Porcelain Bathtub Options

Porcelain bathtubs have been the mainstay in many American bathrooms since the 1920s, a testament to their popularity and durability.
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By: Dianne Casolaro

Porcelain tubs, which are actually formed steel or cast iron enameled with porcelain, are one of the most common bathtub options. Whether you choose simple or sophisticated, porcelain bathtubs are a good starting point for your bathroom redesign.

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Formed steel enameled with porcelain coating is the least expensive kind of bathtub. Its standard length is 5 feet, though smaller, space-saving versions are manufactured. The steel construction is much lighter than the cast iron version of porcelain tubs.

The most common design for built-in installation is the apron-front style. The non-porous glassy surfaces of these types of porcelain tubs usually resist scratches, chemicals and bacteria growth.

Color choices are in the white family, with some variations. These tubs do not tend to be design elements in your bathroom. However, they do lend themselves to numerous options for adding surrounds.

Cast iron porcelain bathtubs are sturdy, durable and heavy. Incorporating them into a remodel may require extra support on the subfloor. They generally resist cracks, scratches and chips, but they can be expensive to have professionally repaired if these do occur.

Cast iron porcelain coating is thicker than that on formed steel. Initially, cast iron tubs will pull heat from the water, but once warmed up, they will keep water warm for a long time.

Cast iron porcelain tubs do offer more tub design options than formed steel tubs. They are usually 5 to 6 feet in length and are available in alcove and freestanding units.

Designed for one-person bathing, the built-in porcelain cast iron tub offers additional color choices from the white and black palettes.

If you want to be true to the original porcelain tubs, choose a claw foot cast iron design. Two primary styles of the freestanding branch of porcelain family are slippers and roll tops.

Slippers are raised at one or both ends for easier single or double lounging. Roll tops curve smoothly along all edges.

Freestanding porcelain tubs have design options for their feet as well. They may rest on a pedestal base, on an Oriental-style wooden base, or a variety of claw feet. Typical finishes for feet are polished brass, polished chrome, polished or brushed nickel, white porcelain, and oil-rubbed bronze.

Freestanding tubs require fillers for rim, wall or floor mounting. Match these fillers with the feet of your porcelain tub to complete your overall tub design.

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