Taking a bath is the ultimate way to relax, but buying a bathtub can be fraught with stressful decisions. There are a boundless array of shapes, sizes, and materials available, but it’s a decision you want to get right. Bathtubs come in a variety of different material options as well. On the less expensive end, you have tubs made out of fiberglass and steel. Fiberglass can be porous, making them hard to clean, and flimsy. Steel will rust easily and feel tinny. On the other end of the spectrum, you have materials such as stone resin, quality acrylic, and cast iron. These tubs are typically more solid and of better quality. They also carry the added benefit of having high heat retention, which makes your bathtub that much more enjoyable.
Here are the pros and cons of the most common bathtub materials:
What is it: Fiberglass is a kind of reinforced plastic which is formed into layers then molded into a bathtub shape before being coated with a layer of gelcoat resin on the surface.
Pros: At very affordable prices, fiberglass tubs are good for those on a tight budget. Due to the lightweight nature of the material used, they are also easy to maneuver around a house and install, plus, any damages can be easily be repaired.
Cons: Fiberglass is also perhaps the most brittle material on the market. Porous in nature, it absorbs water regularly and has a tendency to crack. Color and finish will also deteriorate over time due to the use of common cleaning equipment. In addition, the material also has a tendency to ‘flex’ causing it to warp and feel unstable.
What is it: Acrylic is formed by taking a solid sheet of combined materials such as petrochemicals, stabilizers, resins, fillers and appropriate dye which are then heated and molded into a bathtub shape then finally reinforced with fiberglass.
Pros: It is a non-porous material, unlike normal fiberglass and therefore will not absorb any excess water. It will also retain heat from the temperature of your water, as well as, repel any mildew or general bathroom stains. These tubs can have heat liners and other systems built in to keep the water warm. Nonslip is achieved by grooves in the bottom of the tub so dirt doesn’t gather as it would on an applique on a cast iron tub.
Cons: Like Fiberglass, Acrylic tubs will also flex and may be prone to scratching as well. This is not a very cheap option, but a very good one.
What is it: Stone resin is a material used to mimic the look of natural stone.
Pros: Like with most resin, the color does not fade with repeated use. It has an incredibly long lifespan, lasting for quite some time without the need for constant repair, and when it needs to be discarded, stone resin is 100% recyclable. Stone resin is also viewed as a more luxurious bathtub material with the ability to withstand a heavy amount of punishment and weight. Additionally, cleaning is simple and easy. Most stains and mildew will wash away with simple warm water.
Cons: While it may lie on the more expensive side of things compared to Acrylic or fiberglass, stone resin is able to withstand the test of time and will save you quite a bit of hassle down the road.
What is it: Molten iron poured directly into a bathtub mold before it is smoothed out then covered in a layer of enamel.
Pros: Cast iron is perhaps the most durable tub on the market. With the strength of the material used, it is highly resistant to scratches and chipping, meaning less care needs to be placed on cleaning. Most, if not all mildew will wash off with just plain warm water and baking soda. Also, cast iron bathtubs have high heat retention, meaning your bathtub will keep warm for that much longer.
Cons: Durability also means weight. Cast Iron tubs are incredibly heavy, perhaps the heaviest of any tubs on the market, sometimes over 500 pounds. The result is that additional considerations must be made to your house and the support structure around the tub before installation. This also means installation will be a bit more labor-intensive. They also come at a hefty price, considering the materials involved and the additional work that goes into supporting the space around it. Unfortunately, for that sheen and luster, porcelain bathtubs are in fact quite slippery, and their surfaces can be a falling hazard. Be sure your tub has a non-slip applique on the bottom. The other con is that the appliques will typically gather dirt, which makes it harder to clean. Porcelain also does not hold heat very well, resulting in lower heat retention in your bathwater.
At the end of the day, the most important thing when deciding on bathtub properties is to do your research. Purchasing a tub is an investment. An investment not only in your home but in yourself as well. Are you looking for more in-depth information about bathroom materials? Contact One Week Bath to schedule a free consultation at (888) 246-6675.