Tub Envy


Tub Envy

Our inspiration – just $2,200 from Signature Hardware. Obviously not the actual one to be used because $2,200.

Alright, we are taking a little time out from our overhaul in the Chestnut Suite to show you our clawfoot tub restoration process. The biggest part of our newest project is the bathroom.  Once two small bathrooms, each with its own shower, our goal was to create one luxurious master bath.  Visualizing the open space proved a bit difficult as we went through a series of floor plans, trying to take the greatest advantage of the existing plumbing.  

Our original plan included a double vanity, oversized shower, and soaking tub.  Once the walls were out, it became clear that we couldn’t fit both a tub and a shower.  The handy Innkeeper mourned his clawfoot tub, but then we realized that while we couldn’t fit a tub and shower, we could tuck a tub into the shower. 

Markings on the bottom of the tub. Supposedly the manufacture date is on there somewhere, but the previous owners told us it was from the 1940’s (close to our Inn construction date) and I can’t see anything resembling that date.

With the room wide open, we decided to turn half of the room into a wet room with a shower head on one side and a tub on the other.  If you’ve been following along at all, you know we are working on a tight budget and luxury items like $2000 tubs are simply not feasible.  But did that stop us?  Not the handy one, at least.

Step one of clawfoot tub restoration: gently invert the 250 pound metal tub and remove any hardware.

One cast iron clawfoot tub in “good” condition. Ahem.

Step two of clawfoot tub restoration: easily unscrew the feet and set aside…

Decapitated feet. Not shown: the twenty minutes, three dead drill bits, hammer, two screwdrivers, one wrench, and can of WD-40 required to remove said feet.

Step three of clawfoot tub restoration: sand away 50-60 years worth of paint.  I probably should have used paint stripper as well – the sander smoothed it out a lot, but you can still see where the layers of paint are, especially at the back where it had heavily chipped.

Sanding the tub. Lead poisoning? I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Step four of clawfoot tub restoration: Coat thoroughly in a rusted metal primer, including the feet.  No particular reason why.

Not sure if this helps prevent rust or just makes it look more evenly rusty.

Step five of clawfoot tub restoration: Spray paint with enamel in your chosen color.

Our goal was a smoky gray, but we started out with an aluminum colored spray paint which made the tub look like…aluminum. One emergency trip to Lowe’s later, and the base color is darkened with the aluminum used for highlights.

Step six of clawfoot tub restoration: Paint the feet and reattach – maybe get some non rusted-out screws to do it.

Er – second emergency trip to Lowe’s later, we actually were able to reattach the feet with non corroded screws.

Step seven of clawfoot tub restoration: Gently flip the 250 pound tub back over to reveal the perfectly beautiful insi-gah!  Okay, maybe not perfectly beautiful.

The interior of the tub was not actually that terrible – mostly dirty. But between the rust stains and the enamel starting to wear at the bottom, we went ahead and re-enameled the whole thing with the same paint on enamel we had used in the other bathrooms.

Step eight of clawfoot tub restoration: Leave it outside forever because there is no way you are dragging that thing down stairs.  Just kidding.  Kind of.

Purposefully dark shot so the final reveal will be more dramatic. Or it was 8:30pm and we were trying to get it covered before every gnat in the region stuck to it. Either one.

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Chef Victor Johnston, Owner of Red Leaf River Inn in Waynesville North Carolina

Thanks for visiting! I’d love to host you during your stay in North Carolina!

– Victor

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