How to choose the right bathtub material for you

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Paul Sainty Plumbing & Heating Services
Be it the family bathroom or your own private en-suite, the modern bathroom needs to be functional as well as stylish. Think about who and how many people will use the bathroom and how that could change with time. Your family bathtub may start out as a place of memories where you bathe your adorable toddler before you put them to bed but before long it will develop into a teenage warzone, jostling for position to get ready for a night out! I tend to use mine as a hiding place from the family. Sometimes I don’t even fill it with water but just sit in it, beer in hand, door locked and pretend I’m busy having a long relaxing bubble bath, just so I don’t have to take the bins out…again!
 
You might be surprised to find that you have more options than you would have thought. Which one you ultimately choose is going to come down to a combination of looks, comfort, ease of maintenance, and, of course, cost. So here goes:
 

Porcelain on Steel or Enamelled Steel

These tubs are moulded from a thin layer of steel, which is then coated with a porcelain enamel material, which hardens into a durable coating.
Porcelain bathtubs maintain a very nice shine to their surface, which feel smooth to touch. The coating in the tubs is naturally resistant to scratching and cleaning is easy.
 
Unfortunately porcelain bathtubs can be quite slippery so this may not be the best choice for young children or older people more at risk of falling. And please don’t use those rubber non-stick mats, as if you haven’t noticed we aren’t living in the 1980s anymore. Porcelain also does not hold heat very well, resulting in lower heat retention in your bathwater. Durability is also a tricky topic as porcelain is resistant to scratching, but it is at risk of chipping if it suffers any hard knocks such as a clumsy teenager dropping their phone in the bath and worse than that could result in your child having a broken phone, which means they may actually have to talk to you!!!
 
Disadvantages are that the finish can scratch or discolour over time, although the better grades of bathtub finishes have now reduced that problem to a minimum. You also have a lot of choices of shapes, sizes and colours.
 

Acrylic

Acrylic is formed by taking a solid sheet of various materials including fibreglass, which are then heated and moulded and into a bathtub shape.
Acrylic is non-porous so it doesn’t absorb bathrooms products and it will maintain the temperature of your bathwater. So great if you enjoy a long soak in the bath. They are also very durable and hardwearing and lightweight. so it’s easy to carry and transport into your property and it makes me look like a superhero, carrying a bathtub one handed up the stairs. They can be easily contoured so you have a lot of choice in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours. A good all rounder but not too high-end, the Britney Spears of baths basically.
 
Unfortunately like fiberglass, acrylic tubs will also flex, which makes it less stable to stand on and the finish is prone to scratching and discolouration as well, though not as much as fibreglass does.
 

Cast Iron

If you want something that will last and you’re going for a vintage look then cast iron is the one to choose. Cast iron tubs are made by pouring molten iron into a mould of the desired shape, then smoothing it and coating it with a thick layer of enamel. They can be finished in different colours too making your bathroom look more bespoke. They don’t scratch, they don’t chip and they are easy to clean with any chemical. They also retain the water’s heat. However cast iron bathtubs are incredibly heavy. So it’ll take a strong crew to get it into your house, think Dwayne Johnson bringing along the Russian Olympic weight lifting team. §And if you don’t want to end up with your bathtub falling through the floor, you ought to think about support and structure around your bath before installation. All of these things considered it would be a more expensive option than other material choices.
 
Now we come to the more unusual materials out there:
 

Wood

A wooden bathtub! But they can be good-looking and have genuine, natural feel to it. Also, since wood is easy to work with, wooden bathtubs can be any shape or size depending on your tastes and does add that very individual touch to your bathroom.
But luxury does come at a heavy price though and your wooden bathtub will not last very long compared to nearly all other bathtubs on the market. Additionally, special considerations must be made in your home to accommodate a wooden tub, such as space and framing. Cost is also a large part of why wooden bathtubs are perhaps not as popular. Wooden bathtubs need regular maintenance to ensure it lasts the test of time. Overuse will invariably wash away the resistant sealing, rotting the wood quicker, while underuse will dry out the wood, speeding up the rotting process. Overall, it is quite a hassle to own a wooden bathtub. However with the current excessive rainfall we are having your wooden bathtub could double up as your very own Ark. Call yourself Noah pick your favourite child (or in my house the dog gets my vote) and off you go!
 

Copper

Copper bathtubs are made from hammering multiple sheets of pure copper into the shape of a bathtub.
 
A copper tub looks great and also maintains good durability, being naturally resistant to scratches and other chipping that may occur. Also, for those who do not enjoy cleaning it is easy to maintain and does not require the need of harsh cleaning chemicals whatsoever. Most of the benefits of a copper tub are due it it’s unique aesthetic look.
 
However similar to the cast iron, it is also very heavy. There are also fewer stockists around so it may be harder to source and it is one of the more expensive material choices out there.
Whatever you choose be it for comfort, cost or look, the most important thing is to research your bathtub before buying. Think about the space you are putting it in and any additional cost you may incur. Happy shopping.