How to Remove a Clawfoot Bathtub

Lead Image for How to Remove a Clawfoot Bathtub
  • 2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 20
What You'll Need
Tarp or Drop cloth
Basket wrench
Socket wrench
Safety goggles
What You'll Need
Tarp or Drop cloth
Basket wrench
Socket wrench
Safety goggles

Removing a clawfoot bathtub can be daunting for any DIY homeowner or resident. However, with the right tools, knowledge, and preparation, it is possible to successfully remove a clawfoot bathtub without causing any damage. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the step-by-step process of removing a clawfoot bathtub, providing tips on restoring and repurposing the tub, and preparing the space for a new one.

Firstly, before embarking on this project, gathering all the necessary tools and materials is vital. Some essential tools include adjustable or pipe wrenches to disconnect plumbing fixtures such as faucets and drain pipes. Additionally, having a pry bar or crowbar will help loosen any adhesive or caulking securing the tub to the floor.

Once you have assembled your tools, it's vital to ensure that you turn off the water supply leading to the bathtub. This can typically be done by locating the shut-off valves near your bathroom fixtures or shutting off the water supply at your main valve if no individual shut-off valves are present. Ensuring proper water shutdown prevents accidental leaks during removal.

Next comes protecting both yourself and your surroundings during this process. It is recommended to wear safety goggles and gloves while handling potentially sharp objects like nails or broken tiles that may be encountered when removing trimmings around the tub area. Moreover, it's advisable to cover nearby surfaces with drop cloths or plastic sheets to prevent scratches or scuffs caused by debris during removal.

With these preparations, you are ready to proceed with your project. These measures not only ensure your safety but also protect your property from potential damage. So, remember to prioritize safety measures when embarking on any DIY project.

Understanding Clawfoot Bathtubs

Before diving into the removal process, it's essential to understand what exactly a clawfoot bathtub is. A clawfoot bathtub is a freestanding tub that sits on decorative legs or feet, evoking a sense of timeless elegance in any bathroom. These iconic fixtures are often crafted from high-quality materials such as cast iron or porcelain, contributing to their durability and enhancing their aesthetic appeal.

Clawfoot bathtubs' distinctive feature is their elevated design, allowing them to stand independently without being mounted against walls or enclosures. This unique characteristic will enable homeowners to position the tub wherever desired within the bathroom space, creating an opportunity for creative and personalized layouts.

Regarding weight, it's important to note that clawfoot bathtubs can be quite heavy due to their sturdy construction. On average, these magnificent fixtures typically weigh between 200 and 400 pounds. The substantial weight adds stability and reinforces the perception of luxury associated with these classic pieces.

Whether made from cast iron or porcelain, each material contributes its own set of advantages. Cast iron bathtubs are renowned for their exceptional heat retention properties, ensuring prolonged warmth during relaxing baths while exuding a solid and robust feel. On the other hand, porcelain tubs offer a sleek and glossy finish that enhances visual appeal while providing easy maintenance and resistance against chips or scratches.

Regardless of material choice or style preference – whether traditional Victorian designs featuring ornate detailing or contemporary interpretations boasting clean lines – there is no denying that the perfect selection can significantly enhance the aesthetic appeal of your space.

Choosing the right design to suit your style and the overall theme of your space can make a significant difference in creating a cohesive and pleasing look. However, the clawfoot tub isn't suitable for some people's chosen design preferences.

Preparing for Removal

To ensure a smooth and efficient removal process, gathering all the necessary tools and equipment is crucial. The essential tools for removing a clawfoot bathtub are adjustable wrenches, pliers, a pry bar, a utility knife, and a bucket. These tools will enable you to easily disassemble various bathtub components.

In addition to having the right tools at your disposal, preparing the surrounding area is equally important. Clearing away any obstacles around the bathtub will provide easy access during removal. This includes moving furniture, rugs, or other items that might hinder your movements or damage nearby objects.

Furthermore, taking safety precautions cannot be overstated when dealing with such tasks. Before starting the removal process, ensure you have readily available protective gloves and eyewear. These safety measures will help protect you against sharp edges or falling debris injuries.

By gathering all necessary tools in advance and ensuring an obstacle-free environment while prioritizing safety precautions like wearing protective gear throughout this endeavor -- whether it's adjusting wrench tension using pliers against rusted bolts or prying stubborn open fittings -- you can guarantee a practical clawfoot bathtub removal experience.

Step-by-step Removal Process

  1. Draining the bathtub and disconnecting the plumbing:

    • Start by turning off the water supply and opening the faucet to drain any remaining water from the tub.

    • Use pliers or a wrench to disconnect the water supply lines and the drain pipe from the bathtub.

  2. Safely detaching the bathtub from the floor:

    • Carefully remove any screws or fasteners that secure the clawfoot bathtub to the floor.

    • Use a pry bar or a rubber mallet to loosen the bathtub from the floor gently, taking care not to damage the surrounding tiles or walls.

  3. Removing any additional attachments:

    • If the clawfoot bathtub has additional attachments, such as a showerhead or curtain rod, detach them using the appropriate tools.

    • Check for any caulking or sealant around the edges of the bathtub, and carefully remove it using a utility knife.

  4. Moving the clawfoot bathtub out of the bathroom without causing damage:

    • Enlist the help of another person to ensure a safe and smooth removal process.

    • Lift the bathtub from underneath, using caution to distribute the weight evenly.

    • Use furniture sliders or a dolly to transport the bathtub out of the bathroom without scratching or damaging the floors.

Restoring a Clawfoot Bathtub

Once the clawfoot bathtub has been successfully removed, you may find yourself inclined to restore it rather than dispose of it. Converting a clawfoot bathtub allows for preserving its unique charm and historical significance and adds a touch of elegance to any bathroom. In this section, we will provide comprehensive guidance on cleaning and repairing your classic tub while exploring various options for refinishing and reglazing. Even if you don't need the tub in your home, restoring it can improve the price you can ask for resale. These pieces of vintage flair are in high demand by many interior designers.

Cleaning is an essential first step in restoring a clawfoot bathtub. Over time, these antique fixtures can accumulate dirt, grime, and mineral deposits that detract from their original beauty. We recommend using non-abrasive cleaners formulated explicitly for delicate surfaces, such as porcelain or cast iron, to achieve optimal results. Gently scrubbing the exterior and interior surfaces with a soft sponge or cloth will help remove stubborn stains without causing damage.

Repairing any noticeable damages is crucial before refinishing or reglazing the tub. Inspect all visible areas closely for chips, cracks, or rust spots that might compromise its structural integrity. Minor imperfections can often be fixed using epoxy putty designed explicitly for repairing bathtubs; however, more extensive damages might require professional assistance from experienced artisans specializing in vintage bathtub restoration.

Refinishing your restored clawfoot bathtub allows you to breathe new life into its appearance while maintaining its original character. Several techniques are available depending on personal preference and budget constraints. Enameling the surface with high-quality paint specially made for bathtubs can provide a smooth, glossy, appealing, and highly durable finish. Another option is a professional refinishing service, which can often deliver exceptional results, albeit at a higher cost.

The choice ultimately depends on your budget and desired outcome. Nevertheless, both options can significantly enhance the appearance of your clawfoot bathtub, making it a centerpiece in your bathroom.

Repurposing the Clawfoot Tub

If you've decided not to restore the clawfoot bathtub, there are plenty of creative ways to repurpose it. Here are some ideas and suggestions:

  1. Using the clawfoot tub in other areas of the home:

    • Turn it into a unique outdoor planter by filling it with soil and planting flowers or herbs.

    • Add ice and drinks to transform it into a stylish beverage cooler for outdoor parties.

    • Fill it with decorative items such as seashells, candles, or fairy lights for a whimsical touch.

    • Plug the drain and add a filter system, turning it into an outdoor water feature with plants and fish.

    • Turn it into a one-of-a-kind coffee table by adding a glass top and placing it in your living room; fill it with other vintage trinkets or memorabilia.

    • Add shelves or baskets inside the tub as a storage unit.

    • You can find many more ideas on platforms like Pinterest.

Preparing the Space for a New Tub

Preparing the space beforehand is essential in successfully replacing a clawfoot bathtub with a new style. Several vital tasks must be completed to ensure a smooth installation process.

Firstly, evaluating the available space and taking accurate measurements of the new tub is crucial. This will help ensure the replacement bathtub fits correctly into the designated area. Additionally, consider any additional features you plan to incorporate, such as a showerhead or curtain rod, and make a note of their specific requirements.

Next, inspecting and repairing the floor is vital for creating a sturdy foundation for your new tub. Carefully examine the base for any signs of damage or rot, as this could compromise the integrity of your installation. If any areas are found to be damaged, it is essential to promptly repair or replace them before proceeding with installing the new tub.

In addition to assessing its condition, ensuring the floor is level is equally important when preparing for installation. A level surface guarantees proper stability and prevents potential issues down the line. Moreover, confirm that your floor can adequately support the weight of your chosen bathtub model.

If necessary, due to structural considerations or personal preference, building a frame using 2x4 lumber can provide extra support for your new bathtub. This frame should be constructed according to precise measurements and securely fastened in place before installation.

Lastly, plumbing modifications may need attention during this preparation stage. It is imperative to carefully follow manufacturer instructions regarding installing and connecting plumbing fixtures

to your clawfoot tub. In some cases, it might be necessary to hire a professional plumber, especially when dealing with complex configurations or if you encounter issues beyond your expertise. This ensures a safe and proper installation, preventing leaks and possible water damage.

Remember, while DIY projects can be rewarding and cost-effective, it's crucial to know when to call professionals to ensure safety and quality artistry.


Removing a clawfoot bathtub is not a task to be taken lightly. It demands careful planning, thorough preparation, and precise execution to achieve a successful removal process. As outlined in the step-by-step guide provided in this article, following each instruction meticulously will enable you to remove your clawfoot bathtub without causing any damage and even allow for the possibility of restoring or repurposing it.

One crucial aspect that cannot be emphasized enough is safety. Prioritizing your well-being throughout the entire removal process is paramount. The weight and bulkiness of a clawfoot bathtub make it an arduous undertaking; therefore, seeking professional assistance when necessary should not be overlooked.

Before diving into the removal steps, take some time to thoroughly assess the condition of your bathroom and determine if any additional precautions are needed. Clearing out surrounding furniture or fixtures can create more space for maneuverability during the extraction process.

Once you have prepared your workspace adequately, start by turning off all water supply lines connected to the bathtub and ensure no remaining traces of water within its plumbing system. Failure to do so may result in unwanted leaks or further complications.

Next, carefully inspect how your clawfoot tub is secured to the floor and walls. Commonly held in place by either screws or bolts hidden beneath decorative covers, removing these fasteners is essential before proceeding with any lifting attempts.

With proper tools, such as wrenches or screwdrivers, proceed cautiously as you gradually loosen each bolt or screw. Keep in mind that old fixtures may be rusty or stuck, requiring extra patience and care. It's also a good idea to keep a container nearby to store these small parts to prevent them from getting lost.