Cast Iron Baths - The Advantages and Disadvantages of Roll Top Baths

Summary: Information about choosing and living with a cast iron bath. Know the advantage and disadvantages of having a cast iron or roll top bath in your bathroom. If you understand what's involved you will make a much better decision before you start to work with a old roll top.

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Cast iron has been used for making baths for hundreds of years. A cast iron bath has gone from being common place bathroom furniture to being very much sought after especially when trying to create a luxury feel to a contemporary home. Often called roll top baths because of the way the top of the bath rolls over, cast iron baths are similar to steel baths in that they are immensely strong, are very rigid, are coated with porcelain enamel, have a very long life and are easy to clean.

Cast iron bath

Cast iron bath

Cast iron baths are cast from iron in a mould using various shapes - a slipper end bath has one end higher than the other, and as it's name suggests, a double ended slipper bath has both ends raised.. After forming the baths shape the bath is chemically cleaned to make sure the surface is spotless before an enamel coating is applied. A vitreous (of or of the nature of, glass) porcelain enamel coating is then sprayed onto the cast iron and the whole thing is fired in a huge kiln to give an enormously strong chemical bond between the cast iron and the enamel.

Porcelain enamel is an extremely high quality material which is not only very durable but offers the best sanitary finish available for metal surfaces. It gives a finish which is smooth and even, is resistant to chipping and scratches, resistant to most chemicals and fade proof. With older cast iron baths it is not unusual to have a slightly rippled effect in the enamel. Dimples may also be seen along with tiny black flecks in the enamel surface. These are nothing to worry about and are formed as part of the process of bonding porcelain enamel to cast iron.

Painted cast iron bath

Painted cast iron bath

Cast iron baths as with steel baths, need no cradle or frame as their inherent strength allows feet to be cast, or bolted onto the body of the bath. Cast iron baths feet are not usually adjustable and the baths themselves are very heavy. It is therefore important that a cast iron bath is placed on a very solid, level floor.

The most popular type of foot for a cast iron bath is a clawed foot. When a cast iron bath has clawed feet it is very often left open so all of the bath can be seen. This leads to decoration of the underside of the bath and some very attractive designs can be done to highlight a clawed foot bath in a traditional bathroom. To see how to paint a cast iron bath, go to our project on this subject. Fitting a traditional shower/mixer tap will finish off your bath nicely.

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