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How to Buy a Whirlpool or Spa tub

Whirlpool Tub Buying Guide
Among the more interesting clawfoot tubs we offer are the Champagne and whirlpool tubs. They are designed to combine the traditional look of a clawfoot tub with the modern luxury of hydro-massage. I thought it would be useful to explain the difference between these two clawfoot tub styles.

The Champagne massage system pumps hot air into the bath water through scores of tiny holes in the floor of the clawfoot tub. This air forms thousands of tiny bubbles that are meant to gently massage the entire body as they float upward. A cross-section of a typical air/bubble clawfoot tub appears below:

This overhead image shows the perforated floor of an American Bath Factory 5’ “Duke” clawfoot tub:

Typically these clawfoot tubs come with electronic control panels which allow you adjust the intensity and speed of the air flow to your liking. Better quality tubs (like the American Bath Factory tubs we offer) have built-in auto purge systems that dry the internal piping after every use. This helps keep that part of your bath clean and sanitary.

A true whirlpool clawfoot tub, on the other hand, contains a limited number of jets that focus a very powerful stream of water to specific areas of the body. The jets are more powerful in a whirlpool clawfoot tub because the water - not just air as is the case with a Champagne bath - circulates through the internal piping of the tub. The only true clawfoot whirlpool tub I know of is the American Bath Factory “Caspian” clawfoot tub:

Caspian clawfoot whirlpool tub

Caspian clawfoot whirlpool tub

This one-of-a-kind whirlpool clawfoot tub has a 2 horsepower motor that blasts 10 gallons per minute out of 7 different jets (including 2 uniquely placed foot massage jets & 1 rotating back jet). Sweet.

So which tub do you choose? If you are looking for a gentle to moderate whole-body massage, then take a look at the Champagne clawfoot tubs. If you want a more targeted, moderate-to-strong hydro-massage experience, then sit yourself in a Caspian whirlpool tub. Price is another concern. The Caspian whirlpool tub typically sells for about 20% more than a similar champagne tub. Style is also a consideration. The Champagne massage tubs are truer reproductions of the classic clawfoot tub. The Caspian, on the other hand, has a slightly more modern, ergonomically designed look.
Last post, we talked about the differences between Champagne and whirlpool clawfoot tubs. Today, I want to discuss clawfoot tub construction as well as basic cleaning and maintenance.

Clawfoot tubs are generally categorized as either porcelain-over-cast-iron (the traditional construction materials) or acrylic (that new-fangled stuff). For the purposes of this post, I am going to limit my comments to the acrylic tubs because they are the only ones being built as whirlpool or champagne clawfoot tubs.

As you may suspect, not all acrylic tubs are equal. There are three general categories of "acrylic" tubs:

Fiberglass clawfoot tubs: These clawfoot tubs can still be found even though they are not as popular as they once were. Better quality acrylic tubs have forced fiberglass clawfoot tubs into near extinction. In my opinion, fiberglass is a fine material for built-in tubs and showers, but not for clawfoot tubs because it flexes too much and they generally have very rough exteriors.

Hollow double wall acrylic: These clawfoot tubs are built with two smooth acrylic sheets with a few spacers or braces to separate the sheets. Although they are very light, I dislike them because they have way to much flex and do not seem to retain heat very well.

Solid double wall acrylic: In my opinion, this is the best combination for the money currently available. The interior and exterior acrylic sheets are molded onto a solid composite material (generally a stone or concrete-like mixture). Unfortunately, not many manufacturers use this construction technique. One that does, American Bath Factory, describes their patented Acrastone process as the result of “vacuum forming two ¼” sheets of high-quality cast acrylic and laminating them together with a patented crushed stone/resin compound.” The cast acrylic sheet has a second layer of ABS behind it in order to give their tubs improved thickness, strength, and weight.

Vintage Tub and Bath offers the full line of American Bath Factory tubs because we believe that they offer the best combination of value, appearance, and functionality available.

Maintaining an acrylic clawfoot tub is fairly easy. American Bath Factory recommends using mild soap (like liquid dish soap), a sponge and warm water. Since the acrylic surface is non-porous, soap stains and dirt cannot adhere to it making cleaning a snap. Use a polishing compound to buff and clean out any tough stains. Never use abrasive cleaning products or cleansers with an acetone base (such as Scrubbing Bubbles). These products can scratch the surface and / or produce hairline cracks.

Whirlpool and massage tubs: American Bath Factory Champagne massage tubs are self-cleaning. Remember, that the air pipes in a Champagne Massage tub are not connected to the drain. Therefore, water trapped in the air pipes has to be blown out by the blower. The tub motor is set to turn itself back on 15 minutes after each use for 20 minutes. This self-purge feature will ensure the air pipes are always dry & clean, and ready for your next bath. Whirlpool tubs, on the other hand, require a bit more effort. Fill your Caspian Whirlpool tub several inches above the jet level and add a small scoop of Cascade dish detergent. Run the tub for 20 minutes. Drain. Refill with warm water and run for 5 more minutes. Drain. It is just that easy!

Article from The Daily Tubber