Bathtubs come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes, but perhaps the most confusing, they are available in a multitude of different materials as well. The combination that is right for you depends on your needs, your taste and your space. So where to start? Knowing the properties of some of the most common materials may help you narrow down your options and chose the right tub.
Acrylic tubs are a very common form of drop in tub and also what we see in the majority of master bathroom remodels. Acrylic tubs are economical and lightweight. They are also very hard and durable, especially when you use a company that uses a good thick acrylic brand like Lucite (i.e. Kohler, MTI, Hydromassage, others), and can be repaired if damaged. Acrylic is not to be confused with Gel-coated Fiberglass (FRP) which is much thinner than acrylic, can fade over time and is much less durable. Acrylic has a non-porous finish that is easy to clean, but never clean it with abrasives as it can scratch and fade.
Porcelain on Steel (POS) are thin steel shells coated with a heat-fused porcelain enamel. They are relatively light weight and reasonably priced. Porcelain on Steel is colorfast and resistant to abrasions, corrosion and acid. Porcelain is also a very sanitary choice for a tub. They are sterile, odorless, and easy to clean with normal, non-abrasive household cleaners. A drawback to Porcelain on Steel, they can be damaged by impact and once the surface gets chipped, they can rust.
Cast Iron tubs are the most durable bathtub material on the market, and often the most expensive. The name of these tubs describes the process in which they are made; molten iron cast in a mold. The thickness of cast iron makes it very impact resistant and provides outstanding protection against chipping, scratches and dents. Cast Iron displays the richest, most highly polished finish of all bath materials. When you consider the longevity of cast iron you are definitely making an investment. It will stay shiny and strong, all the days of its life. Keep in mind, the weight of these iron beasts makes them a serious job to both install and uninstall.