can be significantly higher. Here are some types of cast iron bathtubs and their weights:
A clawfoot cast iron tub typically measures 50-72″ in length and 27-32″ in width and can weigh between 250 and 500 pounds without water. Once filled with water, the weight can reach 700-1000 pounds, making it a stable choice that won’t shift or move around during use.
An alcove cast iron tub, which has a rectangular shape, typically weighs around 300 pounds for a 60-inch size. Once filled with water, the weight can increase by 200-300 pounds, resulting in a total weight of 500-600 pounds. These tubs are great for retaining heat and are a classic design that will always stay in style.
A petite freestanding cast iron tub weighs about 250-300 pounds without water and can hold almost 32 gallons. Once filled with water, the weight can increase to around 450-550 pounds.
These tubs are easy to clean, come with an overflow drain, and can be used in any room of the house, including outside.
The weight of a cast iron bathtub can be a complex issue because it’s not just the weight of the empty tub that matters but also the weight of the water it holds.
To determine the total weight of the bathtub, you need to consider its water-holding capacity and its empty weight. One gallon of water weighs approximately 8.32 pounds, so a standard 32-gallon bathtub can weigh about 267 pounds when filled with water.
For example, a freestanding cast iron bathtub that is 32 inches can weigh around 320 pounds when empty. With water, its actual weight can reach 587 pounds.
Therefore, it’s important to consider the weight of a cast iron bathtub with water before installing it in your bathroom, as it could damage your bathroom floor and be costly to repair.
To properly install a cast iron bathtub, it’s important to determine the load capacity of the bathroom floor. With this knowledge, you may avoid damaging the floor.
Fortunately, home building and interior design experts have provided useful recommendations for this purpose.
Generally, a concrete floor can easily support the weight of an average bathtub, making it a suitable foundation for any cast iron bathtub.
However, choosing a moderate-weight cast iron tub is best if your bathroom floor is made of wood. This also applies to upstairs bathroom installations.
It’s important to follow building codes regarding floor load capacity. Bathroom floors typically support 40 square feet per foot (SPF).
You should measure your bathroom floor space and calculate the load capacity to determine if it can handle the weight of the cast iron tub, considering the weight of other bathroom fixtures like the toilet and basin.
For example, if your bathroom floor space is 75 square feet, its load capacity would be around 3000 pounds. Installing the heaviest cast iron tub possible may be tempting, but a moderate-weight option is always the best practice, even for a strong concrete floor. This helps to prevent any potential damage to the bathroom floor.
Cast iron bathtubs are known for their low maintenance requirements. For daily cleaning, it is recommended to rinse and wipe the tub after each use to prevent soap buildup, using a damp cloth followed by a dry one.
Additionally, make sure the faucet is not dripping to avoid rust buildup. For regular cleaning, fill the tub with warm water and dishwashing liquid, soak for 30 minutes, then drain and wipe with a soft cloth. You can use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser or a similar product to remove everyday dirt.
For tougher marks and stains, sprinkle baking soda on the tub’s interior and a soft sponge, then pour vinegar over it and scrub with the non-abrasive side of the sponge. Rinse thoroughly and dry with a soft cloth.
You can also use stain-removal products specifically designed for cast iron tubs, such as Kohler’s cast iron cleaner, to remove stubborn marks.
Avoid using abrasive cleaning agents or materials, acidic formulas, and excessive scrubbing, as they can damage the tub’s surface.
If you have a genuine vintage cast iron tub in your home or local antique store, refinishing it can bring it back to its former glory and make it a standout feature in your modern home!
For tubs that only need a little sprucing up, a thorough cleaning and a fresh coat of paint might be all that’s required. Begin by thoroughly cleaning the exterior, then apply a latex primer with a foam roller.
Once dry, apply at least two coats of exterior-grade satin or semi-gloss latex paint and allow it to dry completely.
Hiring a professional is best for more extensive refinishing, such as reglazing or re-enameling, rather than attempting it as a DIY project. The interior will require repeated sanding and specialized products to achieve a smooth, long-lasting finish.
Some tubs may even be refired for a completely new porcelain finish. Although professional refinishing may cost several hundred dollars, it’s often more cost-effective than purchasing a new tub. Plus, you’ll be satisfied with rescuing a beautiful tub from an end.
The cast iron freestanding tub is the most sought-after style due to its timeless and sophisticated appearance, especially when adorned with feet.
However, other alternatives allow you to enjoy the benefits of cast iron without the space restrictions of a freestanding tub.
One such option is the drop-in cast iron tub. While clawfoot cast iron tubs are the classic vintage tubs, you may find a cast iron pedestal tub more to your liking.
The most popular shapes of cast iron tubs include oval, rectangular, and slipper-shaped (with raised and sloped ends for comfortable reclining). Many traditional cast iron tubs also feature a rolled rim, which adds an extra element of visual interest.
One of the great advantages of cast iron is that it can be finished and covered in almost any color or material, providing an array of attractive options such as mirrored stainless steel, custom colors, copper, and more.
If you come across an old cast iron bathtub that needs some improvement, painting it might be a viable option, especially given its durability and longevity.
Nevertheless, it’s crucial to adhere to the appropriate procedures and use the appropriate type of paint, particularly if the surface has worn out or faded.
If you choose to undertake the task yourself, WikiHow provides an excellent starting point with its step-by-step guide. However, if you need help with the process, it’s always possible to enlist the services of a professional painter.
Cast iron’s high cost is a significant drawback. It’s one of the priciest bathtub materials available, but its sturdiness makes it a wise investment that can last for years, if not decades.
Cast iron tubs generally range in price from $500 to $2,000, with numerous outliers on both ends. While smaller models can be obtained for around $300 to $400, they need more size and features of higher-end models, which include convenient installation and minor safety features such as steps and handholds.
It’s worth noting that installation expenses are not included in these prices, and it’s highly recommended that you seek additional assistance for your safety when installing this bathtub type. Despite the high price tag, the many benefits of cast iron make it a reasonable choice for many.
Each manufacturer of bathtubs provides unique benefits and features. Barclay offers cast iron tubs with timeless shapes and sophisticated color options, epitomizing the concept of “classic.” Cheviot provides traditional and contemporary cast iron bathtub styles, drop-in configurations, and custom exterior color options.
Elite Bath tubs provide the ultimate luxury with limited-edition finishes and embellishments. Herbeau cast iron tubs offer vintage-inspired designs, which provide the charm of old-world fixtures with the benefits of modern amenities.
Lefroy Brooks offers extra length and a smooth, contemporary style. For those who want to make a bold statement, Slik Portfolio’s cast iron tubs are finished in elegant metallic coatings, which enhance their visual appeal.
Disposing of a cast iron bathtub is more complex than leaving it on the roadside for your recycling company to collect. However, you have several alternatives if you need to eliminate them.
If the tub is in poor condition, taking it to a scrapyard is one option. According to FirstQuarterFinance.com, the average scrap value for cast iron is roughly $0.09 per pound. If the tub is in good condition, it’s preferable to try selling it on Craigslist, eBay, or Facebook.
If none of these alternatives appeal to you, you can schedule an appointment for 1-800-JUNK to come and collect it, although they will charge you a fee. However, they will enter and remove your bathroom, sparing you the trouble of attempting to move it out of your home.
If you need to remove a cast iron bathtub during a bathroom renovation, you can break it into pieces with a sledgehammer.
Although the enamel coating on cast iron bathtubs is highly resistant to chipping, it can still chip if something heavy or sharp falls onto it. Luckily, chips can be easily fixed with inexpensive products like Magic Porcelain 2-Part Epoxy Chip Fix.
Cast iron bathtubs are available at kitchen and bathroom supply stores, home improvement stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s, and online on websites like Amazon.
If you purchase a cast iron bathtub from Home Depot, they offer professional installation services as an additional service. However, if you buy a bathtub elsewhere, you must hire a local plumber for installation. Installation costs range from $1,000 to $4,500 depending on your location, the type of bathtub, and the necessary modifications. You can obtain quotes from plumbers in your area for free on HomeAdvisor.com.
The most popular sizes for cast iron bathtubs are 66 and 72 inches, but if you have a smaller space, you can also find them in 60 inches.
These versatile sizes can be either freestanding or drop-in style, providing flexibility in installation and space. The length also ensures that a person can remain fully submerged during a long bath without their knees sticking out.
In summary, the weight of a cast iron tub is significantly heavier than that of other bathtub materials, with an average weight of 300 to 500 pounds.
This weight can make installation challenging, and homeowners should consider their bathroom’s structural strength before purchasing a cast iron tub. Despite this challenge, many still choose cast iron bathtubs for their durability, longevity, and classic style.
Homeowners can enjoy the benefits of a cast iron tub for years by working with a professional installer and ensuring proper support.