Are you in the middle of a bathroom renovation but having a hard time figuring out which bath material is best for your bathroom?
Or maybe you just aren’t even aware of how many options are out there for you to choose from. There are a lot and understanding what selecting one of these options entails can be difficult to do on your own.
That’s why we decided to write this handy guide to help you select the right bathtub material for you. Read on for the different pros and cons of each bathtub material.
What are baths made of?
Fibreglass is most likely going to be the least expensive choice when it comes to the material of your bathtub. Fibreglass or fibreglass-reinforced plastic (FRP) is used in bathtub construction by forming layers into the desired shape. Those layers are then coated with resin.
- Pros: Fibreglass is low cost, lightweight, easy to install, and easily repairable.
- Cons: Fibreglass is thin and flexible, giving it a less than stable feel so not a great material for making shower baths. It’s not an incredibly durable choice, and the finish fades, scratches, and cracks easily.
Porcelain on Steel / Enamelled Steel
Porcelain on steel is another inexpensive bathtub material, making it a common choice for their construction. You might also know it as enamelled steel. A stamped steel shell and coated with heat-fused porcelain enamel creates the material for this bathtub.
- Pros: Porcelain on steel bathtubs are inexpensive. They’re also durable and easy to clean. The finish is chemical resistant and stays glossy for a long time. They’re nice for replacing fibreglass or acrylic bathtub units because they fit in the same opening and look attractive with a surrounding ceramic tile.
- Cons: Porcelain on steel bathtubs are heavier than fibreglass or acrylic so can be difficult to install. Rusting and chipping over time is a common issue. You are also limited in the type of shape or size you are able to use when choosing this material to build your bathtub with.
Acrylic bathtubs are made when fibreglass sheets are reinforced underneath vacuum-formed sheets of coloured acrylic. While these baths don’t necessarily offer the high-end appeal some people are looking for, they’re an all-around good choice for bathtub construction.
- Pros: Like fibreglass bathtubs, acrylic bathtubs are inexpensive. They’re lightweight and easy to install and they can be easily repaired. They come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes to choose from.
- Cons: These bathtubs are more expensive than fibreglass. The finish is also easier to scratch and will discolour over time.
Cast iron bathtubs are made when molten iron is poured into a mould the shape of your desired bathtub. The finished product is then smoothed out and coated with a layer of thick enamel.
- Pros: Cast iron bathtubs are extremely durable. The finish is difficult to chip, scratch, dent, or damage with chemicals. Your colour choices aren’t limited and they always turn out looking rich. This thick material also retains the water’s heat better than the thinner ones.
- Cons: Cast iron bathtubs are very heavy. Due to their weight, your floor will more than likely require extra reinforcement to ensure it can hold your cast iron bathtub. You will also require more manpower to install it in your home. Because of this and the general cost of the bathtub, cast iron bathtubs are going to be one of the most expensive bathtubs you can buy.
These materials are new to the bath scene. They are made using premium acrylic resin and a fine quality aluminium powder. The mix is placed into a vacuum and poured into a mould for cooling.
- Pros: Solid-surface material bath are very durable. Like a cast iron bathtub, they retain heat very well. You can choose some subtle or natural colours, a variety of shapes, and different sizes when customizing this bathtub. The finish is also easily repairable and it can come in either a glossy finish or a matte one.
- Cons: The cost of a solid surface bath is almost triple that of an acrylic bathtub, they’re also heavy.
Cultured marble bathtubs are made when crushed limestone is mixed with resin, then finished with Gelcoat. Gelcoat is the smooth, hard surface layer of polyester resin. The result is a panel that looks like marble but installs the same way fibreglass does. These slabs fit into your tub with custom cut slabs. If you want the look of stone without the hassle, cultured marble is a good option for you.
- Pros: Cultured marble bathtubs are easy to install and less expensive than regular marble, but isn’t lacking in the marble beauty. It’s durable, resilient, and easy to clean. A simple water and vinegar mixture can remove any stains.
- Cons: This is a more costly option than fibreglass or acrylic. If the bathtub does manage to get damaged due to chipping, gouging, or deep scratches, the marble will show. You can repair this, but you will be able to see the refurbished area.
Ceramic tile bathtubs are an option if you have a strange space to fill for a bathtub. These are created by covering some kind of masonry with ceramic tile and then caulking is used to fill the cracks.
- Pros: This is great for a custom space. Your colour options are limitless, as are designs and other things just not possible with a more traditional bathtub.
- Cons: These bathtubs are often the most expensive kinds of bathtubs, as they are custom made. You’ll need to maintain the grout, which can be difficult, and the feel of the irregular surface may not be so nice on sensitive, bare skin.
Stone and Wood
Again, these bathtubs are more made to order for custom jobs. You can custom order a bathtub from many kinds of natural stone, like granite, marble, onyx, travertine, basalt, and sandstone. Teak and other specific wood can come together to create a custom wood bath.
- Pros: Obviously, with these bathtubs, you will get a huge response. They’ll be stunning to look at, one of a kind, and just absolutely beautiful. Your bathroom will have an undeniable “wow factor.”
- Cons: In the case of stone, these bathtubs are very heavy and your floor will need to be specially reinforced. There will be a lot of maintenance with these bathtubs. The care and upkeep can be costly in both time and money. And that’s not even mentioning the hefty price tag associated with something so custom made.
What to Consider for Bathtub Material
There are a few things to consider when trying to figure out what kind of material you’d like for your bathroom renovation. You’ll need to keep in mind the kind of size, shape, weight, and finish you’re looking for, as well as what will look good in your bathroom.
What flooring are you aiming for? What wall panels are you looking at? Will your bathtub be freestanding or fitted? All of these questions add up to help you make an important decision on what kind of bathtub fits your specific needs.
The Next Step
There are a lot of options out there for bathroom renovations. The variety of bathtub materials out there can be a little overwhelming, but with the right research and understanding of your limitations and desires, you can select the right, beautiful bath for your bathroom.
If you have any questions about bathtubs or if you’re interested in checking out our selection of luxury bathtubs available, visit us today! We are happy to answer any questions you might have about your bathroom renovation.
Hello, my name is Dean.
Together with my business partner we own and operate Shower Enclosures UK.com Ltd.
We’ve been running the business for over 9 years and have amassed a reasonable amount of knowledge and expertise on the subject of shower and bathroom hardware. Enough that we’ve been able to put together a series of blog posts that should make buying bathroom goods that little bit simpler and help answer all the most popular questions.
If there’s anything that doesn’t make sense or needs expanding on please let us know in the comments. You can also reach out to me on LinkedIn
Thanks for taking the time to read our posts.