Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
There are many different bathtubs available, so homeowners have many options to find one that suits their priorities and style tastes. One type of bathtub that is increasing in popularity is the freestanding bathtub with claw feet.
Some bathtubs have claw feet because they were popular in the early 19th century as a way to display wealth, and they are coming back in style due to their unique appearance and luxurious feel.
In this article, I’ll explain why some bathtubs have claw feet and provide information about the advantages and disadvantages of freestanding tubs. Let’s get started!
What’s the Purpose of Claw Feet on Bathtubs?
Claw feet on bathtubs don’t serve a practical purpose; rather, they are a design choice that reflects traditional tubs from the early 19th century. At that time, clawfoot bathtubs were featured in wealthier people’s homes because the luxurious design allowed wealthier people to display their good fortune. Additionally, the freestanding tub structure allowed the servants enough space around the tub to help with the bathing process.
The bathtubs then followed the ornate design trend, which featured lots of detail and over-the-top feet, often resembling claws. There is no functional purpose of the feet being claw-shaped, but this was simply another opportunity for people in the 19th century to demonstrate their wealth and style. The feet on a freestanding club come in various shapes and designs.
Claw feet bathtubs became less popular when more people prioritized affordable housing over luxury. Affordable housing usually featured built-in bathtubs instead of freestanding tubs, so the tubs didn’t have any feet, let alone claw feet.
However, this wasn’t the end for bathtubs with claw feet. As customized homes become more popular and people seek ways to distinguish their homes from others, homeowners are turning to freestanding bathtubs because of their various benefits. Some of these freestanding tubs even feature the claw feet of the past to add a stylish flair.
It isn’t unusual to see claw feet bathtubs in older homes, especially those from the 19th century. However, it isn’t unusual to see these kinds of bathtubs in more contemporary homes due to the cyclical design trends.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Freestanding Tubs
If you love the look of claw feet tubs, you’ll have to commit to having a freestanding bathtub. Freestanding tubs aren’t as popular as built-in tubs in the contemporary United States. Still, they are gaining popularity as more people seek unique bathroom designs and customized homes.
However, before you commit to getting a freestanding bathtub to have those fancy claw feet, you should understand the advantages and disadvantages of this type of tub. First, let’s look at all the pros you’ll enjoy if you choose to go with this route:
- Freestanding tubs appear more luxurious. Many people consider the aesthetic appeal of these tubs the main draw for getting one. These tubs are more associated with luxury, especially if they feature claw feet. Additionally, many high-end spas have freestanding tubs, so you can feel like you’re in a fancy spa every time you enter your bathroom!
- You have more freedom regarding where the tub goes. Freestanding tubs can go almost anywhere in the bathroom, whereas you’re more limited with built-in tubs because they have to go against a wall. Therefore, if you want to use your bathroom space creatively, I recommend getting a freestanding tub. You can even place the tub in the middle of the bathroom if you’d like!
- Freestanding tubs are more customizable and unique. There aren’t many design options for built-in tubs, but there are many more stylish options for freestanding tubs. A built-in tub probably won’t be the centerpiece of any bathroom, but the right freestanding tub can be a statement piece.
These are great benefits, but you should also consider the potential drawbacks before you decide to purchase a freestanding tub:
- These tubs are more expensive. Freestanding tubs are more complicated to build, so they are often more expensive than built-in tubs. If you want additional design details (such as claw feet), you’ll have to pay for that extra luxury.
- Mounting a shower is difficult. Most built-in tubs also work as showers, so a built-in tub may be the better option if you want your shower and your tub to be the same unit. You can turn a freestanding tub into a shower, but it takes away from the aesthetic appeal of the tub, and you’ll need a wrap-around curtain. These curtains aren’t always effective in blocking water spillage, so you may deal with water damage.
- Clawfoot tubs get dirtier around the bottom. The ornate detailing on clawfoot tubs features many crevices, gathering dust and grime easily. Therefore, you’ll likely have to spend more time cleaning the tub than you’d prefer.
- These tubs are often extremely heavy. Freestanding tubs are usually heavier than built-in ones, so if you have fragile flooring, you may need to enhance it before you place the tub and fill it with water. There are lighter options, but these choices are usually too expensive for the average homeowner.
- Freestanding tubs are typically larger. Most freestanding tubs take up more space than built-in ones, so this type of tub may not be feasible if you have a smaller bathroom.
Now that you have a better idea of all the good and bad things about freestanding bathtubs, you can make a more informed decision about whether or not it’s the right tub for you. If you do decide that you’d like to give a freestanding tub a try, you can start looking into getting a design that features claw feet.
Some bathtubs have claw feet because they came from the 19th century when this design was popular for wealthy people to demonstrate their good fortune. The modern bathtubs that feature claw feet are inspired by these older tubs and the more ornate design trends of the past. Claw feet hold freestanding tubs up, but the design has no functional purpose. Claw feet tubs could work just as well with differently-designed feet.
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