8 Common bathtub materials and their pros & cons

Although it may seem like a minor consideration and only an aesthetic one, your decision about bathtub materials could return to haunts if you make the wrong choice.

We usually start thinking of bath ideas by choosing the bathtub we love. That’s okay. However, it would be best if you were careful about the materials. A bateau bath can be made in any material, including acrylic, cast iron, copper, or composite stone. Each finish has its pros and cons.

Yousef Mansuri is the head of design at CP Hart. Understanding each material’s pros and cons is essential before you decide on a model.

Enameled steel is the most expensive option. Next comes enameled and cast iron, as well as composites and metal tubs made of copper or tin. The price will depend on the quality of the material. Acrylic baths come at different prices, and not all are created equal.

The weight of the bath is another consideration. You may need to hire professionals to check your home’s structural integrity, especially if the tub will be placed in an attic bedroom. Cast iron, composite, and stone baths can be weighty, so make sure your joists can support the weight.

Copper tubs have been popular since the mid-1800s. Napoleon Bonaparte and Marie Antoinette reported bathing in a copper tub. It may not look glamorous, but it was initially chosen for its practicality.

“Looks aside,” copper baths are great for people who enjoy a hot tub, says Barrie Cutchie (opens in new window). Copper’s hygienic surface and heat retention will allow for clean baths.

Copper does not have to be limited to traditional bathrooms. Barrie says that copper baths can be customized in more than 10,000 colors. They also come in specialized leather, hand-gilded, or fabric finishes. You can also enamel the interior.

Copper baths can be expensive. You could pay up to $5,000 for installation. They can also be cumbersome. Some companies, like Renaissance (opens in new window), offer lightweight models starting at 76lb. Add the additional weight to determine if your ceiling can withstand the total weight of the bath water.

Tin is a traditional tub material that has properties similar to copper. “Both copper and tin baths can be finished in different ways – brushed or verdigris, mixed in with nickel, painted, etc. – and they aren’t as heavy as you might think,” says Jo Sangster (opens in new tab).

“On the other side, natural metals can tarnish over time… while some people like it, others don’t,” she says. Although tin and copper can be restored to their original state by cleaning them up, this takes more effort than most people would like. The inside of the container can be enameled white to prevent this.

“A fully-metal bath can have a con if the water is too loud to reach the metal.

Barrie Cutchie adds, “Along with their design, metal baths cater to those of us who want to design our bathrooms with the environment in mind.” Metal baths can be recycled, unlike acrylic baths, which are single-use plastic. This means metal baths can be recycled if someone remodels their bathroom.

Acrylic is a prevalent material for bathtubs. Acrylic is lightweight, so whether a floor can hold it doesn’t matter. It’s also very affordable so that you can save on a new bathroom. For added strength, most acrylic baths can be reinforced with fiberglass.

Acrylic was once criticized for its tendency to stain or yellow. However, Lucite acrylic is durable and easy to maintain. Wash it with a sponge and a non-abrasive cleaner to keep it in top condition.

An acrylic bath has a significant drawback: It is not environmentally friendly. Acrylic baths are considered single-use plastic. This means they cannot be biodegradable and can’t be easily recycled. Even if you can get your bath accepted at your local recycling center, it will likely be shredded and put to waste. Acrylic baths can be used as a feeding trough for livestock or as planters in the backyard.

Although it looks similar to an acrylic bath but is much cooler to the touch, enamel steel has a very different appearance. It will retain heat longer, which is good news for those who enjoy a long soak in the tub. It is more challenging and more rigid than other products. This makes it nearly impossible to stain. To avoid chips, you will want to pay more for high quality and look for a more extended guarantee.

Jo Sangster says enameled steel is her favorite choice for a built-in bath. It comes in many sizes, finishes, and colors. Because it is sturdy and friendly, it can be used for bathing and standing in for showering. For deck-mounted fittings, steel baths can be drilled at the factory. Most suppliers also offer a custom service to extend the edges to fit in awkward spaces.

The surface is durable and very resistant to everyday use. It’s great for family bathrooms because it’s less likely to be stained with products like hair dye, nail varnish, and bath salts. Installation is straightforward because weight is not a significant concern. Specialist companies can also re-enamel steel baths over time if necessary.

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