If you are on the hunt for a beautiful new bathtub that will last for many years to come, all of the possible choices are probably making your head spin. The fact of the matter is that there are many materials that bathtubs can be made of, and they all have specific advantages and drawbacks.
To help you make the right choice, let’s take a look at the nine most common bathtub materials that you need to know before you make a final purchase.
One of the most common materials used to make bathtubs is porcelain. Porcelain tubs are actually made out of stamped steel or cast iron, which is then coated with porcelain enamel. Porcelain enamel is made by fusing powdered glass to a thin layer by heating up to high temperatures, at which point it melts, and can then be used as a durable bathtub coating.
The good part about porcelain tubs, for one, is that they look very nice. They do a great job at maintaining that sheen, or in other words, they maintain that great look for many years. Moreover, porcelain tubs are very smooth, but also highly resistant to scratching, not to mention that they’re easy to clean too.
On the other hand, although porcelain tubs are scratch-resistant, aren’t impact resistant. Chipping or even shattering can both occur given the right amount of impact. Also, this type of bathtub can be quite slippery. Finally, that porcelain coating does not retain heat well, so bathwater doesn’t stay hot for all that long.
Another common material used for making bathtubs is fiberglass. Keep in mind that fiberglass is not actually glass, but a very special type of reinforced plastic that is formed into many layers. When making bathtubs, fiberglass is then coated with a layer of gel resin.
One of the biggest advantages that come with fiberglass tubs is their low price. You aren’t likely to find anything more affordable than a fiberglass tub. This type of tub is also lightweight, and therefore easy to install. Additionally, fiberglass bathtubs are easy to repair.
All of that said, fiberglass is quite fragile, and it breaks easily. Next, this material is fairly porous and will absorb water over time, which can lead to cracking and discoloration. It can also flex and warp over time, thus altering the original shape of the bathtub.
Ceramic tubs are quite common as well. They are made by putting clay into molds and heating it at high temperatures, thus causing it to harden. They are more or less just big pieces of ceramic pottery.
Just like fiberglass, ceramic is also not very expensive, thus making it a good choice for anybody working with a limited budget. Next, ceramic is very versatile and easy to mold, which is why you will find more selection in terms of shape, size, and style, than with any other bathtub material. The installation process for ceramic tubs is quite straightforward too.
On the other hand, due to the way in which ceramic bathtubs are made, they are not very smooth and often feel a bit rough, bumpy, and uneven. On that same note, because of the way that these tubs are made, they require regular maintenance, mainly the replacement of the grout in between individual tiles. If the grout is not regularly replaced, it can cause water to seep into the tub, and this will cause damage and deterioration over time.
Acrylic is another fairly common material used in the making of bathtubs. Technically speaking, acrylic is a specific type of plastic, one that is made by combining various materials including petrochemicals, stabilizers, resins, fillers, and dye. Once mixed together, these elements are then heated up and molded into the shape of a bathtub. More often than not, they are then also reinforced with fiberglass.
One of the biggest advantages that you get with an acrylic tub is that unlike normal fiberglass, it is not porous, and therefore it does not absorb any water, which leads to a longer-lasting coat and a lower risk of chipping and cracking. This material is also great at repelling stains and mildew. Finally, acrylic does a decent job at retaining heat, so your bath water will stay hot for quite some time.
However, acrylic tubs do also flex, which means that they can warp and alter their shape over time. The fiberglass finish is prone to scratching. Finally, this type of bathtub can be quite expensive, one of the more expensive types in terms of the ones we have looked at so far.
#5: Cast Iron
Cast iron is simply molten iron that is poured into a mold to create the shape of a bathtub, and it’s then coated with a layer of enamel for added durability.
Quite simply, you won’t find many materials that are stronger than cast iron. This type of tub won’t easily chip or scratch, not at all. They don’t require much care or maintenance whatsoever. Besides the extreme durability that cast iron features, it is by far the best in terms of heat retention, which means your bathwater stays hot for a very long time.
The downside with cast iron tubs is that they are so heavy that your floor might not be able to support all of that weight, and even if it can, getting that cast iron tub to the bathroom and then installing it is no easier. Also, cast iron tubs are very expensive.
#6: Stone Resin
Stone resin looks like stone, but realistically is a type of plastic. Stone resin looks nice and the color doesn’t fade over time either. This material is also very durable and features a very long lifespan. It is not porous, so it doesn’t absorb water over time. It also does not flex or warp over time, not to mention that it is highly resistant to impact, scratching, and extreme temperatures too.
This type of bathtub is also very easy to clean, not to mention that it features excellent heat retention. On the other hand, the biggest downside with stone resin bathtubs by far is their price. These things are not cheap.
Although not overly common, bathtubs can be made of wood. Due to the fact that there are so many different kinds of wood out there, and because wood is relatively easy to work with and to form into shapes, you can actually find a pretty good variety in terms of size and shapes. The other big benefit that you get with wooden tubs is that they just look really nice. It’s all about luxury here.
The downside with wooden tubs, for one, is their price. These are considered luxury tubs and they will cost you handsomely. Wooden tubs are also not overly long-lasting. Now, they are impact resistant. Wood is strong in this way, but wood also absorbs water over time, which can lead to warping and degradation.
This type of tub also requires regular maintenance, particularly in terms of applying new sealant.
#8: Cultured Marble
If you are going for a very unique and old school look, something really stylish and beautiful, cultured marble is a good choice to keep in mind. This type of bathtub is technically made by combining finely crushed limestone with a resin hardener. This is poured into a mold, and once hardened, it looks like the most fantastic marble you have ever seen, and it is covered with a gel coat layer for added stability.
The upside with cultured marble tubs is of course that they look stunning. Moreover, this type of tub also holds heat very well for those long baths. It is also relatively easy to work with this material, which means there are many sizes and shapes available. There is also the fact that these tubs are scratch-resistant and easy to repair.
The downside to cultured marble tubs is that they require regular care and maintenance. They need to be cleaned after each use, and if you don’t, mildew and discoloration will occur. Moreover, cultured marble bathtubs are not cheap to buy either.
The final material that a bathtub can be made out of is copper. These are created by taking multiple thin sheets of copper and hammering them together to form the shape of a bathtub.
Copper bathtubs, for one, do look very nice. They have a certain aesthetic appeal that no other tub material can match. Moreover, copper is metal, and metal is tough. In terms of overall durability, copper tubs are up there with the best of them. They naturally resist both chipping and scratching. Copper, although it is not the number one material when it comes to heat retention, does perform amicably. Finally, copper tubs also don’t require a lot of maintenance or cleaning.
The downside of buying a copper tub is the cost, as they are not cheap, not in the least. Also, copper tubs are not very common and can be difficult to find. There is also the fact that they are fairly heavy, which can cause difficulties during the installation process.
The bottom line is that there are many materials that bathtubs can be made of, from simple and inexpensive materials like fiberglass and porcelain to higher-end materials such as cultured marble, copper, and cast iron.
Before you make a final decision, just be sure to keep all of the purchasing factors in mind, including weight, size, available options, durability, maintenance, installation, and more.