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Choosing a clawfoot tub shower

How-To, Master Bathroom

First and foremost, let me stress what a total debacle this endeavor was. Why the troubles? Perhaps because Teague and I are know-it-alls, and decided we didn’t need any help choosing the right shower. Or because we ordered the shower about a year ago, before we had a tub in our possession or any type of plan for the master bathroom. Or because STUPIDLY (very, very stupidly) we had the tub refinisher fill in our faucet holes because we wanted the faucet to be seperate from the tub. We did this without checking prices for that particular style, and this decision ended up costing us a pretty penny. All because we didn’t do our due diligence before jumping in. Tsk, tsk.

To summarize: We are idiots.

In round one, I ordered a stand-alone shower set that is beautifully crafted but absolutely positively of no use to us upstairs. For some reason, I thought it would be a “flexible option”, that we’d just hook a faucet up to it and be all set. Decidedly not the case. We were generously given the option of returning it. Instead, we’re keeping it for the downstairs bathroom where we plan to do a stand-up shower rather than a full tub.

In round two, we realized that since we plugged the wall-mount faucet holes the tub originally had, we had to purchase a freestanding shower enclosure – which happens to be the most expensive kind. We plugged them on a whim; neither of us can even remember WHY we thought this was a good idea. Doh!

To be fair, I think the excitement just got to us. We weren’t thinking clearly. And it was mostly me making decisions about plumbing – always a bad idea.

Please – learn from our mistakes, people.

1. If you’re buying a tub (salvaged or new), look at the various styles available. Spend time deciding how your tub will be positioned in your bathroom. There are many things to consider, such as where your plumbing will run and how much room you have. There are three basic faucet styles – wall mount, deck mount, and freestanding. You can have the faucet on one end, in the middle, or completely seperate from the tub itself. Big decisions, with big financial implications. We chose freestanding, which of course ended up being the most expensive of the three – and also the hardest to find.

2. Have a tub in your possession before you go off half-cocked and buy a very expensive shower enclosure. If you’re buying a new tub, by all means – buy a full set. Then you won’t have to figure out all the various plumbing complexities.
3. Look at the schematics carefully. Measure everything twice. Or three times, maybe. And don’t be afraid to ask questions.

I don’t know the first thing about plumbing; it’s one of the jobs I try to stay out of. It smells, little screw-ups mean major headaches, and you generally have to crawl beneath or into something gross to deal with it. So this whole “how it comes together” part was very confusing to me. I had to ask lots of questions and call a few salespeople. The people at Vintage Tub and Bath were incredibly helpful, as always, and we ended up ordering our shower set from them.

Here is the one we finally picked, after much searching and debate:

Clawfoot tub shower enclosure - freestanding
We opted not to order the handshower; it was about $400 more, and the only time I use them is when I’m cleaning. For $400, I’ll figure out another way to clean – I’ve never been a fan of extra doo-dads cluttering up the shower, anyway.

It should come in about two weeks; we’re holding off on roughing-in the shower plumbing until we have it in our possession; the site gives great schematics with detailed measurements, but we’re not up for taking chances right now! This will hold up the tile floor, which saddens me, but there are plenty of other things to take care of.
If you’re starting to research clawfoot tubs or showers, here are a few places to start:

Comments, Thoughts, and Feedback

John had this to say on 01.09.07:

I feel your pain. We screwed up the plumbing on our clawfoot tub too. It works, but it’s not quite right. Mainly, our hot and cold feeds don’t have built in shut off valves. Everyone we could find to ask told us that we didn’t need them. I guess we asked all the wrong people, because we really do need them. Every time we tinker with the tub’s plumbing, we have to shut the water off to the whole house. Brilliant.

Good luck with round two.

Nadja had this to say on 01.09.07:

Oh, I feel your pain. But the final product looks magnificent!! We recently went through trying to put the shower in to a tub that didn’t have one. It’s wAAAAAYYY more complicated than it should be. (Read the “Bath, Shath, Sh-Bath, Shower” post to see our headaches…)

Patricia W. had this to say on 01.09.07:

I almost asked about the holes disappearing on the returned tub when I saw it in an earlier post. I didn’t know they could fill them in and was really impressed that they did this.

Sorry about all of the hardships. It’s hard not to want to buy the eye-candy first, it’s human nature.

Your bathroom is going to be exquisite when you are finished with it!

Seth had this to say on 01.09.07:

The freestanding route may be the most expensive — but it is also the most bad ass. The results are going to be totally off the hook.

Amy had this to say on 01.09.07:

Well, at least you’re code-compliant with a faucet above the rim of the tub (small comfort). Do you have to install a pressure-balancing (anti-scald) valve or does that new faucet come with one?

Kristin had this to say on 01.09.07:

Now I’m terrified that our shower set won’t work! I’m pretty sure it will. I researched and researched and thought and thought and planned and planned before we settled on anything. But we’ve had it ordered for months, and it’s still in the boxes.

Good news is your freestanding shower is really cool looking!

Sean had this to say on 01.09.07:

I did somthing very similar when I redid our kitchen – I bought a wall mounted faucet that had adjustable connectors to compensate for varying distances – Since I was installing all new pipes, i figured I could dispense with the adjustable connectors (which were ugly) and attach the faucet directly – so i put the pipes 6″ apart. What I didn’t know was the the part that screwed into the connectors was a VERY odd confiuration and so I had the use the connectors. Meanwhile, I found the perfect faucet that directly screwed intro the wall, so I order it, it arrives, and when I go to install it, the distance is 8″ between the pipes. I go back online and discover that all standard wall mount faucets are 8″ apart and so I am stuck with the faucet,since I had already tiled the wall.

Nick had this to say on 01.11.07:

We got the hand sprayer (but not the overhead shower kit). We dont use it except for one thing: to clean out, um, “solids” from soiled cloth diapers into the toilet bowl. Not all that much fun, but without the sprayer its an even less-fun job.

‘Just thought I’d share that lovely image with everyone.

Mindy had this to say on 01.11.07:

Ha! Nick, that’s a great image to get my morning started with. We wouldn’t be able to reach the toilet with a handshower anyway, so I guess we’ll have to think of some other way to rinse those solids when the time comes ;)

colleen had this to say on 01.18.07:

we have a clawfoot tub with brass faucet with the hand shower its actually pretty handy, works well with bathing the dogs, cleaning out the fridge trays big pans and roasters. the bath will be awsome tho!

Hoff had this to say on 01.11.09:

I had my clawfoot tub refinished offsite. While it was away I had a plumber rough in a pipe up through my bathroom floor and into the next room for my new washing machine. This new pipe is against the wall near the tub plumbing. Alas, when we put the tub back yesterday it doesn’t fit against the wall and so the hookups are about 1.5″ off. Are flexible pipes available for this kind of thing?

Clawfoot Tub Shower had this to say on 10.19.10:

I went through a very similar experience towards the beginning of this year and your experience is not uncommon. Too bad the place you bought the faucet didn’t make these requirements more clear. Nice choice on the chrome by the way.

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