Turn my tiny bathroom into a spa--with a new bathtub.
August 21, 2013 3:58 PM   Subscribe

My existing claw foot tub doesn't fill deep enough. I would like to replace it with a deep soaking tub, of course for the best value possible. Give me your ideas please.

The existing claw foot tub came with the house and has the faucet drilled in, and the over flow underneath that, so it doesn't really fill up. This makes bathing in it a cold, uncomfortable experience. I think--and the plumber agrees with me--that the easiest way to fix this is replace the tub with something deeper.

First question: How deep should I be looking for? Ideally, it's deep enough that I can easily put my shoulders in the water and keep them there, but I don't have to. I don't want to drown in the tub, but too much depth is better than too little, since I don't HAVE to fill up the tub. I'm 5'2", my partner is 5'10".

Second question: Are there keywords I should be looking for? I've tried "soaking" tub, but that doesn't really yield interesting results. "Japanese tub" does, but seems too limited.

Most important question: Which bath tub should we get? My bathroom is on the small side, and the only one in the house. The existing bathtub is a standard 5' claw foot tub, with a little bit of room in each dimension. It comes with a ceiling and tub mounted rectangular shower curtain rod, shower head and faucet combination. The tub has to double as a shower. (We are used to the slight cramping with the existing claw foot tub, but wouldn't be comfortable with a much smaller base.) Or we can maybe try to squeeze in a shower stall too? (That seems unlikely unless it's a shower stall with a tub in it.) We like to shower and bathe together if possible, so ideally it fits two people.

The bathroom has other problems we'd like to eventually fix, but not now, so something that can be a drop-in, long lasting replacement would be best. (I've been looking at freestanding ones for this reason.) For example, we don't want to tile the wall or retile the floor right now, but probably will in the next 5-10 years. (Other things I'd like including moving the sink and toilet to different arrangement, adding a heated floor, adding a window, etc. Basically, none of these are urgent.)

If you've had a wonderful personal experience with a specific tub, I would love to hear it. Or a strong dis-recommendation would be helpful as well. Or even just a good starting place other than lowes.com or homedepot.com.

It doesn't have to be a specific style. We do not have mobility issues (though if there's a way to not have to use a curtain for ALL 360 degrees around the tub, that would be fantastic). I'm willing to buy used or new or antique, but was hoping to keep everything under $2k (installation included). But I'm also willing to go above that if there's something truly fantastic that I'd want to take with me to a different house. I'm willing to wait (maybe for something custom ordered? or for something unique to show up on the second hand market), though having a nice tub installed by winter would be lovely. Lastly, I'm open to out of the box ideas that aren't strictly "here's the bathtub to replace it with."
posted by ethidda to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
So I bought a clawfoot bathtub once. I would suggest looking at smaller plumbing stores that specialize in them. I assume you're in a semi-big city with an older house. But the big box stores have terrible selection of tubs like this. I dunno where you are so I can't give you a specific recommendation, but look for smaller, older stores that specialize.
posted by GuyZero at 4:13 PM on August 21, 2013

This is not a direct answer, but I have one of these doohickeys, which covers up the overflow drain (but has a hole on the top so it's not totally blocked) that adds multiple usable inches of depth to a tub. It is fantastic. Maybe it would help to have one of those while you search for the dream tub? (You might have to trim a bit to fit it under the faucet if it's very tight.)
posted by sldownard at 4:13 PM on August 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

I have coveted tubs aplenty from Signature Hardware. Never bought one (yet) so I can't speak to the service, quality, etc., but they have a LOT of options at reasonable prices.
posted by slenderloris at 5:06 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I don't know about your budget, but I am also in the market for a deep soaking tub and am looking at the Neptunes.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:29 PM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I was just tub-shopping yesterday! Honestly, the most helpful thing I can suggest is to go to a plumbing supply showroom (I went to Ferguson, I think they are national although I'm not sure) and sit in the tubs they have out in the showroom. As I understand it, you can't try out tubs in HD or Lowes anyway, so you want to go a step up to a place with a showroom.

I also have a TINY bathroom (5 feet by 8 feet total) and desperately wanted a tub that would be comfortable for baths, which is no small thing when I'm 5'11". I was looking for a tub that would fit in a 3-wall alcove space, definitely different from what you need, but they had all sorts of different tubs in the showroom. I ended up going with the Mirabelle Edenton, which was a tub I hadn't even heard of before seeing it in the showroom. It's crazy-deep (16.5 inches before it hits the overflow!) and the nearly vertical sloped sides means that it feels very roomy inside and also like it will work well as a shower. Of course, since I'm really tall I'm not too concerned with stepping over the side, but that might be an issue for you--one more reason that it's useful to try some out in person.
posted by iminurmefi at 5:33 PM on August 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

An alternative solution would be to remove the overflow entirely and seal the opening.

I'm sure your plumber would prefer a more expensive solution though.

If you remove your current tub, some old clawfoot bathtubs are basically collector's items. You may want to sell it yourself. I wouldn't rely on the plumber to tell you if it has any resale value -- the plumber probably knows, but would rather you see disposing of your old tub as a troublesome thing you will be paying to have hauled away.
posted by yohko at 6:04 PM on August 21, 2013

Response by poster: sldownard: I had one, but it failed after several uses (wouldn't stick). So I'm looking for a more permanent solution.

slenderloris: I bought my shower curtain from Signature Hardware and was quite disappointed. I actually emailed their customer service and they did nothing about it. I'm not sure I'd buy a whole tub from that site.

fingersandtoes: I'd been looking at those too! They're slightly more expensive than I'd like. (Or rather, at that price point, I want them to be perfect.) So I haven't purchased on yet.

iminurmefi: I will definitely check out the one in my neighborhood!

yohko: The plumber actually did suggest that, but also mentioned it's not up to code. I have personal been saved by the overflow multiple times in previous bathrooms, due to my own forgetfulness, so I'd rather not do that. Yes, we will sell the claw foot tub ourselves, though I don't think it's worth much. (The whole house was remodeled several years ago, before we bought it.)
posted by ethidda at 6:21 PM on August 21, 2013

I got a deepish tub at ReStore. I'm kind of sorry I didn't shop harder for an old clawfoot tub. I like the height. You could wait until you're in the tub to cover the overflow outlet. When I had my tub installed, I asked the builder to insulate the tub. He used some of the old foam carpet underlayment, and my tub stays nice and warm once it gets warm.
posted by theora55 at 8:10 PM on August 21, 2013

Best value possible? Hard to beat $7.
posted by flabdablet at 11:32 PM on August 21, 2013

If you decide on replacement, be sure to include the price of removing the old tub.
posted by Cranberry at 1:33 AM on August 22, 2013

Crazy coincidence - I'm shopping for a deep soaking tub myself. Check out American Standard's Evolution line and Kohler's Greek. You might also look at the Ofulo.
posted by ReginaHart at 6:29 AM on August 22, 2013

Response by poster: The Neptune Ruby looks gorgeous (just from the internet) and has "air" options that make super expensive but basically the equivalent of a tiny hot tub. So I'm certainly considering that.

I will also be visiting the local Ferguson showroom tomorrow morning.
posted by ethidda at 3:21 PM on August 22, 2013

Response by poster: I visited the Ferguson showroom (and another company's) but they did not have a lot of information. It was nice to see some other bath tubs in person, but they ended up just sending me home with a bunch of catalogs (some of them without dimensions).
posted by ethidda at 11:14 AM on September 20, 2013

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