Acrylic vs. Cast Iron Bathtubs: Is One Better?

Bathtubs are available in hundreds of colors, styles, brands, materials, and configurations. Among the extensive list of options, you’ll find acrylic and cast iron bathtubs renowned for their longevity and ability to create a classy feel in a space. 

As you browse for your next bathtub, you may be stuck between the two, trying to decide which option is better for your home. We compiled information about each option to help you decide which is best for your home.

What Is Acrylic?

Acrylic Bathtub

Acrylic is one of the most popular types of bathtub materials. Despite its lightweight nature, the material is surprisingly durable, easy to maintain, and easy to repair if damage occurs. 

Acrylic bathtubs are a type of synthetic material made from vacuum-formed sheets of acrylic and often feature fiberglass for reinforcements and added durability. The manufacturing process makes acrylic bathtubs pricier than fiberglass, which is a popular alternative to acrylic as another inexpensive material. 

Acrylic tubs come in various shapes, sizes, designs, and colors, so there is plenty of versatility to meet nearly any aesthetic preference. 

Pros And Cons

Advantages and disadvantages are nearly inevitable with any product, and the same is true for acrylic bathtubs, which have a few notable pros and cons. A few of the upsides to acrylic bathtubs include:

  • Affordable: Acrylic tubs are an excellent choice for homeowners on a budget. Although they’re pricier than fiberglass bathtubs, they’re one of the most affordable bathtub materials on the market. 
  • Heat retention: This is an essential factor to consider when buying a bathtub. Acrylic tubs offer solid heat retention, especially considering the cost of the tub. This means your bath water will stay warmer for longer than it would with many other materials. 
  • Easy to maintain and repair: Damage to acrylic tubs is easily repairable. Scratches can be polished out or filled in, leaving a perfect, flawless surface once again. 
  • Durable: These tubs can last for many years with proper maintenance. The extra reinforcement from fiberglass lends well to overall durability. On top of that, they’re easy to repair and last even longer without requiring a replacement. 
  • Customizable: Acrylic is easily malleable, which allows manufacturers to create a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and styles. Regardless of your bathroom layout, you can find an acrylic tub to fit. 
  • Lightweight: These tubs are made of lightweight materials, making them extremely easy to install. Instead of requiring half a dozen people to lift the tub, it may only take a few. Additionally, you won’t have to install extra floor reinforcements on the upper levels of your home where you install the tub. 

On the flip side, a few downsides include:

  • Susceptible to surface staining or scratching: Acrylic is easy to repair, but it can be prone to stains and scratches if improperly maintained or cleaned. Some stains may be difficult to get out, but scratches and chips are easy to repair if they do happen. 
  • Not particularly fancy: If you’re looking for a fancy, high-end bathtub, acrylic might not be the best material for you. They can sometimes suit high-end needs, but they aren’t as fancy as some materials. 
  • Can be sensitive to some cleaners: Some abrasive cleaners can wreak havoc on acrylic tubs, so you need to be careful of what you put on their surface. It’s essential to clean these tubs with the appropriate materials to avoid unwanted results.

What Is Cast Iron? 

Cast Iron Bathtub

Cast iron bathtubs are renowned for their long-lasting durability and exceptional heat retention. To make a cast iron bathtub, manufacturers start with iron ore. The material is melted down, then molded into the shape of the tub. Then, a porcelain or enamel coating is applied. 

Cast iron tubs are usually fairly pricey, given the expensive material they’re made with. However, they’re a staple in many high-end bathrooms, giving a high-class vintage look that somehow remains timeless. 

Pros And Cons

Like acrylic tubs, cast iron tubs come with a few advantages and disadvantages. A few of the notable benefits include:

  • Excellent longevity: These tubs can last for over seventy years! Now that’s long-lasting!
  • Durable: These tubs are made from iron ore, which is exceptionally durable. They feature a coating of enamel or porcelain, which also holds up well. 
  • Easy to clean: Cleaning a cast iron tub is quick and easy. All it takes is a mixture of soap and water, applied with a soft sponge. Cleaning should be done weekly for best results, but they stay in good condition surprisingly well. 
  • Exceptional heat retention: Cast iron is known for its ability to absorb and transfer heat, which makes it great for retaining heat. These tubs will keep your bath water warm for much longer than most other materials. 

On the other hand, a few drawbacks include:

  • Costly: These tubs, on average, cost over $1,000. For most folks, that’s a considerable splurge, especially for a bathtub. Of course, your tub will last much longer than most materials, so it’s arguably worth the extra cost. 
  • Hefty: Cast iron tubs are extremely heavy, often weighing 300 pounds or more. This means you’ll need extra hands for installation, not to mention added floor supports for second-floor installations. 
  • Professional installation: Although you technically can install a cast iron tub yourself, it might be best to have a professional handle the installation, especially with second-floor installations. The tubs are heavy and hard to maneuver, making installation tricky. 
  • Fewer designs: These tubs usually come in white and aren’t available in many styles or designs. If you’re looking for a specific type, you might not find it in cast iron material. 
  • Trickier to repair: Given the nature of these tubs, repairs can be tricky. If the porcelain or enamel coating chips, the iron underneath may begin to rust, causing issues. However, repairs are doable; they just aren’t as easy. 

WOODBRIDGE B0018-MB-Drain &O Bathtub, Matte Black

What Is The Best Material To Get For A Bathtub?

Ultimately, the best material to get for a bathtub depends on what you’re looking for. Cast iron is a great choice for its exceptional durability and long-lasting nature. However, due to the sheer weight of the structure, it’s not ideal for specific scenarios. 

For instance, cast iron might not be the best choice if you’re looking for a bathtub for a second-floor bathroom. While you could install a cast iron tub on a second-floor bathroom, you would need to install extra supports to handle the weight of the tub. 

On the other hand, acrylic is a solid choice if you’re looking for a cost-effective material that offers many of the same benefits as cast iron. It provides long-lasting durability and is resistant to scratches, chips, and cracks. In the event minor damage does occur, you can easily repair it with an acrylic repair kit. 

Both cast iron and acrylic offer many of the same benefits, like solid heat retention, longevity, and durability. While a few critical differences set them apart, they’re both excellent choices.

Leave a Comment