Parent Q&A

  • We are looking for a recommendation for someone who can help refinish a vintage tub to mitigate lead risk.  Our tub tested lead positive with an at-home kit.  The tub is original to the home and unfortunately replacement is not an option.   


    I can easily and without reservation recommend David Chin to refinish your tub. He did the same for us about 3 years ago, did a terrific job and when he finished it looked brand new. I think we paid about $500. His number is: 510-482-3788.

Archived Q&A and Reviews



Removing Adhesive Strips from Bathtub

Nov 2011

The bathtub in my recently purchased house has adhesive no-slip strips that a previous owners laid down. They are black and horrible and I have tried everything I have to remove them-this includes vigorous scrubbing with Comet, Goof-Off, Goo Gone, and an ammonia/cleanser scrub. Bleaching doesn't clean them up either and I don't want to scrape with a razor blade or pumice because I'm afraid I'll destroy the porcelain. Does anyone know a product or technique I could use to remove the strips? Thanks! new homeowner

Yes, I've been there, bath stickers that were 20+ years old. What is that superadhesive???? I had to use a razor blade to scrape all of them off. It did not scratch the porcelein. Just took a lot of time. And then it looked Fabulous! Chemicals didn't work

Where to buy a refurbished cast iron tub?

Dec 2010

We just bought a house in Berkeley (who would have thought!) and are working with a contractor on a few projects, including replacing some windows and adding a bathtub to the bathroom. I'm looking for some recommendations for where to buy a few things in the area, as I haven't come up with much from Yelp or Google. We need: A cast iron bathtub, about 6 feet long and 33 inches wide. Most of those ones I've seen are very expensive- it doesn't need to have jets or anything fancy, just hold a decent amount of soaking water. The house was built in the 1920s and we would like to stay true to the aesthetic, although our budget is limited. Thanks for any ideas or recommendations! clueless about home renovation

Urban Ore in Berkeley has all kinds of stuff like that. I bought an old sink and faucet there for an outdoor potting bench. --Reuser

A real vintage claw foot tub is probably going to be hard to find. When I was looking, I saw one at Urban Ore but it was gone the next day when I went back to give it a second look. I went with a replica claw foot tub. The benefits? It's lighter (400lbs compared to 1/2 ton) and doesn't require extra support in your floor. I got mine from Shipping was free but they did get the fixtures I ordered wrong, so stay on top of that and inspect upon receipt. Good luck! experienced DIY remodeler

I suggest you check out the salvage yards, Ohmega Salvage, Ohmega two, and Urban Ore. Also if you are clueless about home renovation, go to the Building Education Center for classes that are geared toward homeowners and amateurs who wish to learn this stuff. Good Luck! Andus

Urban Ore off Ashby near San Pablo in Berkeley always has a few cast iron bathtubs (they might need refurbishing though). Ohmega Salvage on San Pablo between University and Ashby always has a GREAT selection of cast iron bathtubs in different styles, refurbished and not refurbished ones, and they also have someone on site who does the refurbishing in case you favorite tub is still in its original condition. Good Luck!

I bought a beautiful antique tub a few years ago at Omega Salvage on San Pablo. Omega Too nearby also has a few reproductions. Be aware of three things when buying an old tub:

1) cast iron tubs are EXPENSIVE whether new or old. My 80-y-o tub in near-pristine condition cost $2K. At the time, new cast iron tubs were as much or more. A new tub that is not cast iron will be cheaper. If you have your heart set on a clawfoot, check Sunrise Specialty for reproductions. I got a pedestal sink from them that I like.

2) Old tubs that are affordable often have chipped or stained porcelain - can you live with that? If not are you OK having the surface redone or painted over?

3) Old cast iron tubs may leach lead into the bathwater. This is only a problem if the person in the tub is going to be drinking the water. But you may want to test an old tub for lead. Ginger

Is it hard to clean under a claw-foot tub?

June 2008

We are doing a bathroom remodel and are considering a claw-foot tub. I am concerned about cleaning issues, is it hard to clean the floor underneath? does mold end up growing on the side of the tub near the wall? are there tricks I'm not aware of, other concerns I haven't thought of or reasons why people love/hate them? your input is greatly appreciated thanks

I LOVE my claw foot tub. I bought it online through vintage Be sure that you get the appropriate fixtures...there are a few different kinds, like rim vs. wall mount. If you love to soak, you can't go wrong. I have a slightly longer than std (5.5' vs 5') and it's perfect to stretch out in. Just be sure you don't place it directly against the wall, you need a couple inches for the shower curtain. There's plenty of clearance underneath to clean. love my tub!

I have an old-fashioned claw foot tub. I've always loved the look, shape and the depth of claw foot tubs, especially for a relaxing bath. Cleaning underneath isn't that difficult, and if you keep the water in the tub, you shouldn't have any more mold problems than you would with another kind of tub. They're not the greatest for showering since you need an all-around shower curtain and it's hard to keep the water from escaping -- but if you have a shower either separate or in a second bathroom, it gives you better options.

Also, if you are planning to become pregnant or if you plan to have elderly visitors (or spend your own golden years in this house), you will need to take a few extra safety precautions to avoid falls. The difference is because of two things: the claw foot tub is higher off the ground than a regular tub, and the bottom has rounded sides and a smaller flat area. When I became pregnant my husband (who in my mind wears a red cape emblazoned with a gold ''safety man'' logo), instantly bought a non-slip tub mat and then went to Johnson Medical on Shattuck and bought a stainless steel step stool that has a grab-bar handle. All so I wouldn't slip getting in and out of the claw foot tub. Also, he has flat feet and says that this also impairs stability in this tub. We're remodeling too. I want to keep at least one claw foot in the house, he'd rather not. L

I have a claw foot (in my house already when I bought it), and I don't like it. Sure, it's cute and quaint in my bee-boarded bathroom, but it takes up a lot of real estate in my bathroom, and is far less functional than a regular walled-off tub. Yes, it gets dirty underneath and the wall behind molds easily. When using the tub as a shower, I find that my footing/balance is compromised by the curved bottom. Also, you have to hang a curtain on all sides. I dislike this for a number of reasons: (1) The narrowness of the tub combined with the air currents make the curtains waft against my body while I shower--yuck. (2) Since I can't close off the tub well (as I can with a single curtained side, or a tub door), it's drafty in the tub and therefore hard to shave my legs (I get goosebumps easily). (3) Hard to find a place to put stuff like shampoo and soap. Stop touching me, darn curtain!

YES. To everything you asked. It is hard to clean under & behind and so, mold does grow. I have to get on my belly to reach back there and I have a house full of little boys here. I am sorry I wanted the claw foot so much. If I had a do-over, I would pick a porcelin tub that goes down to the floor, a tile backed 3 wall enclosure .... I need 5 (!) shower curtins to surround our claw foot tub & that is too much curtin around, especially as we usually use it as a shower... I wanted the claw foot shape for the toy storage space under it and thought the ''space'' would be good...visually it is! But I don't have a maid and....the spiders really get established....maybe you won't be as negligent as we are? It could be great if you are only taking canlelit baths and someone else cleans it... dirty grout too...

I lived in a small house with a small bathroom that had a claw foot tub and since the tub was surrounded on three sides by walls, it was really hard to clean under or behind. When you add the inevitable water that gets out of the tub (or even just moisture in the air) to the dust/hair etc., it gets gross fast. The only way I'd want a claw foot tub is if I had enough room to put one in the middle of a huge room with nothing around it (like you see in home magazines sometimes)...but who has that kind of space? Jenny

We have a claw-foot tub, and we're getting rid of it in an upcoming remodel. When we first moved in, I liked the idea of the claw-foot tub. Four years later I hate the thing. It's hard to clean underneath it and the wall behind the showerhead always ends up getting wet so the paint is peeling. And the floor is probably messed up besides. anon

We re-installed our existing clawfoot tub when we remodeled. Besides preserving the original fabric of the house, I confess that I love this tub.

Absolutely no mold issues on the outside of the tub but remember it has to be a couple of inches away from the wall anyway --you need to be able to curl your fingers over the edge. No cleaning issues for me, but I'm not too fussy. A hand-held shower makes doing the inside much easier. I swiffer under it, and occasionally damp mop with the old-fashioned rag-head mop. (I also have a teen daughter who is willing to really get in there and sweep it out a couple of times a year.) If you plan to add a shower over it, be sure that you buy washable shower curtains or curtain liners --you have to throw these 'shower walls' in the wash machine once a month or so or they will mildew. I think its a good trade-off for scrubbing tiles, though.

I should mention that while I was finishing up the remodel I met an older lady in the fixture store. She had grown up with a claw foot and was appalled that I would actually reinstall one. It was her job to keep the bath clean and she loathed the thing.

Also, obviously a full-size cast iron clawfoot is extremely heavy. My plumber said he would have charged $1000 extra for putting in the tub if it had not already been in the house and on the second floor, because they are so hard to negotiate up stairs and around corners. And it takes a lot of HOT water for a satisfying bath (all that metal has to be warmed up) but I'm worth it (occasionally, at least!). Victorian Woman

How to get hair dye stains off tub

May 2008

HELP! Being new to coloring my hair, I accidentally left a hair clip that still had a bit of semi-permanent hair coloring on it on the side of my bath tub and it's left a pretty bad stain. Anyone know of a way to get this out? Thanks. feeling stupid

Try Soft Scrub -- I think the bleach in it does the trick. Apply and let it sit before rinsing. Might take a couple applications. Another home colorist

I usually use a pumice stick on porcelain. It can safely remove stubborn stains in many cases. They're available in most hardware stores. Erich

Looking for a deep bathtub

June 2004

We plan to remodel our bathroom and would like to replace our standard tub with a deeper tub. Ours is the shallowest tub I've ever used - can't get the depth over 5''! We don't need a jacuzzi tub, nothing fancy, just a tub deep enough for a nice soak. Any ideas about where to find a tub like this? Thanks.
tired of shivering in the tub!

We recently remodeled our bathroom and installed a ''Jason'' (non-jetted) soaking tub. We love it. It is 72'' long by 42'' wide by 23'' deep. My husband and I can bathe together comfortably in it (he is 6'2'' and I am 5'10''). We ordered the tub through ''REED's'' appliance store on Fruitvale Ave. You can look their number up online or in the phone book. I think we paid less than $700.00 for it. There are also lots of choices at and if money is not an issue. Here's to a good soak! Kristi

To Deep Bathtub, I searched long & hard for such a tub. Try ''Tea for Two'' by Kohler. Good luck. mebldwn Deep Bathtub

We put in a deep tub when we remodeled last year. It is a spa tub, but was also sold without the spa. So it has the deep shape without the holes and bubbles. I recommend you visit Jack London Square Bath Gallery in Oakland. Lainie Wachter helped us and found our wonderful tub. Happily Soaking

When we remodeled our bathroom about 10 years ago, we had the same desire--a nice deep bathtub that would fit in the standard amount of space a bathtub normally does. We ended up with a Kohler that's worked out great. Unfortunately, I can't give you a model number, but I can tell you that it's about 2 feet deep. Our contractor picked it up for us, so I'm not sure where it came from, but I remember looking at it in a Kohler catalog at the time. One warning: because the tub is so deep and still has slightly slanted sides the base of the tub seemed narrow to us when we first got it. So, when you take a shower in that tub, you don't have the foot room you would in a shallower one. We've never found it to be an issue, but it's still something to keep in mind. Patty

I don;t know if it would fit in with your remodel plan, but when we remodeled the bath in our 1912 house a few years ago, we bought an antique tub at Omega Salvage. It is the best tub ever! It's 6 feet long, with a lovely sloped back, sits on a pedestal instead of legs, and you can submerge yourself completely under the water. They also had some new reproduction tubs, also deep. Check out some of the reproduction places on the web - Sunrise Specialty is one. G.