I have seen posts across the internet on how to turn a cast iron tub into a couch, and I had always wanted to do it, but it just seemed too difficult (or maybe just too heavy). However, summer 2013 I worked on a film and at the end of the project there was a cast iron tub that went unclaimed. It was fate. So I bought the tub for cheap and set about figuring out how I was going to make it into a couch. For the most part I followed the advice/pictures of three different posts.
(1) The Instructables site: http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Claw-Foot-Bathtub-Couch/#step0 where he walked me through it step by step. (2) Green Moxie http://www.greenmoxie.com/how-to-make-an-upcycled-vintage-cast-iron-claw-foot-bathtub-sofa/ and from a post on the Gypsy Barn page
At that point in time I didn’t have a key element for this all to work (a grinder or a skill saw), so I reached out to a special effects coordinator friend who did have a grinder and a shop where it could be cut. So instead of following the instructions, for my first step I loaded the tub into my boyfriend’s pick up truck and took it to a shop where, I drew out an edge and, using a grinder, the side was cut out and then smoothed (different blades of course).
The tub was then loaded back into his truck with a fork lift…oh right, sidenote, these tubs are super friggin’ heavy… then with a pit stop at a power washer to get off the loose bits that I could, I went back to the instructions: sand it out. I wasn’t sure what type of paint had been used, so I suited myself up with a respirator, goggles, rubber gloves and set about sanding with low grit sandpaper as much of the old paint and rust off as I could. I don’t own a belt or orbital sander, just my hands and a power drill. I did most of the work by hand, and it was pretty labor intensive. Then I purchased an attachment for my drill to make it function similar to an orbital sander. That helped, quite a bit, but there was a lot of detail work that I had to attack by hand.
Next I used a white primer to coat the feet and outside of the tub (I also used it to hit some of the exposed metal where the hardware normally would go through. Then I painted the outside of the tub with a red enamel paint. I used spray paint for the feet (which I think was a good idea since they have so much detail). I went with gold 🙂 I took the advice of the instructables site and did multiple coats on the outside of the tub, sanding with a high grit sandpaper between layers.
Once everything was dry, I put the feet back on. In my tub’s case, the feet are held in place by a pin that works like a wedge. I decided to reinforce them with an epoxy glue. I figured the last thing I needed was this thing crashing on someone’s toes.
I flipped over the tub (with some help) and got into the last stage. Cleaning out the tub. It had developed some rust circles from being out in the elements, and I was eager to make this thing look pretty and new. So I used various combinations of orange hand cleaner, a scrub sponge, soap, baking powder, a pumice stone, vinegar…and then three hours later, reached a point of good enough 🙂 So with the help of my boyfriend, we moved the tub into our living room, and it probably won’t move again for a long time.
I have since made a cushion for it out of an old sheet, some foam and stuffing, and it is now a favorite nap and reading spot.