A clawfoot bathtub is typically made of cast iron; many of these tubs are infused with lead before they are glazed. The glazing creates the white finish we're so used to seeing. Over time, the glaze on a clawfoot bathtub can peel, crack, or wear off. The exposed metal is not only unsightly, but it is also hazardous because of the lead.
You can purchase glaze on your own from a store and use it to redo the shell of the clawfoot bathtub. It takes time and knowledge. Read below for advice on reglazing a clawfoot bathtub.
The glaze used to cover and protect a clawfoot bathtub is toxic in its liquid form. Do not inhale the fumes. Wear gloves, protective glasses, and a respirator. The fumes can burn your mouth and your lungs, so be careful.
Let the Glaze Cure
A common mistake is not allowing the glaze to set or cure long enough before the tub is put to use. When you add water to a bathtub without the glaze being fully cured, it can wash the glaze away. It can also damage the finish and contaminate pipes. Always adhere to the manufacturer's instructions and allow the clawfoot bathtub to cure for a longer period of time than suggested.
A single layer is not sufficient to fully protect the clawfoot bathtub. Moisture and cleaning agents deteriorate the glaze quickly. A good glazing has at least 3 layers. You do not want the metal to become exposed, let alone rust or decay.
Prior to applying the glaze, sand the peeling areas. Blend the areas of the existing glaze with the exposed area to help the new glaze cover and adhere to the metal without being streaking or lumping.