How to Restore a Clawfoot Tub and Add a Shower
LESLIE: Caitlin in Iowa is on the line and needs some help restoring an old bath. Tell us what’s going on.
CAITLIN: Hi. My husband and I moved into our 1917 farmhouse about a year ago. And our main bathroom only has a clawfoot tub and we would like a shower in it. So I was wondering if you had any tips on restoring the clawfoot tub and installing a shower kit.
TOM: So, you want to keep the tub, right? You don’t want to put a separate shower. You just want to basically plumb up a showerhead into that, correct?
TOM: Since it’s a clawfoot tub, if you disconnect the plumbing, then you can get that out of the house. Because the best way to refinish that or resurface that is to send it out to a company that does that. Because if you do it in the house itself, they can come in with acids and they can etch the old finish and they can add a new finish and then they can bring in heat lights and bake it on. But I’ve found that it doesn’t work nearly as well as basically sending it out to a place that’s set up to re-enamel a tub. And then you’re going to have one that really lasts for the long haul.
And after that, installing a shower kit to that is pretty much a plumbing project. Lots of places, like Restoration Hardware, have kits or you can find them online. Or you could basically plumb up the pipe that comes up and then arcs over for the showerhead. And you need a circular shower curtain – shower bar above it for a curtain – and all that’s easy. But the hard part is getting the tub re-enameled.
CAITLIN: OK. And how costly is re-enameling a tub?
TOM: It’s probably not as expensive as buying a new tub and it’s going to last indefinitely.
CAITLIN: OK. Well, thank you for your advice.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.