On the current market, you can find a wide variety of bathtubs made with different materials. Among all materials, cast iron and acrylic seem to be the options preferred by buyers. Both materials are durable and strong. Each one with its own pros and cons.
However, in some cases one option could be more convenient than the other. If you choose the wrong material, your bathtub won’t last as long as you wish and you’ll end up spending more money on a replacement. So, if you don’t want that to happen, pay close attention.
This article will provide an in-depth “cast iron vs acrylic tub” comparison to help you decide which one fits your style, budget, and preference better. Let’s dive right in.
Cast Iron Vs Acrylic Tub: Key Differences
Acrylic tubs are made by pouring a molten mixture of acrylic, fiberglass and color into a mold. The mixture cools and hardens, taking the shape of the mold. In another manufacturing method, heat and suction are applied on flexible acrylic layer. After doing this, the acrylic layer adheres to the walls of a solid mold.
In the case of cast iron tubs, pure iron is melted at very high temperature and then poured into molds. When the metal cools, blemishes are removed and the surface is polished. Finally, the tub receives a powder coating and goes to an oven. The heat melts the thermoplastic particles on the surface, creating a hard and glossy layer.
Shapes and Sizes
Acrylic is a highly malleable material, so it can be molded into any imaginable shape. For that reason, you’ll find acrylic tubs available on a huge variety of shapes and sizes. Also, it’s possible to manufacture custom acrylic tubs according to customer’s requirements. Today, it’s common to find acrylic tubs with armrests, seats, drink holders and other amenities.
On the other hand, cast iron isn’t that easy to mold, so shaping it into complex forms would take too much time, delaying the manufacturing process. Also, most cast iron tubs still retain that old-fashioned style from past centuries.
Acrylic isn’t as strong as other synthetic materials. For that reason, it’s combined with fiberglass to make bathtubs. Fiberglass provides extra resistance against high loads and impacts. Also, fiberglass surface is prone to scratches and chemical damage. So, you can’t use too harsh or abrasive products to clean an acrylic tub.
On the other hand, cast iron tubs are the toughest of all. Iron is resistant to high temperatures and high impacts. In addition, its surface resists scratches and deformation. However, it may rust when directly exposed to moisture. For this reason, the entire surface should be covered with thermoplastic powder or enamel.
Both acrylic and cast iron are good for retaining heat. Acrylic has no pores on its surface, which guarantees a stable temperature of hot water for longer. On porous surfaces, the interaction between the fresh air trapped inside the pores and the hot water on the surface causes a drop in temperature.
However, cast iron tubs are much more effective at retaining heat of water. Cast iron is a better thermal conductor than acrylic. However, the interaction of the outer walls of the tub with fresh air could slightly alter the water temperature.
Acrylic is a delicate material and using the wrong cleaning products could permanently damage its surface. Substances like acetone, chlorine, sodium hydroxide and hydrochloric acid can degrade the material. Also, wire sponges and hard-bristle brushes tend to leave scratches on the surface.
If the acrylic surface cracks or chips, it can be easily repaired using DIY repairing kits. However, in the case of water leaks or any other serious damage, it’s better to contact a professional to solve the problem.
On the other hand, cast iron tubs don’t require special treatment such as acrylic tubs. In fact, the protective coating on the surface is resistant to harsh chemicals. To clean a cast iron tub, you just need to scrub a sponge moistened with soapy water on the surface to remove any stains or soap scum.
If the enamel coating chips, you should apply a new coat of enamel on the exposed metal as soon as possible. Cast iron tends to rust so easily. So, direct contact with water could weaken the material and then generate water leaks.
Acrylic bathtubs are much easier to install than cast iron models. Acrylic tubs are also lighter and easier to transport. So, if the bathroom is on the second floor of your house or if you live in an apartment, carrying an acrylic tub through the stairs will be much easier.
However, acrylic bathtubs are also fragile and can easily break if you apply too much pressure while installing the shower head and other accessories.
Cast iron bathtubs are much heavier than acrylic tubs, so carrying them will be much more difficult. Depending on the size of the tub, you’ll need the help of one or more people to transport one of these through the stairs.
However, with cast iron tubs there’s less chance of causing damage during the installation of faucets and shower heads.
Acrylic tubs are much cheaper than cast iron models. On the current market you can find low-end models for less than $200. However, it isn’t convenient to invest your money in something too cheap or you could end up very disappointed after buying. Best acrylic tubs have an average price of $500-$600.
On the other hand, the minimum price for a cast iron tub is $400. However, you can also find much more expensive options that exceed $3,500.
Certainly, the opinions on the cast iron vs acrylic tub debate are diverse. While some prefer the versatility and low cost of acrylic tubs, others prefer the high resistance, durability and classic style of cast iron tubs.
Before choosing any model, first consider the decoration and current conditions of your bathroom. If your bathroom has a classic décor, a Victorian style cast iron tub with look great. On the other hand, if your bathroom is modern and minimalist, an acrylic tub is better.
If you aren’t a cleaning enthusiast, choose cast iron. However, if money is your main concern, a low-end acrylic tub is what you need. If you follow these tips before buying a new bathtub for your bathroom, you’ll always make good decisions.
Q. What is the best material for a bathtub?
Porcelain is certainly the best material for a bathtub. A porcelain tub blends well with any décor style and adds a slight touch of luxury and elegance to your bathroom. Also, porcelain bathtubs can be used indoors and outdoors.
Q. Which are the most durable materials for bathtubs?
Cast iron and porcelain are the most durable materials for bathtubs. Both can last a lifetime with proper maintenance. In addition, they’re resistant to high impacts, high temperatures and UV rays.
However, cast iron tends to rust when directly exposed to humid environments. On the other hand, pathogens tend to accumulate on the porous surface of porcelain.
Q. Porcelain vs. Acrylic. Which material is better?
By far, porcelain is better than acrylic. It has superior resistance to high impacts, deformation and scratches. Additionally, the protective coating of porcelain tubs is resistant to harsh chemicals and abrasive cleaning products.