Make a Splash: A Guide to Bathtub Materials

Just like any other area in your home, the bathroom should be designed creatively and attractively. After all, this is where you spend most of your time revitalising your body and mind. 

Creating a pleasant bathroom environment is rather simple – all you need is furniture and fixtures made of high-quality materials, some tasteful splash of colour, and attractively textured walls. And if you look to achieve that true spa feeling, a luxurious bathtub is what you need. Not only does it offer a great way to unwind after a long day, but taking a warm bath can also be incredibly therapeutic, helping to ease away tension and stress.

While a luxurious soak can be incredibly soothing, selecting the right tub can be quite stressful. Understanding the pros and cons of the materials used to make these elements will help you pick one that’s the right fit for you and your needs in terms of appearance, longevity, heat maintenance, and other considerations.


A Guide to Bathtub Materials - acrylic


When shopping for bath tubs, the most common option you will come across is acrylic. These tubs are popular due to their versatility, durability, vast design option, and low cost. Made from vacuum-formed acrylic sheets strengthened with fibreglass, they are light in weight and easy to install. 

This particular type of plastic has a high-gloss finish and strong durability. Solid acrylic is an excellent mid-priced solution that resists scratches better than fibreglass. Its scuffs are less noticeable since the colour is uniform throughout.

Pros: Durable, affordable, lightweight, available in a range of colours, shapes and sizes, surface with no pores that can be repaired. 

Cons: The surface can get damaged if abrasive cleaning tools are used, require strengthening stress areas for installation, are not resistant to cracks and may flex when you stand on it. 

Porcelain Enamel Steel

Steel bath tubs, also frequently referred to as porcelain-coated or enamelled steel bathtubs, are made from a steel shell coated with a layer of porcelain enamel, providing a durable finish that is easy to clean and has excellent scratch resistance. Steel is also a good heat conductor, helping to keep your bath water hot for a longer period. 

Pros: Durable, affordable, lightweight compared to other materials, easy to clean and available in standard sizes.

Cons: The surface might chip if you drop something on it and even the tiniest chip may cause rust to form. Limited options of colour and shapes. Loses heat fast. 

Cast Polymer

A Guide to Bathtub Materials - cast polymer


Common stone and durable surface materials are used to make cast polymer baths. They are created by mixing tars, minerals, and polymeric ingredients in a mould. The result is a robust material akin to solid-surface countertops.

Cast polymer baths feature a nonporous surface, clear lines, and a consistent style. It’s easy to wipe clean and tolerates accumulation and recolouration. Available in a range of colours, cast polymer models are suitable for many different designs and decor styles.

Pros: Affordable price, several colour possibilities, simple to clean, mildew and stain resistance, surfaced scratches can be removed by buffing.

Cons: Gel coat wear can cause irreparable fissures and brittleness is possible. 

Enameled Cast Iron

This is a traditional tub made from a moulded iron base covered in porcelain enamel. It’s both extremely durable and visually striking. Although the cast-iron model may be a more luxurious option, the tradeoff is its weight, which can make installation a challenging process. Your floor may have to be fortified to support the extra weight of an enamel cast iron tub.

Still, many homeowners choose this type of bathtub for their bathrooms due to its durability. Furthermore, if this material gets damaged, it can be repaired and refinished, thereby extending its life.

Pros: Long lasting, chip and scratch resistant, resurfacing is possible. 

Cons: Heavy.

Solid-Surface Materials

A Guide to Bathtub Materials - solid surface material


Solid-surface bathtubs are constructed out of synthetic polymers and are available in many designs. They are durable and energy efficient, but they are also bulky and expensive. Solid-surface materials are relatively recent additions to the bathroom supply industry.

Pros: Strong, keeps water warm, available in all kinds of shapes, sizes and modest, natural-looking hues.

Cons: Quite heavy and expensive.

Stone Resin

Stone resin is a combination of pulverised stone and polymer resin that recreate the look and feel of genuine stone. It’s one of the most durable and stylish materials for bathtubs. It is an expensive option, but the luxurious appearance it provides and its “wow factor” make it worth the cost. 

Pros: The colour remains vibrant and crisp even with repeated exposure to water. It’s non-porous meaning it does not absorb water and retains heat well. It requires very little in terms of maintenance or repair, 100% recyclable making it an environmentally friendly option.

Cons: Stone resin is a more expensive but long-lasting choice for bath materials. Special support is required to handle the weight of the tub.


A Guide to Bathtub Materials - copper


A copper tub is created by taking multiple sheets of pure copper and hammering them into the desired shape. This gives it a beautiful, polished look while also ensuring impressive durability.

Pros: Unique aesthetic appeal, durable, easy to clean and maintain and naturally resistant to scratching and other damage.

Cons: This tub is just as heavy as cast iron, and it is more difficult to find than other options, raising its cost above that of other options.


Which Bathtub Material Has the Best Ability to Retain Heat? 

Cast iron, stone resin, or copper are the top choices for maximum heat retention, with cast iron being especially popular for its slow and even heat loss. Cast iron won’t become too hot like metal, nor cool down quickly like plastic models made of acrylic or fibreglass.

What Bathtub Material Is Easiest to Clean?

The simplest materials to clean include copper, cast iron, stone resin, and porcelain. The material itself is less important than the roughness of the outside surface. Cast iron, for instance, tends to be simple to clean because of its glossy enamel covering, and even stone resin, despite being manufactured to resemble actual stone, is typically simple to clean because it’s plastic.

Are Bathtubs Prone to Rusting?

Some models are susceptible to rusting, particularly those made of iron or steel. To prevent corrosion, many models have a special enamel or porcelain coating. 

If the tub is damaged in any way and the coating is cracked, it’s important to fix the issue right away to avoid further damage and potential leaks. Additionally, metal components like the faucet and drain may rust if they are older and not replaced.

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