Antique Tub refinish

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Master Brian, Dec 27, 2008.

  1. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    368
    Location:
    Kansas
    I recently installed a clawfoot tub that seems to have been built in 1911. After reading something online, I realized some of these had lead based finishes, so I tested it and sure enough it contains a lead based finish.

    I have spoken with the health dept about lead issues and they are sending me info and I plan on having the tub water tested to see if it contains lead, but I suppose it will as the finish altough intact seems to have some chalkiness to it.

    If the water test comes back positive, I'll likely have the tub refinished.

    Everything I seem to read says even some of the professional refinishes don't last more than 10 years and even less if refinished on site. I realize some people tend to get more time out of them, but I have a 3 y/o and another on the way and this is the main bath, so it will get some abuse. I know there are do-it-yourself kits and i've heard pros and cons about them as well. I also read somewhere about using marine based paints that are self leveling and brushable.

    My options seem to be, take a chance on a professional re-finish. I don't doubt there are good ones out there that would last, but I can't seem to get a good referal around here. Closest one was 3 hours away. I could spend $50-$100 on a DYI kit that might only last a few years and may not look as good, I do have some auto painting experience and a pro quality paint gun and access to a heated paint booth, if that matters. I am also interested in the marine paint that is brushable and self leveling. I could easily wet sand this tub, pull the hardware off and paint it on site.

    Any other ideas? The finish itself is not bad, there are some surface scratches, but they don't show except closeup. If I could just get rid of the chalky residue, I'd probably be fine. I'm wondering about wetsanding or polishing.....
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    In my opinion, there is only one way to consider for an antique clawfoot....take it out and have it professionally restored. They will sandblast it inside and out, and restore a true baked porcelain enamel finish.
  3. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    368
    Location:
    Kansas
    My question is what would be the cost of something like that? I tend to see $400-$600 for having the glazing fixed. I would imagine what you mention would be over $1000 and I can get a new tub for not much more than that.

    I also don't know what a pro would charge to sandblast it, but I would bet I could get it done for around $100-$200. In fact, if the resperator I have would block the lead dust, I could probably do it myself, seeing as I have a sandblaster and media. So I guess the real question would be what's the cost if I blast it and what's the cost if they blast it?

    To stir things up, the only way/reason I would do this is for the health of my family, as I said the finish looks fine and I actually think I like the antiqued look of the current finish. I just wish I could seal the finish to keep it from chalking.
  4. rmelo99

    rmelo99 Network Engineer

    Messages:
    349
    Location:
    Connecticut
    You'll have the bring the tub out to the refinisher's place and pick it up, but that should run you anywhere from $400-600. That kind of finish will last, don't mess with that paint on crap unless you just want to band-aid the tub for a few years. It doesn't look that great, esp if you don't spray it on.
  5. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    368
    Location:
    Kansas
    I could handle that. I just don't like the idea of paying that price for someone to clean/repair what is there and spray some sort of "patch". Complete from the ground up is a different matter.....
  6. gardner

    gardner DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    222
    Location:
    Ontario
    They weigh a ton -- literally. A large chunk of the cost will be getting it out and back into the bathroom. I hope it's not on the 4th floor of a walk-up.

    The result will be gorgeous. You will want to go out and spend another grand on new plumbing fittings for it. While it's out would be a good time to tear up the floor and re-do the plumbing and the floor. Projects tend to snowball...
  7. rmelo99

    rmelo99 Network Engineer

    Messages:
    349
    Location:
    Connecticut
    They're heavy but managable. Have you been spying on me? He's right the tub came out, new plumbing and new floor went in, followed by the new tub faucet. I'll try and dig up some before and after pics. That bathroom is actually done!
  8. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    A new baked porcelain finish will last your lifetime. (How old is the tub right now?). An in-place epoxy spray job has a life expectancy of 2 to 10 years, depending on how meticulously you care for it.

    So, it all depends on what kind of look you want. When I think of tub work, I am usually thinking long-term investment.
  9. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    368
    Location:
    Kansas
    I know how much they weigh, I just installed this thing after it sat in my drive for several months, then on my front porch for the last two. I really don't want to move it again, especially now that it is blocked by a toilet and a sink. The crazy part is, I think the cast iron tub that was probably installed in the 70's weighs more than the clawfoot.

    I also won't be doing any other work if the tub comes out, that has all been completely redone. Yes, even the almost grand for new fixtures!!

    I am thinking of trying to wetsand the inside with some 400, then some 1200 grit paper and see what I can come up with. I'll likely try a very small area that is currently chalking, that way, I don't wind up with more of a mess....

    I just wish I had thought of the lead being in the finish before. I completely refinished the outside with an enamel paint and it looks very good. Glad I wore a resperator when I tried sandblasting it, that worked great except I kept getting shocked. Tons of static and I couldn't get it grounded well!!!:eek: I finally brought out an orbital sander and an angle grinder. I just didn't worry about the inside, because it looks fine to me.

    Even though I don't want to move this, I will if it comes down to my families safety. Can anyone recommend a refinisher in central Kansas that does the porcelain?
  10. gardner

    gardner DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    222
    Location:
    Ontario
    One of these would probably work pretty well.

    http://www.rotoblast.com/wet_polisher_stonepolisher_p/rotoblast m-100k.htm

    If there was enough sound porcelain ceramic on there, you could use a setup like this to simply grind off the surface and polish the remainder to a like-new gloss.
  11. Fubar411

    Fubar411 New Member

    Messages:
    141
    Location:
    St Louis, MO
    Sorry to dig up an old thread...I'm helping out my brother-in-law. He wants a clawfoot tub. Are there any caveats for what to look for in a faucet? What I have found online seems very expensive.
  12. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Well, I realize someone thinks the "look" of a clawfoot tub is cute. I suggest that whoever is responsible for cleaning the bathroom will hate you! I would rething the whole clawfoot thing.

    The ONLY faucets you will find are from places like rennovators supply. They will be pricey, and future parts availability is unknown.
  13. rmelo99

    rmelo99 Network Engineer

    Messages:
    349
    Location:
    Connecticut
    All I can say is OVER STOCK website has the clawfoot tub package for the best deal I have found. It is kingston brass(although it doesn't say that on their site)

    VERY VERY VERY PLEASED with the quality. No regrets.
  14. Fubar411

    Fubar411 New Member

    Messages:
    141
    Location:
    St Louis, MO
    ahhh, hadn't thought of the over stock website! Thank you very much, a lot cheaper than other places.
  15. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    368
    Location:
    Kansas
    I absolutely love my clawfoot tub. Mine is actually an antique, but there are also many available new from almost anywhere that sells tubs, so I don't think I'd say future parts availability will ever be an issue in our lifetime. Mine is 100yrs old and I bought brand new parts last year. Lowes sell these tubs in their stores. Cleaning has never been an issue and I hate to admit, but my wife is horrible about regular cleaning and my bathroom remodel is probably one of the cleanest rooms in the house, even after 2yrs.

    As for caveats, only thing I can really think of is the way spout. I basically bought this one except with a shower riser. I love it, except it's probably not to code. I have a plastic "overfill" device which lets me fill the tub past the overflow drain and that puts the water level very close and possibly over the end end of the spout. This could possibly allow water to siphon back into the water supply from the tub. If you look at the pic you can tell the spout exits very near that overflow. I didn't think about that when I bought it, but am aware, so if I overfill the tub, I shut the diverter and use the spray nozzle. A more code compliant version would be this deck mounted one or a gooseneck one like this.

    I hope that helps!! They are great for soaking and are a great look in my opinion, but they do take some getting used to getting in and out as they do set up a lot higher than a normal tub.
  16. rmelo99

    rmelo99 Network Engineer

    Messages:
    349
    Location:
    Connecticut
    The kit I bought was for retro fitting into an old tub that took a 4.25" something inch on center faucet. The one from their site not only included the faucet/ overhead shower/ handheld shower . It included the entire Brass Drain waste overflow forthe tub and the complete shower rod set.

    I want to say it was under $600 when I bought it. I dind't know all that stuff was included bc their desc didn't say so. I read a review someone posted on the item that said what else came when they ordered it. It was a no brainer for me!
  17. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    368
    Location:
    Kansas
    One last thing, that came to mind, I was told that the nikkel finish is a longer lasting finish than the brass. Something about the nikkel being applied over the brass, but I don't remember the specifics. I just know I was hesitant spend about $700+ on my tub kit in a finish I worried about, but they told me it was actually a longer lasting finish. Again, in two years, it looks as good as the day I bought it! They are expensive, but quality is there if you buy a nice kit.....
  18. rmelo99

    rmelo99 Network Engineer

    Messages:
    349
    Location:
    Connecticut
    I'll agree about getting in/out.

    Mine was the "gooseneck style" so pretty sure no code issues :)
  19. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    368
    Location:
    Kansas
    Well, the only thing I can think that might still be another code issue is that you operate the hot and cold seperately. Not sure if that's a code issue or not, but I had an inspector point out that a two handle tub faucet at my old house wasn't code compliant, when he was there to inspect a hot water heater I installed in the house I was selling. It was a non-issue because he wasn't there for that, but it was a newer style tub with two levers for the fill. Personally, I just watch it, especially with little kids in the house! Not trying to scare, just help you understand, as my 5 yr old daughter has used this tub for 2 yrs now with no issues!!
  20. rmelo99

    rmelo99 Network Engineer

    Messages:
    349
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Touché
    I have read about the two handle and no anti-scald. Same thing 2 years no issues...also no Kids :)
Similar Threads: Antique refinish
Forum Title Date
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Antique Clawfoot Tub Faucet setup Jan 7, 2012
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Can antique (1940s) sink faucets be fixed?? Jul 24, 2010
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice removing rusty drain from antique sink Oct 30, 2009
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Removing Antique Sink Widespread Faucets Sep 12, 2009
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Antique plumbing tools Aug 19, 2008

Share This Page