Giving your bathroom the ultimate centrepiece can often prove to be a difficult task, however there is one item that is guaranteed to always impress when placed as the focal point of the room; a cast iron bath.
These items are truly stunning works of art and have been used in bathrooms for decades due to their sensational appearance and ability to keep water nice and warm for long periods of time. But choosing the right one can be a potential minefield, so we've put together this little guide to help you make the right decision.
Now as you may imagine, a big lump of iron is not exactly going to be easy to lift. The fact is these baths are very heavy even when not filled with water, so when they are full they can place a lot of stress on floors so make sure your choice of flooring is capable of handling one. We would probably avoid tiles here as the risk of cracking is quite high; maybe go for a good quality wood instead.
If you have an upstairs bathroom, there is also a very realistic possibility of the bath coming straight through the ceiling when it is filled to the brim if the room is not structurally sound enough to support one. Modern houses feature upstairs areas which are generally not equipped to handle the weight of these baths. The cost of reinforcing your ceiling may not ultimately be worth the hassle so it's probably best to install one in a downstairs bathroom.
The process behind creating a cast iron bath is long and complicated, so we're breaking it down into a couple of easier to digest paragraphs which cover the basics.
To begin with, the metal is cast into molds prior to enameling. It is thoroughly cleaned before enamel is applied using a process called shot blasting, which involves iron grit being blasted at the surface of the cast at great force using compressed air. This removes any dirt from the metal.
The enamel is then applied by being dusted onto the surface of the metal which will have been heated so that it has reached a temperature which is greater than the melting point of enamel. The furnace where this process takes place allows the enamel to melt on contact with the cast, producing a silky smooth covering of the whole product. Once applied, the enamel is allowed to dry in a process known as 'firing', which occurs in furnaces housing specialist equipment.
This all depends on numerous factors really. First of all, if your bathroom has a more traditional style then a cast iron bath should look right at home. They can look a little out of place in modern environments however as their general style caters towards more period designs.
You also need to consider the weight of the bath as we mentioned before. If you only have an upstairs bathroom or a small setting then a cast iron bath may not be the best idea in reality. Luckily there are examples available which replicate the look without being anywhere near as heavy.
Finally, a good cast iron bath is not going to come cheap, so make sure you can afford to buy and run one before making a decision.
When it comes to choosing the finish of your cast iron bath, there is an almost limitless amount of choice. The bath can be painted on the outside in any colour you want, as can the legs if you have them. Choose a pastel colour for best results, and pick something that will either match or contrast well with the colour of the room itself.
Alternatively, polished cast iron baths offer a beautiful take on the style and will really take your bathroom to another level. Not only will a polished bathtub be able to be integrated into any traditional bathroom regardless of its colour, it'll also reflect light, making the room feel bigger as a result.
With cast iron baths, it's normally too difficult to actually attach taps to the bath itself so many people choose to fit a set of freestanding taps as these allow the tub to retain its crisp finish. Freestanding taps can also benefit from chrome pipe shrouds and a shower mixer for the ultimate traditional package.