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Are you facing the dilemma of replacing your bathtub? Here is an overview with some tips on the pros and cons of different materials as well as some commentary on price. The idea of this post is to help you narrow your search and be less overwhelmed by the prospect of taking on this chore.
You might be surprised to find that you have more options than you would have thought. Which one you ultimately choose is going to come down to a combination of how you want the tub to look, comfort, ease of maintenance as well as cost.
Fiberglass,also known as FRP, is going to be the least expensive bathtub material.
The advantages are low cost, lightweight, ease of installation, and a finish that can be repaired. Some realities if you go this route: fiberglass tubs are thin, they flex and don't have a stable feel, they are not very durable and the finish is prone to fading, scratching and cracking.
Cast iron are made to last. They are made by pouring molten iron into a mold of the desired shape, then smoothing it and coating it with a thick layer of enamel. It's probably the most durable tub available, and the finish is resistant to chipping, scratching and denting, as well as most types of chemicals. There are a number of different colors available, and there is a high-end appeal many find striking. The heavy material also tends to retain the water's heat. Beautiful and practical is the final analysis. Beauty comes with cost and fuss though. Installation is quite a job, and your floor may even need to be reinforced because of the weight.
Porcelain on steel, sometimes called enameled steel, is another inexpensive and very common bathtub material. These tubs are durable and easy to clean. The finish is resistant to most common chemicals, and retains its gloss for a long time. They're also especially useful when replacing fiberglass or acrylic tub/shower units, as they fit in the same 5-foot opening and can be finished off nicely with a ceramic tile surround. On the downside, they are heavier than fiberglass or acrylic, the surface can rust and chip under impact and the selection of shapes and sizes is limited.
Acrylic tubs use fiberglass sheets for reinforcement underneath vacuum-formed sheets of colored acrylic. The advantages are pretty much the same as for fiberglass, although acrylic tubs are more expensive. There are many choices of shapes, sizes and colors.
You may not like that the finish can scratch or discolor over time, although the better grades of tub finishes have now reduced that problem to a minimum.
Cultured marble tubs are made from crushed limestone mixed with resin, then finished with Gelcoat. There are many options for color, size and style. The Gelcoat finish used with cultured marble is more durable than that used with fiberglass. The cost typically falls somewhere between acrylic and cast iron.
Solid-surface materials are relative newcomers to the bathtub market. They are durable and retain heat well. There are a variety of subtle, natural-looking colors available; and the finish can be repaired if needed. They can also be made in a variety of shapes and sizes. On the downside, they're somewhat heavy and relatively expensive, and may require a long lead time to get.
Ceramic tile can be made on site to whatever size and shape you desire. You have more design options with this material than any other. However, you'll have to deal with the maintenance of all that grout.
Stone is another possibility, and they can be made from a variety of natural stone materials, including granite, marble, onyx, travertine, basalt and sandstone. These tubs are very heavy, and they must have special structural framing to support their weight. Much care will be needed to keep this tub looking great.
Wood bathtubs are impressive and expensive. You can also custom-order a bathtub made from teak and certain other woods. To retain the original beauty, there will be maintenance more intensive than with many tubs.
Hopefully this information will help you narrow your search as you shop. Any way you go, a nice clean new tub is going to be a wonderful addition to your home.
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.