Pros and cons of 9 bathtub materials

Some keep water hot for longer, but convenience comes at a price

By Inman News Feed
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Feb. 17, 2012

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On the downside, these tubs are extremely heavy and require extra labor -- and often extra floor reinforcement -- to install. They're also typically going to be among the most expensive tubs on the market.

And now for some less common material options:

Solid-surface materials

Solid-surface materials are relative newcomers to the bathtub market. They're durable; they retain heat well; there are a variety of subtle, natural-looking colors available; and the finish can be repaired if needed. They can also be made in a variety of shapes and sizes.

On the downside, they're somewhat heavy and relatively expensive, and may require a long lead time to get.

Cultured marble

These tubs are made from crushed limestone mixed with resin, then finished with Gelcoat. You have a lot of options for color, size and style, and the Gelcoat finish used with cultured marble is more durable than that used with fiberglass. The cost typically falls somewhere between acrylic and cast iron.

Ceramic tile

Ceramic tile tubs can be made on site to whatever size and shape you desire. You have more design options with this material than any other. However, you'll have to deal with the maintenance of all that grout, and the irregular interior surface may not be the most comfortable to relax on with bare skin.

Stone and wood

You can custom order a bathtub from a variety of natural stone materials, including granite, marble, onyx, travertine, basalt, sandstone and other materials. These tubs are extremely heavy, and require special structural framing to support their weight.

You can also custom-order a bathtub made from teak and certain other woods. As you'd imagine, with any of these true one-of-a-kind pieces you get an unbeatable "wow factor," but it comes with a pretty high price tag.

And, in the case of wood and some of the stones, it's going to require a lot of maintenance in order to retain the tub's original beauty.

Remodeling and repair questions? Email Paul at paulbianchina@inman.com. All product reviews are based on the author's actual testing of free review samples provided by the manufacturers.

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