Cast Iron Vs Acrylic Bathtubs – Which To Choose

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The bathtub you have in your bathroom says a lot about your personality and commitment to personal hygiene. Acrylic and cast iron tubs are some of the most common types found, but which is best? We researched a variety of cast iron and acrylic bathtubs to reveal the advantages and disadvantages of each. We hope this article will acquaint you with the benefits of both tub styles and help you choose a quality fixture for your home.

Acrylic and cast iron tubs are both prized for their durability and range of styles; either makes a lovely bathroom. However, there are some advantages and drawbacks to each style of tub. Acrylic tubs are lightweight and are easily installed anywhere, but cast iron tubs are heavier and more expensive. Choosing between an acrylic tub and a cast iron tub is usually determined by one’s budget, lifestyle needs, and the tub’s attributes.

Read on to learn more in-depth information about cast iron and acrylic tubs and how they transform your bathing experience.

A collage of cast iron bathtub and acrylic bathtub, Cast Iron Vs Acrylic Bathtubs - Which To Choose

Why Choose An Acrylic Vs. Cast Iron Tub

Luxury master bathroom with free standing bathtub

Bathtubs get a lot of use throughout their lifetime, so it’s important to invest in a tub that satisfies your needs. Acrylic bathtubs are valued because they are affordable, lightweight, come in many colors, and are resistant to chipping or cracking. Cast iron tubs are durable, a popular vintage tub style, and composed of heavy iron fused with porcelain and coated with enamel. Whereas acrylic tubs can be placed on any level of a house with ease, a stout cast iron tub typically stays on a lower floor.

Acrylic tubs are constructed using vacuum-formed layers of acrylic and often reinforced with layers of fiberglass. Compared to cast iron, acrylic tubs have a bit more give when you press on the surface, especially more inexpensive models. Cast iron is heavy and expensive, and tubs made with this material are often a status symbol for modern or vintage bathrooms. All acrylic and cast iron tubs can be refinished to restore the glaze on the surface and remove cosmetic blemishes.

Acrylic Tubs

Acrylic tubs are available for a modest price, with a range of $300 to $1,400, depending on the model. Standard acrylic tubs at 60-inches in length cost between $700 to $1,000. When it’s time to clean an acrylic tub, although they are resistant to scratching and chipping, you should use a gently abrasive tool and non-bleach cleaner for best results.

Avoid using steel wool, harsh bleach-based cleaners, or devices that could scratch the coating or cause discoloration. If an acrylic tub receives any cosmetic damage, you can use a repair kit to take care of marks without calling a professional.

Check out this tub and tile repair kit on Amazon.

Advantages

  • Available in a lot of colors and styles
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Affordable price range
  • Lightweight and easy to install
  • Good heat retention

Disadvantages

  • It may not have that high-end feel like porcelain or cast iron
  • The tub can become stained, scratched, or feel hollow

Read more at “Acrylic Bathtubs Pros And Cons: What Homeowners Need To Know.”

How Long Do Acrylic Tubs Last?

Acrylic tubs do not have a lifespan as long as porcelain or iron tubs coated with enamel, but they last an average of 10 to 15 years. Since acrylic tubs are a lot more affordable than other bathtub types, it is easier and cost-effective to replace an old tub rather than struggle to refinish it. Higher-end acrylic tubs with more reinforced layers that undergo routine maintenance will last longer. 

If an acrylic tub shows signs of wear-and-tear, it is possible to re-glaze it to smooth out scratches and eradicate stains. Call a professional certified contractor to overhaul a tub in need of dire restoration and repair. However, you can try your hand at improving the look of your tub using a refinishing kit with an epoxy finish to make it look new again.

Check out this modern oval acrylic bathtub on Amazon.

Do Acrylic Tubs Hold Heat?

A marble tub may be luxurious looking, but it does not hold heat as well as acrylic. Compared to cast iron tubs, an acrylic tub can keep up with the competition and does not let water become cold quickly. Some of the best tub materials to keep water longer include cast iron, copper, acrylic, and stone. If you love taking long hot baths, consider a higher-end acrylic tub for the best results.

Are Acrylic Bathtubs Good Quality?

An acrylic bathtub is one of the best choices if you desire a quality bathing experience that fits almost any budget. Acrylic is easy to restore and refinish with a glaze to get rid of any visible scratches or superficial chips and make it look brand new. The heat retention for acrylic tubs is comparable to tubs of cast iron or stone, thanks to the layers of fiberglass underneath its smooth, glossy enamel coating. Take care to avoid scratching or chipping the surface of the tub.

You can find acrylic tubs in a range of styles and colors, and they are lightweight enough that installation is effortless and affordable. If you cannot afford a porcelain, copper, or stone tub, an acrylic tub can provide a beautiful, modern tub to enjoy a hot bath.

Check out this standard acrylic bathtub on Amazon.

Cast Iron Tubs

Cast iron tubs are a common sight in vintage or antique homes for their eloquent beauty and longevity. You can enjoy a long soak in a cast iron tub without fear of the water quickly becoming cold thanks to its heat retention properties. The average cost of these incredibly long-lasting tubs falls between $500 to $2,000. Most cast iron tubs are between 66 to 72 inches in size, but smaller tubs are available that are 60 inches.

Cast iron tubs are built tough and easily resist chips, cracking, and damage. Maintenance is required to protect against rusting, but a tub can be restored if there is any present.

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Advantages

  • Withstands heavy impact without easily degrading
  • Excellent heat retention
  • Modern and vintage designs available
  • Available in different colors 

Disadvantages

  • The tub’s weight requires additional support if installed on an upper floor
  • More expensive than acrylic or fiberglass tubs

How Long Do Cast Iron Tubs Last?

If a cast iron tub receives proper maintenance and care using non-abrasive bleach-free cleaners, expect the bathroom fixture to last between 10 to 15 years. If you have an older tub that could use some sprucing up, refinishing the tub with a new glaze adds another 10 to 15 years of life to your tub. Reglazing an old tub is a great way to preserve it, as long as it is free of leaks, persistent mold, or deep cracks. Refinishing a tub can help reduce the appearance of stains, shallow cracks, and scratches.

Check out this chic Swedish cast iron tub on Amazon.

How Much Does A Cast Iron Tub Cost?

Because cast iron tubs are heavier than acrylic tubs and are made from heavy-duty material that retains heat well, they come with a hefty price tag. Prepare to spend anywhere from $400 to $2,500 for a standard 60-inch cast iron tub, with the average median price being $1,500. Antique and custom tubs made from cast iron can easily cost over $1,500, not including installation or refining costs.

Check out this luxury cast iron tub on Amazon.

Is My Tub Porcelain Or Cast Iron?

There are a few different ways to figure out whether you have a porcelain or cast iron tub. You could take a magnet and place it against the tub for starters to see if it sticks to the surface. A cast iron tub will cause a magnet to cling, but a porcelain tub not hold a magnet. Additionally, if a tub is chipped, a cast iron tub will display metal underneath an enameled surface and even rust.

How Do I Know If My Tub Is Acrylic Or Fiberglass?

Both fiberglass and acrylic bathtubs have a smooth glossy finish and are slightly porous, but fiberglass is thicker than acrylic. The edges of an acrylic tub tend to be thinner, and the surface feels warmer than fiberglass. Also, fiberglass tubs typically come in white and are lighter weight than acrylic tubs. If you press down on a tub and the surface gives in a bit or feels flimsy, it is most likely fiberglass.

In Closing

We hope that after reading this article, you have a greater knowledge of cast iron and acrylic tubs. Cast iron tubs and acrylic bathtubs are excellent at retaining heat, come in modern and vintage styles, and last a long time. However, acrylic tubs are a more affordable and lightweight option with an easier installation than a heavyweight cast iron tub. No matter your sense of aesthetics and budget, you can discover an elegant bathtub that will meet your needs.

Before you leave, don’t forget to check out the following articles of interest:

How To Install A New Bathtub [Including Renovation Cost]

How Big Is A Bathtub? [A Breakdown Of Standard Dimensions]

12 Types Of Bathtub Faucets [And Faucet Handles]

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