Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Clawfoot Whirlpool Tub – A Buying Guide (Pt. 2).

Last post, we talked about the differences between Champagne and whirlpool clawfoot tubs. Today, I want to discuss clawfoot tub construction as well as basic cleaning and maintenance.

Clawfoot tubs are generally categorized as either porcelain-over-cast-iron (the traditional construction materials) or acrylic (that new-fangled stuff). For the purposes of this post, I am going to limit my comments to the acrylic tubs because they are the only ones being built as whirlpool or champagne clawfoot tubs.

As you may suspect, not all acrylic tubs are equal. There are three general categories of "acrylic" tubs:

Fiberglass clawfoot tubs: These clawfoot tubs can still be found even though they are not as popular as they once were. Better quality acrylic tubs have forced fiberglass clawfoot tubs into near extinction. In my opinion, fiberglass is a fine material for built-in tubs and showers, but not for clawfoot tubs because it flexes too much and they generally have very rough exteriors.

Hollow double wall acrylic: These tubs are built with two smooth acrylic sheets with a few spacers or braces to separate the sheets. Although they are very light, I dislike them because they have way to much flex and do not seem to retain heat very well.

Solid double wall acrylic: In my opinion, this is the best combination for the money currently available. The interior and exterior acrylic sheets are molded onto a solid composite material (generally a stone or concrete-like mixture). Unfortunately, not many manufacturers use this construction technique. One that does, American Bath Factory, describes their patented Acrastone process as the result of “vacuum forming two ¼” sheets of high-quality cast acrylic and laminating them together with a patented crushed stone/resin compound.” The cast acrylic sheet has a second layer of ABS behind it in order to give their tubs improved thickness, strength, and weight.

Vintage Tub and Bath offers the full line of American Bath Factory tubs because we believe that they offer the best combination of value, appearance, and functionality available.

Maintaining an acrylic tub is fairly easy. American Bath Factory recommends using mild soap (like liquid dish soap), a sponge and warm water. Since the acrylic surface is non-porous, soap stains and dirt cannot adhere to it making cleaning a snap. Use a polishing compound to buff and clean out any tough stains. Never use abrasive cleaning products or cleansers with an acetone base (such as Scrubbing Bubbles). These products can scratch the surface and / or produce hairline cracks.

Whirlpool and massage tubs: American Bath Factory Champagne massage tubs are self-cleaning. Remember, that the air pipes in a Champagne Massage tub are not connected to the drain. Therefore, water trapped in the air pipes has to be blown out by the blower. The tub motor is set to turn itself back on 15 minutes after each use for 20 minutes. This self-purge feature will ensure the air pipes are always dry & clean, and ready for your next bath. Whirlpool tubs, on the other hand, require a bit more effort. Fill your Caspian Whirlpool tub several inches above the jet level and add a small scoop of Cascade dish detergent. Run the tub for 20 minutes. Drain. Refill with warm water and run for 5 more minutes. Drain. It is just that easy!