Painting the outside of your vintage clawfoot tub.


Vintage Clawfoot Tubs at Ohmega Salvage

The outside of the old tubs are almost always painted with house paint of some kind. The tubs, when originally sold, came with raw cast iron on the outside. When the person took the tub home, they usually painted it the same color as the wall of the bathroom.  If the tub was set close to a wall it was not usually painted all the way around. So, if your tub's paint is still in fairly good condition you can just repaint it before you set it into place.

You will need to do a good prep job before you repaint. If the paint has cracks, pits or is powdering or peeling you can scrub it thoroughly using a stiff plastic brush and a fairly strong concentration of T.S.P.  Make sure to rinse thoroughly as residue will effect the adhesion of the new paint. 

If the tub paint is in bad shape or is showing rust or there are simply too many coats of paint, then the best thing is to have the tub sandblasted or media-blasted down to the raw cast iron.  You may be tempted to do this yourself with wire brushes, sand paper, etc. but it is not recommended. The tubs are old enough that the bottom layers of paint are likely to be lead-based. It is better to let professionals deal with the clean-up of the old paint residue.  This is especially true if you have kids around.

To paint the tub yourself, be sure to use a good quality primer. Ask the paint store which one they recommend. Latex paint is better than oil in this case because it is more flexible. The tubs will expand and contract slightly when they heat up and cool down. To repaint, you can use a good quality latex paint.  Be sure to use either semi-gloss or gloss paint so that you have a surface that is cleanable. Flat paints do not work well for tub exteriors.  

Another option is to send it to a auto body shop to be painted with a car paint. Auto paints are designed to withstand  the elements and are more flexible than regular oil paints. They do not stick well to old house paint which is why they will not work unless you have had the tub sandblasted. 

Another choice is a epoxy paint.  This paint is also best when applied directly on the raw cast iron. You can do this one yourself if you would like. The down side to this paint is that it doesn't clean-up easily and has a lot of fumes. There are not a lot of color choices either.  The up side is that it is a very durable and flexible finish.  

You could also have the tub powder-coated by a professional. This is a powdered plastic that is blown on the tub and then baked on. 

It is best to take the feet off before you paint so that you can effectively cover all surfaces. If you like, the feet can be plated (for a metallic brass, chrome, etc. look), powder-coated, or painted as well. 


Where to get your vintage clawfoot tubOhmega Salvage, of course!

Need Salvage?

Are you in the San Francisco Bay Area and looking for that perfect architectural element for your period home?  Of course you should start with the Best of the Bay at Ohmega Salvage, but if we don't have it, we're happy to refer you to other resources!  Scroll to the bottom of the list for country-wide resources.


Ohmega Salvage - 2407 San Pablo Ave, CA (510) 843-7368 and the Ohmega Salvage General Store 2400 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, (510) 204-0767. Doors, windows, stained glass, pedestal sinks, claw-foot tubs, lighting fixtures, mantels, wrought iron, marble, door and window hardware, architectural elements. Open M-S9:30am -6pm & Sunday 11am-6pm

Artefact Design and Salvage .23562 Hwy 121 Sonoma, CA 94576. (707) 933-0660 and fax: (707) 933-0630. Columns, iron gates, building ornaments, funhouse mirrors, statuary, fountains, lighting, ruins & fragments, doors, windows, mantels, garden ornaments. 10-5 daily.

The Away Station - A market place of Reuse 109 Broadway (right behind Fairfax Lumber) Fairfax, CA 94978,E-mail: carrie@theawaystation.org, Telephone: 415.453.4410

Beyond Waste – 605 W. Sierra, Cotati; (707) 792-2555 and fax (707) 792-2565 . Manufactures and sells flooring made from old-growth Douglas fir rafters; custom makes flooring or paneling; carries entire sets of home windows in casement, including Victorian double-hung windows. Generally open mornings 8-12, but call first. www.beyondwaste.com and email: preclyce@sonic.net

Building Resources
- 701 Amador Street (near Third Street) San Francisco; (415) 285-7814 and fax: (415) 285-2489. Lumber, plywood, marble, bricks, tiles, glass, mirrors, lighting fixtures, plumbing supplies, and hardware. 9-4:30 every day. Donations accepted until 4PM www.buildingresources.org and email: BRSFCR@yahoo.com

C&K Salvage - 718 Douglas Avenue (near Edes Avenue), Oakland; (510) 569-2070 and fax (510) 569-2074. Lumber, large timber, siding, flooring, bricks, doors, plumbing. Mon-Fri 9-5 email: cksalvage@aol.com

California Materials Exchange - a FREE, online materials exchange service designed to help businesses, organizations, local governments, industry, schools, and individuals find markets for non-hazardous materials that may otherwise be discarded.

Capitola Freight & Salvage - 1575 38th Ave., Santa Cruz, CA 95062. Architectural salvage, garden/landscape materials, doors, windows, fountains, benches, imports, tile, old building materials. Wed - Sun 10 - 4. (831) 465-6990 www.capitolafreight.com Also 10 Calveras st , Sonora , CA 95370 Tues-Sat 10-4pm 209-532-5221

East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse – 4695 Telegraph Ave Oakland, CA (510) 547-6470 and fax (510) 655-6536. Non-profit agency that collects materials and redistributes them to community at low cost. Specializing in art materials, books, small furniture, frames and garden artifacts. Hours for Depot 11-6 seven days a week.

Heritage Salvage -1473 Petaluma Blvd. So. Petaluma, CA 94952 . 707.762.6277 and Fax 707.762.5694 Hours -Tue-Fri 9am-5pm Sat 10am-4pm, Mon by appointment only . Reclaimed building materials and Salvage Boutique.

Ray’s Trading Co. – 3570 Gravenstein Hwy SO., Sebastopol, CA 95472 (707) 829-9726 Antiques and Salvage Sinks, Doors, Plumbing, Tubs Windows, Hardware

Recycle Town - 500 Mecham Road, Petaluma; (707) 795-3660 and fax (707) 795-3934. Specializing in doors, windows, toilets, sinks, and basic household items. Including furniture and cabinets. Open 7-4, 7 days a week.

The Reuse People –9235 San Leandro Street, Oakland, CA 94603. (510) 383-1983. Cabinets, doors, fixtures, lumber, plywood, sinks & tubs, windows, bricks, ceramic tile, flooring, garden art & more. Hours Mon-Fri 10-6, Sat and Sun 10-4. Email: info@thereusepeople.com

The ReStore Store- 9235 San Leandro Street, Oakland, CA 94603. (510) 777-1447 and fax (510) 777-1451. East Bay Habitat for Humanity's warehouse with appliances, windows, lighting, etc. Open 9-5, Monday - Saturday.

San Pablo Flea Market – 6100 San Pablo Ave, Oakland, CA. (510) 594-6820. Odds and ends, everything from old, antique dishes to a wide variety of furniture! Hours 10-6 7 Days/Week. Email: davis_claude@hotmail.com

The Sink Factory
- 2140 San Pablo Avenue (near Bancroft Way), Berkeley; (510) 540-8193. Specializing in new and used basins. The full-service company will repair, rebuild, rechrome or customize a new or salvaged sink. Hours Tue-Sat 9-5, 12-3 Sunday.

This & That
– 1701 Rumrill Blvd., San Pablo, CA (510) 232-1273 and fax (510) 232-7213. App. 40,000 square feet of recycled materials, including bi-fold and louver doors, wrought iron, fireplaces, door moldings, windows, sinks, granite, marble, and brick building materials. Hours 8-5 Mon-Sat, Closed Sunday.

Urban Ore – 900 Murray St. near 7th &Ashby, Berkeley (510) 841-7283. Doors, windows, lumber, marble, bricks, tiles, glass, mirrors, molding, lighting fixtures and hardware. Also a general store with secondhand household items. Hours 8:30-7 Mon-Sat, 10-7 Sunday (Receiving closes at 5 pm).

Whole House Building Supply & Salvage– 1000 S Amphlett Blvd, San Mateo 94402 (650) 558-1400 and for Structures for demolition leave message (650)_-856-634. Doors, cabinets, windows, bricks, roof tiles, gates, heaters, lighting, plumbing fixtures, solar & pool equipment, marble, fireplace mantles, hardware. Hours Monday through Saturday, 10 to 4pm. email :Warehouse@driftwoodsalvage.com

Other Architectural Salvage Yards
: http://www.oldhouseonline.com/where-to-shop-for-architectural-salvage/#CA