Clawfoot Bathtub History

You’re here because you’re curious about the history of refinishing.

Bathtubs can be made a bunch of different materials, including cast iron, steel, fiberglass, acrylic, copper, and even wood! But clawfoot bathtubs – tubs with “clawed” ball feet – are traditionally made from cast iron.

Why? Cast iron is one of the most durable and enduring materials to make a bathtub. Most cast iron bathtubs have an enamel overlay of porcelain, which makes the inside of the tub nice and smooth. Others are sanded down and finished smooth.

Two companies are famous for making the first enameled cast iron bathtubs: American Standard and Kohler. American Standard, previously known as Standard Manufacturing Company, began making cast iron bathtubs as early as 1875. In 1883, Kohler’s “horse trough/hog scalder” was sold as a bathtub due to the easily-cleaned surface of the porcelain enamel.
The end of World War I brought an enormous construction era which saw nearly every house fitted with a cast iron bathtub. Advances in technology paved the way for steel tubs, then fiberglass and acrylic, which are more commonly used in today’s bathroom. However, we frequently encounter consumers looking for a relic of old and wanting to know about these cool pieces of bathroom furniture.

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