How To Restore a Cast Iron Bathtub
There is nothing quite like a long soak in a cast iron bathtub. They hold in the warmth of your bathwater and have the perfect angle for your back and just the right height for your arms to rest comfortably. The legs add to the overall design and create lightness.
My cast iron bathtub had been painted many times with whatever type of paint was available and handy…sometimes latex, sometimes oil, sometimes unknown. After disconnecting all of the plumbing, it was moved into the adjacent bedroom and turned upside down and placed on the old stiff bulky shower curtain.
The four claw feet were removed carefully. Rust and coats of paint had fused them to the tub. Although it was possible to purchase replacement feet if needed in a different style, it was important to preserve them since only the bathtub and the sink remained from the original structure.
I used chemical stripper and metal scrapers to remove the layers of paint. By having the bathtub upside down, almost everything collected in the upturned rim. It was a messy job that took many applications of chemical stripper and lots of scraping due to the different types of paint used.
My original intent had been to remove the paint to even out the surface before repainting it in the color of my choice; however my plan changed when reaching bare metal. The process of removing the paint and scraping had revealed a really great color and texture, a unique patina.
When I was pleased with the overall look of the tub’s exterior, I used a product call “Rust Converter” to convert any rust spots to an inert black compound and to seal the surface from moisture that would have caused additional rust. Two coats was all that was needed.
The dark brown-black colors and slightly rough texture revealed in restoration became key in selecting everything else in the bathroom including paint, tile, towels and decorative accents. Even with some scratches and dings, the white enamel surface was left untouched without any renovation to avoid a modern plasticized look.
New nickel fixtures and ceramic coasters completed everything needed for the bathtub. The thick art books are helping to support it while preventing it from sliding. Because the claw feet are no longer fused to the bathtub, they can slip off if there is too much movement getting in or out.
This photograph was taken June 2013. The brown-black color is actually darker than shown here in this close up view.