Planning a bathroom renovation? Me, too. Right now, I'm shopping for the perfect bathtub.
Now, I knew right off the bat my budget wouldn't stretch to one of those luxe clawfoot models. But I also can't settle for a cheapo standard-issue (read: shallow, uncomfortable) tub. I'm looking for a bath that's comfortable and deep enough for soaking ... yet won't break the piggy bank.
If you're shopping for a tub, choose carefully. The cost of installation can easily dwarf that of the tub itself, so make sure the finished result is exactly what you wanted! You've probably already narrowed it down by size, shape and color. But wait: You still must choose the type of material your new tub will be made from
. Let's take a look at the choices.
Acrylic & Fiberglass.
Both plastic products, acrylic and fiberglass tubs are lightweight, warm to the touch and insulate quite well. They can be molded to any shape, allowing the inclusion of integral ledges, armrests and backrests. The downside? Abrasive cleaners will damage that nice, shiny finish so clean with extreme
Fiberglass, the least expensive option of all, is not very durable and it is prone to fading. While Acrylic is considered a big step up from fiberglass, it too is prone to surface damage. On the other hand, there's an acrylic tub for every size wallet. The price point plus those handy integral features make acrylic my top pick.
Clad in a layer of porcelain, cast iron is extremely heavy and, alas, extremely pricey. On the other hand, it is virtually indestructible and has a timeless look and feel that cannot be beat. It also maintains water temperature longest, which is nice for long soaks. A great choice if you can afford it ... and if your floorboards can bear the load.
These tubs are easy to get and easy to afford. They are durable, resisting corrosion and abrasions for years. Surface dings must be fixed promptly to avoid rusting of the steel layer. A big disadvantage: metal conducts heat, so your bathwater will cool faster in a steel tub.
Fairly new to the market, some composites mimic the look of natural substances, such as marble. Others, like the Americast line for American Standard
, are designed as light-weight alternatives to cast iron.