Cast Iron Tub: Is it Time to Get Rid of It?

Meta: If you’ve got an old cast iron tub you may be wondering when you should replace it. This article helps to answer just that.Many people enjoy a nice, hot bath after a long day of work or a challenging work out. But, sometimes the condition of the tub can make using it more of a headache than it’s worth. Once your bathtub begins looking worse for wear, you may wonder if it’s time to get rid of it. And if you have a cast iron tub, you may be even more confused about when its lifespan is up.

Why is Cast Iron Used for Tubs?

As you probably already know, cast iron is an incredibly durable material. When taken care of accurately items made of cast iron can last for years and years. And while bare cast iron shouldn’t hold water for an extended period, enameled cast iron is resistant to rust and durable.Because enameled cast iron is such a durable material and will stand the test of time, its use in bathtubs was once quite popular. And, while numerous materials are used to make tubs today, many tubs are still regularly made out of cast iron and installed beautifully.

Why Get Rid of A Cast Iron Tub?

Despite the durability of these well-made bathtubs, there are a variety of reasons that someone why someone may want to get rid of a cast iron tub. A few of these reasons include:

  • Staining
  • Enamel Damage
  • Rust
  • Bathroom Remodel
  • Leaks

Personal Preference

Despite the durability of these well-made bathtubs, there are a variety of reasons that someone why someone may want to get rid of a cast iron tub. A few of these reasons include:

Staining

Just like any household fixture, it’s essential to clean your bathtub regularly. Still, even if you have washed your tub religiously, there may be times when stains occur that you cannot remove. Quite often, these stains appear in the form of a ring that goes all the way around the inside of the tub.There are some tricks to getting a bathtub ring to disappear, but sometimes it’s just not possible. This fact is especially true if you have previously used an abrasive cleaner on your tub’s surface. While enameled cast iron is particularly resistant to scratching, abrasive cleaners can cause microdamage to the bathtub’s finish.Any crevices or damaged spots in the enamel covering your cast iron tub is a potential place for stains to build up. And, if you live in an area with hard water, it is even more likely that difficult stains will occur. This phenomenon is due in large part to mineral deposits.

Enamel Damage

If you’ve noticed that the enamel on your cast iron tub is chipping, it may be a sign that it’s time to get rid of it. Enamel damage can occur for many reasons. Most frequently, it is the result of something heavy hitting the surface.When compared to other enameled tubs, cast iron tubs are least likely to suffer enamel damage. However, just because something isn’t expected to happen doesn’t mean it won’t happen. And, once enamel becomes damaged, it can be tricky to repair. However, many professionals are willing to give it a go.Even if you cast iron tub has a significant amount of enamel damage, you may be able to save it by getting it reglazed. Reglazing offers a solution for many of the problems on this list. However, if your tub is in particularly bad condition, reglazing is not a viable option.If a professional tells you that he can’t reglaze your tub, take him at his word. There are do-it-yourself reglazing kits on the market, but you will not get the results you want from them.

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Rust

If you’ve ever had a bathroom, you’ve probably dealt with rust stains at one point or another. The moist environment combined with metal fixtures and poor ventilation make bathrooms a prime place for rust to develop. In many cases, rust stains are nothing more than an eyesore and can be resolved with some heavy duty cleaning. But, sometimes they’re worse.If the enamel of your cast iron tub is damaged, it’s likely that some portion of bare iron is unprotected from the elements of your bathroom. If rust forms on the metal itself, it doesn’t necessarily indicate that you need to replace your tub. But, if the rust is left to fester over time, the bathtub will become less sturdy.

Health Concerns

If you have an old house, it’s likely that you also have an old cast iron tub. While these old cast iron tubs may be sentimental or full of charm, they may also be full of lead. As most people know by now, lead exposure is incredibly dangerous, especially to young children.It’s important to note that the lead found in old tubs is due to the type of porcelain glaze and paints that were once popular. In fact, lead was an ingredient in a majority of porcelain enamel glazes until the 1980s. Unfortunately, no matter how much character an old bathtub has, it still may pose a significant risk to you and your family.It is possible to have old bathroom fixtures reglazed to contain the hazards or lead exposure. However, with the usual wear and tear of everyday use, these resurfacing techniques will eventually break down. To be sure that any trace of lead is gone from your home, you should get rid of very old cast iron tubs.

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Bathroom Remodel

It is very common for homeowners to remodel different rooms in their home. One of the most popular places to renovate is the bathroom. And if you are remodeling your bathroom, it’s probably time to get rid of your cast iron tub.While your cast iron bathtub may still be in good shape, there’s a likelihood that the older fixture will not fit in well with your newly remodeled bathroom. Plus, because of the way that tubs are installed, removing your bathtub during an extensive remodel makes the most sense.If you choose to leave an old tub in a room that you are redoing, you may at some point in the future wish you hadn’t. Removing a bathtub is challenging work and will likely mess up your beautiful new designs if you take it out after the fact. Also, when construction is going on around the tub, it is difficult to prevent damage to the surface enamel of the fixture.

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Leaks

Finding standing water in your home is no laughing matter. This fact is especially true when the water only shows up on occasion. There are many different places where leaks turn up in a home, but one of the most common is the bathroom.If there is water leaking from or around your bathtub, you need to do some investigating. If you can’t find the leak yourself, you will have to contact a professional. Even if an expert finds your hole quickly, there is still a chance that the water is coming directly from your bathtub.When your bathtub body is what’s leaking, you will have to weigh the pros and cons of fixing it. There are a few different methods for repairing a leaky tub. But sometimes, the damage is too substantial to make it worth your while. Plus, if you’ve already been thinking of replacing your bathtub, a leak makes that choice even more natural.

Personal Preference

Last but not least, it’s time to get rid of a cast iron tub when it no longer suits your personal preference. Bathtubs are an expensive investment, but if you are ready to get a new tub, then it’s time. Even if your bath is in good working order, it’s perfectly okay to get rid of a bathtub you merely don’t like.If you like your tub, but want one that you love, go for it! Save up for the tub of your dreams and make it part of your bathroom beautification project. Keep in mind that removing a cast iron tub is a complicated process. You will likely need to replace more than just the tub if you go this route.But, if you have the budget to make it happen, there’s no reason to hold onto a tub that doesn’t bring you joy. Do remember though that cast iron tubs come in a wide array of styles and just because you don’t like one, doesn’t mean you won’t want any of them.Because cast iron is the most durable material on the market for bathtubs, these fixtures have a very long lifespan. However, as with any household fixture, if you notice excessive damage or are at risk for lead exposure, it’s time to get rid of it. But, don’t forget that you can fix many stain issues and small amounts of damage without getting rid of your tub.If you are unsure if specific damage or staining is permanent, don’t hesitate to contact a professional. Also, if you are concerned about lead exposure, some professionals can help you determine your tub’s safety as well.

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