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DIY Bathtub Upcycling

April 24, 2017No comments

Remodeling a bathroom in an older home, and don’t know what to do with that old clawfoot tub?  You may just have a great opportunity to turn that bathtub into a fun and whimsical conversation piece.

Upcycled Bathtub

While on a recent visit to Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth, MN, I spotted this great upcycled bathtub in the GLA’s “Unsalted Seas” exhibit.  Part of this display talks about the importance of freshwater, and how much water we all use every day, drinking it, as part of the food we eat, and of course bathing!

It’s a great way to save (or add) a bit of history in your home, and it’s surprisingly comfortable!  Which, I suppose makes sense, since bathtubs are designed to be lounged in. The tub was also really popular with people visiting the Aquarium.  Everyone smiled when they saw it, and they all had to sit down and give it a try.  I had to wait for quite a while to shoot these pictures without anyone in the tub!!

Just imagine the funky Vicotrian-esque vibe that a claw-foot loveseat would bring to any room.  Instead of just painting the tub white, consider using contrasting colors for the inside, outside, and then using another color on the feet to really make them pop!  Just add some fancy pillows, and voila!

A little bit of research yielded some basic steps make your own DIY upcycled vintage cast-iron claw-foot bathtub couch.  Although it may go without saying, get some help when trying to lift any cast-iron bathtub, as they can easily weigh between 250-500 pounds!

Here are the basic steps on how to upcycle a bathtub:

  • Start by drawing the cut-out shape on the outside of the tub.  Straight lines will help make cutting easier.
  • Most people will tip the tub on its side. Before you start cutting, consider adding some sort of bracing or padding, as the cut-out piece will be heavy and could damage the inside of the bathtub if allowed to fall.
  • There are many tools that will cut cast-iron.  Some advise using a concrete saw, which you may have to rent.  Others have used an angle grinder, a tool that many already have at home.  Use a 4.5-inch cutting wheel, but go super slowly and take a few brakes to let the grinder cool down!  Cutting cast iron will put enormous strain on the motor, which may cause it to overheat and burn out. MAKE SURE TO wear gloves, protective clothing, goggles and a face mask.
  • After your main cutout is done, you need to sand down the rough edges of the cast iron.  If you haven’t burned out your angle grinder, it’ll come in handy for this job as well.
  • From here, you’re ready to clean your tub.  Cleaning needs will vary based on its condition and how you plan to paint it.
  • When you’re ready to paint, make sure to remove any remaining hardware, the faucet, drains, and feet.
  • As a finishing touch, you may want to sew a custom cushion sized to fit the inside.  If you’re more handy with a concrete saw than you are with a sewing machine, consider using a large body pillow for the base and build up with as many throw pillows as you need to get comfy!

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Only use power tools with which you are familiar and comfortable.  Cutting cast-iron can be very difficult.  Consult with your favorite power tool dealer for advice specific to your job. Upcycled Bathtub

Check out the links below to see how other have upcycled bathtubs!

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