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Why did they fall out of favor?
in 1883, both the Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Company (now American Standard) and Kohler began the process of enameling cast iron bathtubs to form a smooth interior surface. For a time, only the wealthy could afford the cost of a cast iron bathtub but when they started mass producing the tubs it opened up availability to home owners of lower income levels. Which was great, however, the sheer weight of the tub limited the type of houses the tub could be put in and generally only on the first floor. In many cases, having a properly reinforced floor to accommodate a heavy tub may not have been in a homeowner’s budget or consideration when building or purchasing a home back then. Other materials and lighter weight options eventually began to enter the scene and take over the market. Slowly the beautiful and timeless cast iron bathtub disappeared as an option to purchase “new”.
Why did it take them so long to emerge back in to style?
Actually, the clawfoot tub never really lost its allure to home buyers and remodelers who cherished the look and the period of American history they represent. For many years it was nearly impossible to find a brand new cast iron bathtub and buyers started turning to the secondary market. Availability of new tubs in the U.S.A. was impacted by the amount of lead content in the tubs manufactured at the time as well as the fact that the American National Standard plumbing codes changed. The change in the code essentially prevented vintage cast iron tubs from passing plumbing inspections on new builds and bathroom remodels.
Take a look at the placement of the overflow and faucet holes on a vintage tub.
The revised plumbing codes required the placement of the overflow to be at least on-to-two inches below the rim of the tub, where the incoming waterlines come through the faucet. This is a precaution against a drop in pressure in the water line, such as a break. With the faucet being above the rim the bathwater is prevented from being siphoned out, back through the lines, which would contaminate the fresh water supply. https://law.resource.org/pub/us/code/ibr/iapmo.upc.2009.pdf
In an online article, This Old House states, “For an average cost of $350 to $500-a fraction of the $1,200 to $5,000 expense of a new cast-iron or steel tub installed — refinishers can make an antique fixture look brand new.” This may be applicable to a homeowner who has an existing cast iron tub which requires refinishing to bring it back to life as the owner is not remodeling or building a new home. If the tub is not part of the original structure the story and estimates may prove significantly higher, perhaps even more costly than purchasing a new clawfoot tub and fixtures.
Essentially, an antique cast iron clawfoot tub found on secondary seller sites such as Craigslist would have to be retrofitted to accommodate modern plumbing so as to pass inspections. This would require, not only, a thorough refinishing of the inside and outside of the bathtub but also a significant cost in plugging the existing holes on the face of the vintage tub. Both the plugging of the holes and the refinishing or reglazing of the bathtub results in a tub that is now not original porcelain on the surface. Once a the tub has been refinished or reglazed the owner now has to be concerned with cleaning chemicals and sharp or heavy items which may damage or discolor the new surface. Inevitably the tub will have to be professionally resurfaced much more often than a new porcelain cast iron bathtub.
Here at Tub King, in Jacksonville, Florida, we routinely refinish vintage tubs, farmhouse sinks, and other items. We are also the only approved refinishing/resurfacing trainer in the entire United States for Midwest Chemicals. We have a great love for the antique cast iron tubs and thoroughly understand the allure of wanting to have that “feel” and “look” of the past, which is why we sell brand new cast iron clawfoot and pedestal bathtubs for new home builders and home remodelers. In the end, what you “think” is a higher cost saves money and headaches down the road when deciding whether to purchase a new or buy a vintage tub.
When pricing the purchase of a new tub or considering the expense of retrofitting and refinishing a vintage tub, consider the long term savings of buying brand new and visit http://www.tubking.com or calling us at (800) 409-3375.
by Alan Knight
Bathtubs have been symbolic of the so-called “good life” since the days of antiquity. Nero, the infamous Roman emperor who initiated centuries of Christian persecution, probably had one of the nicest bathtubs of them all. It’s on display at the Vatican Museum. Ricky J. McRoskey, who sometimes writes for the Catholic Business Journal, saw it during a visit to Rome.
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Have a question? Feel free to contact me at the number or email listed at the end of this article and I will personally get back to you. It’s been my pleasure sharing this information with you.
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In addition to cleaning, many homeowners also begin remodeling projects in the spring. After all, ’tis the season for renewal, fresh starts and new beginnings, right? Spring is a great time to reconfigure and re-create and remodeling fits right in.
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There are several popular choices in today’s market such as the elegant porcelain/cast iron Clawfoot or Pedestal soaking tubs. It might be the Slipper Tub design, with its high back that resembles Cinderella’s slipper, or the Dual-ended tub that offers attractive, symmetrical slopes on each end of the tub. The Pedestal tub is also a contemporary favorite as it replaces the Clawfoot designs with a cast iron skirt at the bottom. These cast iron/porcelain tubs all come in various sizes and can easily fill almost any space. The point is, they won’t look like the standard, run-of-the-mill combo fiberglass tub/shower you had before. Far from it. You are adding elegance and making better use of space.
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An alternative approach, one that’s very much in-demand today, is the Safety Suite Shower. Available in different configurations regarding drain orientation (left, center, or right) and numerous colors/patterns, Safety Suite Showers offer a very open design with either a low threshold (usually four inches high) or a zero threshold so you can safely and easily walk or roll right in. This is indispensable if a person is wheelchair bound or has trouble getting into a traditional bathtub. They are extremely attractive with high tile walls and matching floor. There are various options regarding what type of built-in seat one can choose as well (fold-down, molded, etc.) Along with the shower itself, you can also choose various bathroom accessories such as bathroom paper roll, towel rack, and self, all of which are equipped with handsome, yet sturdy safety grab bars. The shower itself includes several strategically placed grab bars as well. Safety Suite Showers come in sizes ranging from 48- to 60-inch lengths, so that they can accommodate any size bathroom.
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Another way to make better use of the space you already have is to consider doing away with the old laminate counter top and drop in sink. Again, if your bathroom is 40 years old, the sink is usually large and takes up way too much space. The counter top is probably a laminate variety that is already showing wear on the edges and maybe some lifting of the laminate from the pressed board underneath. You can take advantage of some beautiful counter top choices now available. Take, for example “natural stone.” There is organic beauty in every stone slab. The variations in each slab are unique and will amaze you. The colors are spectacular. The polished granite is highly stain- and scratch-resistant. Another interesting option, as seen in the photograph to the left, is a combination of stone, granite and wood. Talk about natural beauty.
Since I mentioned the sink, if you have a tiny bathroom, go for a porcelain pedestal sink. There are some slim, silhouettes out there that are perfect for a powder room or diminutive bathrooms. The only drawback is that they offer almost zero storage space and a small deck space. To work around this, many homeowners are creating niches in the wall for toiletries and other necessities. Unlike clunky over-the-shower headorganizers, a recessed cubby in a tub or shower surround gives shampoo and soap a permanent home that doesn’t take up premium stall space.
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If the floor of your bath looks bad, tear up that linoleum and replace it with “no-regret” tile floors. If you want an easy-care floor, go for porcelain or glazed tiles, and avoid porous natural stone tiles such as limestone. Unless sealed it’s been vigilantly, limestone (and other porous stone) will absorb drips and spills and become stained. If you want a non-slip floor, choose tiles with textured surfaces, matte finishes, or sand-containing glazes. Another option would be “small” tiles with lots of grout lines, as these offer better “grip” than the larger tiles.
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If your bathroom is simply too small for any changes except expansion, then consider the following: In most cases, the homeowner is not going to be happy with anything smaller than a bath that is 3 to 4 feet wide by 6 to 8 feet long. (Make sure to check with local codes for additional requirements.) Some homeowners have found that by just taking out an adjoining closet, they can garner precious space without really changing the footprint of the house. But if you must expand, contact a remodeling expert who can give you some viable options. If your lot is large enough, the contractor might be able to add a bathroom without interfering with any property lines or set-backs. It’s important that he keeps the natural flow and design of your home. Look at the roof style that you have in your home. Can a gable be extended? As you might expect, “expansion” remodeling is not cheap. Just like new construction, it will require several sub-contractors, such as framing, floor covering, sheet rock, plumbing and electrical. Ask for referrals, shop around and get several estimates, and then decide what you can live with. Establish a budget that you can afford before you ever begin.
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Mention the initials “CDC” in a conversation today, and most people are well aware about what organization Especially in light of the ongoing concern and news articles pertaining to Ebola, the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has virtually become a household acronym.
you’re referring to. According to its charter:
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- Falls – Older Adults
- Falls – Children
- Prescription Drug Overdose
- Concussion in Sports
- Water-Related Injuries
- Playground Injuries
- Bicycle-Related Injuries
- Dog Bites
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The reported stated there were 21.8 million persons over the age of 15 who sustained a nonfatal, unintentional injury from falling. Significantly, the fiduciary costs of these accidents totaled over $67 billion in lifetime medical costs.
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According to the report, injuries sustained by elderly women were a whopping 72% higher than the rate for men. “Studies consistently have shown that women are at higher risk than men for falling and for sustaining fall-related injuries. This difference might be related to gender differences in physical activity, lower-body strength, bone mass, circumstances surrounding the fall, or greater willingness to seek medical treatment.”
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Guess what activities contributed to the large number of falls? Bathing, showering, or getting in and out of the tub or shower. (The other area was from standing up or sitting down or using the toilet.) The two areas of the bathroom where most falls occurred were “in or around the tub or shower (65.8 per 100,000) and injuries that happened on or near the toilet (22.5 per 100,000).”
Additional Findings & Recommendations
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The CDC report made special mention of the fact that according to the Home Safety Council‘s 2004 report, “The State of Home Safety in America,” 63% of U.S. homes used bathtub mats or nonskid strips to help reduce bathtub falls. However, less than 20% of private homes had grab bars. (The report noted that assisted-living facilities and nursing homes were more likely to have them, however.) The authors emphasized “adding grab bars both inside and outside the tub or shower might help prevent bathroom injuries to all household residents.”
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The report also recommends a medication review by a senior’s healthcare provider. Many drugs in and of
themselves can cause dizziness. In combination with other prescriptions ― which is often the case with the elderly ― the side effects that can make seniors more susceptible to falls can be dangerously amplified. The authors of the report also highly recommend that all adults, and in particular older adults, their families and their caregivers need to become aware of how certain activities in the bathroom can result in more frequent injuries “notably getting out of tubs and showers and getting on and off toilets.”
A Personal Concern
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Our Walk-in Tub offers several safety features that are specifically designed to eliminate the risk of falling. You can read more in-depth information about each of these features in some of our previous blogs such as “Is Your Bathroom a Safe Haven or a Minefield?” “How to Avoid Needing a Senior Nursing Home?” “The Dangers of Bathrooms – Falling is a Family Matter,” but to especially highlight several of Walk-in Tubs’ “user-friendly” design elements:
- Low Threshold, watertight door/High Sides
- Nonslip surfaces, especially its ADA-compliant seat
- Strategically placed interior grab bar
- Ergonomically placed controls (temperature, handheld shower wand, hydrotherapy controls)
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But that’s not all. You can also enhance the safety of the bathroom environment by adding matching grab-bar outfitted accessories such as towel racks, and toilet paper handles. (For more information, see our previous blog, “What’s New in Showers? Sophistication Today, Safety Tomorrow.”)
Alan and Kerry Knight are the owners of Tub King, Inc., and SeniorBathtub.com in Jacksonville, Florida. Together they have many years of experience in the antique and senior bathtub industries. Their companies not only provide superior products, they are also award winners, receiving the “Best of Jacksonville Chamber Award” three years running. If you would like to contact them, call (800) 409-3375 or (800) 843-4231; or email them at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.