Different tub materials affect the look, feel, weight, heat retention, and price of this high ticket plumbing fixture. Since tubs are not easy to replace it really pays to know what you are buying so you can be happy with the tub for many years to come. Here are some basic pros and cons for each tub material to help you make a choice when buying a new bathtub
Porcelain Enameled Steel
This tub material is a very common and inexpensive option. This type of tub is constructed of steel sheeting that is then coated with porcelain enamel. This type of tub is heavier than acrylic or fiberglass but not significantly so.
Pros - Very affordable, relatively light weight, available in standard sizes (60” x 30”), durable, easy to clean.
Cons - The surface can chip when objects are dropped, rust tends to form with even the smallest chip, limited options of color, shape, etc.
These are getting big very durable easy to install and last - Acrylic tubs are becoming more popular, probably due to the versatility, options, and cost. This type of tub is made from vacuum-formed acrylic sheets that are reinforced with fiberglass. Acrylic tubs are lightweight and can be relatively easy to install.
Pros - They are lightweight, affordable, they are available in many colors, shapes, and sizes, durable, non-porous surface, and the surface can be repaired.
Cons - The surface can scratch if cleaned with abrasive cleaners, stress points need to be properly reinforced during installation, and acrylic is more expensive than fiberglass.
This tub material is another very affordable option. This type of tub is made of layers of surface coat, polyester resin, with fiberglass reinforcement. Fiberglass tubs are less expensive than acrylic but also less durable.
Pros - Lightweight, easy to install, very inexpensive, easy to clean and maintain, the surface can be repaired, a great option for a shower/tub combination.
Cons - Not as durable as other materials, surface can crack and scratch, the finish tends to fade, and there are limited color options.
Enameled Cast Iron
A very durable, and very heavy, tub material is enameled cast iron. This type of tub is made of molded iron coated with enamel. A cast iron tub is very nice and it is investment that will really last.
Pros - Very durable, the thick enamel is resistant to chipping and scratching and it can be resurfaced, timeless look, excellent heat retention, many color choices available.
Cons - By far the biggest disadvantage with this type of tub is the weight. It can be quite difficult to install because it is so heavy and it may require structural reinforcement for the floor to withstand the weight.
Cast Polymer (Cultured Marble, Granite or Onyx)
These tub materials are a type of engineered natural stone or solid surface. This type of tub is made by molding together minerals, polymeric materials, and resin to form a solid surface usually finished off with a gel coat finish.
Pros - Affordable, many color and options, surface scratches can be buffed out, easy to clean, stain resistant.
Cons - Can be brittle, if gel coat wears off with time it can lead to cracks, cracks cannot be repaired.
Next decide what type of bathtub will best fit your bathroom.