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Acrylic vs. Fiberglass Tub

Published on Friday January 14, 2022

If you’re considering a bathroom remodel and need to get a new tub, it only stands to reason that you’ve happened upon the acrylic vs. fiberglass tub dilemma. Choosing between these two different kinds of tubs can be far harder than it seems. You have to consider fiberglass vs. acrylic tub pros and cons, especially looking into the durability, longevity, and maintenance requirements of each material. It can quickly become overwhelming.

A photo of long home products showing an acrylic vs fiberglass tub.

Here, we’ll answer your fiberglass tub vs. acrylic questions and help you come to a conclusion about which tub is best for you and your home. We’ll clarify what exactly acrylic and fiberglass tubs are, their similarities and differences, pros and cons, and more. You’ll come away knowing what tub wins the acrylic vs. fiberglass tub debate for you and your needs.

What are Acrylic Bathtubs?

An acrylic tub is made out of sheets of clear or colored plastic. This plastic is reinforced with sturdy layers of fiberglass to help make it stronger and more durable. Due to the complex manufacturing process, it’s normal for acrylic tubs to be a little more expensive than fiberglass.

Acrylic bathtubs are amazingly lightweight, however, which makes them perfect for any level of your home. They won’t need added floor reinforcements for a reliable installation. Acrylic tubs require very little maintenance, unlike other picky tub materials. They are commonly used to form seats in tubs, as well as headrests and other molded areas. A lot of bathtubs with whirlpool jets are made from acrylic. 

Acrylic bathtubs are exceptionally easy to install and come in a wide variety of shapes and designs to suit your preferences and style. You can expect them to last between 10 and 15 years, so they can last even longer if maintained well and kept clean.

What are Fiberglass Bathtubs?

A fiberglass bathtub has an interesting manufacturing process. Fiberglass reinforced plastic, referred to as FRP, is made up of layers and layers of tiny glass strings, woven and heated together until they create the desired mold. Once the foundation is made, it is modeled, shaped, and sprayed with a resin gel coating for extra protection. A fiberglass bathtub is the result.

Fiberglass tubs are loved for their affordable materials. They are usually the most budget-friendly bathtub option on the market and they are also the easiest to install—even more so than the easy-going acrylic tub. While acrylic tubs are lightweight, fiberglass tubs are super-lightweight. This makes them great choices for homes with multiple levels since you won’t need to add extra support to the floor to hold the tub.

When well cared for, you can expect a fiberglass bathtub to last between 10 and 15 years, but not likely much more than that before needing to be replaced.

Similarities: Acrylic vs. Fiberglass Bathtub

While they certainly have their differences, one of the most difficult aspects of choosing between fiberglass vs. acrylic tub for your bathroom remodel is the many similarities. Here are some to consider:

  • Easy maintenance
  • Lightweight materials
  • Simple installation process
  • Affordable and budget-friendly
  • Fiberglass-base with a shiny fish
  • Easy to find at home improvement stores
  • Straightforward, hassle-free maintenance
  • Pain-free to clean

If these are all the specifications you need in a tub and don’t care about any further details, then feel free to choose whatever material you want. Shop for tubs and select the one you like best with your desired features, as long as it will fit in your bathroom and your budget.

Differences: Acrylic vs. Fiberglass Bathtub

It’s important to note that acrylic and fiberglass bathtubs do have a few differences. For some homeowners, these differences don’t make that much of a difference, while for others it’s what determines one tub as better than the other. If you’re still on the fence about which is better—fiberglass tub vs. acrylic—then consider these key differences to help you choose.

  • Due to the manufacturing process, acrylic tubs tend to be more expensive than fiberglass tubs.
  • Fiberglass tubs are simply sprayed with a gel coating, whereas acrylic tubs are stretched over a mold to create a reliable tub. This means the acrylic manufacturing process is more customized and less standardized, which many homeowners prefer.
  • Fiberglass tubs are far more susceptible to fading, cracking, and scratching. Acrylic tubs are highly durable and don’t chip, crack, or fade easily, which helps them maintain their quality better and longer.
  • While both are easy to clean, fiberglass tubs are far more prone to staining, especially if you slack on proper cleaning procedures after a bath.
  • Fiberglass tubs are more susceptible to absorbing water, staining, and developing mold or mildew.
  • Acrylic tubs come in a wider variety of colors, designs, textures, and with more fixture options.

The bottom line when it comes to differences, you can expect an acrylic tub to be far more durable. They also come in a wider variety of shapes and designs, but these benefits come at a cost. Fiberglass tubs are cheaper but are more likely to stain, crack, scratch, and develop mold.

Pros and Cons: Fiberglass vs. Acrylic Tub

Here is a quick breakdown of the pros and cons list to help you determine which is best for you, acrylic vs. fiberglass bathtub. This list is a comparison of the materials against each other. Keep in mind that they are both some of the most affordable, lightweight, and flexible in design tub options on the market.

Pros of an Acrylic Tub

  • Durability
  • Easy maintenance
  • Flexibility in design
  • Won’t absorb water or mold
  • Great for tubs that get a lot of use or in homes with kids

Cons of an Acrylic Tub

  • More expensive
  • Slightly heavier

Pros of a Fiberglass Tub

  • Affordability
  • Lightweight

Cons of a Fiberglass Tub

  • Poor durability
  • Standardized designs
  • Susceptibility to mold and mildew
  • Will likely wear down quickly in a high-use area

What’s Your Dream Bathtub?

When it comes time to remodel your bathroom, it can be difficult to know which bathtub style to opt for. The experts at Long Home Products can help you understand all of your options and assist you in selecting the best one. Call or contact us online today to request a quote and schedule a free, in-home consultation!

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