No bathroom remodel is complete without a gorgeous new bath tub. If you have the opportunity to design or redesign your bathroom you will also have to put much thought into choosing the right bathtub.
Many people no longer enjoy soaking in a bathtub and this has lead to many people removing them altogether and replacing them with over-sized luxury shower systems. The latter is a good idea if the bathtub you removed is not the only one in your home but not such a good idea for resale value.
Although bathtubs are mostly used for a personal soak, they also have many other uses as well in the home which should be considered first before you decide to dispose of your old tub. Bathtubs are great for pet washing, children, hand washing clothes and cleaning large objects, so if you are looking for resale value, it is unwise to replace your only bathtub with a shower.
There are several things you will want to consider before purchasing your new bathtub. You will need to determine your personal requirements for a bathtub as everyone has individual needs. Think about; size, shape, design, durability and depth.
Having a solid grasp on what you require from your new tub will aid you in picking the right material for your basin. All bathtub materials can of course be damaged but some materials will fit your needs better than others.
An incredibly popular bathtub material is of course Acrylic. Acrylic bathtubs are reinforced with fiberglass to improve strength while also making it more resistant to cracking. Acrylic tubs are constructed from large colored pieces of plastic which is heated and then stretched over the required mold. These tubs can virtually be made to suit any design.
Pros- These tubs are very lightweight and acrylic is a chemically inert material meaning that this material can stand up to almost any chemical. That being said Acrylic bathtubs do not require strong cleaning chemicals to keep them clean. They clean very easily with mild cleaners. Acrylic is also a very good insulator keeping water warm longer and they are also very affordable.
Cons- Acrylic bathtubs are susceptible to scratching and they can discolor over time.
Porcelain bathtubs are also known for their strength so it is no surprise that this material is one of the most popular as well for bathtubs. Porcelain bathtubs are made with steel molds where a porcelain enamel is applied and then the structure is fired at intense heat to create an incredibly strong and non-porous finish.
Pros- Although heavier than acrylic, porcelain bathtubs are still quite lightweight. These tubs are incredibly durable and are very resistant to acid, abrasion and corrosion. These tubs are also fire resistant as well.
Cons- Whenever you purchase a product made with steel it is important to research the gauge of the steel used to make the product. A lower gauge steel will result in a louder material than a higher gauge steel. This is particularly noticeable in kitchen sinks but can also be noticeable in bathtubs as well. Although these tubs are very strong with time they could chip and this exposed surface is then susceptible to rust.
Fiberglass Bathtub / Gel coat Bathtub
You may not be able to visibly tell the difference between a fiberglass bathtub and an acrylic bathtub as the materials virtually look exactly the same. The difference is the coating used. Gel coat bathtubs begin with a mold which is then sprayed with a gel coat(polyester resin) which is reinforced with fiberglass for strength.
Pros- These tubs are very affordable and are available in many styles, shapes and colors. They can also be repaired fairly easily.
Cons- Like most inexpensive things, gel coat bathtubs are the least durable tubs. The finish has a tendency to oxidize and therefore fade and gel coating can also scratch easily. The life expectancy for these bathtubs is approximately 10 years.
Cast Iron Bathtub
A cast iron bathtub is the ultimate bathtub choice and is definitely the most expensive! Cast iron tubs are made from molten iron and enamel resulting in the most durable and deliciously polished material used in bathtub construction.
Pros- They are gorgeous! Cast iron bathtubs are also the most durable product on the market while also being great insulators keeping water very warm.
Cons- These tubs are also beasts as they are extremely heavy. Sharp objects can scratch the surface however these tubs can be repaired easily by professionals. Styles and designs of cast iron bathtubs are very limited.
Solid Surface Bathtub
We have seen how popular this material has been in the kitchen so why not apply it to bathtubs as well. These bathtubs are new to the scene so they are relatively hard to find.
Pros- This material is known for how well it can be shaped and molded therefore we can expect to see great design potential in the future with this product. Solid Surface is a fabulous material because the material and color is evenly distributed throughout the product making it very easy to repair if scratched. The product is also naturally warm making it an ideal material for the bathtub.
Cons- There is not much to say in this department except that it will be fairly expensive and at this point harder to find.
Cultured Marble Bathtub
A less commonly used bathtub material is Cultured Marble. This material will add an extra touch of luxury to your bathroom. This product is man-made combining limestone, polyester and gel coating
Pros- Cultured marble bathtubs are beautiful and can be found in several unique designs. They are fairly stain resistant and clean easily.
Cons- These bathtubs need to be treated more delicately. It is unwise to clean heavy and sharp objects in these tubs as they are susceptible to scratching and cracking. If a cultured marble tub is to crack you must replace it!
Ceramic / Glass Tile Bathtub
Although very rare, it is possible to create a luxurious bathtub with tile. This can be achieved through the use of small mosaic tiles which can virtually create an array of unique styles and patterns. This is not recommended as a “do it yourself” project as this is situation that needs to be handled professionally to avoid any water damage and achieve proper sealing.
Pros- Ceramic and glass tiles are incredibly durable materials so they are suitable for the bathtub. You have free reign to create a work of art as the sky is the limit for tile choice!
Cons- A tile bathtub is a tricky project and can be quite costly. Tiles are also very cold naturally and may not be the best insulator in the bath. There will also be the possibility of cracks and undetected leaks which can potentially lead to much structural damage.
There is nothing like having a great soak in a beautiful bath and yet in many bathrooms the bathtub is incredibly unappealing! When renovating or designing your bathroom take the time to consider installing a great bathtub one that says relaxation and comfort rather than awkward and claustrophobic!