Restoring an antique or vintage clawfoot bathtub can seem like a daunting task, but with some chicken wire, super glue, and a little elbow grease, it’s totally doable as a DIY project. As someone who loves the look of clawfoot tubs but doesn’t have the budget for a brand new one, I decided to try restoring the antique tub that came with my 1900s era house using chicken wire and super glue.
In this article, I’ll walk you through my process and experience restoring my clawfoot tub from start to finish. From patching holes to reglazing the finish, I’ll share everything I learned along the way. I hope my trial and error will help you feel confident to take on restoring your own vintage bathtub!
Assessing the Tub and Gathering Materials
The first step was to carefully assess the condition of the antique clawfoot tub that had come with my house. I wanted to identify any cracks, holes, or areas where the finish had completely worn off. This would help me understand the extent of the repairs needed.
I found that my tub had:
- Several quarter-sized holes on the interior bottom. These were likely from age and corrosion.
- A few hairline cracks around some of the claw feet.
- Areas on the interior sides where the original porcelain finish had chipped away down to the cast iron.
With this assessment complete, I set out to gather the necessary materials:
- Chicken wire or metal mesh screen to cover holes.
- Super glue to adhere the chicken wire patches.
- Tub reglazing epoxy kit to resurface the interior.
- Sandpaper, for surface prep.
- Tub claw foot refinishing kit for any claw repairs.
- Tub glaze additive for extra gloss.
- Paint brushes and rollers.
- Drop cloths and painting supplies.
Patching Holes with Chicken Wire
The first repairs were patching the quarter-sized holes in the bottom of the tub. For this, I used chicken wire and super glue:
- I cut pieces of chicken wire a few inches wider than each hole.
- After cleaning each hole, I filled it with super glue and quickly placed the chicken wire patch over it.
- Using more glue, I adhered the patch tightly from the underside.
- Once dry, the chicken wire patches weren’t visible and provided a sealed surface to reglaze over.
The chicken wire blended right in after reglazing and provided a durable repair that should hold up for years to come. Super glue offers incredibly strong adhesion to bond it to the cast iron tub bottom.
Repairing Hairline Cracks and Chips
Next I addressed the hairline cracks around some claw feet and any areas where the original finish had chipped away.
For the cracks:
- I lightly sanded to open up the crack a bit and cleaned out any debris.
- After drying thoroughly, I flooded the cracks with super glue, then held them tightly closed for 60 seconds as it bonded.
- This filled the cracks and sealed them for reglazing.
For the chipped areas:
- I sanded the edges to feather them out and provide a smooth surface.
- After cleaning the sanded areas, I brushed on a coat of super glue.
- This provided an sealed layer to reglaze over.
Reglazing the Tub Interior
With all repairs patched and cracks filled, it was time to reglaze the interior using an epoxy tub reglazing kit. This provided a fresh and protective porcelain finish.
I followed the kit directions closely:
- First I used sandpaper to scuff up the original finish. This helped the epoxy bond.
- After cleaning the sanded surface thoroughly, I applied 2-3 coats of the reglazing epoxy using a small paint roller.
- Per the instructions, I allowed proper drying time between coats.
- For an extra glossy finish, I mixed in tub glaze additive on the final coat.
- Overall, the reglazing process took about 2 days with drying time included.
Rejuvenating the Claw Feet
The final step was using a claw foot refinishing kit to clean up and rejuvenate the antique bronze claw feet.
The process was simple:
- I sanded each foot lightly to remove any loose paint or corrosion.
- After cleaning, I applied 2-3 coats of the bronze refinishing paint, allowing proper dry time between coats.
- I finished up by applying a protective clear coat over the bronze paint.
My Finished Antique Clawfoot Tub
After a few days of work, I was thrilled with how my newly restored antique clawfoot tub turned out! Here are the impressive results:
- The reglazed interior looks fresh and clean, like a brand new tub.
- You’d never know there were holes patched with chicken wire underneath.
- Details like the claw feet look revived and crisp.
- Overall, the tub looks completely renewed and ready to enjoy for years to come!
Best of all, I saved hundreds or even thousands of dollars compared to purchasing a brand new clawfoot tub. By taking the time to restore this vintage piece, I preserved its antique charm while giving it a much needed makeover. This is a project I’m proud to have tackled myself using just chicken wire, super glue, and elbow grease!
- Assessing condition helps identify needed repairs
- Chicken wire and super glue create durable hole patches
- Cracks can be filled with super glue before reglazing
- Reglazing kits provide a fresh porcelain finish
- Refinishing kits renew claw feet and other details
- With some work, antique tubs can be restored to look brand new
I hope this overview gives you confidence to restore your own vintage clawfoot tub! Let me know if you have any other questions. Happy renovating!