Many folks dream of installing a cast iron tub in their bathrooms. The tubs are beautiful, large, and perfect for bathing. They create an eye-catching centerpiece in the space, elevating the bathroom with an effortless, elegant appearance. Given their abundant benefits, it’s no surprise that many folks want to install them in their bathrooms.
But what about the logistics of these tubs? How much do they weigh? Are they too heavy for one person to maneuver? Can you put one on the second or third floor of your home? These are great questions – each one is essential to consider before purchasing a cast iron tub. So, if you see a stunning cast iron tub in your bathroom’s future, here’s what you need to know.
What Are Cast Iron Tubs Made Of?
The composition of cast iron tubs is in the name: they’re made of cast iron. However, we don’t usually see cast iron on a tub in good condition, and this is because the iron core is coated in a porcelain layer, much like steel bathtubs.
When the manufacturers make the tub, they start by shaping the iron into the desired shape. Once the iron hardens, they fuse it with porcelain, then coat that in enamel. The enamel coating helps protect the porcelain from chips that could expose the iron underneath. The iron is susceptible to rust when that happens, so the porcelain and enamel coatings are essential.
How Heavy Is An Old Cast Iron Bath?
Cast iron tubs are incredibly heavy due to their solid composition. The iron is far from lightweight, so these tubs usually weigh anywhere from 225 pounds to 500 pounds or more. Of course, after you add water and a bather, the tub weighs even more. An empty tub, though, usually weighs within that range.
The exact weight hinges on a few factors, including the size and type of the tub. There are two main types: freestanding and alcove cast iron tubs.
Freestanding Cast Iron Tubs
Freestanding tubs are those that don’t require a wall for support. Claw-footed tubs are a popular type of freestanding tub, named for their distinct tub feet. With these tubs, you can place them almost anywhere in your bathroom, as long as you have access to plumbing.
You have much more freedom with sizing, placement, and design with freestanding cast iron tubs than you do with their alcove counterpart. Because of this, many folks use freestanding cast iron tubs (especially of the claw-footed variety) as a focal point in their bathrooms.
These tubs range in size from 55- to 72-inches in length and 27- to 32-inches wide. A typical 55-inch freestanding cast iron tub usually weighs about 250 to 300 pounds, whereas a 72-inch freestanding cast iron tub may exceed 500 pounds.
Alcove Cast Iron Tubs
On the other hand, you could also choose an alcove cast iron tub. These tubs, unlike their freestanding counterpart, require three surrounding walls for installation. This style of cast iron tub mimics the standard tub/shower combo you’ll find in many homes, as it requires a recessed area in your bathroom for installation.
These tubs are standard in small bathrooms, where there’s not enough room for a freestanding tub, which consume lots of floor space. Unfortunately, the restrictions on placement also impose design limitations, so they’re usually only available in rectangle shapes.
Standard alcove bathtubs are 60-inches long, although you may find varying sizes that will work with different alcove sizes. Since these tubs are enclosed on three sides, they’re usually unfinished on those sides. This can translate to a lighter weight since they don’t need as much material to finish the tub’s other sides.
On average, a 60-inch alcove cast iron bathtub weighs anywhere from 300 to 325 pounds.
How Do You Move A Cast Iron Tub?
Moving a cast iron bathtub is slow and tedious, as they’re incredibly hefty. If you plan on installing the tub yourself, you’ll need to gather a few friends to help you maneuver the tub.
First, plot your route through your home. Where is the tub currently? Where does it need to go? How is it going to get there? These are essential questions to ask, as you need to ensure you can fit the tub through the areas of your home, including your doorway, hallways, and around corners.
Measure these areas to ensure the bathtub will fit through. Next, prepare the area for plumbing and add extra support as needed. Ensure you have plenty of space for the tub in your bathroom (it doesn’t hurt to measure twice).
Once you determine a route through your home and verify the tub fits, gather your protective equipment, find a dolly, and round up a few helpers. You’ll need a blanket to cover the tub, as this will protect it from damage during the trek to the bathroom, but it will also aid in protecting the walls throughout your home.
Find a few moving straps and furniture dollies for easy moving. You might need as many as four furniture dollies to transport your tub. Next, you’ll need to figure out how to lift the tub onto the dollies and into place. You could use a ramp to maneuver it into position, or you could choose to raise the tub by hand with your helpers.
Be sure to choose the safest option for you, as these tubs are heavy, and injury is possible when maneuvering heavy furniture. Once you finish ironing out the details, it’s time to move the tub. Wrap the tub in a protective layer (like a blanket), then place it on its side onto the dolly.
Gently, slowly, and carefully maneuver the tub into your home, ensuring you don’t bump into any walls on the way. Take your time – there’s no rush! Once you get the tub into your bathroom, maneuver it into place and hook up the plumbing.
Remember, if this project sounds overly daunting, you can always hire a professional to handle it for you! Installing a cast iron tub can be tricky due to the weight, so if you don’t feel comfortable handling the project, enlist the help of a pro.
Can One Person Move A Cast Iron Tub?
Although one person might be able to move a cast iron tub with special equipment, they’ll likely need assistance putting the tub on the equipment, taking it off, and installing it. So, it’s best to wait until you have a few extra people around to help maneuver the tub safely.
These tubs are extremely heavy and large, which makes them hard to maneuver without help. Even then, the sheer size of a cast iron tub can make moving and installation tricky. If you don’t have extra hands to help move the tub to the bathroom, consider enlisting the help of a professional.
That way, you don’t have to worry about handling the tub to move it or install it, as the team can handle everything for you. On average, installing a cast iron bathtub costs between $1,230 and $2,175. Of course, installation costs may vary based on the installation difficulty and the type of tub. The cost doesn’t include the price of the tub, which can be pretty high.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can You Put A Cast Iron Tub On The Second Floor?
Given the sheer weight of cast iron tubs, placing them on the second floor can require extra work. Aside from hefting the tub up the stairs, you also need to consider adding support to accommodate the excess weight.
While you can install a cast iron tub on the second floor (or higher floors) or your home, you may need to install added support in the bathroom framing. Many bathrooms feature acrylic or fiberglass tubs, which usually weigh less than 100 pounds. This is a far cry from the 200-plus pounds of a cast iron tub, so if you’re replacing your fiberglass tub with a cast iron tub, it doesn’t hurt to evaluate the framing.
On top of the bathtub’s weight, you also need to consider its weight when it’s full of water (plus a bather). A gallon of water (at room temperature) weighs approximately 8.34 pounds, and the average cast iron tub can hold between 32 and 82 gallons of water (alcove vs. freestanding).
So, the water to fill an alcove tub could weigh up to roughly 265 pounds, whereas it could weigh up to about 680 pounds for a full-size freestanding tub. Once you add a bather, the combined weight climbs even higher.
The moral of this story? Be sure to consider all aspects of the tub’s weight and how much your bathroom’s framing can hold. If you’re unsure, talk to a licensed contractor, as it’s better to be safe than sorry.