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Best Types of Bathtub Materials

Sally Painter
Bubble bath with potted plants

Some of the best bathtub materials have an aesthetic appeal. You need to weight this against the cost before deciding which one to use.

Stone Tubs

Stone tubs can be made from any type of stone. Some of the popular choices include travertine, granite, marble, sandstone, and other stones.

Marble Bathtub

Pros and Cons

This extreme high-end type of tub material can have an artistic and aesthetic appeal, but is very expensive. A stone tub can quickly become the centerpiece of your bathroom design. Different shapes and styles can be carved and polished. The structural support required due to the heaviness of these materials makes it an engineering project. This type of tub design is customizable and a special order.

Wood Tubs

Just as stone is an expensive choice, wood tubs are costly options. The beauty of a teak or an exotic wood makes a wood bathtub a desirable design choice.

Wooden tub in modern bathtub

Pros and Cons

You can create a unique one-of-a-kind bathroom design. Some designs are works of art that are water sculptures. This tub material presents some of the same challenges as stone tubs, such as a support structure.

Copper Tubs

A copper tub can have a polished finish or a patina finish. This material can be used to create any shape or size of custom bathtub.

Copper bathtub in rustic bathroom

Pros and Cons

Copper retains heat and is a great way to keep your bathwater warm for a long bathing time. Slipper clawfoot soaking tubs are an ultra-high-end design choice. You can't use abrasive or chemical cleaners. A simple soft dish soap and a soft cloth or sponge is all you need to clean your tub. Simply rinse and wipe with a soft towel or cloth to avoid water stains. You can often bypass the soap and just rinse your copper tub clean.

Cast Iron With Porcelain Enamel Finish

One of the most expensive tubs is a molded cast iron tub covered with a porcelain finish. Antique and reproduction tubs feature the famous ball and clawfoot design. Modern tubs take on the same size and shape of enameled steel, acrylic and fiberglass bathtubs.

Contemporary Bathroom with a cast iron bathtub

Pros and Cons

Since the cast iron is melted and poured into molds, you can have any shape you wish. The porcelain enamel finish is applied as a thick layer to ensure durability.

  • This finish is chip, dent, scratch, and stain resistant.
  • It's also protected from most chemicals.
  • Once heated, the tub retains heat.
  • Slipper and double slipper tubs are popular nostalgic design choices for high-end bathroom designs.
  • High cost is a downside.

Cultured Marble

A cultured marble tub packs a wow factor for a high-end bathroom design. The tub is formed by mixing resin and crushed limestone together. The surface is finished by using what's known as a gel coat, a resin. When gel coat is applied to a culture marble tub, it gives it a superior durable finish.

Modern bathroom with cultured marble surfaces

Pros and Cons

Some of the cultured marble designs include a unique armrest tub, corner tub, free-standing tub, oval, and rectangle shapes. Cultured marble is a popular material for whirlpool jetted and soaking tub designs. This material provides a high-end look for a low cost compared to real marble or cast iron porcelain tubs. Some abrasive cleaners will scratch the finish and should be avoided. The cultured marble quickly dries once the water is drained.

Porcelain Covered Steel

Steel covered with porcelain is known as enameled steel. Although this material is heavier than acrylic and fiberglass, it is still overall an inexpensive bathtub option. The tub construction is made by stamping the tub shape into a steel sheet. This is then covered with the porcelain enamel.

Bathroom with porcelain coated steel bathtub

Pros and Cons

The enamel porcelain is a highly durable material and most chemicals won't hurt the finish. The glossy almost polished finish is long-lasting. A fiberglass surround or ceramic tile work can be used on the walls encasing the tub for a sophisticated finish. If something heavy is dropped onto the tub, it can chip the finish.

Acrylic Tubs

Acrylic tubs are a less expensive choice of material for a bathtub than an enameled steel tub. Fiberglass is incorporated in the construction to reinforce the sheets of acrylic. The acrylic sheets are vacuum formed. The softness of the acrylic is easily shaped and molded into large tubs.

Modern bathroom with acrylic corner bathtub

Pros and Cons

Acrylic makes this tub lightweight and has a smooth surface. The material is difficult to chip, but easily scratched. However, it's easy to repair. Acrylic retains heat and will keep your bath water warm for a longer period. Acrylic holds color and this property makes it easy to color, but it is susceptible to discoloration and stains. Higher grades of acrylic reduce these issues.

Fiberglass Bathtubs

If you're looking for one of the more inexpensive bathtubs, a fiberglass tub may be your ideal choice. This material is also lightweight compared to other bathtubs.

Fiberglass bathtub

Pros and Cons for Fiberglass Tubs

The fiberglass material can help with any weight load issues you may have in older home renovations. The fiberglass tub is often referred to as a FRP (Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic) tub. The good news is if a fiberglass tub ever needs repairing, this material makes it very simple to restore the finish. Many homeowners feel this material presents a very cheap and undesirable aesthetic since it is flexible and gives easily. However, if economics is a priority, it may be your best solution.

  • The color will eventually fade.
  • This tub is easy to install since it's lightweight.
  • Fiberglass does tend to scratch easily and can even crack under duress.

Choosing the Best Material for Your Bathtub

The more information you have about bathtub materials, the easier it is for you to choose the best one for your bathroom design. You may choose a more expensive tub for your master bathroom as a design showcase piece.

Best Types of Bathtub Materials