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A Brief History of the Modern Bathtub: Part 2

Thanks for checking back to the second part of our series on the history of bathtubs! Part 1 is available here. This time, we’ll cover modern bathtub design and the color craze that followed the first World War.

With the decreased production costs of cast iron, claw-foot bathtubs, the popularity and prevalence of the fixtures grew enormously. Despite their considerable heft, having a claw-foot tub was considered a sign of a progressive lifestyle. However, the vast majority of homes (reportedly as high as 99%) didn’t have indoor plumbing at all in 1921. In fact, the readily available Sears holiday catalogs were a popular form of toilet paper in every American outhouse.

Eventually, free-standing claw-foot tubs became a more permanent part of the bathroom itself, incorporating an apron front in its design. This allowed the homeowner to more easily maintain the bathroom and decorate according to the homemaker’s preferences.

The first company to introduce colored bathroom fixtures was the Crane Company. Their first colored plumbing fixtures, designed by Henry Dreyfuss, arrived in the United States in 1928 and achieved instant popularity, pushing the Crane Company’s distribution operations from 86 to 190 in ten years, earning them a listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

The rise of indoor plumbing to rural and low-income areas necessitated the need for quickly produced, low-cost bathtubs. Along with the construction of the interstate highway system in the 1950s, more Americans were travelling by automobile and needing a place to stay along the way. Thus, motel chains began placing large orders for cheap plumbing fixtures, and fiberglass and sheet metal bathtubs were born.

Homeowners who’ve held onto their claw-foot tubs are enjoying a resurgence in their popularity, as the luxury and elegance of the antique fixtures are coming back into style. New cast-iron tubs are available in classic styling, but others come in lower-cost acrylic styles with a variety of finishes and foot options.

Maintaining a claw-foot bathtub can be difficult without the right expertise. Such a valuable fixture requires the proper care, so if you’ve been putting off getting a crack or chip in your tub fixed, it might be time to call a professional.

Seattle Bathtub Guy can quickly assess the damage to your tub and perform the necessary repairs. We’re the only independent bathtub repair specialist in the Seattle area that provides complimentary repairs on the first chip or crack that occurs after our work is done. Contact us today to discuss your bathtub problems or to make an appointment.