If you’re ready to replace your tub “just because” or as part of larger bath remodeling project, you might be in awe of all the shapes and sizes they come in these days. But here’s one thing that hasn’t changed: you still have two basic options to choose from: porcelain over cast iron or fiberglass.
Which material is right for you? Let’s have a look:
Porcelain Over Cast Iron
Cast iron has been the trusted material for bathtubs for hundreds of years. With proper care and maintenance, a cast iron tub installed today can easily last 50 years or more. Cast iron bathtubs are typically coated with porcelain (or enamel), which not only helps the tub maintain a beautiful glossy finish, but resist chipping, scratching, and fading.
Cast iron also retains heat better than other materials, keeping your bath water warmer longer. And because they come in various sizes and styles, from claw foot to pedestal to soaker tubs, you can select one that compliments the design style you envision for your bathroom.
On the other hand, a cast iron tub can easily cost you more than twice its fiberglass counterpart. So, if you’re on a tight budget, or renovating a bathroom that gets little use, it might not be worth the investment.
Also, the weight of a cast iron bathtub makes it a challenge to install, especially in tight spaces. And finally, because iron and water don’t play well together, it is crucial to keep the often uncoated underside of the tub dry.
Less expensive, often readily available, and offered in a variety of styles and sizes, fiberglass bathtubs are a sound choice for many homeowners. They are made by painting a mold with a polyester resin, and therefore can be molded into any shape desired. This makes fiberglass a great choice for openings that do not fit standard sized bathtubs, as well as extra-large or oddly shaped custom designs.
Because they are light in weight, fiberglass tubs are also easier to install than heavier materials.
Fiberglass bathtubs are easy to maintain. Simply wipe off dirt and soap scum with a mild cleanser and a rag. Hard, abrasive cleansers can scratch the surface of the coating, so only use gentle cleaning products like dish soap and water. Their porous nature also requires fiberglass tubs to be cleaned frequently. Otherwise the surface can absorb moisture and create a serious mildew problem.
While they can be significantly less expensive than cast iron bathtubs, fiberglass has a life span of only about 15 years. And that’s one more thing to consider when weighing your options.
At Arnold & Sons Plumbing, we can assist you in updating the look, safety features and everyday convenience of your bathroom. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule an in-home consultation and proposal