One of the best ways to give your bathroom a high-end, luxurious look and feel is to swap a built in bathtub for a freestanding one. Clawfoot bathtubs have long been used to add a touch of elegance to bathrooms of all sizes, shapes, and styles, and freestanding bathtubs in a wide variety of designs have become a popular way to add a distinctive, personal touch to your decor. While admittedly most freestanding tubs are made of cast iron or acrylic, copper bathtubs have seen a recent surge in popularity, too, and their more distinctive style is sure to make a statement.
Most copper bathtubs are more or less traditional in style, with a very old world pedestal base and slipper or double slipper style curved sides, or occasionally a simpler roll-top. Very rarely, you’ll find copper clawfoot tubs, but mostly they have hefty, solid bases and are both deep and tall, with gently sloped sides and maybe a little detailing along the bottom edge. In terms of size and shape, they’re largely similar to more conventional cast iron Victorian style pedestal tubs.
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The material used makes a world of difference, though. While porcelain bathtubs have a clean, glossy white finish, copper bathtubs range from a bright new penny shine to a deep, chocolatey antique style patina. Either way, the look is much more assertive, imposing, and grand. While white bathroom fixtures are made to blend in, copper bathtubs are meant to stand out, drawing attention to themselves as a focal point of the room. Generally that means they work better with richer, more decadent materials, like fine stone and polished wood, or even very opulent accents like wallpaper or heavy fabric curtains to create a very luscious antique style.
On the flip side, when paired with rustic, weather worn wood, unfinished stone, and more humble decorations (think simple rings and a hand-hammered texture rather than fancy scrollwork), a copper bathtub can have a very rustic appearance. Rather than emulating the grand bathtubs of an aristocratic Victorian England, these are more like hearty washbasins of the old west. The difference is largely in the finish; while a polished or burnished copper has a bright, regal metallic quality, copper that’s aged to a natural patina is quieter and more subtle – and better suited to a less ornate style.
Copper bathtubs can also have a much more modern look and feel. Rather than the classic curvy slipper tub, you can also find tubs with a very angular, geometric design. This look is anything but traditional, with sharp, simple lines and a sculptural look and feel. At the same time, though, the aged patina prevents these tubs from being wholly modern, since they don’t have the same sleek gloss normally associated with the style. The result is a sculptural bathtub with a contemporary feel, but one that will work well with more traditional elements to create a space that’s elegant without being overly ornate.
The unique and distinctive style of copper bathtubs isn’t their only selling point: they’re also incredibly easy to clean. Raw copper (which most copper bathtubs are made of) is naturally antiseptic, meaning it will actually kill germs that come into contact with the metal rather than allowing them to grow. Cleaning a copper bathtub only requires a periodic wipe down with a soft cloth; harsh chemicals or acidic liquids will actually damage the finish of a copper tub, so the heaviest cleaning one will need is maybe a gentle scrub with a very mild soap – otherwise, the surface will take care of itself, and in fact the natural patina of the metal will continue to develop and mature the more the tub is used.
The biggest drawback to choosing a copper bathtub is that they can be quite expensive – especially ones made of the solid, raw copper that confers many of the material’s benefits. That said, more than any other material, copper bathtubs are really designed to last. Because of the way copper ages, to a certain extent it’s self-healing. Any scratches or other minor damage will simply blend back in when given enough time, and because copper tubs are both very durable and made out of the same material all the way through, you won’t have to worry about the chips or gouges that plague (and can outright ruin) a cast iron tub.
What do you think of these copper bathtubs? Do you like the opulent design of the more traditional tubs, or do you prefer the sleek lines of a more contemporary design? Let me know in the comments!