Here are the top 7 modern bathtub materials, from budget to high end, along with their estimated costs.
You can spend just a few hundred on a simple, no frills tub… or a few thousand on a luxurious, hand-carved marble one, and everything in between.
Each comes with its own pros and cons, and needs to be taken care of in a particular way.
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This is a great choice if you are on a tight budget. Its greatest feature is that it holds heat fairly well, so you will be able to enjoy long soaks. Plastic is also less prone to chipping than an iron tub with enamel.
On the down side, it is susceptible to scratches, staining and is not very long lasting. Overall, it is a good choice for a starter budget home or a rental property.
If you install a plastic tub, be sure to avoid harsh, abrasive cleaners.
One of the most popular, versatile and affordable options, that works with the majority of bathtubs, including whirlpool, is acrylic. It has numerous advantages that make it pleasant to use and easy to clean. While it is typically budget-friendly, there are high-end models available, costing thousands of dollars. One is pictured below, an Acrylic Air by Avon.
– beautiful high gloss finish and texture
– warm to the touch
– resists cracking and chipping
– stands up to high temperatures and ultraviolet light
– resists mildew and harsh chemicals
– available in a wide range of colors and shapes, including unique ones, since it can be easily molded.
Acrylic can be scratched, so its is best to wash it with a mild, liquid detergent, rather than an abrasive cleaner.
Cost: $290-500 and up
Another inexpensive, strong yet light-weight modern tub material, available in many shapes and sizes is gel-coated fiberglass. Compared to other options, fiberglass is considered to be a cheap freestanding tub.
One major downside is that it is not long lasting, and is susceptible to stains, mold and mildew. Other potential issues include color fading and spider cracking.
To avoid stains and mold, clean the tub regularly. If you don’t, once the mold penetrates the surface, it may be very difficult or impossible to remove.
If your bathroom remodel calls for an old-world style, and money is not an issue, a metal bathtub is a perfect choice. Enameled cast iron, also known as porcelain, is one of the classic freestanding bathtubs.
While absolutely charming, strong and durable, these tubs are very heavy, and may require extra flooring support. Also, they are cold to the touch and do not retain heat. To remain warm, you will constantly need to keep adding hot water.
The baked-on enamel surface is resistant to cracks and chips. However, these will occur eventually, and will require expensive professional assistance to fix. Another thing that may not appeal to many people, is that they come in limited shapes and sizes. Many can only accommodate one person.
Other high-end metals that offer a unique look are copper, stainless steel (great sparkle), and nickel plated. They are often made double – walled to retain heat.
A cast iron tub is not easy to clean; it has a special “non-skid” surface on the bottom, which can be very difficult to take care of.
Cost: $700-2,000 and up
If you are looking to make a bold style statement, one of the best bathtubs is stone. While very expensive, these are often hand-carved and are a true work of art. Typically, these bathtubs are made of marble, travertine, sandstone or granite. Any one of these will bring a sense of natural luxury to your bathroom space.
Note, that it is very heavy, so you need to make sure that your floor can support as much as 2000 lb. On the up side, stone is very pleasant to the touch and retains heat better than most other materials. It is also very long lasting and durable, and will not be susceptible to chips and cracking.
To maintain its natural beauty and longevity, each type of stone requires its own special care and needs to cleaned regularly.
Cost: $5,000-16,000 and up
Wood is making a huge comeback in the West because of their superior ability to keep heat longer than other materials. It is considered to be the best soaking tub and is usually used in aroma therapy rituals. You can custom order it to be any length, depth and stained to your color preferences.
For the ultimate bathing experience, consider a handmade Japanese soaking tub, made of coniferous wood, using special techniques that have been used in Japan for many centuries. These can get very expensive, costing over $7,000.
One major disadvantage is that over a period of time, water may damage the wood, as exposure to moisture causes the material to rot, split, crack and warp. To protect from moisture, many manufacturers put a number of coats of sealer or clear fiberglass. Overall, it will not last as long as others.
Avoid using harsh chemicals when cleaning, so that the sealer does not get scratched, exposing the wood. It is also recommended to use it at least once a week, to prevent the wood from drying out.
Cost: $1,500-4,500 and up
If you love the look of a stone, but your bathroom floor cannot sustain its heavy weight, a resin tub is a perfect alternative. It is a high quality composite, that is very durable, yet lightweight. Moreover, it can be formed into many different shapes and sizes. These modern bathtubs are scratch and stain resistant, as well as easy to care for.
Most dirt with easily wash off the surface with warm water. To maintain its appearance, simply wipe clean with a soft cloth after each use. If you need to use a cleaner, purchase one made specifically for painted surfaces.
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