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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    Default Advise on buying new tub?

    We're remodeling our bathroom and I thought I'd ask you experts about the tub.

    What tub material would you recommend that keeps the water warmest longest and what material would look the wear the best over the long term?

    We'd also like to have an undermount tub with a granite deck surround. What should we know when in comes to monitoring the installation/fabricating the surround to prevent overflow leaks?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Houston Texas
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    Default Re: Advise on buying new tub?

    Acrylic / fiberglass tubs are wonderful for keeping water from losing much heat. Bain Ultra has a line of tubs that will heat the water with warm air so there is no need to add more hot water.

    Setting the tub in foam instead of a ceement bed will help, but some tub manufacturers will not specify that mode of installation.

    As far as the undermount situation, if there is no shower involved, waterproofing will be much easier. The fine folks at the John Bridge Tile Forum can help you with that portion of the project.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: Advise on buying new tub?

    You will get the best wear out of a steel or cast iron tub. An acrylic or fiberglass tub will be warmer and not wick heat out of bath water as readily. Steel/cast iron is virtually maintenance free, while A/F tubs will require regular polishing/sealing to keep them clean and the surface sealed to prevent staining.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Advise on buying new tub?

    Cast iron and Acrylic tubs hold heat pretty well. Keep in mind that you have a lot of heat loss from the surface of the water in the tub. That's why, for long baths, you need to add hot water from time to time.

    If I had to choose, I'd go with Cast Iron. Heavier than Acrylic, Cast Iron will last longer barring unfortunate accidents, and be a little pricier to install.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    1,096

    Default Re: Advise on buying new tub?

    If heavy steel or cast iron doesn't suit you, then go with the best acrylic or fiberglass you can afford. The cheap stuff these days is just that- cheap and not durable.

    My solution to cold metal tubs isn't energy efficient but it works. Run the water too hot, let it sit and warm the metal tub, then when the water temp settles down to what you want jump in and the metal will be warm too.

    Phil

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    Default Re: Advise on buying new tub?

    Cast iron is definitely the most durable, but if the porcelain enamel is chipped repair is more difficult than for acrylic fiberglass.

    (By the way, "acrylic" and "fiberglass" are generally the same thing; the glass fibers are bonded together with acrylic resin and covered with an acrylic "gel coat". Acrylic by itself probably wouldn't be strong enough.)

    If you do go with acrylic fiberglass, consider the thickness of both the fiberglass and the gel coat -- the thicker the better. A high-quality unit will weigh nearly as much as cast iron. Gel coat that is at least 1/8" thick will be less likely to chip and crack. Thicker fiberglass will yield a stiffer unit. The base of the unit must be set in mortar or concrete to prevent flexing from the weight of water and users. Some people use rigid expanding foam (spray foam) instead of concrete with reasonably good results, though not all manufacturers will warranty this method.
    The "Senior Member" designation under my name doesn't mean I know a lot, it just means I talk a lot.I've been a DIYer since I was 12 (thanks, Dad!). I have read several books on various home improvement topics. I do not have any current code books I can refer to. I was an apprentice plumber for two years.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: Advise on buying new tub?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fencepost View Post
    (By the way, "acrylic" and "fiberglass" are generally the same thing; the glass fibers are bonded together with acrylic resin and covered with an acrylic "gel coat". Acrylic by itself probably wouldn't be strong enough.)
    Yes and no. Fiberglass uses a gel coat surface backed by fiberglass, where acrylic tubs are generally full thickness acrylic resin. IMHO, if you go with acrylic, go to a company that specializes in making showers and tubs in this material and buy directly from them, you'll get a much higher quality product than you will shopping at Evil Orange or any other big box. Similarly with a fiberglass unit, go with a plumbing supplier over a big box for better quality. Same goes for purchasing plumbing fixtures.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fencepost View Post
    If you do go with acrylic fiberglass, consider the thickness of both the fiberglass and the gel coat -- the thicker the better. A high-quality unit will weigh nearly as much as cast iron. Gel coat that is at least 1/8" thick will be less likely to chip and crack. Thicker fiberglass will yield a stiffer unit. The base of the unit must be set in mortar or concrete to prevent flexing from the weight of water and users. Some people use rigid expanding foam (spray foam) instead of concrete with reasonably good results, though not all manufacturers will warranty this method.
    Correct, the thicker the gel coat on fiberglass, the better, as it is the wear layer and it does wear off with time and use, which is why the bottoms of fiberglass tubs and showers become "stained", the pores of the fiberglass become exposed for dirt and body oils to collect.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    41

    Default Re: Advise on buying new tub?

    Thank you, everyone, for your thoughts and suggestions. I was just going to post a follow-on question to ask if there are different thicknesses of acrylic/fiber tubs and see that the last two posts provide that answer! I'm heading out today to start looking at options and feel better armed with your comments!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Advise on buying new tub?

    Quote Originally Posted by A. Spruce View Post
    You will get the best wear out of a steel or cast iron tub. An acrylic or fiberglass tub will be warmer and not wick heat out of bath water as readily. Steel/cast iron is virtually maintenance free, while A/F tubs will require regular polishing/sealing to keep them clean and the surface sealed to prevent staining.
    Are the cast iron tubs similar, or the same, as the tubs from way back in my grandfather's day? The ones with the claw feet and the white enamel that sometimes chipped if you dropped something heavy into it? I loved the old tub my grandfather had and wished we had taken it out, and replaced it with a new one, when we sold the house. I would have kept it for my house.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Default Re: Advise on buying new tub?

    Yes they are made the same way with porcelain over cast iron. Some have feet, some have aprons, some are drop in and come with a guide on how to adjust your truss after install.

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