We redid our clawfoot tub in our old house. Ours was in similar condition, but had been more recently painted & wasn't peeling. We hauled it outside, put it upside down on cardboard & painted the outside with a really nice, heavy duty paint. I think I just went to Home Depot & told them what I was planning to do & they recommended it. I *believe* it was regular latex, w/the hardest finish (satin? gloss? Can't remember). It was a lovely china blue color. Anyway, we used some sort of rust remover & a wire brush (maybe WD40? My husband is the rust remover). Then we spraypainted them silver. It was super cool!