In the previous part of this guide, we looked at the most common styles of bathtubs out there, and at how to choose the perfect one for your room. I believe that deciding a style is a great starting point for those renovating or designing a new bathroom from scratch. However, the next most important point is deciding on the perfect material and features you want/need from your tub. In this article, we’re going to look at the most popular bathtub features and materials available in the US.
First things first – the material. Most modern bathtubs are usually made of acrylic or fiberglass, or a combination of both. However, there are also metal bathtubs, and the most common types out there are cast iron and enameled steel. Here are some brief descriptions of each of them:
Acrylic bathtubs are inexpensive and lightweight, hence easy on your flooring, and also on your back as you’re hiking it up the stairs to get it to the bathroom on the second floor. They are also great heat retainers, making for a longer and more pleasant soak than other materials.
Fiberglass bathtubs are the cheapest alternative out there, so they’re great for people on a budget. However, they have a relatively short lifespan due to their gel coat finish that is prone to wear. Fiberglass is also fairly brittle, so you’d have to install the tub on a mortar bed to prevent excessive movement and flexing. It’s always best to opt for acrylic/fiberglass hybrids than pure fiberglass bathtubs.
Iron cast was a very popular choice in the past. It is extremely durable – all it takes is a new coating to make an iron tub from the 50s look brand new, but it’s also extremely heavy, which might call for reinforced flooring. It’s also not the best choice for those who like long hot soaks, as iron is a pretty poor heat retainer.
Enameled steel tubs are usually thinner and lighter than iron casts, but they’re even worse heat retainers. While they are easier on bathroom flooring, enameled steel are much more brittle too, as most of them have a porcelain coating that is really fast to chip and crack. They are also notoriously noisy – but they can look extremely fancy if you’re going for a sleek bathroom design.
As far as features go, modern bathrooms can cater to every single whim. Mood lighting? No problem. Water or air jets? No problem. There are even tubs with thermal control, which have a built-in thermometer and a system that keeps the water at a constant temperature, adding hot water whenever needed. With extra features, it’s hard to make a guide – it really depends on whether you’re into the fancy massage stuff or just like to soak into a hot tub every day after work without all the bells and whistles.
In the next and last part of this guide, we will look at sizes and capacities, aka the boring stuff. Whether you like it or not, you will have to do some math before getting a new tub – but don’t worry, we’ll walk you through the whole process, step by step.