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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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By Alan Knight
It was 1867 in a small mining town called Denver, Colorado. With signs of winter fast approaching, the sun set at 4:30 p.m.and didn’t rise again for nearly 15 hours. With the thought of the long, cold hours that lay ahead, there was only one thing on the miners’ minds — whiskey! The hard-drinking miners knew they didn’t have enough liquid gold to make it through the winter, and this made them grow restless.
Determined not to face the harsh mountain weather without it, they hired a group of Irish Teamsters to transport 40 wagon loads of whiskey through the Colorado plains. To ensure its safe arrival, the US Cavalry was commissioned to escort the load.
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But in 1867, it wasn’t only women that enjoyed the luxury of bathing on the trail. It’s reported that the Bathtubs that existed during the antebellum period before indoor plumbing came into vogue were large but relatively light containers. They were usually hidden away and only pulled out when needed, perfect for on-the-road washing. The typical mid-19th century bathtub was a product of the tinsmith’s craft, commonly made from a shell of sheet copper, or zinc. The use of copper continued into the mid-1900s as a liner for wood-enclosed tubs. Commanders and officers of the US Cavalry also enjoyed some downtime relaxing in traveling tubs.
More commonly, tubs back then were steel-cased. By 1867, tub manufacturers started using cast iron, which had been used for several years for making sinks and toilets. The problem with metal was corrosion. Copper and zinc discolored readily around water and soap, and the seams of sheet metal were hard to keep clean. Iron and steel, of course, rusted eventually, even under the most meticulous coat of paint. Bathtubs made of lead were only found in more progressive homes equipped with early water-heating devices. As running water became more common in the latter 19th century, bathtubs became more prevalent and less portable.
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While some members of the US Calvary and the Temperance ladies were enjoying their high society tubs, the miners most often bathed in horse troughs, if at all. Bathing wasn’t considered a necessity by these hard-working men. In fact, personal hygiene was considered something of a nuisance. Over time, as bathing became more fashionable, more tub manufacturers entered the market and began improving designs. Out with the horse trough and in with cast iron bathtubs with porcelain interiors on “Clawfoot”pedestals. These tubs rose to popularity in the 19th century and remain so today.
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One such design is the Walk-in tub that is perfect for seniors. These bathtubs provide a great safety advantage to handicapped persons or those with limited mobility. Not only are these tubs highly functional, there is also a range of hydrotherapeutic options available. Walk-in tubs are perfect for everyday bathing needs, but importantly, they also provide personal safety and independence wrapped in therapeutic luxury.
Tub King’s cast iron/porcelain Clawfoot and Pedestal tubs as well as our therapeutic Walk-in Our tubs are made to fit in your bathroom. Or, if you want one for your covered wagon, we can hitch you up with that, too.
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If you’d like to receive a FREE Clawfoot Tub Buyers’ Guide, fill out the form below.
Have a question? Feel free to contact me at the number or email listed at the end of this article and my brother, Alan, who heads up Tub King, will personally get back to you. It’s been my pleasure sharing this information with you.
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Alan Knight has many years of experience in the antique and senior bathtub industries. His companies not only provide superior products, they are also multi-award winners, receiving the “Best of Jacksonville Chamber Award” four years running. If you’d like to contact Tub King, call (800) 409-3375 or (800) 843-4231; or send an email to Alan@tubking.com.
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