I recently heard from a woman with a 20” bottom. That’s right. We didn’t know each other at all, but she disclosed the relevant measurement because it was central to her dilemma: She was desperately searching for a cast iron soaking tub that she could comfortably fit in. Could I help?
Finding an extra-wide cast iron soaking tub is difficult. While a standard cast iron tub might be 68” by 30”, this is a measure of the exterior length and width. The interior width for this bathtub could easily narrow to only 18”- 20” if measuring across the bottom of the bathtub.
Here is the original missive:
Question for you. We’re building a new house and I plan on a new cast iron tub in the basement bathroom, on a concrete floor. In the world of cast iron tubs, I’m finding most are between 15″-18″ as the seating area at the bottom of the tub. For a woman with a 20″ bottom and possible 2 person tub experiences in my future, it seems as though a large wider tub is nonexistent. Kinda frustrated! Any ideas on how to find a wide cast iron tub that is comfortable?
The Search Begins
In subsequent messages, I learned that for the past 20 years Comfort Seeker worked hard but lived in a house (because who could call it a “home”) without a bathtub. She said she charged her husband a $1/day no-tub-fee for the duration. And now, at last, they were going to move to a much larger (and more tub-worthy) farmhouse property nearby. At last, she would have a tub—and a home!
Originally, Comfort Seeker was ecstatic to cash in on her bathtub dreams of soaking in a cast iron. But when she went to search for this bathtub she’d fantasized about for decades, it didn’t exist. Or she couldn’t find it. Or the world really was losing its way! Needless to say, the quest of Comfort Seeker had tugged at my heartstrings.
The Extra Wide Cast Iron Soaking Tub
If you’re looking for an extra-wide cast iron soaking tub, you probably aren’t thinking about the exterior width as much as the interior width. Perhaps, like Comfort Seeker, you too could use a little extra wiggle room for comfort. (And would it be too much to ask for a lot of extra room so that romance could ensue?)
I mean, the average woman in the US weighs 170 and wears pants size 18-20. The cast-iron clawfoot with an average 15″-18” interior width is just not going to cut it for most American women.
If you want an extra wide cast iron soaking tub, do you envision a clawfoot tub or a pedestal tub? And if you dream of a clawfoot (and who doesn’t?), did you want vintage or new?
Let’s be real: the clawfoot took off in the 1800s in Europe. Even though corsets were all the rage at the time, now we know why those women wore such humungous tulle gowns on the bottom! So how did they fit in an 18” interior width clawfoot?
I can only conclude “snugly.”
Used to stuffing themselves into their undergarments, it probably didn’t seem too far of a leap (or a stuff) for the Victorian lady to wiggle into the bathtub in a similar fashion.
I haven’t heard about extra wide vintage clawfoot tubs that are true antiques. But if you know of one, please let me know!
Okay, so obviously if you’re thinking a true antique clawfoot, your options in terms of width are going to be severely limited. But if you’re purchasing a newly made clawfoot tub, then you’ve got some—but not a lot—more possibilities in terms of interior width.
This is where I began my search for Comfort Seeker. How could a woman who had worked hard all her life be prevented from realizing her soaking tub dreams simply because of a few inches around the derriere? I know that the world seems shaky of late, but this injustice put things in a whole other (and more terrifying) perspective.
So I called around to some of the bigger clawfoot brands, because when I check the specs online, I rarely find the interior width for the tubs listed. Though many manufacturers don’t offer any options that fit the bill, I do find a few.
When Comfort Seeker said she was looking for an “extra-wide cast iron soaking tub,” she hadn’t specified “clawfoot” or “pedestal,” though I was sure she meant clawfoot, only because that’s how I picture myself in a rural farmhouse, with the warm breeze blowing through the open window, and me in the cast iron clawfoot, wiping sweat from my brow, as I sip iced lemonade.
But just to hedge my bets, I turned up one French Bateau cast iron pedestal tub with an extra-wide interior. Because if you’re not going to go romantic Victorian in a clawfoot, then by all means, the next best thing is romantic French!
Why Choose Cast Iron?
You might be wondering why Comfort Seeker was so fixated on cast iron. Again, I assumed.
And what I assumed is that she knows that cast iron is the best heat retaining bathtub material, bar none. That said, if Comfort Seeker was going to invest in a soaking tub, she definitely didn’t want the water to turn frigid just as she was reaching Nirvana.
On the plus side, a cast iron tub is extremely durable and isn’t prone to chipping. Something else you might like about cast iron is that it tends to fill up rather quietly. On the downside, a standard-sized cast iron tub can weigh 350-500 pounds empty. And an extra-wide cast iron tub will weigh more than a standard tub both empty and full.
This can require you to install floor-supports in your bathroom, especially if you’re placing the tub on an upper level or deck. For more about floor supports, read The Hidden Costs of a Clawfoot Tub.
Rare Gems: My Picks for Extra Wide Cast Iron Soakers
Without further ado, these are the bathtubs that seem ready to embrace Comfort Seeker in the soak of her life—though not too tightly, of course. I sent my correspondent this list of tubs in the hope of fulfilling her cast iron soaking tub dreams:
Coming in first place, this cast iron clawfoot has a 25-inch interior width. Any woman with a 20” bottom could easily swim in this thing! The exterior measures 66” x 36”. The exterior is iron black and the interior is white (though also available in almond, dune and biscuit colors) Needless to say, it’s quite the stunner.
Made from 80% recycled materials, you can soak with peace of mind. Also, you can add BubbleMassage Hydrotherapy to this tub.
This bathtub is the same price direct from the dealer as from Amazon, and if you have Amazon Prime, you’ll get free shipping.
The next tub I presented was not quite as roomy but still, Comfort Seeker would certainly fit. Plus it’s a good deal cheaper than my first selection. It has a pure white finish inside and out, and is double-ended, so feel free to rest in either direction. The exterior is 65” x 35.5”, while the porcelain interior width is 21.5”.
Choose from chrome, brushed nickel, or oil rubbed bronze lion’s paw feet to match the accents of your bathroom.
This soaker is porcelain enamel on the outside with a painted metal skirt. It measures 67 3/8″ L x 32″ W with an interior width of 22”. The metal skirt provides old-world charm. This tub weighs 504 pounds empty and can hold 55 gallons of steaming glory and cure whatever ails you.
Expert Advice About Extra Wide Bathtubs
If you’re getting an extra-wide tub so that you’ll be more comfortable, there are a few considerations you’ll need to make.
Measure Doorways and Hallways
First, remember to measure your doorways and hallways. What could be worse than finally getting the tub of your dream, only to have to leave it on the front porch all winter long as you consider moving to a new home where it can actually make it all the way inside!
Leave Room to Maneuver
Second, assuming your extra-wide cast iron soaker makes it into the bathroom, be sure you have enough space to maneuver. Bathtubber contributor and bathroom designer Kathleen Stacy Finley has quite a bit of advice on this topic. (Mind you, Kathleen also used to be an architect.) She says:
“If you have a bathtub alcove that’s perfectly big enough for a standard tub, it may be that the space was designed specifically for a standard tub. If you put an extra-wide tub in that alcove space, you won’t have enough room to move around comfortably.”
Okay, fair enough. I wouldn’t want an extra-wide tub, if it meant I’d constantly bang my elbow on the vanity corner as I moved around it.
Create an Empty Circle with a 3-Foot Diameter
Kathleen tells me that in terms of positioning fixtures like bathtubs, a good rule of thumb is this: You should be able to draw a circle in the center of the bathroom with a 3-foot diameter without hitting anything.
Beyond just being a good rule of thumb, in some places in the US, local building code requires it. “Thishas to do with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). You should be able to maneuver a wheelchair in your bathroom. Even in your own private home, you want to be accessible,” Kathleen explains. She says:
“If you’re doing a certain amount of square footage or spending a certain amount of money, then you may need to have a city inspector come out to be sure you’re doing everything correctly, and that’s one thing they may check. See your local bathroom code for details.”
The Final Verdict on an Extra Wide Tub
In the end (no pun intended), Comfort Seeker was delighted to learn about her extra wide cast iron tub options. And while she’s currently debating between them, she also has had time to do a bit of math.
To her astonishment and delight, she realized that her $1/day no-tub-fee that she charged her husband over the past 20 years will actually allow her to purchase two soaking bathtubs for her new home—not just one!
She excitedly tells me that she purchased the Kohler Veil tub. This tub is not cast iron but made from a lightweight cast resin material. She wrote:
“Love the lighter weight, teardrop shape that doesn’t squish the shoulders together. It will sit under a double casement window. Our nearest neighbor is a mile away, so look forward to many good soaks with a view.”
Ahh! I always love it when a lifetime of hard work pays off in not one, but two soaker tubs. (And the heart-shaped Kohler Veil can certainly fit the husband, too.) Way to go, Comfort Seeker!
Recoup the Cost of Your Extra Wide Tub
An extra-wide cast iron soaking tub isn’t cheap. But if you’re in the midst of a bathroom remodel, you have ample opportunity to recoup the cost of an extra-wide cast iron soaking tub by using a few designer tips and tricks. Want to know what they are? Fill out the form just below and I’ll send you my cheat sheet with designer secrets for how to save BIG on your bathroom remodel. Then use your savings on the extra-wide cast iron tub of your dreams!