Claw-foot tubs may be gorgeous, but they can also be hard on floors. The weight of the tub, distributed on four tiny points of pressure, can scratch or break floors. Even the more resilient tile floors may be vulnerable to damage, so it's worth considering whether to place coasters beneath your tub's feet. Assess the damage risk with your tub and weigh your options for protecting your tile floor.
Why Use a Coaster
Though claw-foot tubs are very heavy and don't move much, they're not generally fixed to the floor, so they can shift a bit from time to time. This shifting, combined with the weight of the tub, can destroy flooring as the feet dig into and scratch it. This problem is particularly pronounced with softer flooring types, like wood and linoleum, but that doesn't mean that a hard tile floor is safe from harm. Specially made coasters, placed beneath the feet of the tub, are designed to protect flooring.
Checking for Risk
If your claw-foot tub is likely to cause damage to your tile floor, you'll probably notice the trouble right away in the form of scratches on the enamel surface of the tile. If this is happening, check the tub to see how much it's moving once in place; if the tub is heavy enough and level enough that it does not shift from its position during use, there won't be any friction to create a problem. However, if the tub shifts, it will likely scratch, or if it rocks, the impact of the legs on the floor will likely damage the tile by chipping or shattering it.
Choosing a Coaster
Coasters for claw-foot tub feet are specially made for this purpose and available at large hardware stores. They are generally made of ceramic or glass and designed to blend in with bathroom decor. If you can't find tub foot coasters, you can use a sturdy drink coaster; this will give you the advantage of more options to coordinate with your decorating, though drink coasters are generally shorter and wider and will be more noticeable.
Alternatives to Coasters
A small circle of leather or felt placed beneath the claw foot will prevent it from scratching. Or you can glue these materials onto the bottom of large claw feet and cut their shape to fit the foot, making a protector that's less visible from the sides; check felt or leather often and replace the materials when the friction of the tub foot's slight movements wears through. If your tub is rocking back and forth, place a thin piece of wood or doubled-up square of thick tooling leather between one of the feet and the floor to level the tub.