The Hidden Costs of a Clawfoot Tub


I’ve always dreamed of soaking in a clawfoot tub, as a warm breeze blows through my open bathroom window. Recently, my fantasy has intensified, and I’ve begun to think more practically.

So how much does a clawfoot tub actually cost? You can buy an acrylic clawfoot for as little as $650 and an antique porcelain-enameled clawfoot for only $300. But don’t be fooled. You also need to take into account hidden costs like hardware, refinishing, moving the tub and possibly adding floor supports to your bathroom.

 

 

Alex Luna, owner of Tubs and Tops, has been refinishing claw foot tubs for 25 years. “When it comes to bathtubs,” he says. “I’ve seen it all.” 

Alex and other industry experts helped me uncover how much a clawfoot tub really costs with everything included. 

Vintage vs Modern Claw Foot Tubs: Two Different Beasts

 

The first thing to understand is that an antique clawfoot tub and a modern clawfoot tub are quite different beasts, even though they look alike.

 

Qualities of an Antique Claw Foot Tub 

 

The antique clawfoot is made from cast iron with baked-on porcelain. It was likely constructed by a blacksmith more than a hundred years ago. It may have been recovered from an old Victorian home, or a Southern plantation.

The antique clawfoot tub will weigh at least 200 pounds without water or a bather in it, and often the weight will exceed 400 pounds. 

The tub’s weight is important for several reasons that impact the cost. Also, impacting cost is the state of the antique tub when you purchase it, and how much work you’ll need to do to refurbish it.

 

 

Qualities of a Modern Clawfoot Tub

 

Usually a modern clawfoot tub will be made from acrylic, though you can sometimes find fiberglass clawfoot tubs as well.

Unlike a cast-iron clawfoot, the acrylic clawfoot will be considerably lighter. This will save money in installation costs because it will require fewer people to carry. It also probably won’t require extra floor supports. 

While its light weight is a positive for the modern acrylic clawfoot, there are some negatives too. For one thing, it’s not the historic antique that many people crave. For another, acrylic is more likely to chip than porcelain. And also, acrylic will not retain heat nearly as well as cast iron.

 

Calculating the All-In Cost of a Cast Iron Clawfoot Tub

 

There are several line items to put in your budget when figuring the all-in cost for a clawfoot tub. Let’s begin by looking at the actual purchase of the tub itself:

 

Cost to Purchase a Cast-Iron Clawfoot Tub

 

You can buy a brand-new, cast-iron clawfoot tub. These typically run $2,000-$5,000, depending on the size and accessories that come with it. You can find these at stores like Home Depot, Lowe’s or Wayfair.

You can also look for a vintage clawfoot. These typically start at $300 and run to $1,500, depending on what kind of shape the tub is in. If you choose to buy an antique clawfoot, be aware that this will most likely be a project, a labor of love.

But think of yourself soaking in the finished product, dreamily looking across the bubbles, and you’ll likely find any motivation you need.

When you inspect a prospective tub, know that a chip on the interior porcelain will be harder to repair than a chip on the exterior. And a rusted hole will increase the price to refinish.

You can look for antique cast-iron clawfoot tubs on sites like Ebay, Craig’s List, LetGo, and OfferUp. You can also check this directory of architectural salvage stores to find one near you. You can buy furniture and parts from demolished or remodeled homes in these stores.

 

Visit Your Prospective Tub In Person

 

Your new clawfoot tub will be a great addition to your life. At least that’s what you hope. It offers to bring romance, charm, and ambiance into your home. But with these kinds of expectations pinned on this single purchase, make sure to do your due diligence.

You’ll want to pay a visit in person to check the condition. A $300 tub might look like a mess in an online photo, but if you wipe it down well it might shine like new. 

On the other hand, you could reveal a tub that needs to be professionally refinished. If so, you’ll need to add refinishing to the cost. Whatever the case, you need to know what you’re facing. 

 

Cost to Move a Clawfoot Tub

 

A tub found nearby your home is much better for another reason. These babies are heavy. You don’t want to pay shipping. You’ll need to lug this thing home, and possibly to a refinishing shop first. 

And don’t think, “Oh! I’m strong. I can handle it.” Installers often send four workers to move a clawfoot, so unless you’re that strong, forget it. 

You’ll want a tub close enough that you can get it into a truck to move. And you’re likely to need a few friends who owe you favors to help you. 

And by the way, the truck is another line item, if that’s something you’ll need to rent to move your cast-iron clawfoot. But it’s possible the person selling you the tub might agree to split that cost, or may even move the clawfoot tub for you.

You can rent a truck from Home Depot for $19 for the first 75 minutes. 

Alternatively, consider posting on the NextDoor app that you’d like someone who has a truck to help you move your tub for a small fee. This way you get the mover and the truck. Name your price. 

When I check NextDoor in my neighborhood, there are high school students with a truck and are willing to help move items for $25-$40 depending on the distance and time required. Not bad.

You could also try apps like Pickup and Burro for help.

 

Cost to Refinish a Clawfoot Tub

 

If I buy a clawfoot tub, I’ll try to buy one that’s already in good shape. But let’s say it does need refinishing. How will I know? Here’s how:

 

  • The interior paint is chipped or scratched.
  • The porcelain is chipped or scratched.
  • The exterior needs sandblasting and repainting.
  • The claw feet have caked-on grunge.

 

Refinishing is also called reglazing, and this process will make the tub look new again.

Alex Luna, the owner of Tubs and Tops, is an expert refinisher. He tells me:

“When a tub been outside and has been rusted for many years, I have to sandblast it. I can fix the exterior and the interior. It will cost more if you have holes rusted through the tub. Those need to be filled in.” 

You can watch the refinishing process here:

 

 

According the video from This Old House, refinishing involves the following steps:

 

  • Apply paint stripper to the exterior.
  • Apply an acid-etch to the interior so the paint will stick better.
  • Clean the claw feet.
  • Use a grinder and filler on any chips.
  • Put three coats of epoxy primer on the interior with a sprayer, brush, or roller.
  • Apply epoxy top-coat to help the primer cure.

 

Refinishing should last at least 10 years. If you buy a DIY bathtub refinishing kit, it will cost $80-$140. 

But unless you are a super crafty person, I’d suggest getting a pro like Alex Luna. He tells me:

“The owner can refinish the outside of a clawfoot tub, but the inside needs to be done with a good product for your skin and with a good technique by professional.”  

In other words, you don’t want brush or roller marks showing on the inside of the tub at the end of all this drama. 

 

Old clawfoot tub before refinishing
This is a vintage tub before refinishing. Used with permission from Alex Luna, Tubs and Tops.

 

refinished bathtub
The same bathtub after refinishing. Used with permission from Alex Luna, Tubs and Tops.

 

Plus, I hate to bring up something so disturbing, but the chemicals used to strip the old coating from the tub can be deadly if you don’t do it right. (And if you do try it yourself, be sure to use proper ventilation and masks.)

Enough said. 

It will cost $400-$800 for refinishing, but knowing the risks you’ll avoid might make this cost easier to bear.

Once your tub is refinished, again you may have to pay to move the tub to your home.  

 

A Word About the Claw Feet

 

Also, if the feet on your bathtub need replacing, you might think it’s not a big deal. A quick search on Ebay shows that you can get a set of replacement feet on Ebay for $50-$125.

But buyer beware!

Alex tells me that replacing the feet is a huge job. Claw feet come in a great variety of sizes and shapes, and they have to match exactly to the particular bathtub in order to fit. 

Alex says that the value of a clawfoot bathtub is all in the feet. He says:

“If the feet look bad, we can refinish them. But if they’re broken it’s hard to fix. There are so many kinds of clawfoot tubs and feet, you need to be really knowledgeable about how they fit into your tub. It can be a crazy, crazy challenge. It’s so much work to replace the feet.”

So when searching for an antique clawfoot tub, if you do see broken feet, you might just want to use your feet to run.

 

The Cost of Preparing the Floor Supports for Your Clawfoot Bathtub

 

As mentioned before, the weight of the cast iron clawfoot bathtub adds all kinds of hidden costs. One is that your floor joists are likely to need extra support. 

Not only will your floor need to support the weight of the tub itself, but also the weight of the water. And the weight of you, the bather.

A post from Hunker.com called “Does a floor need extra support when installing a cast-iron tub?” gives a lot of helpful information.

If your bathroom is on an upper floor, you’d be wise to consult a contractor to be sure it’s even possible to pull off. 

Let me repeat that: Before you get your heart broken–before you’re left with a clawfoot that can’t be installed—talk to a contractor to be sure your clawfoot dreams can be realized. 

Assuming you get the thumbs up, and you decide to add extra support to the floor joists, count on $100-$300 per joist.

 

Hardware and Accessories: What Do These Cost?

 

If you’re buying an antique tub, it very well may not come with any hardware. If this is the case, you’ll need to purchase the following:

 

  • Drain (at the bottom of the tub)
  • Overflow (beneath the faucet, pipe runs down the outside)
  • Clawfoot Tub Filler with Hand Shower – You can get a wall mount filler if your tub is beside a wall or a freestanding filler if it’s in open space, or you just prefer that aesthetic. 

 

Prices vary depending on whether you buy new or used and what finish you prefer. If you purchase new, and you’re using a wall mount filler, you might escape for $200, but can pay up to $4,000 at a custom plumbing supply shop. If you go with a freestanding filler, expect to start at $300.

The salesperson at Facets of Austin recently explained that the price difference in the fillers comes down to quality and design. The cheaper models have plastic cartridges inside and lighter weight faucets. The most expensive models use ceramic cartridges and heavier weight hardware. These will last much longer.

Just keep in mind, some of the charm of the clawfoot is the exposed hardware. So these purchases are most definitely part of its beauty.

Learn more about bathtub faucets here.

 

 

Cast Iron Bathtub Installation: How Much Will It Cost?

 

You’ve come this far. The bathtub is gorgeous. The floor is ready for the extra weight. Your home is about to take on an attitude—an elegance—like never before. 

Your bathtub will soon make a statement to the world!

But first there’s more money to pony up for the installation. According to Fixr.com, in the US, the national average cost of installing a cast-iron clawfoot bathtub is $1,100. This includes the plumbing and varies depending on the size of the bathtub.

 

The Overall Cost

 

Here’s my best guesstimation for what I’ll pay:

 

$  500 vintage tub

$  600 refinishing 

$  100 moving costs

$  550 hardware

$1,100 installation

________________ 

$2,850  Total*

 

*This assumes the contractor says I won’t need floor supports. I’m putting my tub on the ground floor, so fingers crossed!

 

clawfoot bathtub
My dream clawfoot in my dream bathroom.

 

 

Yes, I may have spent a bloody fortune in hidden costs. But by that point, I’ll have amassed so much love for my tub with all that labor.

I can’t even begin to contemplate how otherworldly, how incredibly well-deserved, how intensely therapeutic my first soak in restored clawfoot bathtub will feel!

Calculating The All-In Cost of an Acrylic Clawfoot Tub

 

After reviewing how much work it can be to restore an antique clawfoot, the thought of purchasing a modern acrylic clawfoot can sound like pure delight.

In fact, delight is the right word. Because the modern clawfoot is light. And as we’ve established, the lack of weight correlates to lower cost. 

You’ll need fewer workers to carry the tub, it will cost less to ship the tub, and it’s very unlikely you’d need any supports to reinforce the bathroom floor.

Sounds like a relief, right?

Except for the fact that as already discussed, the acrylic clawfoot lacks history, heat retention, and hardiness. But if you’re okay with that, let’s proceed to look at the costs.

This is a much easier case to assess that the clawfoot:

 

Cost to Purchase an Acrylic Clawfoot Tub

 

You can find an acrylic clawfoot tub in almost any bathroom supply store. These start at $700 and can run up to $2,000 depending on the style and features. Then add shipping or moving costs for a truck rental, if necessary. 

Acrylic clawfoot bathtubs typically come with acrylic feet that do not screw in but are permanently affixed to the bathtub basin. However, it’s possible to find an acrylic clawfoot bathtub with more classical accents. 

You might find one with antique bronze imperial feet. And you might consider that the best of both worlds, though you’ll add a chunk of change for the privilege.

But most importantly, notice whether the cost of the faucet is included with the bathtub. Many of the acrylic clawfoot tubs do not include the filling faucet, so that will be an extra. 

By the way, Terin Lewis from Expressions Home Gallery in Austin, Texas recently tipped me off to new trend on the horizon:

 

Trending now is a lot more color, especially with the brand Victoria + Albert. They just announced this painting program where you pick whatever color you can possibly imagine and they paint it for you. I saw an emerald green tub. I have seen a lot of this on Pinterest recently, so I think this is going to be the future.”

 

Don’t be surprised if these cool accents hike the price a bit as well.  

 

Hardware for an Acrylic Clawfoot Tub

 

We’ll assume your acrylic clawfoot is brand new, so no refinishing is required. Some acrylic clawfoot bathtubs come with faucets and drains, but many don’t.

As with the cast-iron clawfoot, you’ll likely need to purchase the following items:

 

  • Drain (at the bottom of the tub)
  • Overflow (beneath the faucet, runs down the outside)
  • Clawfoot Tub Filler with Hand Shower – You can get a wall mount filler if your tub is beside a wall, or a freestanding filler if it’s in open space, or you just prefer that aesthetic. 

 

These items vary wildly in price. You can buy in kits that include all of the items above. Prices for all three items start at $200 and can go up to $4,000.

 

Installation for an Acrylic Clawfoot Tub

 

The national US average cost for installing an acrylic clawfoot bathtub is $500, according to fixr.com. This installation cost is less than the cost of installing a cast-iron tub, because floor supports are not required.

 

The Overall Cost for My Acrylic Clawfoot Tub

 

$1,200 new acrylic clawfoot tub, including delivery

$  550  hardware

$ 500   installation including plumbing

_______________________________

$2,250 Total*

 

*This assumes the contractor says I won’t need floor supports. I’m putting my tub on the ground floor, so fingers crossed!

 

 

Related Questions:

 

What sizes do clawfoot tubs come in?  

The length of a classic roll-top clawfoot tub ranges from 48” to 72”. The top edge of the tub rolls over and is level. If you’d like a clawfoot tub suitable for two bathers, you can look for a 62” double ended tub. This type of tub has the drain in the center or fixed to the wall. Each end is the same. You can also find a 72” double slippered clawfoot bathtub. With the double slippered clawfoot, each end slopes down toward the center.

 

What styles does the clawfoot tub come in?

Clawfoot tubs in a variety of styles, but they are all elevated on claw feet. There is the single slippered tub that has one end sloping down toward the center, and the double slippered tub that has both ends of the tub raised up. The rolltop tub is the classic clawfoot and it has an even surface, but the porcelain layer is rolled over. There is also a dual rolltop clawfoot bathtub. With this tub, both ends are raised to allow for the comfort of two bathers.

 

Shana

Shana Burg is a bath enthusiast, content strategist, and award-winning writer. She is the founder of bathtubber.com.

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