Steel Tub Versus Acrylic - Remodeling - Contractor Talk

Steel Tub Versus Acrylic

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Old 06-22-2010, 09:52 AM   #1
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Steel Tub Versus Acrylic

Anyone have a preference installing one or the other? I've talked to one plumber and GC who hate acrylic tubs and will only install steel. The GC claims that silicone caulk won't properly adhere to the acrylic and will eventually fail. I have installed both and found the steel tub had a more solid feel to it while the one acrylic tub I've installed did not sit properly (followed instructions to the letter) and had a very flimsy and bouncy feel to it. The acrylic tub was purchased by the client and I suspect they got the cheapest tub they could find. Maybe a case of you get what you pay for?

Can anyone ring in on which they prefer and the pros and cons?

Rob in Ontario
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Old 06-22-2010, 10:15 AM   #2
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Re: Steel Tub Versus Acrylic

We prefer cast iron.


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Old 06-29-2010, 08:38 PM   #3
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Re: Steel Tub Versus Acrylic

Cast iron is the best, bar none!! That being said, most enamel tubs on the market are one-piece and will be lucky to last 10 years. Acrylic, on the other hand, is a very repairable and restorable surface (without refinishing, like enamel). Acrylic tubs, IMO, should be set in a bed of concrete to ensure the base is SOLID! As for maintenance, Acrylic is softer than enamel, therefore, stuff sticks to it easier than enamel.
Acrylic tubs are deeper and offer a sloped back - enamel - not so much.
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Old 07-01-2010, 06:40 PM   #4
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Re: Steel Tub Versus Acrylic

I have only had one experience with an acrylic tub and surround in a basement finish. It was selected by HO and was a horrible experience that I will not go through again. We had constant problems with the tub separating from the sides/back of the surround although everything was installed exactly as recommended by manufacturer.

I personally would not use one again!
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Old 07-21-2010, 07:20 PM   #5
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Re: Steel Tub Versus Acrylic

Just thought I'd put my vote in on this one. I completely gave up on steel tubs.....the quality just isn't there anymore in my opinion, not only in the thin steel they use but in the finish as well. I got tired of inspecting and having to exchange so many times due to lousy finish and bent/warped aprons prior to install, and then last year having a factory rep tell me that the surface rust in a 6 month old tub was due to stress cracks in the finish because it wasn't applied correctly, they'd be happy to replace the tub for free though it meant pulling new cultured marble surround as well. I use mainly acrylic tubs now and when set on a mortar base they are very solid. Other option is of course cast iron, though it costs a little more particularly transport/install labor.
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Old 07-25-2010, 03:00 PM   #6
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Re: Steel Tub Versus Acrylic

cast iron here..
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Old 07-25-2010, 03:08 PM   #7
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Re: Steel Tub Versus Acrylic

When you take a shower in a tin tub it sounds like your rolling down a hill inside a metal garbage can.
I may be going to hell in a bucket, but at least I'm enjoying the ride.
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Old 07-27-2010, 07:18 AM   #8
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Re: Steel Tub Versus Acrylic

Cast Iron will definitely last the longest, but is also the most difficult to install.
It can stain, but usually takes years and years.

Acrylic is my personal favorite. You can't beat a good quality acrylic for ease of install, repairability, and ease of cleaning. I use a couple tubs of thinset underneath. If you use Dap kwik seal then it will fail. I've seen it a thousand times. You need a flexible caulk, GE silicone is best, and it helps if you use an etching.
Warning: don't use plumbers putty on acrylic! The oils will dry out the material and it will crack. You must not use heavy duty cleaners or abrasives. I use silicone. It's all based on quality of the acrylic you get, and quality/knowledge of install. I've installed over 400 acrylic tubs and showers, and yes caulked probably a thousand. They should be recaulked every 5-10 years. But I've seen jobs after 12 years and the caulk is still holding up.

The steel tubs are on the bottom. The hollow metal sound. Once the enamel comes off they rust.


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