Cast Iron Bathtubs: Benefits and Tips for Buyers

Humans have been enjoying the benefits of cast iron for hundreds of years. From pans that keep our food flavorful to stoves that stay warm throughout the winter, cast iron is durable and reliable. And despite its origins in the kitchen, cast iron can also be great in the bathroom.

With spa-like features, luxurious looks and easy maintenance benefits, cast iron is becoming the material of choice among home remodelers. If you’re considering a cast iron tub, here’s a list of proven benefits and some helpful tips for buying.

Add a Touch of History

Clawfoot tubs have symbolized elegance since they first rose to popularity in the early 19th Century. And if a clawfoot tub is in your bathroom remodeling plans, cast iron is the most sophisticated tub material to date. Blake Lockwood at The Decor Snob explains that the clawfoot tub was “considered a luxury item in the late nineteenth century, originally made from cast iron and lined with porcelain.” This combination of materials evokes an idea of the past while also conveying class and timelessness.

Create Variety and Interest

If you’re sick of all-white bathrooms and drab linoleum showers, cast iron bathtubs can really mix things up. In fact, MyHome Design + Remodeling says cast iron tubs offer the widest variety of color options among all bathtub materials on the market today.

Color is an important consideration when buying a tub, but how do you choose the right one? Amy Hughes, author of Salvage-Style Projects and owner of a vintage furniture shop Salvage Style NJ, says to think first about the look and feel you’d like to achieve, and to let that influence which color and style you buy.

Cast iron tubs also come in rectangular or square shapes if you’re looking for a more modern look. This makes them a good fit if you’re remodeling a combination shower bath, or if you’d like to fit your bath into an existing space. South West Plumbing notes that a square cast iron tub is often deeper, too, which can enhance the bathing experience.

Create a Spa-Like Experience

If you’re looking for a tub that helps you relax and unwind, cast iron tubs offer a rejuvenating, spa-like bath. And as notes, they’ve got serious soundproofing capabilities.

Most people don’t consider soundproofing capabilities when buying a bathtub, but it’s a luxury you never knew you needed until you experience it. explains that cast iron bathtubs are the quietest when filling up: There’s also no resonance or vibration when you’re inside the tub, which creates a more soothing, noise-free atmosphere.

Suit Your Small Bathroom

Tub and shower combinations, which gained popularity for their ease and simplicity, can add accessibility and functionality. However, they can be a clunky addition to a bathroom when you don’t have a lot of space.

According to Juan Rodriguez, construction consultant and writer at The Balance, because cast iron bathtubs are normally five feet long or shorter they are a great option for smaller bathrooms, especially when you’re remodeling an older home with restricted sizing.

Keep a Warmer Bath, for Longer

Having your bath go lukewarm 10 minutes into your soak is a bummer. That’s why cast iron is ideal for people who desire long, hot baths. Like a cast iron pan, cast iron tubs heat up slowly and retain their heat for much longer.

BNC Homes explains that cast iron helps a bath stay warmer by “trapping in heat and allowing for a hot bath that stays hot as long as you need.”

Accessorize for Authenticity

Unlike a built-in tub, which creates a one-size-fits-all look, cast iron tubs are much more versatile. Team 24-7 Realtors explains that since cast iron tubs are often free standing, they can be paired with vintage-inspired tub accessories like feet coasters and bridge faucets.

These accessories can help your tub feel more authentic and styled to the room around it. Magazine racks, soap dishes and caddies can also be added or changed out to meet your style needs.

Maintain It With Natural Ingredients

Your first instinct might be to remove stains with abrasive cleaners, scouring powders and scrubs. However, these can cause major lasting damage to cast iron.

Don Vandevort of says that scouring scrubs can create small scratches in the surface of your tub, and these lead to a number of unwanted side effects. “These scratches will catch dirt, grease, hard water deposits, and soap residue,” he says. “Then more abrasives are needed to remove these imbedded soils.”

Luckily, cast iron is easy to clean with ultra-natural ingredients you probably have lying around the house. Ashley Poskin at Apartment Therapy says lemon oil is great for cleaning cast iron because it repels dirt and soap scum, allowing you to keep the tub clean longer. It’ll also leave a fresh scent for the next person who’s lucky enough to take a bath.

Resist the Test of Time

Cast iron is one of the most durable of all tub materials. So, if you want a high quality look that lasts, consultant Kent Brasloff recommends cast iron as “among the best at resisting scratching, fading, and chipping.”

This is in contrast to a tub made entirely of fiberglass, for example, as fiberglass tubs are highly prone to marks of age, like fading and cracking.

Aside from the fact that cast iron tubs always look elegant and in-style, they’re also easy to maintain and restore. Brent Hull, historical preservationist and owner of Brent Hull Historical, says that rust is the main detriment to cast iron, and one that comes with time and age. However, applying a new epoxy finish can keep your cast iron tub in tip-top shape for decades.

For a quicker, easier fix, household materials such as hydrogen peroxide can keep your tub clean. Writer Kent Page McGroarty explains that pumice stones and salt also work well to lift red and brown stains caused either by rust or water with a high mineral content.

Make a Lifetime Investment

When considering tub materials during a bathroom remodel, you should always ask yourself how long you want your new tub to last. Beta Bathrooms Refinishing Systems says that a cast iron tub’s lifespan exceeds that of any plastic or fiberglass bath.

So, if you want to invest in a tub that’ll keep on giving, going the cheap and easy route just won’t do. As Impressive Interior Design puts it: “If you’re looking for a tub that will last for decades, opt for the cast iron option.”

A lifetime full of warm baths? Yes please.

images by: William Lemond, Anna ER, Rita E