Why Buy a New Cast Iron Clawfoot Bathtub Instead of an Antique Vintage Tub?

Recent Customer Installation of New Cast Iron Clawfoot Tub

You’ve just purchased a Victorian Era styled house or wish to build or remodel based on the style and are looking for a tub fitting the period. In early America, when main bathrooms came in to style, the cast iron clawfoot tub became the standard. Known for their durability and temperature retention the cast iron bathtub became the hallmark soaking tub used through several generations.

Why did they fall out of favor?
in 1883, both the Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Company (now American Standard) and Kohler began the process of enameling cast iron bathtubs to form a smooth interior surface. For a time, only the wealthy could afford the cost of a cast iron bathtub but when they started mass producing the tubs it opened up availability to home owners of lower income levels. Which was great, however, the sheer weight of the tub limited the type of houses the tub could be put in and generally only on the first floor. In many cases, having a properly reinforced floor to accommodate a heavy tub may not have been in a homeowner’s budget or consideration when building or purchasing a home back then. Other materials and lighter weight options eventually began to enter the scene and take over the market. Slowly the beautiful and timeless cast iron bathtub disappeared as an option to purchase “new”.

Why did it take them so long to emerge back in to style?
Actually, the clawfoot tub never really lost its allure to home buyers and remodelers who cherished the look and the period of American history they represent. For many years it was nearly impossible to find a brand new cast iron bathtub and buyers started turning to the secondary market. Availability of new tubs in the U.S.A. was impacted by the amount of lead content in the tubs manufactured at the time as well as the fact that the American National Standard plumbing codes changed. The change in the code essentially prevented vintage cast iron tubs from passing plumbing inspections on new builds and bathroom remodels. 

Take a look at the placement of the overflow and faucet holes on a vintage tub.

Now take a look at the placement of the overflow and faucet holes on the new cast iron bathtub.

The revised plumbing codes required the placement of the overflow to be at least on-to-two inches below the rim of the tub, where the incoming waterlines come through the faucet. This is a precaution against a drop in pressure in the water line, such as a break. With the faucet being above the rim the bathwater is prevented from being siphoned out, back through the lines, which would contaminate the fresh water supply. https://law.resource.org/pub/us/code/ibr/iapmo.upc.2009.pdf

In an online article, This Old House states, “For an average cost of $350 to $500-a fraction of the $1,200 to $5,000 expense of a new cast-iron or steel tub installed — refinishers can make an antique fixture look brand new.” This may be applicable to a homeowner who has an existing cast iron tub which requires refinishing to bring it back to life as the owner is not remodeling or building a new home. If the tub is not part of the original structure the story and estimates may prove significantly higher, perhaps even more costly than purchasing a new clawfoot tub and fixtures.

Essentially, an antique cast iron clawfoot tub found on secondary seller sites such as Craigslist would have to be retrofitted to accommodate modern plumbing so as to pass inspections. This would require, not only, a thorough refinishing of the inside and outside of the bathtub but also a significant cost in plugging the existing holes on the face of the vintage tub. Both the plugging of the holes and the refinishing or reglazing of the bathtub results in a tub that is now not original porcelain on the surface. Once a the tub has been refinished or reglazed the owner now has to be concerned with cleaning chemicals and sharp or heavy items which may damage or discolor the new surface. Inevitably the tub will have to be professionally resurfaced much more often than a new porcelain cast iron bathtub.

Here at Tub King, in Jacksonville, Florida, we routinely refinish vintage tubs, farmhouse sinks, and other items. We are also the only approved refinishing/resurfacing trainer in the entire United States for Midwest Chemicals. We have a great love for the antique cast iron tubs and thoroughly understand the allure of wanting to have that “feel” and “look” of the past, which is why we sell brand new cast iron clawfoot and pedestal bathtubs for new home builders and home remodelers. In the end, what you “think” is a higher cost saves money and headaches down the road when deciding whether to purchase a new or buy a vintage tub.

When pricing the purchase of a new tub or considering the expense of retrofitting and refinishing a vintage tub, consider the long term savings of buying brand new and visit www.tubking.com or calling us at (800) 409-3375.

The Thingamajig and Contraption Conundrum – Discussed Through Quotes

Do We Really Need All Of The Bells & Whistles?

Tub King asks: - “Why do they keep adding more gadgets to walk in bathtubs for seniors and the disabled?”

Buddy Guy adds: “Why did they keep changing guitars and amplifiers when they were perfect? They did the same things with cars, if you ask me. They forgot how to make them right, because they focused on style and bells and whistles.”

Tub King remarks: - “Now they even put lights inside the tubs for the elderly. The bathroom is lit already. Besides, I’d think it could potentially be an electrical hazard.”

Nicole Kidman shares: “I think candlelight is the most beautiful light there is and there's something very spiritual about it.”

Suki Waterhouse agrees: “I can stay in the bath for, well, the longest has been seven or eight hours. I get completely set up with my laptop so I can watch 'The Sopranos,' put out some scented candles, music. I have a towel nearby so I can dry my hand to change the music or the TV. I make a little heaven for myself. And then I just refill and refill.”

Traci Bingham says: “I love to be in my bathroom with my candles lit, morning, noon and night.”

Affordable Aromatherapy That Won't Break Down

Tub King pipes in: “Yeah, but they toss in “aromatherapy” as an option. It’s nothing more than scented beads placed near the air intake. But if you get scented candles you have both the beauty of the candle but also your favorite scent. Lavender and vanilla tend to be two scents used often for a relaxing environment.”

Diane Ackerman says: “Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains.”

Jared Padalecki declares: “I love cookies baking. During the winter, they have these candles that smell like cookies, and I always buy like a hundred of them.”

Tub King asserts: “My grandma used to call all of those unnecessary ‘bells & whistles’ useless thingamajigs and costly contraptions. Just another thing she felt would break down,”

Richard Chamberlain advises: “I've learned, I think, to be able to distinguish between the necessary and the unnecessary..... Saying 'no' politely is a necessity if one wants to lead any kind of stable life”.

Tub King asks: “So, you are in agreement? Tub King should focus on the necessities of the tub and only potentially bring on a ‘bells & whistles’ model if its customer base demands it and it is proven safe? It is after all, one of the reasons our products are a fraction of the cost of our walk-in tub competition. We focus on providing a high quality product at very affordable pricing.”

Demetri Marin concurs: “I am completely attracted to the idea of simplicity, or at least removing things that seem unnecessary when trying to get an idea out there.”

Peace Pilgrim pitches in: “Unnecessary possessions are unnecessary burdens. If you have them, you have to take care of them! There is great freedom in simplicity of living. It is those who have enough but not too much who are the happiest.”

At Tub King, Inc. we offer high quality tubs without all of the bells & whistles. Too many moving parts and unnecessary features add to the cost of the product. The "life" of some of these add-ons are questionable as well. You will not find Tub King add comparable models to our walk-in bathtubs products until which time we are confident in the quality of such add-ons. Our commitment is to the customers, their safety, and their long term enjoyment of their Tub King purchase. 

A Walk-in Bathtub at "Below Wholesale Pricing" - A Warning Sign

Tub King's Seaspray Model Walkin Bathtub

When shoppers are looking at purchasing bathtubs for seniors, Tub King doesn't often find ourselves having to consider price matching other companies as our biggest competitors (Safe Step, Premier, and American Standard) are significantly higher priced. In most cases our walk in bath products come from the same manufacturers but many of our competitors have a much higher overhead than Tub King does, which allows us to buy in large quantities to keep our costs to the consumer low. Recently, however, we found ourselves facing the realization that there is another walk-in bathtub competitor out there who is offering "below wholesale pricing" and is advertising "the lowest price in the world".

I'm about to give them some free advertising. Call it comparative industry analysis.

The phone rings......

Potential customer states: "Yeah, I see you sell bathtubs for elderly persons and I'm looking at your Seaspray 202 Dual System on your website that you are selling with fixtures for $2894.95. I can get it from your competitor for $1995.00 but have to wait 3 weeks, can you price match?"
Price Match That?

Needless to say, following the call, research ensued and I present to you our comparative analysis.

Yes, their price is in fact $1995 for the Model 202 Dual System Walk In Tub. We were stunned a company would sell at such a low price point, their margins would have to be very, VERY thin. Tub King, Inc. takes pride in our price point to the consumer for it being a fraction of the cost of our previously mentioned major competitors but there are significant factors which push their prices so high and it is explainable. To have a competitor be a fraction of OUR cost, though, is perplexing from an outright "how does that business survive?" mentality; until we searched for their reviews and ratings. 

Luxury Spas, Inc. has an "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau and it certainly does not stop there; ripoffreport.com and scambook.com are just a couple of sites filled with livid customer reviews.

To continue with our comparative analysis, here is what you will learn about Tub King, Inc.

As you can see, our customers love our products and it's not just about the walk in tub price. If you were to read each and every review you would find most of the compliments come from the beauty and quality of the tubs along with our phenomenal customer service. In full disclosure, we do have 1 negative complaint on Yelp which we responded to reminding the customer we had immediately addressed and resolved her issue despite the fact it was damage done by the freight carrier and not related to our product or services (we have since stopped using that freight carrier).

In comparing the senior bathtub prices in an "apples to apples" scenario; at the time the call came in to our sales office our Model 202 was $2894.95 with fixtures. Currently we do have a sale in which that model can be purchased, with fixtures, for $2460 (sale ends 3/31/16).

As the saying goes, "if its too good to be true, then it usually is". If you are getting a STEEP discount for something, beyond what is logical, there is a reason. We sell the same quality walk-in tub and ours not only comes with a wonderful warranty but also the personalized customer service experience and shipping expertise to ensure you are getting the item in a timely and undamaged condition. We all know things can go wrong from time to time but our staff is immediately responsive and customer-centric in our steps towards resolving whatever issues they may have, hence no complaints on the BBB and consistent 5 star reviews.

Don't be fooled by bargain basement walk-in tub pricing from competitors or you may be leaving negative reviews on rippoffreport.com!

Grow Jacksonville by Bringing in Foreign Manufacturers - Is This Solid Thinking?

Recently the Jacksonville Business Journal has been covering articles celebrating the emergence of a new company focused on moving in to a local mall that has gone 'belly up' in a old and struggling area of Jacksonville. It sounds great, wonderful, and exciting with great potential for growth and jobs. But, I ask, growth  and jobs for whom?
Here are the JBJ's articles:
So, being a progressive business owner  not being opposed to growth of my company as well as growth of the community in which we live and work everyday, I reached out to IDO (International Decor Outlet) to find out more about how to become a retailer in this exciting endeavor they have for the Regency Square Mall. Now, keep in mind that their website states the following "International Décor Outlet (IDO) is the first direct-to-consumer outlet for manufacturers and retailers of interior decor and home improvement materials in the United States." Their qualifications for applicants are as follows:
  1. Registered businesses with independent legal person qualification
  2. Businesses with intentions to open and expand stores in the US, as well as with primary capital for leasing storefront, inventory and operation in the US.
  3. Businesses with high-quality products, development capability and factories experienced in foreign order processing will be preferred.
Hmmm....yes, I do believe Tub King fits these criteria! Exciting! I am surprised to find this international company launching in this new endeavor has offices around the corner from where I live. Ok, there's nothing wrong with a major company having corporate headquarters here in Jacksonville. I was just surprised as I've been in my industry for over 20 years, the last 6 of those in Jacksonville and have never heard of the company before. I next pick up the phone and call their office to get more information of how I can get involved only to be transferred to someone who knew NOTHING and only to be provided with an email of media@idooutlet.com
Six hours later I receive the following response from Rhett Farber, Chief Operating Officer, "We allow manufacturers to sell directly to consumer, in order to get better product at same or less price to consumer. Thus, we are just focusing on manufacturers at this time, whether they be domestic or overseas. " 
He did not state he would reach out to Tub King if they do not find a manufacturer in our space (luxury and walk-in tubs) or provide any other "hey, maybe down the road" scenarios. We replied, "Interesting, your website indicates the following: "International Décor Outlet (IDO) is the first direct-to-consumer outlet for manufacturers and retailers of interior decor and home improvement materials in the United States." We are not a manufacturer - we are a retailer. Is your Georgia location open for business?" That was sent 1 1/2 days ago with no response. (Side note: Rhett's Facebook profile shows that he just started working for IDO in January of this year as Director of Strategic Relations. Yeah, his response to Tub King was very strategic - if his goal was to ostracize me.)
Before I move on, understand Tub King purchases material, components, and products from all over the world, this includes places such as the U.S. midwest, China, Germany, and Italy. We, therefore, have wonderful relations with foreign manufacturers and freight carriers.
Moving on, naturally I start digging. Here are some interesting facts posted on their website and my questions regarding them:
"Services provided include but not limited to: assistance in the visa application process, business registration, sales guidance, employee recruitment in the US, access to legal advice and tax and accounting advice, freight and customs assistance, foreign product information collection, product and advertising strategies and design, brand packaging promotion, management consulting, construction consulting and other comprehensive services and guidance." 
  • Will there be a stipulation requiring the oversees manufacturers to hire a certain percentage of U.S. workers from the Jacksonville community or will the manufacturer have the option of using IDO's services to bring over cheap workforce from their own country?
  • Can they provide historical costs charts proving out savings for the consumer once all of IDO's business services are tacked on to all of the manufacturers other expenses or are they presenting estimated costs based on existing U.S. Retail Outlet scenarios?
"IDO has established a Business Support Consulting Center, providing long-term all-round counseling and assistance for foreign enterprisesoperating, setting up branch offices and stores, seize economic recovery opportunities, access international markets and promote global brand awareness and recognition in the US."
  • Ah, ok, I get it now. Their focus is primarily (if not solely) bringing foreign entities in and growing THEM, with the promise of growing Jacksonville along the way. There is nothing in this statement which refers to helping U.S. manufacturers or retailers "seize economic recovery opportunities, access international markets and promote global brand awareness". 
Going back to my question in email to Rhett Farber, COO, about the success of their location in Darien, GA, I refer to this article: Struggling Darien Outlet Center looking for investment from China
I've received no response and am hard pressed to find anything of relevant value which refers to a successful launch of an international outlet in Darien, despite the quote in the article, "An IDO release said the company expects to have completely filled the stores in the Darien center by next month." (the date of that quote was July 2015) On IDO's website they have a number of "locations" listed on their map as if to imply they have outlets or corporate offices in those cities, yet I'm having difficulty identify footprints beyond Jacksonville and supposedly Darien.
Oh wait, there was an update stating "INTERNATIONAL DÉCOR OUTLET (IDO), its investors, and the executive team would like to announce that they will be occupying the Darien Mall on Interstate 95 and expect to celebrate its Grand Opening in early 2016." According to their website they have lots of Chinese manufacturers lined up and handing them over money for their storefronts. Which begs to question if IDO even has the capital to open these outlet locations without first needing the Chinese money.
The U.S. didn't learn enough from shipping a good portion of our customer support, technical support, and manufacturing jobs overseas? Our unemployment rates and number of chronically unemployed are astounding. Now we are going to celebrate and encourage giving a direct route for foreign manufacturers to come in and undercut our U.S. based manufacturers and retailers? One of the previous articles quotes IDO as bringing 100-200 jobs to the outlet. Will they ensure they, IDO, will hire employees who are U.S. citizens and from the community as well? 
Next question, who's behind IDO? Looks like the owner of IDO's "partner" JJ Atlantic Investment Group, Brian Smith. I'm not seeing reference to many other IDO or JJ Atlantic Investment Group officers being mentioned or promoted in their news feeds. 
So, there it is, my soap box response to an initiative that promises growth to the Jacksonville community but may, in fact, be yet another nail in the coffin of mom and pop businesses and U.S. based manufacturers.
(original post: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/support-growth-jacksonville-joe-king?trk=pulse_spock-articles)

The Hottest Demographic in Building - the 50+ Market

Soon to take over the world.......

I have the great pleasure of working as a Sales & Marketing Manager for Tub King, our showroom located in Jacksonville, FL, and through this role have met amazing and inspiring seniors. In many cases I’m also communicating with adult children of seniors who are concerned with their parent’s comfort and safety while bathing. Being an empathetic creature I oftentimes internalize their frustration of having to venture down the road of demolition and the remodel of their homes with little to no idea of how to do it, when to do it, nor what to buy.

Based on my own personal experience with this growing segment of the population, and being a person who requires data before making a decision, I went on an internet research expedition. The statistics I’m about to share with you are eye opening if you are in a business which provides products or services to the senior population.

  • Today one in three Americans is now 50 or older and in 2030 individuals aged over 65 will climb to about 72.1 million, or one in five Americans. (Source: Admininistration on Aging). 
  • What will that look like in 2050? The senior population will soar to 88.5 million — or 20 percent of the population. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2010

How do these facts impact home and community building contractors currently? A survey conducted by AARP of 1,616 adults ages 45 and older found that fewer than half of the respondents have an entrance without steps, a half-bath on the main level of their home, doorways that are wider than standard door, nor handles that are levers instead of knobs.

AARP shares, “The great majority of older adults have a strong desire to live in their own homes and communities. However, unsupportive community design, unaffordable and inaccessible housing, and a lack of access to needed services can thwart this desire.” Unless there are vital changes in how houses and communities are constructed and what services are offered, many older adults will find it increasingly difficult to live in their communities and may be compelled to consider institutional care.

“Nearly 90% of people over age 65 indicate they want to stay in their home as long as possible, and four of five in that age bracket believe their current home is where they will always live,” says AARP, which stressed the importance of accessible building standards to allow people to remain in their homes instead of having to spend money on relocating or retrofitting. “It might be a good idea to design houses and communities that are accessible to all people, including older Americans and those with disabilities, and some states encourage developers of affordable housing to install features that make it easier for older adults to age in place”, says AARP. Examples of this include: wider accessible entrance doors; entry-level hallways that are wide enough for mobility devices; ramped or beveled door thresholds; and accessible bathrooms focused on safety.

I implore contractors, builders, remodelers, architects, and designers nationwide to think forward and be proactive when it comes to what is 'future forward' when selecting bathtubs for seniors. Consider, not only what the client wants now, but what they will appreciate having incorporated into their home for use in the future. Sure, go ahead and put an exquisite Tub King cast iron clawfoot tub in their master bathroom but also think ahead to the time they or their 'aging in place' parent may need the comfort and independence provided by a Tub King walk-in bathtub installed in one of the guest bathrooms.

Kudos to the National Association of Home Builders who have instituted a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) program to address these needs in the building industry. The CAPS designation offers your potential clients what they need most: reassurance that you’ll help them make the choices that will help them stay in their homes safely and securely. I am actually considering becoming certified myself!

If you are considering implementing this strategy in to your new home building or renovation project, please contact our Sales & Marketing Manager, Edie, at (800) 409-3375 for contractor pricing on walk-in bathtubs for elderly and disabled persons.

How Saving $307 Can Cost You $955

Just like any other industry Tub King experiences buyers who want to get “more bang for their buck”. Sometimes this will lead the buyer to make the decision to purchase a cheaper “replica” of a cast iron clawfoot or freestanding tub. This is not an uncommon mentality when building and remodeling. However, the decision to save a buck today may cost a significant amount of money down the line.

Property inspectors, insurance agents, realtors, and the like have tools available to them which indicate the life expectancy of items and furnishings in a home and use the data in attaching values to the individual items and the home in general. The end result of which can affect the price point related to insuring, renting, and listing the property for sale.

Taking this in to account let’s consider the following example:
·         Tub King’s 72" Double Slipper Pedestal Cast Iron Bathtub currently priced at $1545
·         Competitor 72” Double Slipper Pedestal Acrylic Bathtub currently priced at $1238
The savings at purchase is $307.

One of Tub King's Most Popular Pedestal Cast Iron Tubs!

If we were to pull up the aforementioned “life expectancy” data we would find that, IF properly cared for and maintained, the life expectancy for an acrylic tub is approximately 30 years.  I stress “if properly cared for and maintained” because acrylic tubs are subject to chipping, cracking, scratches, and turning yellow over time. Referencing the same data a cast iron tub can last upwards of 100+ years but we will be generous and utilize the lowest referenced number of 50 years.  Cast iron is one of the most durable materials used for tubs and is resistant to most chemicals so does not share the same disadvantages of acrylic which affect the long term durability and appearance of the tub.

Value/# yrs. life expectancy of product:
·         Tub King’s 72" Double Slipper Pedestal Cast Iron Bathtub = $31/year
·         Competitor 72” Double Slipper Pedestal Acrylic Bathtub = $41/year

Now, if the acrylic tub has been treated like gold and reaches a grand old age of 30, what does the homeowner do now; purchase a new tub or have it professionally refinished? The cast iron tub still has another 20 years, at the very least, over the acrylic tub. How does the decision to refinish or replace the acrylic tub factor in when considering the 20 year difference?

·         The homeowner purchases a replacement tub now the 50 year cycle is $50/yr
·         The home owner refinishes the tub now the 50 year cycle is $37/yr
o   Assuming the refinishing job is $600
o   Assuming the quality of the refinishing job adds 20 years versus the industry standard of 15 – 18 years.

In the end, the savings of $307 actually cost the homeowner from $305 to $955 more and that is only taking in to consideration the tubs themselves. As mentioned at the start, the overall value of the home is affected by these types of small purchasing decisions so the monetary impact can go further than the tub itself.

In upcoming articles we will consider other comparisons as it relates to heat absorption, cleaning, and care of various types of material used in tubs. Please feel free to email edie@tubking.com with any topics or questions you’d like to see addressed in future posts.